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Tue, May 19, 2015 10:59 PM

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Lightroom CC: Photo Merge HDR - Major Workflow Improvements (Batch Mode, Smarter Auto-Align, No-preview)

I really like the DNG output file that Lightroom CC's new Photo Merge HDR generates but there are some improvements I would love to see added to the tool in order to make it a more viable solution than the LR/Enfuse Plugin.

For context, on any given day I will retouch 100 - 300+ high quality real estate & architecture photos per day and although quality is my highest priority, efficiency is extremely important to me and I've come across a few challenges with the new tool with what I think would be simple solutions. I have been testing the Photo Merge Tools since the day it has come out, I have been timing myself and comparing end products. After all this time I have gathered my feedback and I hope it proves valuable to the developers.

1. There's no batch mode. In LR/Enfuse all you have to do is select all of your stacks, hit Enfuse and it will automatically run through all of the stacks in the background. This is the number 1 feature I desperately want in Photo Merge's HDR. With a batch mode it allows me to open another property to prep the files or be working in Photoshop on other images while the batch is running.

2. The auto-align feature doesn't make sense. From what I've seen, the auto-align seems to average the pixels when the images have shifted. Because this new HDR feature and every other fusion app/plugin seems to slightly over-compensate I almost always selectively layer back the base exposure in Photoshop to bring back a more natural flow of light. With LR/Enfuse, the auto-align always aligns the exposures to the primary image in the stack. This makes re-layering possible without any ghosting or the need to manually align the spares once more.

3. Preview is slow and unnecessary. I don't understand why I have to wait an unreasonable amount of time to see the preview before I can click on the merge button. I do not know if this is the same for everyone's computer but mine takes an equal amount of time to generate the preview as it does to make the file. Essentially this doubles the amount of time I have to wait when I could be doing something productive. I do not find the preview to be necessary unless I am toggling the de-ghosting but otherwise I would like an option to just toggle preview on and off to avoid the extra waiting time.
**POST EDIT: I saw in another thread that holding down Shift will skip the preview step**

All in all, I love working with the DNG compared to a flattened 16bit TIFF that the other applications output. With some minor additions to Photo Merge HDR I would say that this will be one of the best blending applications out there for retouching real estate & architecture images. Batch mode! Please make a batch mode! :)

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