You’re going to hear a lot about High Dynamic Range, or HDR in the next few years. HDR imaging is already leaving a mark on the photography industry. Now, HDR displays are making a splash too, although it will be some time before they become commonplace.
As a photographer, you might be tempted to purchase an HDR TV or and HDR screen. At least for now, that isn’t necessary or practical.
HDR TV vs. NON-HDR TV. Is there a difference?
HDR display and HDR capture, which we’ll discuss, aren’t the same things, although they have a similar goal. Each process makes a digital copy, whether it be a video or photograph, look more like the real thing.
With HDR for monitors or TVs, this display process refers to the device’s ability to recognize specialized content that standard devices cannot. Here, the goal is to make bright images even more so, while keeping the darker parts dark. This difference between light and dark, known as the contrast ratio, is greater on HDR-capable devices than on standard ones.
As CNET notes,
“In its simplest state, it means a brighter TV, but only in the areas on the screen that need it. The result is an image that really pops and looks more like what you’d see in the real world.”
Not surprisingly, the first HDR monitors are very expensive. One from Dell, for example, is expected to launch for $4,999, while the studio-grade Sony BVM X300 costs $18,000.
What are the alternatives to expensive HDR TVs?
Rather than paying for an HDR display, purchase an entirely new Apple Mac instead.
Apple currently offers a 21.5-inch iMac with a Retina 4K display and the 27-inch iMac with a Retina 5K display. It also offers a 12-inch MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 15-inch MacBook Pro — all with Retina displays too. Each of these devices are ideal for professional and novice photographers alike.
The 21.5-inch iMac with a Retina 4K display features 4,096 x 2,304 resolution and 9.4 million pixels, which is 4.5 times more than the standard 21.5-inch iMac display. The 27-inch iMac features 14.7 million pixels, seven times more pixels than an HD display. Both iMacs are supported by a wider P3-based color gamut, which provides 25 percent larger color space than previous models.
How can I capture HDR with my camera?
By contrast to HDR display, HDR for cameras is a capture process where a display shows a wider and richer range of colors, crisper whites, and much deeper blacks.
Many of today’s most popular smartphones have HDR capabilities, including current generation iPhones, Samsung, and Sony devices. High-end cameras also utilize HDR.
From a technical standpoint, smartphones and cameras handle HDR imaging differently. Regardless, each has a similar goal: providing a greater contrast between light and dark images, by combining several photos taken during a single burst.
You capture each of these pictures at a different exposure called “stops” or “brackets,” during the HDR process. The first stop offers an extremely dark image, while the last one is extremely bright. When merged into a single image, the final photograph includes a greater exposure range.
Taking HDR shots isn’t easy, and in some situations, not recommended. HDR mode requires a steady hand because it doesn’t capture action well. When movement is involved, alignment can be off, and double exposures can occur. Because of this, you should use a tripod.
HDR mode works best for high-contrast scenes such as landscapes or in scenes with backlighting. HDR is also nice when capturing objects in direct sunlight.