The popularity of high dynamic range (HDR) imaging has grown in both academic and private research sectors. Since the native visualization of HDR content still has its limitations, the importance of dynamic range compression (i.e., tone-mapping) is very high. This paper evaluates observers' preference of experience in context of image tone-mapping. Given the different nature of natural and computer-generated content, the way observers perceive the quality of tone-mapped images can be fundamentally different. In this paper, we describe a subjective experiment attempting to determine users' preference with respect to these two types of content in two different viewing scenarios - with and without the HDR reference. The results show that the absence of the reference can significantly influence the subjects' preferences for the natural images, while no significant impact has been found in the case of the synthetic images. Moreover, we introduce a benchmarking framework and compare the performance of selected objective metrics. The resulting dataset and framework are made publicly available to provide a common test bed and methodology for evaluating metrics in the considered scenario. © 2016 IEEE.