What Does Auto HDR Mean and How to Use It on Digital Camera and Smartphone

Last Updated on November 15, 2021 by Peter Wood


When you have a Sony HDR camera, you might find an Auto HDR mode. The Auto HDR modes are only available in several new DSLRs from Nikon, Pentax, and Sony Cameras. If you have any query for the Auto HDR, you can find something useful in the article. And you can take advantage of the HDR auto feature to get stunning photos accordingly.

To know Auto HDR, you should learn more about HDR (High Dynamic Range) first. In short, the camera shoots the same stuff with different exposures in a series of photos, and then the HDR software combines these photos as HDR photographs.

Camera/Smartphone Auto HDR Mode

WidsMob HDR

With advanced Alignment technology, WidsMob HDR is easy to create a sharp HDR photo by combining 3 different bracketed photos and letting coordinates of every pixel aligned perfectly.

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Part 1. What is Auto HDR?

Auto HDR is a shooting mode to widen the gradation, which you can record from bright parts to the dark part with the correct brightness automatically. Auto HDR function in the camera is a JPG-based multi-frame mode that will take multiple frames and automatically aligns and merges them in the camera to deliver the final merged photo. When the HDR auto effect is applied, it will be more closely match our visual experience.

Auto HDR Setting

Creating an HDR image is not new to photographers, but it is rather tedious and requires specific technical background with film. With the help of HDR software, you can create HDR much easily and with better results. With the developing technical, Lots of new DSLR cameras can use Auto HDR to merge photographs into HDR images.

The Auto HDR function cuts out the post-processing time and effort. Current Auto HDR modes create an HDR JPEG file in 8 bits instead of RAW or TIFF file in 16 bits. Auto HDR mode empowers you to select the exposure range between the images in the sequence from different stops. And you can choose the solution and quality of the final HDR JPEG file.

Part 2. Auto HDR in Camera

Auto HDR in DSLR Camera

Many camera manufacturers now make an auto HDR mode a standard feature for most of their camera models. When you are using auto HDR mode, your camera will shoot at least one photo at the optimal exposure and at least one on either side on the conditions. You can let your camera automatically correct the exposure difference. Or you set it by yourself in the default setting.

When you apply auto HDR mode on your camera, you might no need a tripod to create an HDR image. In auto HDR mode, the camera will take a quick burst of exposures to limit the alignment differences between shots and add correction for any camera position changes between frames. However, auto-HDR cannot produce HDR images for moving subjects, and static scenes include moving elements. One more thing you need to know that many cameras do not use the RAW file format for auto HDR, so you can only get JPEG format in auto HDR mode. So you may need to practice and test which condition would be better to use auto-HDR.

Auto HDR mode might not be a perfect solution to take HDR photographs currently. However, it should be the most convenient way to create the best HDR JPEG file instantly. HDR auto is widely-used and much popular for DSLR cameras and iPhones with iOS 7.1 or above versions.

Part 3. Auto HDR in iPhone

Auto HDR in iPhone

Apple adds many great new features to the latest release of the iPhone 12. However, the new Auto HDR option added in Camera Settings may not be one of them. In the new iPhone, Apple adds an Auto HDR option in the iPhone Settings so that all iPhones come with auto-HDR enabled by default and remove HDR buttons from the native camera app. Apple assumes that its software is sure on the instances when it should apply HDR. So it is not necessary to show the alternatives in the camera. However, the truth would be the opposite.

Some people would say that HDR Auto is the same as HDR off as HDR Auto is much worse than HDR due to blown highlights and worse colors. So you may better disable the Auto HDR from Camera Settings and turn HDR on or off from the camera interface as you used previous iPhones. It will let you get a better photo than using Auto HDR on your iPhone.

Part 4. Auto HDR in Samsung

Auto HDR in Samsung

Samsung has released its Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus a little earlier than Apple releasing iPhone X and iPhone 8/8 Plus. Of course, Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are mobile HDR capable. Like iPhone, the Samsung camera app also has HDR mode of Auto, On, and Off. Auto HDR mode will let the Samsung phone detect if it needs to use HDR mode or not according to various lighting conditions and subjects. So it may make some outcome pictures look different than with HDR on all the time.

Since a lot of discussion on auto HDR cannot create a better photo, many people will suggest using HDR on mode rather auto HDR if you can judge when to use HDR would be better for yourself. However, for some beginners of Smartphone cameras, you can also choose the auto-HDR mode to start practicing HDR photo taking.

Part 5. HDR V.S. Auto HDR

Auto HDR vs HDR

Auto HDR came with the HDR cameras just for a few years, which still need to be optimized. Some professional HDR photographers still use HDR mode instead of the Auto HDR mode for the Auto HDR cameras. Just learn more detail about the Pros and Cons of Auto HDR.

Pros

1. It is the fastest way to create a gorgeous JPEG of a typical high-contrast scene. The Auto HDR also creates the True HDR image of a very high contrast scene.

2. Auto HDR should be the best way for the beginners to create HDR photograph, you can quickly compare Auto HDR result together with the original photos.

3. Some HDR cameras can correct minor camera movements that occurred between frames in the burst. That means you can create an instant HDR automatically without a tripod.

Cons

1. Auto HDR mode only supports HDR in JPEG, which contains less information than the RAW file. To create a professional HDR photograph with stunning effects, you should use the ordinary HDR instead of Auto HDR.

2. Limited control of the Auto HDR and in-camera processing prevent you from shooting for several seconds while images merged.

3. There are no re-dos or adjustments possible after the creation of the HDR JPEG. You have to change the mode or HDR setting to take another shot.


This article mainly talks about the concept of auto HDR and its application on cameras and mobile phones like the iPhone and Samsung. We also compare the differences between auto HDR and standard HDR. If you have any other query related to HDR auto, leave your comments and share the information.

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