Photomatix Pro 5 – How to Use the Contrast Optimizer

Photomatix Pro 5 - How to Use the Contrast Optimizer - thumbnailIn the last video, I have shown you what the new features of Photomatix Pro 5 are. And probably the most important one is the Contrast Optimizer. The Contrast Optimizer is a new tone mapping method that is tailored to produce more realistic results than the well-known Details Enhancer.

The Details Enhancer is what 95% of all photographers out there are using and it produces this distinct HDR look that you’re probably very familiar with. But the results can be very extreme and unnatural if you are not careful.

With the Contrast Optimizer the possible settings are more limited and centered around a natural look. It has less sliders which help you arrive at a natural looking HDR more easily and more quickly.

Check out this video to see the Contrast Optimizer in action.


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10 replies
  1. Ken
    Ken says:

    Thank you for the informative tutorial. The most beneficial thing I got out of this was your explanation of the workflow. Sweet and simple. Thanks Klaus !

  2. Harry
    Harry says:

    Hallo Klaus,

    sehr gutes Tutorial. I found it very usefull.

    Gestern habe ich mir PM 5 beta geladen. Das Lightroom-Plugin wurde auf dem Weg zwar installiert, funktioniert bei mir aber nicht, bzw. ich kann es in LR nicht finden. Ob das an der beta liegt? Den Contrast Optimizer finde ich auch sehr angenehm. Schon nach den ersten 2 Bearbeitungen hat er mich überzeugt.

    Ich werde ihn sicher öfter einsetzen.

    Gruß, Harry.

  3. Bill
    Bill says:

    Klaus I’m a happy subscriber. I look forward to every one of your tutorials. I have a pre-beta version of 5.0 as I’m a heavy Photomatix user, including for real estate photography. Photomatix 4.2 “worked” for me in my RE photography, but I had a tremendous amount of post processing in PS to make the images look right. Where I live, the view out the window is essential. I take from 3 to 9 bracket shots to capture the dynamic range and a bounce flash is added. So photographs pointing directly towards a window will have 10 1-stop brackets. Photomatix 4.2 processing and post processing took hours. And most of the time I had to TM the files for the window view and use Fusion/Natural for the room. Both were then blended in PS. My realtors loved the results, but it took hours to process approximately 40 images, and I felt the windows vs. room looked fake. So I was eager for an upgrade to 4.2

    5.0 offers Fusion/Realistic along with Contrast Optimizer, which I was anxious to evaluate. But CO was a big surprise. I love CO for my exterior shots. I can batch process my 3 bracket +/- 2 shots in CO (with the sliders set for my look) and have very little post processing in PS. The exterior photos are much cleaner with better detail, look more natural with less noise and less of a “dirty look” look then when using Details Enhancer. I also use CO to separately process window views if they are critically important or I’ve photographed a dark room with bright windows and a huge dynamic range. Again I like the more natural, less dirty, sharper look than with Details Enhancer.

    Fusion/Realistic is much improved from 4.2. It’s not perfect but by using F/R (with my settings) I’m able to pull in the window views while keeping a light bright room in a high percentage of my shots. I almost never have to process an image twice, once for the windows and once for the room. Now I can use one F/R image, make a layer of the windows, so I can work on the windows and room separately and blend those layers. Photomatix and PS post processing time has almost been cut in half. 5.0 is saving me time and I’m producing a more natural looking image for my realtors.

    I’ve also used F/R on some of my bracketed landscape photos and sometimes like the look even more than with CO. The only drawback is the processing time with F/R is longer than TM, but my overall process time for RE photography has dropped dramatically.

    Klaus, two other things I like about 5.0. In batch processing you can set multiple(with custom settings) batch processing, and very importantly, remove ghosts while batch processing. That has helped me immensely on exterior shots on a windy day. Also, it’s very easy with 5.0 to load the bracketed files only once and reprocess in different ways (TM, CO, Fusion etc) with just a couple of clicks.

    Hopefully, someday you’ll do a tutorial for real estate photographers. We can learn from you. Thanks


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