Aurora HDR and Photomatix Pro are probably the two most popular HDR software options in the market. But which one should you buy?
When it comes to HDR photography, having the right software is crucial. To have absolute control over your editing process, you must choose the most complete and versatile HDR program. For many photographers, the game is between Aurora HDR vs. Photomatix Pro.
Both programs are pretty similar and offer excellent features and performance. Besides, they are available for the same price. So, what defines which is the best? Let’s have a closer look at each one to see what they can do.
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Aurora HDR overview
First released in 2015, Aurora HDR is an advanced program for creating superior high-dynamic-range images. It is developed by Skylum, who are the same geniuses behind Luminar NEO.
Aurora HDR is a very comprehensive software app for professional and hobbyist photographers. It provides superb image quality thanks to its AI-powered Quantum HDR Engine. Plus, it comes with 20+ editing tools to get the most out of your photos, as well as many creative presets, batch processing capabilities, and of course, RAW support.
If you want to know more in detail about Aurora HDR and everything it has to offer, check out our Aurora HDR full review here.
Photomatix Pro overview
From HDRSoft, Photomatix Pro is a well-known HDR program equipped with many useful features for photographers at any skill level. With it, you can create 32-bit photos and tone-mapped images effortlessly, even if you are a beginner. It was first released in 2003 and is today one of the most popular tools for HDR photography.
Just like Aurora, Photomatix Pro comes with everything you need to get high-quality and natural-looking HDR images. It also has RAW support, a ghost removal feature, batch processing, presets, and more.
Photomatix Pro has been in the market for a very long time, and it was perhaps the most solid choice until Aurora HDR came out. Now, it’s hard to make a decision.
Photomatix vs. Aurora HDR 2019 comparison
Regardless of the kind of photographer (or photo editor) you are, both Photomatix Pro and Aurora HDR deliver top-quality results. You can create stunning HDR photos from single and bracketed images with either one of those programs. However, there are some differences between them that can significantly influence your workflow.
So, to compare Aurora HDR vs. Photomatix Pro, let’s consider the following aspects:
- Compatibility and system requirements
- User interface
- Value for money
Compatibility and system requirements
First of all, both options are available for Windows and Mac users. What’s more, they work as standalone programs and plugins for Adobe Lightroom. But, Aurora HDR goes a little further as it is also compatible with Photoshop and Apple Photos.
As for the system requirements, Aurora HDR is a bit more power-hungry.
According to the HDRSoft FAQ page, Photomatix Pro can run on a computer with 4GB of RAM and 1 GB of available hard disk space. On the contrary, Aurora HDR 2019 needs at least 8GB of RAM and 2GB of free space. If you want to know more, here is a detailed list of all the system requirements for Mac and Windows.
Nevertheless, to guarantee flawless performance, it is best to use a minimum of 16GB of RAM and an SSD. Additionally, you should make sure that the software you use is compatible with the RAW file format of your camera model.
Although both apps are suitable for beginners and pros, using Photomatix can be annoying because it opens pop-up windows for each tool. In contrast, Aurora HDR has all the tools visible on the screen within a single window. Thus, if you prefer to have everything in one place, you should go with Aurora as it has a cleaner and more intuitive interface.
In general, Aurora and Photomatix offer outstanding capabilities. They do all the basics you need for HDR photography: tone mapping, image alignment, ghost removal, noise reduction, and chromatic aberration reduction. All simply and quickly— in most cases. Plus, you get to decide whether you want to import a single image or a group of photos.
Something great about Photomatix is that it processes images very fast. Aurora HDR might get slow in some cases, so that’s something to consider if you don’t have the proper equipment to run a photo editor smoothly. Keep in mind that you need a powerful computer that exceeds the minimum requirements for better performance.
That aside, Aurora HDR uses artificial intelligence to provide better image quality and performance, and it shows. It has a lot of functions that make your work easier and save you hours of retouching.
This is where Aurora HDR shines far above Photomatix. And you’ll see why.
While Photomatix works as a dedicated HDR tool, Aurora HDR provides many extra features for advanced photo editing. With it, you can apply local adjustments to your images using layers, brushes, and masking. It’s perfect for those situations when you want to highlight just a specific point in the photo— like a tree, for example. On top of that, it also offers more exporting options.
That doesn’t mean that Photomatix is a weak product, though. It is great to increase dynamic range, and it includes smart features for cropping, straightening, enhancing detail, reducing noise, adjusting contrast, and sharpening. Yet, to fully exploit the potential of your HDR image, you will need to open Lightroom or Photoshop.
Nevertheless, this should be no problem if you already use different platforms to edit your photos. In that case, Photomatix Pro would be ideal for you because it will set a solid base to add some finishing touches afterward.
By the way, if you are curious about how and when to use Photomatix Pro, HDRSoft has a list of video tutorials on its website. They also share how to take bracketed photos using different camera models. That way, you will get the right settings in-camera to create beautiful HDR images in post-processing.
Now, in short, Aurora HDR provides more control over your final image. It is a better choice if you prefer to edit your images in a single program. But, at the end of the day, your decision will depend on what your workflow is like.
The two programs have a great selection of presets and filters. In Aurora HDR, you have 8 collections of looks for a quick edit:
- Trey Ratcliff Looks
- Serge Ramelli Looks
- Randy Van Duinen Looks
On the other hand, Photomatix Pro has more than 30 built-in presets organized into 4 big categories:
- Real Estate
- Black & White
Note that in the Black & White category, you can use the brush tool to do a creative edit. With it, you can colorize some areas of the photo while staying within a B/W preset. For example, if you want a colored sky and a black and white foreground, you can easily do that in Photomatix Pro.
Moreover, it has 5 rendering modes:
- Details Enhancer
- Contrast Optimizer
- Tone Compressor
- Tone Balancer
In addition to that, you can download more presets or save your own personalized looks in both software apps.
Overall, Photomatix and Aurora have great built-in presets for all types of photographers. No one is better than the other in that aspect.
Value for money
Both options are one-time purchases and cost $99. And, if you want to test all the features of each program before making a decision, they also offer a 30-day free trial version!
Photomatix Pro and Aurora HDR are great programs for HDR photography. However, Aurora seems like a more convenient option as it allows for more customization and versatility for the same amount of money.
Bear in mind that every photographer has different needs. So, you must consider your photography skills and workflow before investing in HDR software.
Aurora HDR pros and cons
What we like about Aurora HDR:
- Smart AI-based tools.
- Easy to use and intuitive interface.
- Layers and additional photo editing features.
- Batch processing.
- More adjustment tools for versatility.
What we don’t like about Aurora HDR:
- Takes a bit more power to run well.
- Selection tools might be limited in some cases.
Photomatix Pro pros and cons
What we like about Photomatix Pro:
- Suitable for beginners and pros.
- Excellent image quality.
- Useful HDR tools.
- Batch processing.
- Simple software.
What we don’t like about Photomatix Pro:
- Pop-up toolboxes might be annoying.
- Fewer controls for image editing.
- Limited exporting options.
After comparing the main features of each program, there is no doubt that Aurora HDR is the winning choice. While Photomatix is ideal for stunning HDR photography, it is not as versatile as its main rival. So, if you want an app that lets you play with more high-level editing features, you will love Aurora HDR.
Still, if you remain hesitant, you can download the free trial version for 30 days and try out all its functions for yourself.
Thank you so much for reading!