iPhone 4 App of the Week – ProHDR

By on October 10, 2010
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The ultimate HDR app on the iPhone 4.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is a very intuitive and old technique used to take pictures which should represent the subject matter as the human eye would see it. Basically you take 3 to 4 pictures at different exposures and combine them into one photograph that allows for all levels of light to be displayed. Normal cameras cannot capture the light the human eye can, hence the need for HDR images. However, depending on how one manipulates the contrast, exposure, white balance, saturation, etc. a normal picture in HDR can be developed with some artistic flair.

This is the reason why HDR images look unbelievably gorgeous when done right, and unrealistically appalling when done wrong.  However the biggest hurdle for HDR photography is taking the different images at different exposures. Without a stand, you will end up aligning images that maybe blurred at the edges, and good luck with a moving subject. However, modern DSLRs are fast enough and various software powerful enough to have virtually eliminated the need for stands.

Image resized to 1280x965. Default result from ProHDR.

So while the process has been pretty much streamlined for DSLRs, it was a pretty shoddy experience on mobile cameras, and pretty much impossible on the iPhone, until recently. ProHDR is a very simple HDR image processing app for the iPhone 4 and 3GS. While working on the same principle as normal HDR imaging, ProHDR only takes 2 images at significantly different exposures and then merges them together with an already tone mapped image for the preliminary result. Once the image is processed, you are free to choose amongst various settings for the final look.

The beauty of ProHDR is its simplicity. Just hold the iPhone as steady as you can, let the app analyze the subject matter and then it’ll take 2 shots in quick succession. The process takes a few seconds from start to finish. At the touch of a button, you can have very interesting pictures that look more than just another average image. Of course, the trick is to make sure you don’t have anything moving while taking the 2 separate shots, which can be a little tricky.

So many of you maybe wondering why choose this over the standard HDR image processing option provided by Apple in iOS 4.1? That is, like most things in the iOS, a very basic option. The HDR imaging in iOS 4.1 just enhances the image to bring out the shadows and highlights, all from one picture, whereas ProHDR takes 2 actual photos at different exposures. Look at the images below to see what I mean.

At $1.99 ProHDR is a really good deal, simply because it’s so easy to take good-looking HDR images with such ease. The results are in front of you, and for roughly AED 8, this is definitely a worthwhile expenditure.



From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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