Giving your photos a little flair with HDR Photo Camera for Windows Phone 8
HDR Photo Camera is a Windows Phone 8 app that gives your Windows Phone camera the capability of creating HDR (High Dynamic Range) images.
HDR images have a high dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of the photo than what you would see in standard photos. Typically HDR images are created by taking several photos of the same subject at various exposure levels and merging them together to create the HDR image. The end result creates an image with more vibrant colors and greater dynamic range between the lighter and darker areas. It's a great technique for landscapes and scenes that have a nice blend of dark and light areas.
While you could use the exposure compensation setting on your Windows Phone camera, bracket several photos and merge them into one image with post-processing software, HDR Photo Camera does it all for you in a simple, straight forward package. It's a nice camera tool to add to your Windows Phone photography app library.
HDR Image (left) and non-HDR Image (right)
On the surface, HDR Photo Camera is a very simple and easy to use app for your Windows Phone Camera. Launch the app, line up your photo, hit the shutter button and hold the camera still. HDR Photo Camera will take three images of your subject at different exposure levels and merge them into one HDR image. You can see where the HDR processing pulls out the color of the bench in the darker areas and lightens the shadows in the water to pull out more color.
HDR Image (left) and non-HDR (right)
Images are saved in the Camera Roll of your Pictures Hub and shot at the 16:9 aspect resolution. Images are resized a little, down to about 7.1MP.
While images come out nice, you really need a steady hand in using HDR Camera. Any movement of the camera will cause blurry or alignment issues when the three photos are merged. I would highly recommend using a tripod or in the least, prop your Windows Phone on top of something steady to eliminate any movements. The optical stabilization on the Lumia 920 will not help you on this one. It is designed to reduce motion blur in a single image, not to keep your camera steady to take three consistent images.
Overall image quality is nice but I did see a little lens flare to the left edge of some of the pictures I took. It's more noticeable in the fountain picture than the other images. Just look at the upper third and lower third of the image to the left. Not sure what's causing this and luckily it's minor enough that it can be easily cropped out of the photo.
There is room for improvement with HDR Photo Camera. I would like to see the ability to switch to the 4:3 aspect ratio and the ability to turn off the flash. HDR Photo Camera runs everything on automatic with no way to tweak the settings at all.
There is an inability to delete a photo from within the app. You take a bad shot you'll have to live with it until you find your way into the Pictures Hub to delete it. My thoughts... if you can review a photo in HDR Camera Photo you need the ability to delete it.
Last little nit is that while the app ran smoothly for the most part, there were times it became laggy. The viewfinder would be slow to keep pace with any movements and at times the processing focused too much on the over-exposed image, resulting in a washed out image. When the app started acting up, I simply exited and re-launched and things ran as they should. On the surface HDR Camera Photo is a simple app but underneath the hood there's a lot to things and the performance glitches should be easily addressed in the next update.
While not perfect HDR Camera Photo is a nice photography app for your Windows Phone. It's in a good starting point that just needs a little fine tuning.
There's not a trial version available for HDR Camera Photo. It would be nice to have a trial version that was time limited or only let you capture but not save the images to give you a feel for the app. The full Windows Phone 8 version is currently running $2.49 and you can find HDR Camera Photo here at the Windows Phone Store.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.