If you have the Canon 7D and plan on creating some HDR images, you should plan on shooting in RAW+JPG mode. The 7D is fast enough not to slow you down even with bracketing. The problem is not all programs fully support the 7D’s Raw format. The above set of bracketed images (shot in 7D Raw) were used in all programs.
1. Photomatix 3.2
Photomatix 3.2 is the only HDR program which seems to fully support the 7D RAW format. I was able to import all three RAW files and process the images very quickly with good results!
2. Photoshop CS4 with Camera Raw 5.5
Photoshop CS4 can open the Canon 7D Raw files with the Camera Raw 5.5 update. The 7D is not officially supported yet, but the format is similar enough to the 5D Mark II for Photoshop to open. Unfortunately, Photoshop CS4′s HDR processing is not up to the same task. Whether it is a bug or completely different process, the HDR processing crashed the first time I ran the files.
I disabled the Auto-align feature and the files did process … very slowly. I rebooted and tried to process the images again with nothing else running. The images did eventually process with mixed results. Honestly, I think the original middle exposure image looked better than CS4′s HDR image.
3. FDR Tools 2.3
In my previous review of these HDR programs, my favorite program was FDR Tools. With more controls to tweak, FDR Tools produced more natural results. Unfortunately, FDR Tools will not import the 7D Raw files correctly. The images turned pink even though the preview images looked correct.
4. Lightzone 3.8
Lightzone is another program that had a problem. While not a true HDR program, Lightzone produces great HDR-like results from only 1-image. Unfortunately, Lightzone had a similar pink problem even though the program has been updated to support the 5D Mark II Raw format and the images looked correct in the preview.
The lesson from this testing — if you plan on using Canon 7D Raw files for HDR, you should shoot in RAW+JPG mode. All of these programs will process the Canon 7D’s JPGs without a problem. Eventually, they will catch up with the 7D format. It’s just a matter of when.