This week I downloaded the free trial of Essential HDR by Imaging Luminary.  I am hoping the results I received are from the fact that regardless of your initial image sizes, the free trial version dumbs your result down to  1 megabyte.  While this is a great strategy to keep people from getting a free product, it is a horrible idea for a free trial as you cannot justify spending money on such poor results from the trial version.

The Interface:

I layered the 3 windows for demonstration purposes.  In order to access them you have to click on the tabs that are highlighted.

The Good:

  • The histogram feature is awesome and something I wish so much that Photomatix would adopt.  It really helps the process of tonemapping an image.
  • The color balancer is nice too, a three slider control is much better than a single temperature slider.

The Bad:

  • Limited sliders make for very similar HDR images.
  • The shadows clipped beyond belief.  I couldn’t seem to get them right in the tonemapping process.  I believe the clipping is due to the poor 1 megabyte quality images produced due to the trial version.  As I stated before, this trial version does not entice me to drop the cash on the full product!
  • The alignment process was pretty far off in 3 of the 5 images I processed.
  • Get rid of the tabs and open that whole space up for all three slider sections, a lot of wasted space on the interface.

The Bottom Line:

Purchase the full version and get back to me.  Tell me if the shadow clipping occurs.  From my results below, Essential HDR is not essential in my HDR arsenal.


Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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