Photo App Review: Orasis — More Fake-HDR Than DRC

Version 1.0

Rating 2 stars

Bottom Line: I didn’t like it. Images look more like single-photo fake-HDR apps than images corrected to be more visually accurate.

Even with the superior phone camera of the iPhone 4 (and hopefully and even better camera coming in the new iPhones later this year), a Dynamic Range Correction app is an essential component of my toolbox. For years, that app has been Perfectly Clear by Athentech.

New photo app Orasis by Orasis Imaging claims to “[capture] reality, not just light.” It attempts to make photos more realistic by simulating the sensation of appearance formed by our Visual System. While the sample image in the App Store looks good, the real world images that I tested it with didn’t look like reality, but more like the results from a single-image HDR app.


Orasis is easy to use. Either load an image from your library or shoot from within the app. There are both Auto and Manual settings. The Manual settings control the intensity of the adjustments in both the dark and light areas, as well as a contrast adjustment. Manual Mode also has an auto color correct mode which may compensate for some color casts in an image.

I used a variety of real-world test images. Rather than making them look more realistic, Orasis added some overly sharp contrast to my eye, making images look banded and patchy. More often than not, its processing added an unacceptable amount of noise and blotches to photos as well. It’s almost as if the app does pixel-by-pixel processing calculations with little regard for the surrounding pixels.

In my mostly test dark images, Orasis washed out a lot of shadows and brought out noise that Perfectly Clear easily minimized, even without using its optional Noise Reduction. In normal mixed light images, Orasis performed better, but still flattened the look of the image a bit while introducing odd color banding and noise. In particular, the app didn’t do a good job handling and smoothing the subtleties of the all-important skin tones. Orasis did a great job of bringing out shadow details and did so while preserving highlights. But, the contrast is too harsh — both in auto and manual modes.

Orasis, before & after noise detail

Rather than compensating for the difference between what our eye sees and what the camera sees, the processing Orasis adds looks more like a single-image HDR app and adds unnatural contrast, color anomalies and unpleasant object halos.

I think its processing algorithms need a little tweaking. The developers really need to reduce the noise in post-processed images. The app needs to retain EXIF data — too many services take advantage of photo location tags.

It’s not the worst processing app out there, and at least it’s very easy to see the difference in the before and after pictures. There are other apps available that do what Orasis tries to do, but better.

Orasis supports full 5 MP resolution on an iPhone 4, but it strips out most EXIF data, including all camera and geo-tag data.

No matter what iDevice you have, I highly recommend a good DRC app. Despite its quirks, I still believe that Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging is the app to beat in this class. The Clarity filter in Camera+ by tap tap tap also does an excellent job of compensating for what the camera lens sees and does so without introducing nearly as much noise and banding as Orasis. While the science may be good, Orasis needs some tweaks before it’s useful out of the lab.

Orasis is free in the App Store until August 15th. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Orasis - Orasis Imaging



About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Mark

    Hi Marty

    I downloaded this last night & also wasn’t impressed. I usually use Camera+’s Clarity filter. Perfectly Clear used to be my favourite app for this sort of thing, but it’s been unusable for many, many months (the ‘out of memory’ thing). Any other apps you’d recommend for a quick touch up? Cheers.

    • lifeinlofiblog

      Clarity and Perfectly Clear. There aren't any others that I've found that do nearly as good a job. Orasis looked promising last night while taking shots of a band, but when looking at the images off the iPhone and on my computer, I was really disappointed.

      PC does a good enough job with color and overall balance that I tolerate the out of memory errors and quit out of all open apps. It's a pain, but PC seems to work the best. They've been working on the update for a while. I hope they release it soon.


  • Hawk Kat

    @Mark: close your apps which are running in the background periodically by double clicking the home button……

    • Mark

      Yeah, I've been doing that, but very often even that won't work. The only guaranteed way is close all apps/delete PC/reinstall PC… That's too! Ironically, I tried iOS 5 (beta 1) several weeks ago & PC was 'perfectly' stable in that!

  • Vassilios Vonikakis


    my name is Vasilios Vonikakis and I am the technical developer of Orasis.

    First of all I would like to thank you for taking the opportunity to try our product and compare it with other applications. We are grateful for any feedback since this is the only way to improve our application.

    In all honesty we did find your review slightly unfair and would like to make a few comments in your blog, with your permission of course. Our intention is not to make you change your review/comments but instead to clarify a few matters of importance.

    1. Uniform and Non-Uniform illumination: Orasis is an application specifically designed to improve images with severe problems of non-uniform illumination, i.e. photographs which contain both underexposed and correctly exposed image regions at the same time. Correcting a uniformly overexposed or underexposed photo is generally considered to be a much easier task in image processing. Correcting an image with non-uniform illumination, without affecting the correctly exposed regions, is in our understanding a more difficult task, and Orasis thrives in this area clearly outperforming the competitive apps mentioned (Perfectly Clear and Camera+ with Clarity). We did run comparisons following your blog/commentary and test images are available upon request. We would welcome you to include them in your blog for an objective comparison and would be happy to have you do it yourself, instead of us sending you the photos. According to the tests we run most of the images with non-uniform illumination (Perfectly Clear and Camera+), either didn’t correct at all the strong shadows, or enhanced them at the expense of the correctly exposed regions.

    2. Appearance of Noise: Appearance of Noise is inevitable in the dark image regions, due to the low signal-to-noise ratio there. The greater the enhancement in a dark region, the greater the extracted noise. If an application leaves almost untouched the dark regions, inevitably it will extract lower amounts of noise. On the other hand, if an application extensively enhances the dark image regions, it will inevitably enhance also the noise (which is the case for Orasis). This kind of noise can only be filtered with a postprocessing denoising method. Currently, Orasis does not feature such mechanism. It is though, under development and it will be released in later updates. In our opinion, leaving untouched the dark regions as to avoid the noise is not an option for Orasis.

    3. Capturing “reality”. Reality is something subjective- at least in the imaging world. Reality for us is to be able to see in the enhanced photo (final Orasis product), all the visual details, that were visible in the real scene, the very moment the photo was taken, but were hidden in the shadows or in the highlights of the original photo. More importantly, reality for us is not to compromise the contrast of the well exposed image regions, in the attempt to correct the problematic ones. Orasis never claimed to be an HDR imaging software. Orasis strives for image enhancement. Quoting from our website: "some of the results may look like an HDR application, but this is not our objective. Our objective is to clearly enhance images."

    4. Contrast Enhancement: As a reminder, the extra local contrast enhancement Orasis applies in the default Auto mode, can be easily deactivated in the Manual mode, by setting the contrast slider to 0.

    Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to review our application. It is important for us to get constructive feedback and know where to focus as to make Orasis an even better application. We hope that the clarifications above will shed some light upon Orasis' promise.You can also find in our website [] under the tab: "Description" more information on what should one expect and not expect from Orasis.

    Best regards,
    Vasilios Vonikakis
    on behalf of the Orasis team

    • lifeinlofiblog

      Hi Vasilios,

      Thank you for visiting the blog. I appreciate your comments on my review. I look forward to future updates of Orasis.