I did some tests with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos and every Monday for the next few weeks, I will share my findings here. The software I use to process a HDR photo, Corel Paint Shop Pro X6, gives me two options to create an HDR photo. I can take one RAW file, split in three photos (one overexposed, one under-exposed and one correctly exposed) and then re-assemble the photos together creating the HDR photo. The second option is it takes three to five JPEG files (one overexposed, one under-exposed and one correctly exposed) and assemble those together.
The first test I wanted to do is there a difference between an HDR photo made out of 3 to 5 JPEG file and one made from one RAW file.
The answer is YES but not from where I expected it. In the example below, I took three shots one underexposed (-0.3), one correctly exposed and one over exposed (+0.3) of a sunset on a cloudy sky. I also used a pre-set option from the software to make sure I have all the same option for both photos. I like to compare apple with apple. The settings used for converting the RAW file in HDR were the same I used with the camera -0.3 – 0 – +0.3.
On photo A, between the three shots, the cloud and water moved giving a different finish to the cloudy sky and the river. On photo B done with one RAW file and you see that there is no movement in the clouds and river. Also you can see that the colors are a little bit more saturated on the one with three JPEG photos.
The last photo is the correctly exposed JPEG to show you the difference between JPEG and HDR
Now what I do not know is would I get the same results using different software. I tend to believe that different software would produce slightly different results.
Photo A – HDR photo (three JPEG files version)
Photo B – HDR photo (one RAW file version)
Photo C – JPEG version