The camera in the iPhone range has is best described as adequate at best. Even with statistics pointing to the fact it’s the most used camera phone out there (Flickr for example) pictures taken with the iPhone often need a little bit of a helping hand to look their best. Enter HDRtist a Mac application designed to take the hard work out of getting the best from your photos.
“HDR” stands for High Dynamic Range and is a way of taking photos and overcoming the light limitations of cameras, especially cameras found in mobile phones. Think of it as taking the same photo over and over but with different exposure settings. Some pictures lighter or darker than the other. Carefully merging these photos together results in a bigger spectrum of colour and light and greater detail in the pictures.
Obviously there is a lot more to list all the photography then our simple description thankfully HDRtist takes all the technical pain away. Upon running HDRtist you’re presented with a few options as well as some well written tutorials on how to use the program and some guidance on how to take HDR photos.
If you want a more technical explanation of high dynamic range photography see this Wikipedia link
As you can see from the example pictures above, on the left the colors are bright and in some areas bordering on overexposed. On the right colors are deeper with some and richer with I would say just a little bit more warmth.
Photos are added by a simple drag and drop into the interface. IPhoto is also supported making it handy to go from photo stream to HDRtist. Once the photos added all last left to do is press the online photos button. This process can take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or 2 depending on the resolution of your pictures.
We’ve chucked all the common image formats from Jpeg to Raw at it and HDRtist has dealt with these with no issues. Once alignment had taken place we ended up with this.
The end result can be adjusted via the Strength slider at the bottom of the interface. This allows you the ability to choose which HDR tone mapping method to use, or even a combined technique with it’s nearest neighbor. With 4 different Tone Mapping methods available, ranging from compression, light, realistic to extreme. In our example with gone to the higher range to really push the reds to the front of the picture.
Indoor Example 2
Again the left picture as you can clearly see is overexposed the lights in the center of the picture clearly have a blooming looks to them. On the right once again it’s slightly underexposed but the deep rich colors stand out more.
As you can see the end result is a lot better. Colors are matched definitely representing what the environment looked like through the naked human eye. In some places there was a little bit of overexposure but if you wanted to go the whole hog you could take this into your favorite photo editing application for final touch up.
Recently we’ve been using this for product shots of reviews in the office. As soon as we’ve cropped and uploading another example will be published. Needless to say there are no end of uses for HDRtist. From taking stunning scenery pictures to getting those shots for eBay looking that touch more professional.
A whole host load more of examples, indoor and out door can he found at the Ohanaware website.
Surprisingly few downsides.
A steady hand is a must have. Photos have to be identical to each other as near as possible. Although the program does a fine job of a adjusting small mistakes we found that anything more than a couple of degrees out resulted in blurred end results.
Sometimes we found pictures could look a tad grainy though I doubt this is the fault of the program itself more the quality of the pictures it was given in the 1st place.
As far as we can tell the application only deals with colors and HDR photography color ranges to don’t expect anything like sharpening filters or advanced editing tools. Normally if your source pictures are sharp then there will be no problem at the end results stage
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get that little bit more out of your photos then HDRtist comes highly recommended/ More often than not programs that come across as simple as this quite often don’t provide results of any use however this is definitely the exception to the rule.
HDRTist is free but you might like to take a look at the HDRtist Pro package which has a broader set of features which we are reviewing shortly. HDRtist is free from Ohanaware and the pro package is a reasonable $29.99.