The Big Picture: How Does HDR Toning Fit In?
Does HDR toning mean you no longer need to shoot bracketed images for Merge HDR Pro? No. Realize that with HDR Toning you’re not extending dynamic range with multiple images, you’re only talking about optimizing the dynamic range of one image. When you use HDR Toning to produce straight photographs, the dynamic range of your scene must fit within what your camera sensor can capture completely; and even with noise reduction, shadows won’t be as clean as they are with merged HDR images. You’ll still want to use Merge to HDR Pro when you want to produce an image with dynamic range that’s wider than your camera can capture in one shot, and when you want as little shadow noise as possible.
But when you want HDR-like results from a shot of a moving subject, when you only have one shot, or when you want to apply an expressive, artistic HDR effect to any image, HDR Toning is your only option. Also, like the Fill Light and Recovery sliders in Camera Raw and the Shadow/Highlight command in Photoshop, HDR Toning gives you one more way to compress a single image’s dynamic range, minimizing the amount of manual dodging and burning you have to do.