ProHDR app review

ProHDR app review:

I love shooting with my iPhone, even though I have a serious camera.  There is something about it that just appeals to me.  Some of it is the whimsical nature of it - you don’t expect “big” shots from a phone for example, so I feel more free to experiment - but also the convenience is really hard to beat.  It’s a camera that is with you at all times - that means you can hone your photo skills all the time!

I recently upgraded to the iPhone 4S (from the older 3G model) and the performance is light years ahead.  This thing just screams, and has really caused my iPhoneography to just explode.  With that comes many apps that I have been downloading and playing around with.

One such app is ProHDR.  I shoot a lot of HDR with my regular gear (it’s a passion of mine) and was fairly skeptical about getting actual, decent HDR shots out of a phone.  I will say though that I am pleasantly surprised with my results, and one of the reasons is that the ProHDR app is easy, intuitive, and very capable.

To be clear - this is not DSLR-quality HDR work.  (It takes 2 exposures and then combines them together.  From there you can make adjustments to the photo.)  But it does produce nice output and is a great way to creatively express something that catches your eye.

In this review I will walk you through the steps I took to create an actual image.  This was shot on a trail near my house while I was out on a run.  That’s another thing about shooting with the iPhone - you can pretty much squeeze in a little photo time every day!

***NOTE:  Since I have an iPhone, this review is written from an iPhone point of view.  I assume that it works just about the same on Android but I can’t confirm that!  

Ok, I am ready to go - let’s get started!!


This first screen shot is the “opening screen” you get when you launch the app.  A few things to note:

  • The grid lines can be activated/deactivated by touching the grid line icon in the upper left corner - I tend to leave them on all the time
  • You can choose to shoot HDR in either auto or manual modes (or turn it off)
    • Auto will choose the exposures for you
    • Manual will allow you to drag 2 small boxes around the screen to choose the exposures yourself
  • The slider that runs across the bottom of the screen is the zoom feature
  • Once you are ready and your shot is lined up - just tap the screen to start!

 ***IMPORTANT NOTE:  Once you tap the screen, you must be very still.  It will start to analyze the scene and then will take 2 photos - one light and one dark.  In order to avoid blur, you need to hold the iPhone still!  Sometimes this is very hard, so if possible, brace yourself against something.*** 

After ProHDR is finished analyzing the scene and taking the 2 photos, it will combine them and drop you into this screen (image below).  This is sort of like home base - it’s the main menu or panel from which you choose what/how to adjust your photo.


Usually when I get here, I will immediately adjust Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Warmth (if they are needed - sometimes it’s just Contrast and Saturation for me).  I rarely touch Tint, but it’s there in case you need it.

Next, you can see that there are buttons for Crop, Filter, Frame, and Text.  As the names imply, these will allow you to make other, specific adjustments.  Just click on a button to take the image into that feature and make adjustments.  Each of these adjustment screens is very intuitive.

Note that when you finish on each of these screens, it will take you back to the main menu/home base screen.  That way, if needed you can further refine the image with Contrast, Saturation, etc.

Here’s the Crop just drag the boxes around until you get the crop you want.  Then tap "Crop".

Here’s the Filter menu...lots to play with here as you can see!  It gives a preview with each one, and there are more below what my screen could capture!

Here’s the Frame choices.  I don’t add many frames, but it is kind of fun and can lend an artistic element to your shot.  Maybe I should start!  :)

And finally, here’s 2 shots from the Text menu.  This allows you to add text to the image (first shot), and the neat feature here is that you can choose font and color (second image), as well as drag it around the screen to get it looking just right!

When you are finished, just tap "Done" and it brings you back to home base.

Once you wrap up all your adjustments, you can click on Share and it will give you several choices to share across your social networks.

***NOTE:  Once you have finished with your adjustments, always hit the “Save” button.  That will save a copy to your camera roll.  This is available on the "home base" screen.

After that, you are done!  All told, this took me less than 5 minutes, including the time it takes for my iPhone and the ProHDR app to actually take the 2 pictures and combine them.  Here's my final result:


This app has quickly become a “go to” app for my iPhoneography, and you will be seeing a lot of iPhone photos here on the blog that were created with this wonderful app!

Worth every penny of the $1.99 I spent on it!  Have fun out there shooting in HDR on your phone!

Here's another waterfall I took from the same area, also processed with ProHDR: