Nik HDR Efex Pro Review

February 21, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews | |

While the presets can be fun, they don't suit any but the most perfect images and while I found one I liked out of each category, I never found one that I would be able to use over and again. That's why it's best to use the manual options on the right side of the window. The main features give obvious adjustments such as contrast, exposure and saturation. The structure slider seems to give a similar result to the clarity option in Adobe Camera Raw.

Using a single image means there's no darker images to prevent burn out or lighter pictures to reveal detail, but the latter can be done to a degree anyway. In images I used with a burnt out sky, HDR Efex Pro obviously had no chance and as good as it is, it simply doesn't do the same as having several images merged.

On either a merged image or a single image, you can use the U-Point technology that Nik have developed for Efex Pro which allows you to select a point on the image, define the size of the area and then adjust contrast, saturation and others found in the manual controls on just that point.

Nik Software Viveza - Main Interface
Figure 2


One of the main problems I had to look out for was a halo effect on high contrast areas such as the trees against the sky on my sample image. In the merged images, I had trouble with ghosting despite the automatic ghost correction feature. Saying that, the images I used had a lot of swaying branches so it's unsurprising. It did quite well on the moving water so it's obviously objects that move a lot that the program has issues with, so it's forgiveable.

One particular area I like is the exposure slider using EV instead of a more simple numeric display.

HDR Efex Pro is a very easy program to use and should make HDR merging faster and easier for a lot of people, however I'm not completely sold on the end product. Images I tried suffered from image breakdown due to too much processing and despite a nice zoom feature, it takes a long time to load. The presets can be garish but are designed to appeal to a wide audience, so they're not for everybody.

The images suffered from a lot of ghosting and halos despite the presence of automatic tools for getting rid of them. I'm not sure if HDR Efex Pro is a perfect fit for the professional photographer, but you can get it on a 15 day trial at the moment, so give it go and see what you think.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Value for money 3.5
Tracker Pixel for Entry