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Unified Color's HDR Expose product packaging. Rendering provided by Unified Color Technologies LLC. Unified Color announces HDR Expose
(Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - 00:53 EDT)

San Francisco-based Unified Color Technologies has unveiled a successor for its HDR PhotoStudio high dynamic range imaging software with a new name -- HDR Expose.

As compared to the previous release, HDR Expose is a fairly major update with changes throughout the user interface and image processing algorithms. The program sports a new UI designed around a side panel that groups most interface elements at the right-hand side of the screen, where PhotoStudio used floating palettes and dialog boxes. The change makes Expose feel altogether tidier and easier to navigate. The new user interface has a dark gray color scheme that is now the only option, and includes an optional menu displayed on startup that prompts the user as to what they'd like to do, helping beginners find their feet. Multiple images can be worked on at once, with Expose now sporting a tabbed document interface that makes it quick and easy to switch back and forth between images. There's also a new preferences dialog that groups program settings together, and again features a tabbed interface for simplicity.

At top right is HDR Expose' new Brightness histogram, which offers a visual reference for the distribution of brightness in the current image or HDR merge, with a highlighted area called the Screen Zone indicating that range of brightness values that can currently be seen on the monitor. Beneath the Brightness histogram is a scale showing the exposure value of any particular point on the histogram, and beneath this there's a display of the RGB and BCH (brightness, chroma, hue) values for the specific area of the image which is currently beneath the mouse pointer. These tools together make it very easy to tell whether your exposure is correct, and to see whether there is further highlight or shadow detail available to restore to the image.

The new user interface in HDR Expose does away with floating palettes and dialog boxes. Screenshot provided by Unified Color Technologies LLC. Click for a bigger picture!

The new user interface in HDR Expose does away with floating palettes and dialog boxes.
Screenshot provided by Unified Color Technologies LLC.

Like its predecessor, HDR Expose not only merges multiple images into a single 32-bit image, but remains in this 32-bit color space for all image processing, unlike some applications which revert to 16-bit processing after the initial 32-bit merge. The algorithms used to merge images have been overhauled, with JPEG / TIFF merges no longer requiring explicit EV values in image metadata, and a new algorithm better able to recover color data by reversing the effects of S-curve corrections applied when the raw data was converted to a JPEG or TIFF. Raw image demosaicing has been improved, and pink highlights that were apparent with some camera types have been resolved. The source image alignment algorithm has also been rewritten to improve alignment accuracy, and a new deghosting option with three operating modes has been added. Deghosting can either operate in Natural mode (which smooths areas of movement such as flowing water), Sharp Edge mode (which attempts to retain desirable detail such as moving people or cars), or Smooth Edge (which tries to perform a balance between the previous two approaches).

A range of other improvements have been made to image processing in other areas. A new Ultimate option for the Halo Reduction function in Brightness / Contrast and Shadow / Highlight adjustment provides a better quality result, at the expense of an increase in processing time. For Shadow / Highlight processing, there's also a new local contrast adjustment control, while a new dark noise reduction function aims to resolve the dark current pixels that can appear in long exposure images. The Color Tuning function -- which allows several specific colors in the image to be tweaked -- now also allows brightness adjustment for the specific colors being adjusted. Finally, the Veiling Glare function now allows control of EV offset within a range of 0 to -10EV, and the Resize control allows adjustment of both physical image size and DPI resolution.

Some other improvements relate to HDR Expose' processing workflow. The program now allows creation of editable recipes, allowing the user to jump several steps back through their workflow history to change parameters for a specific operation, although this can involve significant processing time, depending on the operations performed since the editing point. HDR Expose also now features output filters, which don't directly change the picture data, but instead apply only to output. These include a display brightness slider, as well as the toning function , both found towards the lower left of the screen.

A couple of other notable changes are that HDR Expose can now output images in Radiance RGBE (.HDR) image format, and that most algorithms can now be handled by OpenCL-capable graphic processors, with the preferences dialog allowing the user to select whether to use only the CPU, the GPU, or a combination thereof.

Unified Color's HDR Expose will go on sale from July 12 2010, priced at US$149. A free 30-day trial will be available, and users making their new purchase by July 31 2010 will receive a discounted price of US$99. Impressively, given the scope of the update, all existing HDR PhotoStudio users will receive an upgrade to HDR Expose at no cost. More details, along with a form where interested photographers can sign up to be notified whern the program is available, can be found on the Unified Color website.

Unified Color's HDR Expose product packaging. Rendering provided by Unified Color Technologies LLC. Click for a bigger picture!

Unified Color's HDR Expose product packaging.
Rendering provided by Unified Color Technologies LLC.

Original Source Press Release:

Unified Color Technologies Launches HDR Expose: Industry-Leading Technology Provides Photographers Complete Control of Their HDR Workflow

HDR Expose Expands Upon the Success of its Predecessor, HDR PhotoStudio, with New and Enhanced Features to Create Natural-Looking HDR Images That Utilize the Full Range of 32-Bit Color Data

South San Francisco, Calif. – July 6, 2010 – Unified Color Technologies, the experts in high dynamic range imaging (HDR), today announced the launch of HDR Expose™, its next generation software for the creation and editing of HDR images. Replacing the company’s flagship product, HDR PhotoStudio, HDR Expose offers new features that include the addition of interactive HDR histogram, digital color readout, multiple ghost reduction options, plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, and a sleek, intuitive user interface that enables photographers to create true-to-life HDR images Unified Color Technologies is the only company offering HDR solutions that provide full 32-bit color editing capabilities based on its patented Beyond RGB™ color space. HDR Expose will be available on for purchase starting July 12, 2010, and photographers can sign up for availability notification at www.unifiedcolor.com.

Developed with the input of the rapidly growing HDR photography community, Unified Color Technologies has significantly improved its software with the addition of new and enhanced features. Putting more control into the hands of the photographer, HDR Expose offers an interactive histogram with “Screen Zone” boundary markers that enable photographers to make necessary adjustments to ensure valuable highlight and shadow detail is maintained at lower resolutions. New de-ghosting algorithms provide more control over how the software will approach the initial multi-exposure merge process. Photographers can select from de-ghosting presets to quickly address large areas of movement such as waves or individual moving vehicles.

“Having received a tremendously positive response to our previous solution, we are thrilled to introduce HDR Expose to the photography community,” said Alfred Zee, CEO of Unified Color Technologies. “It’s clear that we hit the right notes with those photographers seeking an HDR solution that enables them to produce images as natural as what we see with our own eyes. With the expanded feature set of HDR Expose we have given them even more editing power to convey their unique perspectives. Each day, we continue to enhance our industry-leading color technology to deliver the most comprehensive 32-bit color editing capabilities and we are confident that as a result of those efforts, HDR Expose will quickly become the gold standard for experiencing HDR.”

HDR Expose includes a new user interface to improve workflow, plus a familiar layered adjustment panel to revisit previous adjustments. For a quick start to HDR newcomers, or to find a starting point to further edit an HDR image, a one-click Dynamic Range Mapping tool easily sets optimal image processing in one touch. HDR Expose also comes with import and export plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom, as well as Apple’s Aperture extending the workflow options of these programs to include HDR merge and processing. The plug-ins included with HDR Expose provide photographers with a seamless, round-trip export process, automatically sending selected images to HDR Expose for processing and returning the final HDR image back to the original library.

In addition to integrating new features, HDR Expose enhanced a variety of features found in its predecessor, including:

  • Completely re-designed user interface

  • Improved RAW image processing

  • New Digital Readout that enables users to measure color values in RGB or Bch

  • New editable recipe procedures to simplify batch processing and saving of “favorites”

  • Enhanced performance using OpenCL GPU processing

  • New halo reduction and local contrast tools to provide more precise control

HDR Expose continues the creative momentum of HDR PhotoStudio, retaining all the features photographers have depended on to create natural images: complete control of contrast, shadow and highlights while preserving the maximum color spectrum; a comprehensive toolbox that addresses some of the common difficulties in HDR photography like noise reduction and veiling glare adjustment; and best-in-class image compression with Unified Color’s native file format, .BEF. The software also includes a .BEF-converting plug-in to directly return the resulting images to Photoshop for additional editing.

All current HDR PhotoStudio customers are eligible for a free upgrade to HDR Expose. Starting July 12, 2010, HDR Expose will be available for purchase at www.unifiedcolor.com at a list price of $149. A special introductory launch price for HDR Expose of $99 is available through July 31, 2010 and a free 30-day trial version is also available.

HDR Expose will be a featured prize in the company’s True Vision HDR Photo Contest. Photographers of all levels are invited to submit their HDR images for a chance to win prizes including a grand prize of a photo adventure through National Geographic Expeditions and a 15-inch MacBook Pro. There is no fee or purchase required to enter. Phase two of the multi-phase contest closes July 24 and more details can be found at www.unifiedcolor.com/contest.

System Requirements
PC: Windows XP, Windows Vista (for 20 MP image or larger, 64-bit Windows version is recommended.) Unified Color recommends utilizing a quad-core processor. Minimum 2 GB RAM, recommended 3 GB.

Apple: Intel Macintosh 2.5 GHz dual core CPU with 2GB minimum RAM (4GB is recommended) running Mac OS 10.5.x (Leopard) or Mac OS 10.6.2 (Snow Leopard).

About Unified Color
Unified Color Technologies is redefining the capabilities of visual technology with a unique color system that powers the next-generation of high dynamic range (HDR) imaging devices and software. A significant improvement over current industry standards, Unified Color’s new Beyond RGBTM color model presents a versatile color platform which is able to map a much larger color space encompassing the full human visual spectrum including colors found in nature and man-made light sources. Beyond RGB is available for licensing to digital imaging companies looking for a competitive market advantage. Powered by the Beyond RGB color model, the company’s flagship HDR software offerings have set a new industry standard for creating, depicting and editing the most realistic HDR images. More information about Unified Color can be found at http://www.unifiedcolor.com.


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