Aperture HDR plug-in boosts performance, adds dual histograms

Creaceed has updated Hydra, its Aperture plug-in (and standalone application) for creating High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. The new 2.1 release is a free update for registered 2.x users; Hydra costs $80 (upgrades from 1.x cost $20).

Hydra combines up to ten photographs of the same scene taken with different exposure settings to create an HDR image. HDR images use a wider gamut of lighting to produce pictures that are more akin to what the human eye can actually see, according to Creaceed.

The 2.1 release now features faster preview rendering — up to 5 five times faster, according to the developer, and a new feature that lets you click on source image thumbnails to compare the tone mapping output. Another new feature is the ability to display LDR/HDR dual histograms.

Incremental rendering as tiles is now implemented, window resizing is faster, the sharpen filter effect is now demonstrated accurately on preview images, security for the automatic update has been improved, and a progress sheet is now displayed for importing images.

Several changes have also been made specific to the Aperture plug-in. Smart Aperture projects don’t cause hangs anymore, 16-bit TIFF rendering is now supported, and the Shift key can be used to import modified versions of images into Hydra. Auto-updating of the plug-in has also been added, and bug fixes have been made in both the stand-alone app and in the plug-in.

Hydra requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later; the plug-in requires Aperture 2.1.

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