Hands-on with HDR photos on the Apple iPhone 4

Hands-on with HDR photos on the Apple iPhone 4
Arguably packing on one of the best cameras found on any current generation smartphone on the market, the iPhone 4's camera taking prowess is looking to be supplemented even further with the recent introduction of high dynamic range (HDR) photos. Packaged along with the update for iOS 4.1, HDR photos are basically created by combining three sets of images – one with highlights, shadows, and mid-ranges. When combined together, they're alleged to produce some of the most stunning looking images which optimizes the white balance of the shot; thus producing richer looking images. Naturally, we had to check out this new feature for ourselves to better gauge whether or not the handset will actually substantially make good looking photos even better.

Now the nice thing about shooting HDR photos on the iPhone 4 is that both the original and HDR images are saved together so you can instantly compare the two. If you happen to be taking shots where the situation requires you to use the flash, HDR will automatically be turned off. Nonetheless, we decided to take some sample shots in various conditions to see for ourselves if the images taken in HDR would produce a considerable improvement in quality.

In the short time we were checking out the feature, HDR photos can either be a hit or miss thing – meaning that in some cases we did see some improvements, while in others, not so much. In sunny outdoor settings, we found that colors looked more saturated versus the ones produced by the HDR image. As you can see below in one of the images, we actually prefer the richer looking colors of the red cars as opposed to the lighter shades in the HDR image. Upon looking at the grass in another shot, we again see that the HDR image brightened up the shot which made the grass look a lot lighter in tone. However, in our hands-on video, we did find some improvements with an image taken up close as it was able to meticulously display more detail over the regular image. Again, we see it work rather well indoors in another image below where you can distinctly see the prices of some items. When you look closely at the original, the prices on some of the tags are totally indistinguishable – making the HDR image look a lot more appealing.

Though, we did run into something surprising as we transferred photos from the iPhone 4 to our computer. For some odd reason, some HDR images were extremely large in size – in fact, they were over 50MB in size! Regardless, the HDR feature on the iPhone 4 will attempt to clean up images the best it can, but after experiencing it first hand, it may or may not show some considerable improvements.

Apple iPhone 4 Specifications | Review



1. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

Sorry but my HTC Incredible's photos are far more superior than either of these examples...you cant make 5 million pixels look anymore than 5 million pixels, period, so to say the best camera on the market today, psshhh, the screen resolution helps but side by side pound for pound Incredible wins this one. Not to mention I love how the video hes like "look at the regular photos, they arent that good, BUT WITH HDR!....." wow, it seems like we're a few updates away fromm everyone admitting prior to the updates the phone originally sucked

2. Ram72 unregistered

PapaJay224 see video below, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI0qP_it9tg ( iPhone 4 vs Droid Incredible comparison by TechnoBuffalo) At the end, personal preferences is what drives your purchase.

6. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Papajay, you're smoking some serious fanboy crack if you think the incredible takes better pics. I traded my iphone 14 for the htc desire and they aren't as good. And despite your megapixels the desired takes better pics than your camera never mind the iphone 4

18. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

Im sure what your saying, You have a desire, I have an Incredible, so your statement doesnt mean anything. And then you say nevermind the iPhone 4? Isnt that what we are debateing...the crack is clearly in your pipe Ram...

19. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

sorry *Not sure what your saying

20. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

IPhone 4 camera > HTC desire > incredible camera. If I could use hand puppets I would ... basically you must be a heavy fanboy if you think the incredible takes better pics than the iPhone 4. You have to give the phone some credit- this should be it for sure.

21. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

The entire internet will tell you the same.

22. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Double post on my part...fail.

29. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

The entire internet will tell you people are content with 5MP and see no need to cancel recent to move to an 8MP. So the acceptance level is the same, but the question is quality/resolution, its a biased statement to say the "best camera" on the market when it isnt. I will admit the Retna display is pretty awesome, but its also the reason the pictures turn out so clear. 5MP cant and wont beat 8MP period. You will get cleaner crisper, more high defenition shots with 3 million more pixels garenteed. (spell check = fail)

37. mljother unregistered

Ummm...more MP does NOT mean better pictures, gosh the shit companies feed consumers these days is unreal. I am not contesting the iPhone 4 is better/worse, since I don't own one, but I can say this, it's the QUALITY of the m'fk sensor that makes a difference, not how many MPs. My 8MP Canon SD1100 takes better pictures than any 8MP phone cameras for the simple fact that the sensor is better.

3. rent unregistered

Just saying but, don't people still realise that HDR is a toll and it's supposed to be used on HDR worthy pictures only? All the time since the HDR thing came to the iPhone people seem to realise it must be a default thing, using it all the time.

4. fkj unregistered

I would say unless you're a stickler for details..HDR is worthy..unless you're printing the pics for a museum..whatcha got now is fine

5. msr3241 unregistered

I personally this the iphone 4 pictures HDR look terrible. Theyre all grainy even on a zoomed in picture. Look at one of the Androids with the 8 megapixel cameras, whether its one of the HTC's or the motorolas. Gorgeous details to them and absolutely no graininess.

7. rent unregistered

At times is hard to believe how fanboys those kids can be... Seriously, they are just the same as those kids who believe a game is as good as its graphical quality... seriously dude, when did megapixel start to mean quality? That is so 13-yo ish

9. corp unregistered

I agree with you rent, papajay and msr are seriously confused if they think that more megapixels mean better picture quality its aboslute nonsense. and anyone who knows anything about cameras will tell you there is more to good digital pictures than megapixel count.

10. lolololol unregistered

Megapixels isn't everything when it comes to taking pictures but it is something. To say megapixels don't matter at all is such a moronic statement and though it hasn't been said directly in any of these counter-posts some of you are sure implying that. A phone with a 12 megapixel camera will take much better pictures than a 1.3 megapixel camera regardless of background or even movement. A 12 mp blurry picture will look better than a 1.3 mp still shot. In the original news post the original pictures, at least the one that show the most difference: the aisle picture, could be fixed by simply altering contrase ratios or adjusting white balance. Either way, you're all idiots. Not because of anything that has to do with this article but simply because you are.

11. rent unregistered

Yes it is another characteristic but it doesn't define the picture quality. Nice and everything your comparison between a 12mp and a 1.3 one but this is 8 vs 5 and 8 means not much since it's pretty easy to use a 3mp sensor and inflate it to make it seem as it takes 8mp pictures. Just seeing the pictures you can say the iPhone has a better camera overall but having a HDR by default is pretty much a good option.

14. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

Ok wow, so your saying than 1080p isnt different thatn 720p? Theres more pixels there, and Im sure most would agree 1080p looks better right? And not to mention, I was speaking from experience that this post is showing off "awesome photos" using the 5mp cam on the iPhone and I have taken FAR BETTER photo's on accident with my 8mp cam on my Incredible. You would seriously be a fool to say the more MP doesnt equal better qulaoty, THATS THE POINT, IF IT DIDNT GET BETTER BY BEING BIGGER WHY WOULD THEY DO IT!?!?!?! With that being said, rather, yelled, to you idiots. I have seen plenty from pictures from lower MP cameras that still look amazing, but had a larger MP camera been introduced, side by side, there would be no comparison. My uncle runs a camera shop and he has one of those 15mp Nikon camera's and you could take professional photos of the carpet and people would think your an artist. It makes a difference, and I cant beleive you all are that rediculous. I bet you still own you 3.2 MP camera from 3 years ago right? No, you probably own the most current and update camera with 10+ megapixels. Give up your fanboy flag and be realistic. PLease.

15. Rent unregistered

No, I am not. Read it again

17. JeffdaBeat unregistered

Yeah...I mean look at human sight...we don't measure in MP, but lets say it did. We can all generally see the same amount size wise, but the difference is how good the lens is. I can see the same amount of space anyone else can, but my vision sucks so anything I see is blurry. Still detailed...but blurry detail. Higher MPs means a larger photo, but that means nothing if the lens is crap. Just means you can blow a blurry picture up pretty big without seeing the actual pixels. This has been something I've been trying to tell customers for years when buying phones, but since manufacturers rarely tell you about the camera lens, people only base it off of the MP count.

23. rent unregistered

I don't think you should waste your time at all... Those haters will only try to distort your words and provoke you with nonsense statements, let that slide, it's them who are gonna get a dhitty product.

27. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

Its OK that iphone undercut you again, and your bitter about getting a 5mp. Keep sleeping with your hope blanket that your once great iphone will surpass industry standards more than 1 time. Id be upset to if I bought a brand new 3 your old phone. Intact id convince myself that my 5 was better than my 8 mp camera, because im butt hurt, and nieve...please...

35. rent unregistered

Why are you so bitter at all? I don't own an iPhone, I give a shit about which phone you own, the HTC incredible has a 5mp sensor able to shoot 8mp sized pictures, period... It matters not what the manufacturer tells you, what matters is the real lens quality, and HTC takes blurry and grannies pictures because it's got a little lens taking big pictures. Easier example: it's like grabbing a 1000x1500 picture and resizing it to 2000 to 3000 and claiming it's been taken with a bigger sensor. That's what the phone internally does. Everyone has agreed the iPhone has got one of the best cameras so far... Saying it's old because of your blind fanboysm is not fair nor accurate. So if you like to enter to articles about products that you don't like/own just to trash it and defend the company that YOU are paying to then better go and check your priorities... Because there is something wrong...

8. rafaelinux

Posts: 31; Member since: Jun 29, 2009

I think you got it wrong, seriously, the original pictures weren't meant to be taken in HDR. You know, you should have a shot with the need for a high dynamic range. And these photos were pretty easy on the camera by themselves. Take a pic of a sunset, of a window in a dark room. Like showing off the retina display because of the colors and not because of the resolution. You totally missed the point..

31. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

Thats what I think I think the camera only looks good if your looking at it on the display, because the pics here that I look at look like garbage compared to hotos I have taken on my Droid Inc.

12. doodie unregistered

Does the iPhone screen really have a blue/green patch in the middle?

13. rent unregistered

Nop, they took a picture on the place that the cat was in the other picture but after it was gone, that's the cat's pee :P

30. PapaJay224

Posts: 866; Member since: Feb 08, 2009

so you appearently the guy that posted this article since your trolling around makeing sure everyone sais something about it right?

16. Kindaannoyed unregistered

Seriously iPhone Arena...there are SO many newer phones with stats that are rapidly blowing away the iPhone, and yet we have articles about how great its rapidly aging camera is? The droid X, Incredible, Evo, etc...all have no articles about their more advanced and more capable cameras. I'm just really tired of articles like this. The iPhone is just another rapidly aging smartphone. Get OVER it!

24. rent unregistered

Dont like the comment, don't click it. Is that so hard?

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