I'm stubborn. I have been experimenting with HDR since I first bought my digital camera a year ago. The potential for the technique is huge and works really well in situations where a split ND filter would leave a line in the image or would have a dark top of a tree.
However, my results have been mixed. I've been using the Merge to HDR feature in Photoshop. Some of the merged images are pretty nice, but all too often the images appear gray and dingy no matter what I do for adjustments. Over the year I have read several reviews of Photomatix Pro but, (this is where the stubborn come sin) I have continued with Photoshop. So, I downloaded the free trial and ran some tests. After the first try I was sold. The best $99 I have spent in a long time.
Here are a couple comparisons:
I'm not sure if it's just that I wasn't skilled enough during the conversion from a 32 bit to 16 bit image, but the Photomatix adjustments are very intuitive and the results are , as you can see, pretty convincing.
I hope you liked the images and thanks for reading.