Apple has added a few different features to the standard camera app on the iPhone over the years and I was excited when they released the HDR feature. One of the biggest drawbacks of many point and shoot cameras (even most DSLR’s) is the dynamic range you can get. If you have a very dark area and light area in the shot you will always have some areas with no detail and it can ruin a image many times.
The other evening I went outside for a minute to witness the end of a beautiful sunset. Not having much time to grab my camera I reached for my iPhone 4S instead but knew that the normal HDR feature wouldn’t cut it. I found the Pro HDR app and decided to give it a try to see what it could do with a sunset image.
First here is a photo taken of the scene with the HDR mode turned on in the iPhone. As you can see the deck area is very underexposed and you still can’t see all of the detail in the sky either. Not anywhere near a true HDR image if I were to take a few photos with my DSLR and combine them in post production. Its a very flat looking image and really does no justice to the beauty of the sky.
I decided to try out the Pro HDR app (see the iTunes link at the bottom of the post to download this) which is an app that will take 2 photos of the scene and then combine them into a HDR image. You don’t have to use a tripod, I just held the phone as steady as I could while it was taking the photos. I’ll get into some of the details of the app in just a sec but here is what the same image looked like with Pro HDR.
It’s a pretty straightforward app, first you will compose your image and take a shot. It will take a first photo then tell you to hold still while it changes the exposure and takes a second photo. Then it will start to process the images into an HDR and give you a few sliders to edit the image. Here you have the ability to adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Warmth and tint. In the case above I adjusted the warmth a little bit to make the photo have a nice warm tone to it and give a little extra color to the shadow area in the deck.
Once you finish fine tuning the image with the sliders you are done and can save the image to your camera roll or share it.
You can also add a filter to your image by choosing one of many filters from the gallery or add a frame. The filters and frames are decent although for me the main use of this app is to create an HDR image and it kind of goes against that to add some of these filters like antique. There are many other filter apps out there that do a much better job in my opinion.
Here is another comparison of what the iPhone can do with the default HDR setting on and what the Pro HDR app can do for you. You can see from the bottom image that the Pro HDR app allows you to capture a much deeper range of tones and by using the sliders on the main screen a very nice saturation to the color of the sky.
Overall the app does a great job with creating a HDR image on your iPhone and I would give the app a 4 our of 5 stars. My only suggestions are it would be nice to ditch the filters option since I don’t see any use for filters on top of an HDR effect and also adding a little more control to the main adjustments. If you could also adjust the shadows, highlights, sharpness along with a few other simple things that would make the app pretty awesome.
Also if you are looking for a few tools to help you take better photos with your iPhone check out this list we posted awhile back: 10 iPhone accessories that can help you with your iPhotography.
You can get Pro HDR in iTunes for just $1.99 here:
Also if you love HDR and want to get more information about this type of photography check out these past articles:
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