Saturday, September 25, 2010

Test-driving the built-in HDR capability in East Coast Park

My family and I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon at East Coast Park last week. It was a very hot, very bright day, perfect for the beach and especially good for testing out the new HDR capability in the built-in camera in iOS 4.1.

Here are some shots I took to see what difference HDR would make.

Non-HDR: Note how the shadow in the foreground makes it hard to see the detail. Also, the sky is all blown out.

HDR: This version shows the clouds in the sky and the grass in the foreground much more clearly.

Winner: HDR

Non-HDR: The sky is blown out and the leaves on the tree on the left are hard to make out. The sea, however, looks gorgeous and the light rippling on the water is amazing.

HDR: Bluer sky and more detail on leaves. The sea, however, looks lifeless in this.

Winner: Neither. It's a draw.

(Side note: I swear these shots were taken at East Coast Park. You may ask, since when did waters of East Coast look like either of these shots? I'm asking myself the same question. I don't remember the waters looking quite so gorgeous that day either.)

Non-HDR: Beautiful sky. Almost postcard perfect blue.

HDR: Sky is washed out and the boy has a weird ghosting effect because he is moving on the skate scooter. Interestingly enough, the cyclists in the background are very sharp even though they are in motion.

Winner: Non-HDR

Conclusion: HDR certainly works well in some situations by showing detail that you would not otherwise get from a single exposure. However, it doesn't work in all shots. Because the iPhone takes two photos in very quick succession, motion will cause ghosting. Also, the algorithm that merges the two shots might bring more detail, but can also cause colours to flatten as well.

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Spatula said...

Tried it on food photos - seems to work better when your subjects aren't moving AT ALL.

Jimmy Yap said...

I can imagine 8-)