We often hear about HDR, but not everybody knows that this is the abbreviation for the high dynamic range. In this article, we want to investigate what this function means, why it should be used and whether it is necessary or not.
Without a doubt, you came across the mysterious HDR in the settings of your own or your colleague’s camera several times. In this article, we want to investigate what this function means, why it should be used and whether it is necessary or not.
We often hear about HDR, but not everybody knows that this is the abbreviation for the high dynamic range. This is a form of photography that lets you to take an image with a greater dynamic range than is usually can be. This method aims to add a higher ratio of light to dark to your photos.
Every photographer has come across the problem while shooting, when the highlights have a tendency to wash out to white, or the dark colors simply become big black blobs. It's common knowledge that it is difficult to take a picture which catches both ends of this spectrum.
Otherwise, there are many new techniques for taking pictures and retouching services which help professional photographers to realize their wants. Generally, this is HDR: a unique kind of image with an uncommonly high dynamic range that you can’t make by taking only one single shot.
If you are planning to purchase the best HDR camera or a mirrorless camera, we have picked the 5 most reliable options on the market. If you are a novice, make sure to choose a camera for an amateur photographer.
When selecting the best camera for HDR shooting check whether it really supports HDR. If you already have a good camera that doesn’t support an HDR mode, you may use special HDR software.
Resolution: 61MP | Sensor size: Full frame | Type: Mirrorless
The Sony ILCE-7RM4 tops our list of HDR cameras. Among all the full-frame cameras on the market, the 60-MP Sony A7R IV ensures the highest resolution.
With this camera, you can take photos in any genre. Thanks to the high shooting speed (up to 10 shots per second) and excellent autofocus, the A7R IV may be used for dynamic shooting. It has great autofocus and supports real-time tracking.
However, this camera won’t be a perfect choice for anybody. After ISO 1600, the image quality gets worse. This model is for professionals who need to take high-quality photos.
Resolution: 36.3 MP| Sensor size: Full Frame| Type: DSLR
The Nikon D810 is the best HDR camera for photographers who appreciate irreproachable image quality. It offers excellent color rendering, which makes it perfect for taking landscape, wedding, promotional photos. Thanks to the 36-megapixel matrix without a low-frequency optical filter, the D810 allows you to take pictures with a high level of detail.
In the settings, you can choose the exposure range (Stage 1, 2, 3). In fact, your images are merged so quickly, that you won’t even notice the message Job HDR on your viewfinder.
Resolution: 30.4 MP | Sensor size: Full Frame | Type: DSLR
This Canon HDR camera supports a resolution of up to 30 megapixels and delivers excellent performance at ISO up to 6400. With it, you can take great pictures for social networks.
Thanks to the Dual Pixel RAW feature, the camera saves data from two photodiodes of every pixel. This minimizes ghosting and flare.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a great choice for any genre, such as reportage, promotional photography, or professional video making.
Resolution: 26.1MP | Sensor size: APS-C | Type: Mirrorless
The Fujifilm X-T4 is a powerful camera for photo and video shooting. It is a great option among the high-quality HDR digital cameras. Besides, this flagship camera is fitted with an in-built five-axial image stabilizer.
The videos are smooth. You can shoot them in hand-held mode at a wide range of shutter speeds. The shutter is now quieter and quicker. You can take up to 15 shots per second with a mechanical shutter, and up to 30 with an electronic one. The Fujifilm X-T4 comes with HDR support and allows you to shoot footage in RAW.
Resolution: 24.2 MP | Sensor size: APS-C | Type: Mirrorless
If your budget is limited, but you still want to get the best HDR camera, take a look at the Sony ILCE a6300. It’s more expensive than the a6000 as it has better build quality and autofocus. Besides, it supports 4K-video recording and allows you to take high-quality photos at high ISO. However, it still has some color rendering issues in JPEG mode, but the image quality in RAW mode is really impressive.
In HDR mode, the camera takes three shots with different exposure. Then, they are merged into one photo with deeper lights and shadows. It can adjust the parameters automatically. Besides, you can adjust the exposure range manually (up to 6 EV). You can take HDR photos only in JPEG format. When using RAW mode, you won’t be able to turn HDR on.
Another great feature is DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization). It enhances the tone balance by making shadows and highlights more visible. I always set DRO to Auto mode.
If you are planning to shoot in HDR, the first thing to do is to make sure your equipment is properly set up. You may need to change some basic settings.
We recommend applying the following settings for HDR cameras:
Shooting mode. If you are using an Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) option, use Aperture priority or Manual mode. If you are shooting without brackets, choose Manual mode.
Image Quality. It’s better to take photos in RAW.
Set Release (Drive) Mode. If you are working with AEB, you should set Release Mode to High-Speed Continuous. This will allow you to take bracketed pictures as soon as you press the shutter release button. When using Manual mode, set the camera’s drive to Single shot.
ISO. Turn off Auto ISO and manually set ISO to a minimum value if you are using a tripod when shooting brackets. This will minimize noise. For hand-held shooting, try increasing ISO for a higher shutter speed.
Noise Reduction (NR). When using AEB, turn off the noise reduction feature to get a better frame rate.
Auto Exposure Bracketing. Turn it on and adjust the settings.
In some situations, the best HDR camera can guarantee you much better pictures. The final quality of your photos also depends on your shooting style. For example, photographers who opt for the “hyper-real” style of shooting, will significantly enhance their results with the HDR mode. However, HDR is suitable for all types of photography. The most appropriate genres for HDR are:
Scenes in low light or backlit. Good HDR cameras can make the foreground look brighter without affecting the parts which have enough light. This way, your pictures won’t look too dark, which might happen if the scene has too much backlight.
Nature and landscape. When taking pictures of landscapes, it might be impossible to show the contrast between the land and the sky. HDR digital cameras can capture the details of the sky, without making the land look too dark.
Portraits in sunlight. An integral part of every photo is lighting. Too much lighting on the face will cause dark shadows, glare, or other issues. Using HDR mode, you can minimize the effects caused by harsh sunlight, making the subject look better.
There are cases when HDR mode can make your photos look worse. When you are shooting a moving object, a high-contrast scene, or objects of extremely bright colors, make sure not to use HDR.
Often it is difficult for many photographers to develop their own HDR shooting style. If you are going to tinker with HDR, use the following tips.
For example, your HDR photography style includes a 3 frame-2 stop bracketed sequence, spot metering mode with a 2 second timer and Mirror Lock-Up enabled, so you can dial all of these settings into the “C1” or “U1” custom mode on your camera.
Further, when you are ready to start taking pictures, you can just set it to the custom mode on your camera and all of those settings will automatically be switched, and then it’s time to shoot. Following this advice will let you waste less time fumbling with your camera and more time with accepting new photo sessions!
High dynamic range imaging can be a great tool for getting better pictures. If you aren’t able to buy a new DSLR or other camera with good "in-camera" HDR, you may just use photo editing outsourcing. If you just want to try the HDR style of shooting, FixThePhoto can provide you such a level of retouching for an affordable photo editing prices.