Photo fusion

Combine photos into impressive HDR images with this simple tool.

HDR photography involves combining multiple photographs taken at different exposures into one image that contains greater detail in highlights, midtones, and shadows than any single exposure can provide. Fusion is a simple program that makes it easy to perform this task, although we were left with a few lingering questions about the program's operation.

Fusion's interface is plain and fairly easy to navigate, with a selection of buttons and menus across the top. It was easy to select the images that we wanted to work with. The program pulled up metadata for each image, allowing you to check exposure settings. Once the images are aligned--a process made painless by the autoalignment tool--you can choose either a summation module or an HDR module. The summation module allows you to prioritize certain characteristics of the image, such as sharpness, contrast, color saturation, and so on. The HDR module is more typical of other HDR programs, with tone-mapping parameters that allow you to balance highlights, midtones, and shadows individually. We tried the program with several sets of images at different exposures and we were quite impressed with the results. The HDR images were every bit as good as one would get from higher-end software. Our main complaint about Fusion was that the images did not display at full size while in the summation and HDR modules. We also found the online Help file to be fairly useless; new users will likely have questions that it doesn't answer. Fusion would also be improved by giving you the ability to crop images within the application, a task that's often necessary when the original images are not in full alignment. Despite these criticisms, overall we liked Fusion very much. Anyone looking for a reasonably lightweight and easy-to-use HDR utility should check it out.

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