The creators of Machinery HDR Effects 2 recently contacted me requesting a review of their new HDR tone mapping software.  I am really glad they did as this is one powerful tone mapping program.  Machinery adds many exemplary features to the world of HDR tone mapping.  There is a little bit of a learning curve when you first start compared to many other tone mapping programs, but once you get the hang of it, it is a cake walk.  Machinery makes creating stunning HDR images from bracketed exposures to a single exposure a breeze.  I found it especially good at tone mapping what the name implies “Machinery”.

The Interface:

The Good:

  • Has absolutely no problem auto aligning handheld brackets.
  • Awesome features at your fingertips during tone mapping.  The white balance control prior to processing makes one less step you have to worry about in post.
  • The ability to control the range of details from small to large and dark and bright areas is incredible.
  • The Presets built into Machinery are actually very impressive.  The first thing I usually find bad in any tone mapping software are the presets, not the case with Machinery.
  • A simple enough interface to find your way around pretty easily.
  • Two points of Noise control during tone mapping.
  • A very decent built in Vignette control panel.
  • Creates very natural looking HDR images with several methods of attaining a final HDR image.
  • Directly outputs the image to your favorite post processing software upon saving.
  • Machinery produces very believable, realistic HDR images.

The Bad:

  • The online manual does not do the program justice as it seems to be all over the place at times, assuming one knows how to navigate the program.  This makes the one processing the photo have to teach themselves as they go along.
  • The built in sharpening control panel is a nice touch.  However, if there is any noise whatsoever in the image it creates a lot of noise artifacts that are tricky to fix in post processing.

The Bottom Line:

I would recommend Machinery to a friend in search of an HDR tone mapping alternative to the programs currently on the market.  While there are some minor set backs, they can be overcome with a little bit of experimentation.  Overall it does a great job of rendering beautifully tone mapped HDR images that require very little post processing.  I ran this program through the ringer and was pleasantly surprised by how well it handled nearly every set of brackets from a night sky to a brightly lit landscape to a grungy beat up machine.

Examples of Machinery HDR Effects:

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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