Why, when, and how to take HDR photos with your smartphone
Why should I take HDR photos with my smartphone?
Thanks for asking. We should start this paragraph by stating that human vision, comprised of our eyes seeing and our brains interpreting visual information, is in many ways superior to even a high-end smartphone's camera. Humans naturally perceive a very wide portion of the dynamics range, while digital cameras are somewhat limited in that respect. That's why in photos of a high-contrast scene, brighter areas may appear totally white, or darker areas may turn out totally black, depending on the exposure setting.
An example of a high-contrast scene taken with a Galaxy S4. Brightly lit areas appear white while darker areas have turned out totally black
The same scene taken with a Galaxy S4 using HDR mode. Note the presence of details in the shadows
When should I take HDR photos with my smartphone and when should I leave it off?
Also, you should avoid taking HDR photos of moving objects. Since the camera needs to take multiple shots in order to produce the HDR image, every change in position of your subject may result in stitching imperfections or motion blur. This is also why you should stand as still as possible while snapping the shot.
HDR photos are also unsuitable for cases when timing is of importance. That's because once you take an HDR shot, there's usually a brief moment during which further photos can't be captured. That's because the software is processing the image you already took. If you're planning on snapping a rapid sequence of photos, better leave HDR off.
Keep in mind that results may vary from one camera to another due to differences in the way their HDR modes are configured. Some cameras expand the dynamics range just a little, others boost it a lot, and then there are also smartphone cameras with totally messed up, barely usable HDR mode. That is why we'd suggest taking the time to experiment how HDR mode works on your particular smartphone. Go out, take some HDR photos, and see if you'll like them better than the standard ones.
So how do I enable HDR on my smartphone again?
Automatic mode vs HDR
1. reckless562 (Posts: 851; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)
how bout HDR for a samsung epic 4G touch? "galaxy s2 SPH-D710"
2. mr.techdude (Posts: 551; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)
HTC one x is by far the best HDR camera photos. It's sooo accurate and highly detailed it's not funny.
7. mrblah (Posts: 455; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)
i had that phone, it must be your first smart phone, the iphone has hdr that is vastly superior, also, when you take hdr on iphones, they also take a 2nd photo copy with it off so you can decide which one came out better.PA need to claify the hdr is only on the side when the iphone is sideways, other wise it dead center at the top.
3. mokhtar (Posts: 249; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)
personnaly i don't use hdr mode , but i leave automatic mode ( xperia z1 ) choose the right moment to use it , and this mode do a very well job here , but when i use 20 mp and if the weather is darker and there is no sun then i help with HDR mode
thanks for this article
4. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1304; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)
I used HDR on my Nexus 4 only when the lighting isn't great. However, it does take a few second to take the picture XD
6. apple4never (Posts: 964; Member since: 08 May 2013)
why not show examples of sony's superior auto mode vs the hdr?
8. buccob (Posts: 1481; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)
in phones, Superior Auto just recognizes the scene and adjust accordingly... but in Cybershot cameras AND the QX-100 which I got it gives you Superior Auto & Intelligent Auto... the former is actually a combination of 3-5 pics that can enable HDR and other adjustment, but the Intelligent auto is a scene recognition just like Xperias (but with sport, tripod and other added scenes)
So in reality I would say Xperia have Intelligent Auto... nothing superior about it when compared to dedicated cameras...
(Although most of the time I love the auto mode in my Xperia... it gets 90% the right scene)
9. mokhtar (Posts: 249; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)
in superior auto mode he choose HDR automaticly