HDRI in Photoshop CS2

Just started playing around with the Merge to HDR… tool in PS (file>automate>merge to hdr) it will take ANY series of tone-controlled jpgs and even stabilize them for you. My mind has been totally blown, I thought it was a lot harder to do. 80 meg HDR maps of my shitty little room, here I come! Anyone have any tips on the best conversion from 32-bit to 16-bit? I am pretty new to curves tool, and I like that soft, noisy glow that a lot of HDR images have.

But I have a question - anyone know how to convert the HDR to an angular map? all the effects are greyed out when I’m working in 32bit, so I can’t convert to polar. will the HDR IBL still work if it’s a 16-bit PNG or does it have to be in the HDR format? Are OpenEXRs supported?

I just had another idea - setting up a scene, exporting a series of stills at different exposures, merging them to HDR and then reimporting that as a background. you’d get both the lighting in the scene and enormous reduction of render time!