HDR app shootout: Apple v. Pro HDR v. TrueHDR (updated 2x)

I did a casual high dynamic range (HDR) imaging test this morning. Apple HDR blows out the highlights, Pro HDR is heavy-handed and TrueHDR is the best.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

A guest blog by Bob Snow.

I did a casual high dynamic range (HDR) imaging test this morning. The backlit shots benefit from HDR in all cases.  Apple HDR -- now included in the iPhone's Camera app -- makes a small difference, mostly in the shadows. Pro HDR ($1.99, App Store) seems very heavy-handed but interesting. TrueHDR ($1.99, App Store) is more subtle and probably the best of the three.

Here are some sample HDR images:

(click for a higher resolution 1900 pixel wide image)

The second series of HDR test photos is well lit and does not benefit much from HDR. In fact, the Apple HDR blows out the highlights in favor of some shadow detail. Pro HDR is again very heavy-handed and TrueHDR is the best, but hardly worth the time and effort compared to the straight shot which is actually better than Apple HDR and ProHDR.

(click for a higher resolution 1900 pixel wide image)

Apple HDR is near instantaneous and is worth keeping on at all times, as long as you opt to keep the straight shot for comparison. Pro HDR is faster than TrueHDR, but the results on Auto go too far in my opinion. TrueHDR seems to provide the best overall results in Auto mode.  I did not try to fine tune any of the apps, just point and shoot on Automatic.  Using a tripod and adjusting settings would undoubtedly yield better results.

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