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


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.

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