Thursday, September 16, 2010

iOS 4.1 vs Pro HDR

When Steve Jobs announced that iOS 4.1 would add HDR capabilities to the iPhone 4's native camera app I was very intrigued. Not long before that announcement I had purchased the Pro HDR app and was very pleased at the results. As soon as I was able to install the 4.1 upgrade on my iPhone 4 I began playing with the native HDR feature and have actually found that I prefer its results over those of Pro HDR a good share of the time. Case in point:

This is how the photo looks with no processing.

This is how it looks with iOS 4.1's built-in HDR processing.

This photo was taken with Pro HDR in "manual" mode, where I selected the bright and dark areas for the app to use in setting the different exposures to use.

I've done several other comparison shots and found that, in general, the native HDR does a better job of making the exposure consistent across the entire photo, especially when it comes to areas that would otherwise be overexposed. Pro HDR tends to do better at bringing out shadow detail by increasing the exposure in those areas, the trade-off being that highlights tend to stay on the overexposed side. One of the advantages of Pro HDR is that before saving the image you can preview it and make adjustments such as brightness, contrast and saturation, among others. My only complaint with the native HDR is that shadows tend to stay underexposed. Overall, though, I find that I usually prefer the results I get with it over those from the Pro HDR. The native HDR produces a more consistent, natural-looking exposure across the whole photo, at least to my untrained eyes.

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