Since HDR photography is now available on smart phones, I decided to do a few raw tests with a currently popular smartphone and post this brief review of the results. Being a long time photographer and current advocate of High Dynamic Range photography, the idea of being able to do point and shoot, camera phone HDR seemed like an interesting alternative. I used an iPhone 4s on my last outing to the market to test the process.
I’ve included a few examples of how the phone camera works in various lighting situations. The market uses very dramatic lighting to enhance the visual appearance of the produce and products. This proved to be a challenge for the iPhone. The shots below show the normal exposure on the left and the HDR image on the right. Absolutely NO post processing has been done to the images except for sizing in Photoshop.
As you can see above with the oranges and juice bottles, areas of lower contrast do fairly well. In this instance, store lighting was more subdued. But high contrast, as with the roses above isn’t handled very well. The Cranberries are pretty iffy. The HDR shot looks very bad in Photoshop but seems to present better here thought still pretty washed out.
The wine bottles below didn’t do very well at all. Notice the white labels where both images have overexposed areas that are made worse by the HDR process. And the brilliant colors ended up a little less brilliant.
Just about all of my shots turned out less than satisfactory. I realize that the iPhone camera is not intended to handle the extreme lighting situations that can be encountered. But, for a person wanting to add a little more realism to their photos, it does an adequate job. I’m sure that I will be taking advantage of smartphone cameras in the future when cameras, lenses, tripods, etc., are not available.
With the current technology, some really great photographs are being produced with smartphone cameras. I will be presenting another example of Smartphone HDR using the 5mp camera in a Windows Phone 7, Dynamic Range (DR) mode. I Know, it’s not called HDR but the results are very similar.
So, wanting to see how the phone camera result would work with tone mapping in HDR Efex Pro, I produced this image from the HDR example above. I also used Adobe Photoshop to balance the Hue/Saturation for more realistic colors and Shadow/Highlight adjustments to, well, fix the shadows and highlights. All of the necessary tonal elements are present. The image just needed more post-processing.