SNS-HDR vs Aurora HDR

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SNS-HDR vs Aurora HDR

Postby Redcrown » Mon Mar 09, 2020 5:28 pm

3/4/2020 - I installed a "free" copy of the 2018 version of Aurora HDR. Notes and reviews of the newer 2019 version indicate the differences are mostly in speed and interface changes. Not much difference in the base aligning, merging, and tone mapping.

Initial results look good, but pixel peeping showed some serious problems. Overall, the tone mapping is "OK", not bad, but inconsistent. Shadows and highlights seem to get more or less treatment depending on their size and relation to their opposites. Initial "default" results are significantly different from SNS, hard to say better or worse.

But Aurora ghost reduction is very problematic. In one case, Aurora handled some midtone blowing leaves much better than SNS. Aurora ghost reduction also generated some nasty noise in shadow areas where no ghosting was needed. Re-do with no ghosting and nose goes away.

Turns out that the choice of the "base" image for de-ghosting is critical. Aurora picks the 1st image as base. If that happens to be the negative exposure, it raises exposure to match the brighter images and thus generates lots of noise. You can override that in the opening dialogue, plus most cameras have an option to set the sequence of output images.

Also, Aurora de-ghosting seems to "morph" images a lot, squishing non ghosted objects around. In one rocky landscape case, de-ghosting left some faint lines of hard edge mis-alignment. Had to peep at 300% to see them, but a definite problem.

More testing of de-ghosting shows that large sections are morphed and aligned differently. The choice of "base" image makes a huge difference in results. No way to merge different exports because stuff is moved all over the place. Bottom line, Aurora de-ghosting must be avoided.

Aurora has the output color profile selection in the export dialogue. However, it appears to simply tag the output, not convert to that profile. If you feed it Adobe98 images and export Prophoto, you get bad color, same as if you "assigned" the profile.

Speed Test: On a 5 image set, SNS = 39 seconds, Aurora = 23 seconds to get to ready to edit.

I use HDR programs to do tone mapping only, and avoid the "extra" edits because I prefer to use other software for white balance, saturation, sharpening, local contrast, etc. So I did not test things like Details, Clarity, Structure inside the HDR programs. However, a few brief tests of Aurora's extras showed that they move the image way "over the top" quickly, creating the hideous results that give HDR a bad name.

Bottom line: Not much of a contest. SNS-HDR wins easily. Also, I saw many comments from Aurora users complaining about cost. It seems there has been a new version released every year with no upgrade discount. So, in effect, Aurora HDR is a $100 per year subscription service.
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Re: SNS-HDR vs Aurora HDR

Postby mak_kawa » Tue Mar 10, 2020 5:13 am

Hi Redcrown

Thank you for detailed comparison between SNS-HDR and Aurora HDR.

I have obtained AuroraHDR 2018 as a "giveaway" from the SharewareOnSale a while ago. And at a glance, I have been impressed by Aurora's "energy" for HDR image, and I was nearly going to switch to Aurora from SNS-HDR with purchasing AuroraHDR 2019. I have experienced AuroraHDR rendering, its shortcomings have gradually revealed. Natural and clear output from SNS-HDR is indispensable for me.

So, now I have decided that I will use SNS-HDR all the way. Really hope SNS-HDR is sustained and improved in the future as a top HDR processor...
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