HDR+ on Google Nexus 5 detailed: smarter, reduces motion blur

The built-in HDR mode, present in the camera apps on most high-end and some mid-range smartphones nowadays, isn't exactly what we'd call a new feature. It has been around for several years, made possible with the introduction of better, faster, lag-free smartphone cameras. It works by taking multiple photos at different exposure levels, which are then digitally combined together to produce a photo with a broader dynamics range. In a properly taken HDR shot, darker areas aren't too dark and lighter areas aren't too bright.

Because of the way smartphones compose HDR photos, the software that takes care of stitching them together is no less important than the camera used to capture the original image. Google's developers are perfectly aware of that, which is why they have put extra effort into improving the HDR shots taken by the Nexus 5 smartphone. The handset features the so-called HDR+ mode – a smarter HDR mode that can be used for capturing "vivid photos by day and sharper photos by night". When enabled, it can improve not only scenes containing both bright and dark sections, but also low-light images and shots with moving objects in them. Again, the software takes a rapid burst of photos and uses advanced algorithms to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the combined image. If movement is detected, HDR+ takes only the sharpest single shot for that area, thus reducing motion blur.

To give you a better understanding as to how an HDR+ image is superior to a standard one, we've attached several images below, demonstrating how much of an improvement can be expected from the mode.  Impressed by the results? Or were you expecting more? Let us know down in the comments!

Related phones

Nexus 5
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2260 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 2300 mAh(17h talk time)



1. scriptwriter

Posts: 396; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

In all fairness, i had noticed that the setting was called HDR+ rather than HDR. I thought it might of been Google trying to get round patient laws, but this article makes more sense

2. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

HDR (and whatever they want to call the enhanced version) is a great feature when well-implemented. The only downside is the length of time it takes to stitch the multiple images together. The best implementations can do a 3-pic stitch in approximately a second.

3. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

For me HDR+ looks like 2 shots (like on Nexus 4) stitched together and ran though something similar to Auto Awesome. End results often don't look like "regular HDR" where you obviously lose contrast due to the different exposure and higher dynamic range, but rather the pro HDR shots with heavier post-processing. I guess it's okay, cause end results are better than on the Nexus 4, however I'd still prefer it untouched and the me doing the levels and contrast. Let's see what HDR method the Nexus 4 gets on 4.4.

15. mountainloafers

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

It does not look like either the n4 or n7.2 have the HDR+ option. At least not on mine running 4.4

4. marbovo

Posts: 658; Member since: May 16, 2013

Not a big deal, like every HDR, it leaves the pictures a little cartunish.

5. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

HDR sucks.. There you have it.

7. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

i do not like how it looks

8. scsa852k

Posts: 331; Member since: Oct 16, 2012

It takes a little while to snap shots compared to non HDR+ mode, but I'm really impressed with the quality of the pictures that Nexus 5 produces with its 8 MP on HDR+ mode.

9. blazee

Posts: 414; Member since: Jan 02, 2012

I do like how it looks

10. smee1216

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 13, 2013

Quality it great BUUUUUT.. Since this thread has been started. It fails to mention that when you take a portrait HDR+ photo its dimensions are 3200 x 2368. This when MMS messaged to another person creates a distorted "fatty" image. However when you upload the HDR+ photo it comes out normal fine and portrait mode. I don't know if this is a software issue that needs to immediately be addressed but it is annoying. P.s. great photos. Always shoot using HDR+ if the subject is steady enough

11. Mahdi007

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 12, 2013

Will this feature come to the nexus 4 after update to the android 4.4?

14. mountainloafers

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

I don't see it on the N4 or N7.2...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.