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High Dynamic Range in iOS4.1 compared to Pro HDR app

iOS4.1 loaded, bug fixes tested, now onto the fun new enhancements!

First off, the new button in the Camera area to take High Dynamic Range photos.

If you have not used a HDR app before, this will create much more lifelike photos the way your eyes see the world around you. Software that take HDR photos, takes a image focusing on the bright areas where the dark areas are almost black, followed by taking a picture focusing on the darker areas where the bright areas are completely washed out… then merges the two together so you can see all across the levels of light. Normally, when you take a picture, the brightness is adjusted to the place you tap to focus on, resulting in some areas very dark or very bright. HDR gives you the best of both in a single image.

The additional new option on the camera view screen is to turn on/off HDR. When off, you get the normal image you would prior to iOS4. Here is an image taken focusing on the average area so you can see the bright areas are OK but a touch washed out.

With the HDR feature turned on, you can see the trees clearly, the clouds and blue sky, along with the building bricks crisp. You can choose from the settings area that if using the HDR option to have just the HDR image or the original and HDR image in your camera roll.

As an example, here is a HDR image done with Pro HDR which has been used a lot on this site over the last year.

Of course, the pictures do not align exactly but they were taken seconds apart from each other… I moved a little launching the Pro HDR app.

In the case of Pro HDR, you get the above image as we as the extreme dark and opposite bright images in your camera roll. Not really needed if everything is perfect but this is handy if you want to go back and tune the output since the app will reimport those images to use again if you need.

Looking at the two images (2nd and 3rd from the top in this post), you can see there is a bit of a difference in quality of images between the iOS4.1 HDR and one taken with Pro HDR. The iOS4.1 seems more ‘real’ with it’s colors and depth, while the Pro HDR is sharper and seems to really pull the lights and darks together to their maximum level. It is similar to the world as you see with your eyes versus wearing filtered glasses. The second show the fine detail that you may miss with your naked eyes. This app over the iOS4.1 is especially nice if your taking a picture of a green field with a farm house and light clouds in the sky.

What you can’t see in these photos is the time to take the image. The iOS4 process take just under 5 seconds. You click the shutter, there is some onscreen auto focusing/adjusting going on and within 5 seconds the image is in the camera roll. I know, that is really long now that we have the super fast camera action of a iPhone 4 and iOS4, but not that bad compared to a iPhone 3 with OS 3.x.

In the case of Pro HDR, you getting closer to 15 seconds. After launching the app, choosing to run HDR in auto mode, you tap the screen to take the picture. The screen runs through a series of bright and dark focusing, then warns you to stand still while it goes through taking image one and then image two. This process is taking on the average 10 seconds in our tests. The screen then blanks and the images are saved, then pops up an aligning and finally a merging screen… these two steps take another 5 to 10 seconds depending on the range between light and dark.

A feature that Pro HDR has after the images are merged that iOS4.1 doesn’t provide is the ability to tune the image before saving it to the camera roll. The saving takes another few seconds. So, end to end Pro HDR takes 20+ seconds per image.

In the end, will I delete Pro HDR now that I have iOS4.1? No… the app does a lot of specialized things the built in camera doesn’t for causing images to really pop as well as being able to adjust the image right in the app. It does take considerably longer to take a HDR image though. So, I will use the built in HDR function of the camera in any image that doesn’t have moving things and Pro HDR when I’m have a few extra seconds and need to extra ‘pop’ in the image.

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Posted in Advanced, Application reviews, Built in features.

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