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How to use HDR on your Android device

Posted by wicked March - 19 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off

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Of the many ordinary and extraordinary things that I can do on my Android device, mobile photography is one of my well-loved activities. Taking panoramic images is a walk in the park on my Android phone. I can even create 360-degree photos of my surroundings with the Photo Sphere mode of the Android 4.2 Camera. Yet, there’s a very nifty camera mode that’s not much talked about — High Dynamic Range mode, better known as HDR.

Used appropriately, HDR Mode can produce really awesome photos.  On the Web I have seen stunning HDR images that were taken using a DSLR camera and merged through an HDR photo editing tool. Can the HDR feature on Android devices provide the same or comparable quality?  What is HDR anyway? And, how does it work? How can you effectively use HDR?

In this guide, you’ll learn how to use HDR on your Android device.  You may also watch the video tutorial towards the end of this post.

What is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It usually refers to the method of capturing images having “greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging methods or photographic methods” (Wikipedia).

HDR images are frequently described as saturated, high in contrast, and rich in colors. Looking at an HDR image might make you think that it’s a complicated and time-consuming image to create. But, the truth is that creating HDR images is quite simple.

The process involves capturing multiple shots of the same subject but in varying exposures (underexposed, normally exposed, and overexposed). The multiple images are then combined into one photo, resulting in a greatly detailed image. Some photographers use HDR software to merge and edit the images, oftentimes resulting in surreal images.

HDR Mode on Android also follows the same principles but is simpler compared to how it is usually achieved on a DSLR camera. HDR on Android handsets usually correct exposure imbalances and enhance details on both the subject’s background and foreground.

To better understand how HDR works, let me show you some sample images taken by the Galaxy Camera. The photo below was taken without HDR:

And, this one’s a photo with HDR enabled. Do you see some difference?

The tree in the first picture is underexposed because of the bright background (i.e., the bright sky). HDR tries to correct this imbalance by equalizing the exposure on both background and foreground so details are enhanced in both areas. This is basically how HDR works.

Do you have HDR?

Not all Android devices support HDR Mode. The best way to check for HDR capability is by looking for the HDR option in your device’s Camera app.

The HDR option on some high-end Samsung devices can be found under the Shooting Mode menu.

Some custom Camera apps (e.g., on the HTC One X and Desire X) place the HDR option under the Camera Scenes section.

If you can’t find HDR under Shooting Mode or Camera Scenes, try looking for it under the camera’s Settings menu. Some Sony devices (e.g., the Xperia T and Xperia V), for example, place HDR under the camera’s Settings menu.

On the Nexus 4, which runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, you can easily turn HDR Mode on by long-tapping the viewfinder and tapping the HDR icon. Interestingly, the Android 4.2 Camera on the other Nexuses (i.e., Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 10) doesn’t have HDR Mode.

On other Android devices, HDR may be found under certain labels such as Backlight HDR or Backlight Correction HDR. On the Galaxy Camera, HDR is not labeled as such; instead, Samsung calls it Rich Tone and it can be found under the Smart Modes menu.

Using HDR on your Android device

Using HDR on your Android device is easy. All you need to do is enable HDR Mode and snap photos as you normally would: launch camera app, point and focus at subject, and hit camera shutter.

Also, you might want to use a tripod if it’s available, or at least hold the camera with stable hands; HDR doesn’t take too kindly to movement when capturing photos.  Also, the camera shutter speed may vary depending on the amount of light.

If you use a Samsung Android device, you will notice that the camera will produce two pictures. One is the HDR image and the other is the one with normal exposure. Check the file name to distinguish the two images. HDR images have “HDR” in their file names.

When to use HDR

HDR is a handy feature on your Android camera. But, when is the proper time to use HDR? Here are some situations where HDR may be advantageous:

  • Landscape shots. Activating HDR for capturing landscape photos is usually beneficial, especially when the sky is too bright and the subject has a dark foreground. In such circumstances, HDR ought to help in capturing rich details from both background and foreground.

  • Portrait shots under sunlight or with bright background. Taking portrait shots with a bright background leaves the subject underexposed. To fix this problem, enable HDR so the background and foreground are evenly exposed.

  • Capturing dim scenes. You can also use HDR when you want to capture dim scenes such as a picture of a candle flame or the lights on the street.

  • Remedying low-light scenes. — HDR can help brighten up images taken in low-light conditions.

When not to use HDR

HDR may be advantageous in several situations, but there are times when you don’t want to use HDR. Here are some of those instances:

  • Photographing moving subjects. HDR takes three or more photos in a row and combines them into one composite picture. So, make sure that the subject doesn’t move, or minimize movement while taking a photo.
  • Capturing realistic colors. Since HDR attempts to enhance a photo’s details, it may alter the photo’s original color in the process. Turn off HDR if you want to capture the realistic color of the blue sky or a beautiful red rose.
  • When flash is needed. Some Android devices disable flash when HDR is enabled. Some Android devices, though, allow simultaneous use of both flash and HDR.

Using an HDR camera app

If your Android device doesn’t have HDR, don’t fret. You can still enjoy HDR photography with the help of Android apps. There are several HDR-capable camera apps on the Google Play Store.

A personal favorite of mine is HDR Camera+, a paid app that allows you to take HDR photos and instantly edit your photos after capturing them.

Or, if you just want the HDR feature without the ability to edit your photos, there’s the plain ol’ HDR Camera app, which is free.

Here’s a quick guide to capturing your first HDR image using HDR Camera+:

  1. Install the HDR Camera+ from the Google Play Store and launch it after installation.
  2. Tap the cog-wheel Settings icon, tap Advanced, and mark the Edit After Taking option.
  3. The HDR camera app interface looks like the Android camera’s interface. It has a viewfinder taking up most of the device’s screen. Below the viewfinder is a bar holding the Settings button, Shutter button, and a thumbnail preview of the last taken photo. Below the bar is the zoom slider.
  4. Point your camera towards the subject and tap the Shutter button to take a picture. Make sure to keep your hands still.
  5. After taking a picture, the photo editor page will appear. If you want, select one of the preset filters or manually adjust your photo’s exposure, color vividness, contrast, and micro contrast.
  6. Tap the floppy disk icon to save your work.
  7. Tap the thumbnail to view your image. From the image view page, you can also share your HDR photo to various apps and services.

Video Guide

Know more about how to use HDR on your Android device by watching our video tutorial on YouTube:

Conclusion

HDR is one of the many features on an Android camera that make mobile photography interesting and fun. It certainly makes photos look better because of the wider range of light and dark intensities. And, although not all Android devices have HDR out of the box, you can always try installing an HDR camera app.

Do you use HDR on your Android device? How often do you use it? Do you find it useful? What tips and tricks can you share to us regarding HDR use on Android? Let us know in the comments.

(with contributions from Elmer Montejo)

The post How to use HDR on your Android device appeared first on Android Authority.

Best HDR camera apps for Android

Posted by wicked May - 30 - 2012 - Wednesday Comments Off

Most Android smartphones these days feature a 5- to 12-megapixel camera, bundled into one neat package with advanced camera features. Compared to Apple’s iPhone, Android is opensource and allows users to tweak the basic camera settings to satisfy any user.

When it comes to HDR-quality photos, the secret lies in the software itself because it is the one responsible for making your shots crystal clear with HD characteristics. As we explore the Google Play Store, we’ve managed to stumble upon loads of apps that cater primarily to enhancing images. Here are some of the best apps that will turn your shots into HDR quality photos.

HDR Camera

HDR Camera by Almalence is one of the best HDR cameras on the Google Play Store. HDR Camera features a wide range of options that allows users to capture dynamic photos between the lightest and darkest area in an image. Daylight photos will have deep dark shadows and crisp details in more lighted areas.

HDR Camera can look cartoonish if you are not familiar with tweaking the app’s settings. Luckily for us, the app uses “fusion algorithms” that automatically adjust to shaky and wobbly hands. The software can also detect moving objects on the scene, so if you tend to shoot fast moving cars or people doing outdoor activities, then this is the application for you.  Not only that, it can also minimize blurring or ghosting effects. HDR Camera is custom-made to transform any Android phone into the ultimate camera.

Camera360

Make photography a work of art with Camera360 for Android. Camera360 has earned worldwide recognition for being the popular camera app for any mobile phone. It is even listed as one of the Top 100 Technology Products by PC World.

Camera360 is a heavy-duty camera app that requires a bit of learning before you can take epic shots. Once you get the hang of Camera360, everything will be a walk in the park.

Users can add frames and extra scenery to photos, as well as apply filters with Lomo, Retro or HDR. You can also find some neat features such as tapping to focus on an object, as well as setting the color to let you adjust the depth field and color of a picture. The only downside of the app is that it eats your phone’s battery fast. Make sure you are fully charged when you are planning on a shooting fest.

Retro Camera

Also hailed as one of the kings of photography apps in the Google Play Store is the Retro Camera app from developer Urbian. Transform your Android phone into one vintage, high-definition camera that takes you back to the 70’s. Take delicious retro camera snapshots with Retro Camera’s advance camera techniques.

Choose from 5 cameras with 5 sets of vintage effects from film scratch, black and white, and cross processing just to name a few. The app took its inspiration from Polaroid, Diana, and Toy Cameras in the past and has adjusted to suit any Android phone. Post all of your best shots on your favorite social networking site like Facebook for your friends to see. Instant nostalgia is now free of charge and you will never have to find another application ever again.

Photaf Panorama Pro

If you are fond of creating panoramic shots then Photaf Panorama Pro is definitely the app suited for you. Create amazing HD panoramas just by using your phone’s camera. Photaf Panorama Pro will greatly help users create seamless 360-degree panoramic photos with amazing clarity. The secret behind the app’s success lies in the orientation sensor that manages to know the exact angle each shot was taken, making your shots professional-looking with amazing quality and details.

Shoot panoramas like a pro and add special effects to each shot you take. The app’s easy-to-use interface will greatly appeal to users as navigation is a breeze. All you need to do is point to the object you want to take a panorama of and let the app guide you with all the details. Other features include HD mode, setting your shots as a live wallpaper, and using the camera in portrait mode.

Pro HDR Camera

Here’s another HDR camera that will turn your Android phone into a real DSLR camera. Introducing the Pro HDR Camera, one of the world’s first real HDR camera apps for Android users. Create stunning full-resolution HDR images with just a quick tap on your Android phone. Say goodbye to traditional bulky DSLR cameras as Pro HDR Camera will automatically create HD shots for you.

Pro HDR Camera features an image quality software that will bring high dynamic range photography. Pro HDR works by capturing exposed images for the highlights and another set for the exposed shadows. To get that HDR look, the app will automatically merge the images, giving you the impression of a true-to-life HDR image. The app supports up to 8 megapixels of true clarity photos that you have never seen before.

AfterFocus


AfterFocus combines the best of having a point-and-shoot camera and a DSLR camera bundled into one fantastic application. Bring a DSLR-like camera wherever you go as AfterFocus will use everything in its arsenal to transform your Android smartphone into a DSLR camera.

With AfterFocus, users can create DSLR-style high resolution backgrounds by simply selecting the area you wish to be edited. You can also apply various filter effects to create a more natural, realistic-looking photo.

AfterFocus relies heavily on the user’s selection, in which the app automatically recognizes the shaded part and applies the corresponding effect with the corresponding complex shades and colors. The app also allows a Double Photo feature that takes a picture of one object and slightly takes another shot of the same picture, after which it will analyze the images and recognize the nearest object. You can also share your photos via email or social networking sites easily, straight from the app itself.

Cymera

Cymera from SK Communications is a fabulous way to take portraits or photos of yourself as the application is solely dedicated to this purpose. Cymera is one of the best camera applications that shoots portraits, most especially HD quality photos. Cymera is a free application for download that helps users take a photo and be a professional photographer in just a matter of seconds.

Users can choose any of the 7 kinds of lenses that Cymera offers. Aside from that, there are 4 types of shooting modes to choose from. In these modes, users can take full advantage of Cymera’s advanced camera shooting techniques. Various shooting modes like timer, image stabilization, and touch shot are great for taking portrait shots. Users can also mix and match the different lenses and shooting modes the app offers. Other features include the ability to add beauty effects and fun decorations just by using face recognition.

Camera ZOOM FX

Still retaining its top spot among photography apps is Camera ZOOM FX. Featuring a wide range of control and image enhancement tools, Camera ZOOM FX is considered to be a fan favorite by many professional and casual photographers alike. With a professional-looking user-interface, first-time users will be impressed by how the app certainly means business.

Camera ZOOM FX is a powerful camera that features various shooting modes that include Stable Shot, Timer, Voice-Activated Mode, Burst Mode, Collage, or even Time Lapse. The post-processing features together with various shooting modes make Camera ZOOM FX a feature-rich camera experience, worthy for the casual photographer. If you love taking pictures on the field then don’t leave home without Camera ZOOm FX, as it is one of the best applications available on the market today.

Vignette

If you love taking photos and converting them into vignette style shots, then why don’t you try Vignette. With over 76 customizable photo effects and 57 frames in the app’s arsenal, users can create retro feel vintage shots with just a simple touch of a button. Vignette is a fully featured camera app that takes advantage of your phone’s camera. Vignette packs a lot of features that includes digital zoom up to 10x, a self timer, remote shutter used for Sony Ericsson’s LiveView, rule of thirds golden ratio guide, and the ability to take pictures in full resolution.

Pudding Camera

The secret in getting HDR quality photos lies in your phone’s camera and the software that gives the photos hues. Pudding Camera developed by KTH is considered by many as the ultimate camera application that enhances all of your shots and turns them into one gorgeous memorable photo. While Pudding Camera lacks the extensive features found in paid camera apps, it does however make up for its shortcomings.

The app is sleek and simple to use, featuring a lot of filters and camera styles to spice up your shots. If you are sick and tired of photo enhancing applications, then this could likely turn out to become your favorite application. Pudding Camera has 8 filters and effects to choose that range from Basic to Triplex set ups. Users can also apply beautiful effects like Vintage, Noir, or Vivid. Pudding Camera also lets users change exposure levels, making shots more realistic with the vibrant colors and crisp hues.

Say goodbye to your bulky cameras and head outside with just your Android device. Enjoy taking all your gorgeous HDR shots with these HDR Android apps.


This article, Best HDR camera apps for Android , was originally published at AndroidAuthority.com – Your Android News Source.



HDR Camera+ get Professional Results from Photos with this Camera Replacement App

Posted by wicked October - 27 - 2011 - Thursday Comments Off

HDR Camera+ is a camera replacement app that takes cool HDR photographs. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, this refers to the creation of greater detail in your pictures, instead of bland-looking light areas and simply black dark areas. It adds detail and realism to shots and has been an adopted technique by professional photographers. [...]

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