What is HDR on iPhone?

You’ve frequently used pretty much all modes of your iPhone camera but you’re entirely sure how some of them works. HDR is one particular camera mode in mind. What is HDR on iPhone exactly?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. In the imaging and photography realm, the HDR technique is aimed at adding more “dynamic range” to photographs. Dynamic range is the ratio of light to dark in photographs. Shooting in HDR using high-end cameras allows shooters to take three, four, five, or more successive photos at different exposures, and you’ll have a hand at stitching the best parts of all photos in the bunch into one photo during post-processing.


HDR on iPhone

In the case of HDR on iPhone, your phone does the heavy lifting for you. Shooting in HDR mode will produce one regular photo and one HDR photo.

For HDR to be achieved on your iPhone, your camera takes three shots at different exposures — one at normal exposure, one brightest part of the scene, and one darkest part of the scene. This is why shooting in HDR on iPhone takes a few milliseconds more to process than the default camera mode. And then, your iPhone automatically blends the best parts of the three photos. As a result, HDR photos are well-lit with balanced exposure and the best color and detail in both the bright and dark areas.

When to Use HDR on iPhone

HDR is meant to enhance shots you’ve taken with your iPhone camera. To take full advantage of this feature, only take HDR images in the right situations.

  • Low-light scenes. HDR brings out the best details in dim lighting situations. Make sure to turn off the flash.
  • Landscapes. Your iPhone camera can’t deal perfectly well with landscape scenes in just one photo because of the high level of contrast between the sky and land. HDR captures details more precisely.
  • Backlit portraits. Too much lighting from the sun could wash out your subject with blown highlights. This causes dark shadows and bright glare. HDR helps prevent underexposing the subject.



When Not to Use HDR on iPhone

It’s important to understand that HDR isn’t for every kind of situation. Don’t overdo it by using this feature on all of your photos — like in the following situations:

  • Moving subjects/scenes. HDR blurs photos with movement, hence some noticeable halos.
  • High-contrast scenes. HDR tones down the dark shadows and silhouettes of some photos, making them look less interesting. 
  • Vivid colors. HDR works best in bringing out the best in too dark or too light scenes. Hence, using it in scenes with vivid colors could wash them out.

How to Take HDR Photo on iPhone

Step 1: Open the Camera app.

Step 2: Tap HDR and set it to Auto or On.

Step 3: Tap the shutter button.

As mentioned, this will produce one regular photo and one HDR photo. The HDR photo has a label on the upper-left corner. To save space, you can disable this feature and just keep the HDR version in your library. Just go to Settings > Camera > Keep Normal Photo > switch off the toggle.



Some photographers frowned upon the use of HDR while others use it for a living. At the end of the day, using HDR on iPhone should be a matter of choice.

Do you have photos taken in HDR on iPhone? We’d love to know what you think of it!

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