How to use the HDR camera on your iPhone or iPad

How to use the HDR camera on your iPhone or iPad

The Camera on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad lets you take high dynamic range (HDR) photos. HDR involves taking a series of photos in rapid succession, at least one of which is under exposed and at least one of which is over exposed. Those photos are then all combined resulting in a single, unified image that shows details both in the shadow and the light. The results are landscapes that aren't lost to darkness and skies that aren't all blown out. Apple has provided an HDR mode on the iPhone for years, and more recently has provided not only an HDR mode for the iPad, but an automatic HDR mode for the iPhone 5s.

How to enable HDR or Auto HDR on the iPhone or iPad

  1. Launch the Camera app
  2. Tap on HDR at the top.
  3. Choose between On, Off, and Auto.

If you have a current model iPhone or iPad, there's no reason not to leave HDR on. It processes almost as quickly as a regular photo but typically provides better results. If you have an iPhone 5s or above, there's no reason not to leave HDR set to Auto. Your photos will thank you for it.

How to get more help with Camera for iPhone and iPad

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to use the HDR camera on your iPhone or iPad


Mine was also enabled automatically.

The results are amazing! No more white skies or white backgrounds in general. No more white burnt foreheads under artificial light.

I'm super happy 'bout it and I think this differentiates the camera to the iPhone 5 so much that it's a deal maker.

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Allyson, thank you for this and ALL the tips you offer up so frequently! Everything is always explained very clearly and the graphics support is the greatest guide I've ever seen. There are always so many little hidden, convenient, useful features, many of which would go unnoticed or unused without your helpful advice. I was thinking, I sure wish Apple itself sponsored a video version or live weekly Video podcast that would be all about using Apple products and services to include live viewers call-ins, etc. these shows could also br indexed and archived. iMore and everyone there does such a high quality, professional job and it really shows that you, Rene, and all the others really care, and know what you are talking about. This instruction service would be even more useful to the neofytes. Anyway, please keep up the good work!

I have been using the auto feature and noticed the nicer pictures, also I would that to thanks Allyson for all the great tips. I read them all the time and find them I interesting as well as informative. Keep up the great work.

Ah ok I stand corrected, Auto yes. But HDR has been available for a long time, I used it regularly on an iPhone 4.

I've never noticed that much of a difference with HDR. It makes the biggest difference when there are very light areas and dark areas in the same photo.

HDR is a great feature that was not very useful before it was automatic! How would you now when to turn it on? My last picture had a detailed sky with HDR automatically turned on. I defiantly would have missed that before! In Settings for Photo & Camera I turned of to keep the "Normal" photo. Why keep it? HDR seems so much better!

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I got burned by HDR on my iPhone 4 when the feature was first introduced. My daughter's lacrosse team gave a demonstration during a college alumni weekend. The photos had ghosting because HDR isn't suited for action shots. Aaargh!

I've always used HDR and the "keep both versions" setting on my i4S, and then I decide which to keep later. Unfortunately, HDR doesn't stay ON anymore, and Auto's not an option on the i4S. I have to turn it on every time since 7.0.

i went to take a selfie yesterday and noticed this feature on. I liked the resulting picture but the 2 pictures in the camera roll i wasn't fond of. I did notice this with toying with hdr in the past. I will likely turn off the option of keep both photos and just keep the hdr version.

hdr coupled with stock camera filters give users a lot of image options.

Being fairly new to IOS, I always read Allyson's articles, pick up great tips I use all the time. This setting was also set on auto after the update. Thanks Allyson for all the great tips you provide, they make a big difference on how I use my iPhone 5S.