Simply HDR HD iPad app review

The market for photography apps on the iPad is really starting to heat up and as the technology gets better and better I am more excited about what the future of tables is going to be. Today I want to review an app that caught my attention the other day Simply HDR for the iPad. The app says its the “Single shot HDR iPad app” so I wanted to check out really how well this worked. Most of you know that HDR is a way of increasing the dynamic range of a shot usually by combining multiple images into 1. If you are interested in HDR photography check out this past post “Learn the basics of HDR photography

So lets jump right into this app and see what it’s all about. You start from selecting a photo from your iPad. The app will only allow you to get photos from the iPad not bring them in from other sources like Facebook which is too bad. Once you bring a photo in there is a list of pre-set styles on the right hand side to select what type of an HDR look you are going for. There are 5 different sets of styles that each have 10 HDR presets inside. The stye sets are broken down into the following: HDR, Black & White, Contrasted HDR, Contrasted Light and Shadows & Light.

I started with this pretty flat image of a beach in Kauai.


After trying out the styles in the HDR set most of them were too dark and contrasty for my taste. Going through the rest of the sets they all did seem to have too much of a harsh contrast applied to the image.


You can adjust the settings though and even create your own presets so I went back to the main HDR set and went with the subtle HDR preset. Clicking on the adjust tab at the top you can fine tune the effect by changing the Radius, Strength, smoothing, Vignette Fade and Vignette Strength. I modified these sliders a little to get a more workable image.


You can also add more grain to the image by selecting one of the grain presets. These didn’t give me the feel of a true film grain though and tended to blotch up the image and give it a sloppy look. I wasn’t impressed with the grain capabilities of this app at all.


Finally you can add a tint to the image if you would like. This gives you a pretty wide range of tones so you can replicate a warm sunset or cool the image down with some blue or grey tints.


A few things though that could make this app better.

– Real time previews. I love being able to preview what the effect will be before having the tap on it and wait for the effect to render. If you don’t want to have a real time preview then at least use the same photo for all of the samples. Right now the app uses different images to show the sample so you never really know what the change is going to be until you click on it. Then you have to wait for the changes to render and try another one out if you don’t like it. Takes up way too much time.

– Speed. Compared to some other iPad photography apps I have recently used the rendering of changes could be quicker. Especially since you don’t know exactly what the effect will look like it’s nice to have things apply as quick as possible.

Overall I would give this app a 2 out of 5. The effects aren’t that great and the user interface could be improved upon. I think that HDR photography has come a long way in the last few years. At the start people were way overdoing the effects while now there is a more subtle HDR look going on in the photography community that I love and can be very beautiful. Unfortunately this app goes back to the style of HDR that I never was a fan of. If you do like this style of HDR then head on over to the App store and you can pick up Simply HDR for just $2.99.

Also I created some free HDR lightroom presets awhile back. Although nothing beats bracketing multiple exposures and making a real HDR image if you do want to try out creating a HDR look on an old photo check these out here: Free HDR Ligthroom Presets.

If you like our articles remember to share them on Facebook, Twitter or +1 them on Google. I appreciate you spreading the word to your photo friends! Also remember to always start a conversation by leaving a Facebook comment at the bottom of the page. I love to hear from you. Also let me know what your favorite iPad app is for photography in the comments below!

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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