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Software Review: PhotoEngine And HDREngine From Oloneo

PhotoEngine and HDREngine are two separate, yet similar products from Oloneo that give you the ability to quickly and easily create High Dynamic Range (HDR) images from your photos using single shots or using the traditional multi-exposure shots. They both function as stand-alone products or PhotoEngine comes as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom and can do a direct export into Adobe Photoshop or other applications.

HDREngine is a smaller, more accessible HDR application that is easier to learn and master. It comes with factory presets that give you the ability to be productive quickly and has automated tools that simplify the HDR process. PhotoEngine is the professional version that provides more detailed and powerful tools giving you more capability in controlling the exposure and lighting in your images and giving you much more creative control in your digital photography.

PhotoEngine and HDREngine

Currently PhotoEngine and HDREngine do not run on the native Mac operating system, but will run on a dual-core Mac with Parallels Desktop 5. For full system requirements check out the requirements page on the Oloneo website. You can also compare the feature details between the two products on their comparison page.

What is HDREngine?

The HDREngine provides a simplified process for creating and editing high-quality HDR images. It provides an easy-to-use workflow and a full range of tone mapping tools to generate professional looking results. You can use multiple bracketed exposures or a single image. It will even allow you to recover lost details in both over exposed or under exposed images.

HDREngine is geared toward the beginner and those who want the look and feel of HDR imaging without all of the technical aspects that it can bring. It comes with many automated tools that provide a much quicker workflow but still shares the powerful image editing technologies that were developed for the more powerful Oloneo PhotoEngine.

To work with HDREngine, from the main screen, you can either browse for the files that you want to use or drag-and-drop them into the workspace. From there you add them to your project. Then it is as easy as creating an HDR ToneMap project. You need to have several shots with different exposure values – generally these are a 0 or correctly focused shot, a +1 or +2 over exposure, and a -1 or -2 under exposure although you can combine more than that together.

PhotoEngine and HDREngine

Once your project is created and the image is generated, you then have the ability to make adjustments to the image. What is different about this program over many of the others is that, HDREngine displays in real-time all of your changes including Tone Mapping. The interface includes the image in the main viewport, the info panel that displays the histogram, the toolbar, the timeline and the image setting panels.

In the image setting panels you have a section called High Dynamic Tone Mapping. Here using a set of sliders you can adjust the tone mapping strength, detail strength, exposure, and contrast. You also have the ability to turn tone mapping off or set it auto, local (default), and global. Each gives a different set of sliders to control your image.

Next you have a panel that controls the Low Dynamic Tone. This section gives you control over exposure, brightness, contrast, and saturation. There is also a color wheel that allows you to fine tune the color temperature and tint of your image through the use of sliders and adjustments to the color wheel. In all of the slider adjustments, through the use of the control key, you can make very fine adjustments.

There are two other panels on the left side of your edit window. The first is the timeline where everything that you do is recorded. You can click on at timeline level and see the image a previous point as well as setting a point to become a new version. There is an interactive preview checkbox that lets you see automatically the version as you hover over it. You also have the ability to add a version number to a point in time as well as playing an animation of the timeline.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.