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HDR photo hands-on with iPhone 4 and iOS 4.1


I've never used one of the HDR apps, so I was eager to try out this new feature using iOS 4.1 on my iPhone 4.

Launching the camera now gives you an HDR option at the top of your screen. It's automatically set to off. When you toggle the option on, it will automatically switch the camera flash to off.

Using HDR will provide you with two shots -- one normal shot and one with HDR utilized. For my test subjects I used:
  • A shot of a window from a few feet away.
  • A shot of a window standing at the window.
  • A dark shot using the cat lounging next to the iMac as a model
  • A well-lit shot using one of the other cats, who happened to claim a kitchen cabinet as his own, as a model.
The most noticeable difference came from the window shot taken a few feet away. As seen above, the normal shot has the outside areas overexposed while you can clearly see the apartment building across from mine -- including some detailed areas -- in the HDR shot. This shot was taken about eight feet from the window.Dark shot

This was, by far, the worst of the shots. The image on the left was actually taken in non-HDR mode with the flash on, and it's the one that I'd choose to keep. The version without flash and the HDR were both the same.

Well-lit shot

There wasn't much difference. Both are good shots, however the regular picture has a bit too much orange. The HDR version corrects this and the cat is better defined with more detail on his face exposed. Overall, I prefer the HDR shot.

Window at close-range

Again, not too much difference here. The normal shot is still overexposed, but not quite as much as the shot taken from further away. The HDR shot corrects this, toning down the apartment building in the rear to its normal color.

I think HDR is going to be very useful to a lot of people, but especially in places where you would normally have an overexposed image. To see HDR in action, check out this piece by fellow TUAW writer Mel Martin and how he used Pro HDR on a trip to Northern Arizona.

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iPhone

I've never used one of the HDR apps, so I was eager to try out this new feature using iOS 4.1 on my iPhone 4. Launching the camera now...