HDRSoft, makers of Photomatix Pro have released a little known plugin for Lightroom 1.3, 1.4 and 2.x for building HDR images. I discovered this plugin while reading this article at “Lightroom Killer Tips” and have been using it a lot since then. The plugin works really well even though it appears to still be available only as a beta.
Once you have installed the plugin for Lightroom 2, you can manage the export settings by going to “File -> Export…”. This brings up the Export settings dialog where you should now see “Photomatix” as a new preset group listed on the left side of the dialog box. Located under the new Photomatix preset group you should find 4 default presets to get you started, but you will likely want to add your own. All of the default presets are setup to export your images in the TIFF format. The difference between them are the color space and bit depth they use. If you are like me however, you’ll want to create a new preset that exports the Raw DNG format in order to get the best possible quality HDR merge.
The trick to getting Lightroom to use your preset instead of the default preset is in the way you launch the Photomatix plugin. If you use “File -> Plug-in Extras -> Export to Photomatix Pro…”, then Lightroom will use the preset called “Standard (16-bit AdobeRGB)”. This may or may not be the one you want Lightroom to use.
The way you get control over the preset Lightroom 2 is going to use is to launch the plug-in like this: “File -> Export…”. In the Export settings dialog, choose the preset you want under the Photomatix preset group and make any last minute changes to the Export settings. When you are satisfied, click the “Export” button and Lightroom will export the selected files using the specified settings and then send them to Photomatix Pro. Once Photomatix Pro has been lauched, you will see the same series of dialogs and windows that you see when you launch Photomatix Pro manually or by drag-and-drop, etc.
Being able to select your images from within Lightroom sure has made the process a lot easier for me compared to the steps I was doing before.