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Hydra: A powerful and innovative iOS app for High Dynamic Range photography

Mel Martin
January 29, 2015
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I've seen so many High Dynamic Range (HDR) apps, some of which have been good, some not so good. Hydra (US$2.99 on sale) from Creaceed is a well thought out and terrific performing photo app with solid features that will improve your images in challenging lighting conditions. It's just been released to the App Store today.

Unlike most HDR apps, Hydra can capture video as well as stills. It also has a low light mode that takes up to 40 images and stacks them to reduce noise. A hi-resolution mode claims to give you a 32 MP image from the iPhone's 8 MP camera, and a zoom mode does some fancy pixel manipulation to give you a 2x and 4x zoom that looks quite presentable.

Let's start with the HDR mode. HDR is designed for taking pictures with bright highlights and deep shadows. Apple offers an HDR feature built into the Camera app, but it is not as dramatic as what third-party apps can produce.

Hydra is automatic. I pointed it to a bright window surrounded by a darkened room and the app quickly decided on 12 exposures. They were quickly assembled and I had a great picture that captured the bright outside details while rendering the shadows inside. One the image is assembled, you have a choice of how far to push the exposure, so I used the medium preset.

The video mode also worked well, giving me better exposures than I got using the video mode in the Apple Camera app.

The low light mode was really astounding. The app took 20 pictures and stacked them, and the sensor noise was almost completely gone. The original photo without the stacking looked like a blizzard of grain and noise.



The zoom mode was also impressive. The app can't break the laws of physics, but every digitally zoomed image I did looked good, and far better than with any other digital zoom I've used.

Upscaling images using the 16 MP and 32 MP option also gave finer details than I was seeing in the 8 MP photo. The app lets you save both versions for comparisons.

A couple of things to note. You want to hold your camera really steady to avoid the possibility of blur. The Hydra software will try and do the best with what you give it, but a mini tripod or bracing the camera will give you better results. Shooting handheld still produced excellent images, however.

I have a few photos attached so you can see how the camera did. Didn't have much sun today, but you can see the improvements in dynamic range and noise.

Hydra is a breakthrough HDR app, that adds extra features like HDR video, a decent digital zoom, and amazing noise free low light photos. It's an excellent deal while it is on sale at 40% off, and iOS photo buffs will want this app. You can get some technical details on the app and see some sample images on the Hydra website.

Hydra requires iOS 8.1 or later, and it supports the screen resolution of the latest iPhones. Hydra is a universal app and it worked fine on my iPad Air 2, but the best images were with my iPhone 6.

Recommended.






























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