I have been doing HDR for a couple of years with two D300 bodies and good Nikon glass...mostly a 24-70mm f2.8. I just received my new D800 yesterday, and immediately went into test mode shooting HDR. I use CS5 to merge 5-7 RAW frames shot at 1 EV increments. I mostly use Topaz plug-ins in addition to ACR after I complete the merge process.
When I started processing my D800 HDR frames, I noticed a loss of sharpness and details with each additional layer of Topaz tweaks (DeNoise, Adjust and Clean). I found that starting with Infocus helped, but I still feel like I am losing what I captured in the first place.
A professional photographer friend says he switched from Topaz to Nik plug-ins when he started using a medium format Pentax. He suggests that I do the same for my D800 work. He says Nik works better with the high pixel density.
Can any of you shed some light on this topic? I would really like to keep shooting HDR, but I also want to keep all of the sharpness and details the D800 provides.
Knowing how Photomatix works with D800 images is not my issue. The merging process with either CS5 or Photomatix works fine...actually seems faster than with smaller D300 images. The issue is using the plug-ins to "improve" the image after the merge. I typically merge 5-7 RAW files (not JPEG and not in-camera), then store the merged file as a TIFF so I can bring it back into Adobe Camera RAW 6.7 for processing. It is after I leave ACR and go into CS5 that I have the issue with Topaz plug-in modules.
My question is: should I expect better results with Nik plug-in modules than with Topaz for these D800 HDR images?
I'm not familiar with the Topaz tools but "DeNoise" and "Adjust and Clean" sound like noise reduction filters to me. I'd fully expect these to soften details & sharpness. Why are you running noise filters? Do you have visible noise?