Any reason not to use HDR

hal1

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Just an average picture take her here, you know when you're out on a hike and such. Any reason not to have the hdr on all the time?
 

SteelGator

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Just an average picture take her here, you know when you're out on a hike and such. Any reason not to have the hdr on all the time?
I think it is best to leave it on always. There are many more cases that you will want it than that you won't.
 

WClark57

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There is always some reason to not use some feature.

HDR generally works by bracketing exposures and combining them-- simply said, it takes several shots at different exposures and blends them together. If you did this manually you might adjust things in each exposure and your method of blending the images could be optimized to get the image you want. Done automatically, it can be made to produce pleasing results for a wide array of images, but it will have problems in some areas. It can remove detail in shadows for example. If something moves in between the images then it can have poor results, though that's not as likely in phones and cameras that automatically bracket and shoot because they are so fast.

If the scene has vivid colors, or has movement, you may want to turn it off. Photography is highly subjective and you may like the results or you might not, so try both HDR and not HDR to get a good feel for what you like best. I leave mine on, but I don't use my phone as a camera that often.
 

shady195

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In my personal opinion, and what I also think should be true for most..

The only time it should not be used is when you're using a 3rd party camera app, which would not take advantage of Googles HDR+ to begin with. You might use a 3rd party app if you were looking to have more control over your photos and wanted to shoot in RAW.

However, I would use nothing but the Google camera app if I could save in RAW, even if it was only one single exposure from the many HDR+ takes. You have a LOT of control over a photo in raw versus a compressed format like JPEG.
 

LeoRex

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There is always some reason to not use some feature.

HDR generally works by bracketing exposures and combining them--

HDR+ is different. It doesn't bother with exposure bracketing. HDR+ takes a series of identical exposures and puts them in a buffer... it does a quick scan and picks 'best' image of the set (probably with some rather fancy pants algorithm). From there, it processes each pixel, comparing and averaging all the various exposures, which will wash out most of the noise (which will be random). From there it creates a composite image based on the 'best' image, then might go through and do some additional tone mapping or some other processing. It's that pixel by pixel processing that's the source of the time it takes to process HDR+ pictures... that takes a tremendous amount of processing power. No other OEM does that.

I honestly think they do a disservice to HDR+ by using the letters HDR, because it is so much more. The process allows the phone to process the image and clean things up using information from the actual image... where every other phone out there uses artificial image processing to do most of the work. So stuff coming out of a Pixel, or a 6P or 5X has a much more natural tone than other phones.

That being said... on the Pixel, there is virtually no reason to switch from HDR+ Auto to Off.... maybe in some situations where you are doing some crazy action shots and there is a TON of movement and lighting is really good. But I would say that 99% of the time, HDR+ Auto will spit out a much better picture than Off.

As for HDR+ On... that uses a slightly different program to take the shot, the same as the HDR+ mode that was on the 6P... and unlike Auto, you will see a slight exposure delay when you take the shot. The reason for that is in HDR+ On, the phone will analyze the frame and then adjusts the exposure so avoid clipping any bright portions of the photo.... then it goes through and takes a couple more exposures in the set. It can't do that all in real time. But the end result is a slightly better picture with improved dynamic range.

So... in review... There is little to no reason to turn HDR+ off. And for most shots, HDR+ Auto will give you an excellent picture. But if you want to maximize the shot's quality and dynamic range and are willing to give up a little bit of speed, flip to HDR+ On.
 

Andrew Martonik

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Just an average picture take her here, you know when you're out on a hike and such. Any reason not to have the hdr on all the time?

If you're unsure, just leave it on Auto and let it do its thing. There are very few situations, if any, in which you'd prefer that it doesn't use HDR.
 

sulla1965

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It depends. I personally don't like the HDR effect on photos. So I always turn it off. As mentioned, it also annoys me that HDR + is set to auto by default. HDR photos often have an unnatural or artificial look. I only use HDR if the pic calls for it due to tricky or extreme lighting conditions. The pixel does hdr better than other phones, but I still don't like the hdr effect on photos.
 
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jhnstn00

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HDR+ is different. It doesn't bother with exposure bracketing. HDR+ takes a series of identical exposures and puts them in a buffer... it does a quick scan and picks 'best' image of the set (probably with some rather fancy pants algorithm). From there, it processes each pixel, comparing and averaging all the various exposures, which will wash out most of the noise (which will be random). From there it creates a composite image based on the 'best' image, then might go through and do some additional tone mapping or some other processing. It's that pixel by pixel processing that's the source of the time it takes to process HDR+ pictures... that takes a tremendous amount of processing power. No other OEM does that.

I honestly think they do a disservice to HDR+ by using the letters HDR, because it is so much more. The process allows the phone to process the image and clean things up using information from the actual image... where every other phone out there uses artificial image processing to do most of the work. So stuff coming out of a Pixel, or a 6P or 5X has a much more natural tone than other phones.

That being said... on the Pixel, there is virtually no reason to switch from HDR+ Auto to Off.... maybe in some situations where you are doing some crazy action shots and there is a TON of movement and lighting is really good. But I would say that 99% of the time, HDR+ Auto will spit out a much better picture than Off.

As for HDR+ On... that uses a slightly different program to take the shot, the same as the HDR+ mode that was on the 6P... and unlike Auto, you will see a slight exposure delay when you take the shot. The reason for that is in HDR+ On, the phone will analyze the frame and then adjusts the exposure so avoid clipping any bright portions of the photo.... then it goes through and takes a couple more exposures in the set. It can't do that all in real time. But the end result is a slightly better picture with improved dynamic range.

So... in review... There is little to no reason to turn HDR+ off. And for most shots, HDR+ Auto will give you an excellent picture. But if you want to maximize the shot's quality and dynamic range and are willing to give up a little bit of speed, flip to HDR+ On.

I noticed that HDR+ auto is better in the Nexus 6P than in the pixel XL in low light. So when in low light I prefer HDR+ On. In this situation, the pixel XL captures a higher quality and resolution shot.
 

LeoRex

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I noticed that HDR+ auto is better in the Nexus 6P than in the pixel XL in low light.

Oh, most definitely. The auto mode on the pixel sacrifices dynamic range for speed. But you still get the great noise reduction. There's a price to be paid for the instant shutter. But it's an easy switch to go to On mode in those situations.

On my 6P, I actually use the pixelfied camera app... Works great. I just keep in mind the lighting and go to On when needed.
 

Rumblee1

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Just an average picture take her here, you know when you're out on a hike and such. Any reason not to have the hdr on all the time?

I read that it should be left on. That's Googles recommendation. So far, comparing the same shots taken with my pixel and S7 EDGE, the edge pics are much better. Both cameras are in auto mode. Another reason why I'm a bit upset that I bought this pixel.
 

WClark57

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HDR+ is different. It doesn't bother with exposure bracketing. HDR+ takes a series of identical exposures and puts them in a buffer...

HDR+ is somewhat different, but implementation details are too dependent on manufacturer/OS and the info I could find on the Pixel is too unclear to assert what it does with any certainty. Perhaps you have better information. Bracketing is an old term and these phone cameras do lots of things in software instead of having hardware parts like apertures and shutters. So none of the terms are all that much more than a conceptual nod to the past.

Exposure bracketing is still the most logical way I can think of to describe what happens according to what I've read. Its just that the bracket is dependent on an assessment of the image and is determined by looking at differing areas. The same article also says it under exposes each shot so like I said, its too unclear.

The real point of what I wrote though is that the camera is making decisions and compromises that you may or may not like, so try both and pick what you like best. I would agree that leaving it on seems the best for most situations.

Google explains the software that makes the Pixel's camera so impressive
 

LeoRex

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HDR+ is somewhat different, but implementation details are too dependent on manufacturer/OS and the info I could find on the Pixel is too unclear to assert what it does with any certainty. Perhaps you have better information.

Here is some info from when they first released HDR+

https://research.googleblog.com/2014/10/hdr-low-light-and-high-dynamic-range.html

It's one of the best pages I've come across explaining their approach. I come from a physics/astronomy background so the fact that they drew inspiration from tools astronomers use to work around the fact that they got crap light to work with... I thought that was pretty clever.
 

hal1

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All this is fine, but then I realize there's a difference between HDR+ Auto versus HDR+ on. And I don't know that I want to start to try to wrap my head around those differences
 

LeoRex

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All this is fine, but then I realize there's a difference between HDR+ Auto versus HDR+ on. And I don't know that I want to start to try to wrap my head around those differences

:) Oh, its pretty straightforward.

HDR+ "On" is the full HDR+ mode.
HDR+ "Auto" is a slightly de-tuned version of HDR+ designed for speed to eliminate the shutter delay that you see with "On" mode. The cost for that speed is some dynamic range and a slight reduction in the ability to reduce noise.

A majority of the time, especially if lighting conditions are balanced, you won't see a ton of difference between the two modes. But if you are in a scene where there's a huge difference... say you are taking a picture of someone indoors with a bright window in the background... "On" will handle the scene better since it will try to handle the light from the windows, where Auto will not. Look at that blog article, the shot with the two women and the mountains in the background? That's "On" mode at work... Auto on the Pixel won't handle them as well.

I don't think there are many reasons to switch to OFF.
 

xxaarraa

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I wish you could have it default to ON instead of needing to change it every time.

Exactly. An option to always default to highest possible picture quality would have been nice.

I did not know that HDR-On and HDR-Auto actually had differences in photo quality. Good to know. When shooting indoors (which I do a lot), I'll make sure to set it to On.
 
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SteelGator

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Here is another review from a site I trust a lot. They do very nice in depth reviews, in both the real world and a controlled environment.

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/google-pixel-xl-camera-review/10

They say to leave HDR+ on as well, but give some pointers around RAW capture. Overall, another very positive review with the following conclusion.

Overall Conclusion
If your smartphone buying decisions tend to be based on camera performance and features, 2016 has made things even more complicated. In the past you could simply pick the phone that offered the image output that was most to your liking. Now you have to make your mind up about dual-camera modules and if any of their features would be beneficial to your style of mobile photography.

The Google Pixel XL does not offer variable focal length, nor can its lens blur mode compete with the versions in most dual-cam equipped cameras. However, in terms of image quality the Pixel XL is an easy pick. Thanks to its excellent HDR+ mode that can be left activated at all times, it captures class-leading image quality across all light levels. Throw in an excellent QHD-display, premium materials and build quality, good battery life and the attractive design and straightforward operation of Google's pure Android 7 Nougat operating system and you've got yourself a package that should keep even the most demanding mobile photographers happy.

Features & Operation
The Pixel XL camera app has been designed with easy operation in mind and offers all you need for swift and efficient shooting in Auto mode. Those who want more manual control or shoot DNG Raw files have to look for alternatives in the Google Play Store, though. The Pixel hardware supports those functions but they have not been implemented in the stock camera app.

In terms of special modes the Pixel offers an unusually large selection of panorama modes, including Google's 360 degree Photo Sphere. Those modes allow for interesting ways of capturing your surroundings but the image output tends to show noticeably more stitching errors and artifacts than the panorama modes on some direct competitors. Lens blur mode is not on par with its equivalents on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus or Huawei P9 either. On the plus side, the 120fps/1080p and 240fps/720p slo-motion video modes can produce very appealing footage. Unfortunately, the only way to export an edited file is uploading it to Google Photos, though.

Image Quality
The Pixel XL is capable of capturing decent smartphone image quality in its standard mode but the device really comes into its own when HDR+ is activated. Thanks to clever multi-frame technology, the Pixel's HDR+ images show better dynamic range than most competitors in bright light. In lower light both detail and the management of image noise are excellent for a smartphone camera.

The Pixel camera is capable of capturing usable images in light conditions that not too long ago some DSLRs would have struggled with. The really good news is that, thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 821 processor HDR+ can now be on by default. Compared to standard mode the processing delay is hardly noticeable and won't be a problem in almost any shooting situation. Overall, the Pixel currently leads the smartphone pack in terms of image quality. (Emphasis is mine)

The Final Word
The Google Pixel XL is a well-rounded premium smartphone and currently offers the best image quality of all smartphone cameras. If you can live without the additional flexibility of the "tele"-lens in the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera or the super-wide-angle in the LG G5, the Pixel XL is an obvious choice. If you don't like its rather large dimension, the sister model Pixel offers the same camera specifications in a smaller package with a 5" 1080p display.
 

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