Photo App Review: vividHDR – Stunning Color for iPhone.

vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipad

App Store link: vividHDR

There’s a new HDR iphone photo app called vividHDR. Its App Store description makes some pretty big claims, including accurate image alignment, ghost removal, and several HDR processing modes. It boasts images that are “stunning,” “natural,” and “accurate.”

Its developer has set very high expectations for the app, but vividHDR meets them for me and is the closest to true traditional High Dynamic Range photography that I have found on the iPhone. Keep reading for my full review.

Traditional HDR Photography

vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipadIn traditional High Dynamic Range photography, multiple bracketed exposures are combined to increase the dynamic range of the photograph. The darker, underexposed image holds the highlights better while the brighter overexposed image increases shadow detail. The normally exposed middle image helps to preserve the color and overall tonal qualities of the photo. When all three exposures are combined in a program like Photoshop, the results are a much greater dynamic range and more vibrant colors than any of the single exposures alone could provide. See photographer Trey Ratcliff’s real website for excellent examples of true HDR photography. You’ll understand why so many of us were disappointed with his 100 Cameras in One app.

iPhone HDR Photography

While this process is similar to iPhone HDR apps, the end results are often vastly different. I normally don’t like iPhone HDR apps. I feel that most of the time they create an overprocessed color effect that’s more its own effect than something close to traditional High Dynamic Range photography. Colors are often distorted and unnatural. There’s often extreme halos and other artifacts throughout the image — you know the ones I’m talking about. Many iPhone HDR apps have image alignment problems that often cause ghosting. I was very pleasantly surpised to find that vividHDR doesn’t have these issues.

vividHDR for iPhone and iPad

vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipad

This a very easy-to-use camera app. The viewfinder itself is very simple. There are just three controls — Help, HDR mode, and shutter release button. All other settings, tools, and controls fly in and out with a swipe of a finger.

Custom preview screen
Before you shoot, you can select from one of the four HDR shooting modes — Natural, Lively, Dramatic, or Custom. Each mode has a little more intensity. Custom HDR mode is what I recommend you use most of the time. Custom mode allows you to choose between the other three HDR modes with live previews after you capture your three exposures.

The settings menu is clean and basic. It includes toggles for a rule of thirds grid, auto preview, and Geotags. Geotag location data is turned off by default. To add this to your photographs, you’ll need to turn it on. A quick swipe and a tap will set you right up.

Although you can tap to lock focus anywhere on screen, I got pretty good results from the app’s automatic focus lock. There is no exposure or white balance locks.

vividHDR is fast for a non-Apple HDR camera. On an iPhone 5, it consistently took about 5 1/2 seconds for the app to lock focus, analyze the image, and capture three bracketed exposures. It took an additional two seconds to align, process, and combine the three images. All told about eight seconds shot-to-shot time. Very impressive times for an iPhone HDR app.

Photos are saved to the apps own lightbox where they can be viewed, shared or saved to your camera roll. Again, the interface is very flat, easy to figure out, and very clean. There are very few tools here. You can check some of the image’s EXIF data. Here, you can also do a quick comparison between the original exposure and your HDR processed exposure. Pretty cool!

vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipad
Reference: Apple Camera HDR
vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipad
vividHDR sample, Natural mode
vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipad
vividHDR sample, Lively mode
vividhdr, high dynamic range photography, iphone, ipad
vividHDR sample, Dramatic mode


The processed results of vividHDR are about the best I’ve seen in an iPhone HDR photo app. Colors are vibrant yet natural. Alignment is accurate. Images have none of the ghosting that plague nearly every other iPhone HDR photo app.

Natural processing adds color weight and brightness to the image. It brings out shadow detail and holds highlights while still maintaining bright, vibrant, natural looking colors.

Lively processing fills in even more shadows and really brightens up and saturates colors. Colors are bright and vibrant yet still hold a natural look. Skies look pretty incredible with Lively processing. The Lively processing mode in vividHDR is what I expect High Dynamic Range photography to look like.

Dramatic processing is just that. It’s the app cranked up to 11. Some colors took on an almost fluorescent look. I saw some visible color shift in the processed images that I didn’t like with Dramatic mode. My fireplace bricks are not that orange. Details sometimes looked a little oversharpened to me. With the amount of saturation and other color moves, it’s probably to be expected. Although I tend to like the surreal oversaturation of LOMO photo apps, for this use Dramatic mode is a little too bold for me and my least favorite of the three.

Sharpness comparison, detail, Apple Camera HDR
Sharpness comparison, detail, Apple Camera HDR
Sharpness comparison, detail, vividHDR
Sharpness comparison, detail, vividHDR

What amazed me about all three HDR modes was the sharpness of the images. Alignment is very precise. Unless there is actual movement in the frame, you’re not likely to notice any ghosting in the image. Also, even with Dramatic mode, the highest intensity HDR effect, there were no halos or other artifacts. Tonally, images were fairly smooth for iPhone photos. I saw less noise in all three levels of HDR than I did in my reference images shot with Apple Camera.

See my additional sample images below. All sample images in this post can be clicked and enlarged.

I noticed the app’s viewfinder has the slightly narrower aspect ratio that Apple’s iPhone 5 Camera does. That means that your actual photo will contain just a little more image on the long edges of the frame than you see in the viewfinder. Point off for this. An accurate viewfinder is very important for me in an app like this.

vividHDR is a camera-app only. Unlike some other HDR apps, it won’t import and combine previously shot images from your camera roll.

Other than the three presets, there’s no way to adjust how the three exposures are combined. The app does an outstanding job on its own and this isn’t really a problem for me. I could not find a way to access the three individual exposures. These might be important omissions for some and need to be pointed out. For me, though, these are definitely not a dealbreaker.

vividHDR saves at just under 8 MP on an iPhone 5 and 4S. There are some pixels trimmed around the edges for alignment. The app can save EXIF data, but this needs to be toggled on in the app’s settings.

vividHDR is in a class by itself when it comes to iPhone photo apps. It’s a true HDR app that creates stunning bright and vibrant color photos. In particular, I think the Natural and Lively modes are quite good. For iPhone, it’s the closest I’ve found to true traditional High Dynamic Range photography without the overprocessing and halos often associated with iPhone HDR.

I really like vividHDR. This is the bracketed exposure iPhone HDR app I’ve been waiting for.

vividhdr is $1.99 in the App Store. It’s a Universal app designed for both iPhone and iPad. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, iPad (4th generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular. Requires iOS 6.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.



More vividHDR Sample Images
Click to View Gallery

Reference: Apple Camera HDR
vividHDR sample, Natural mode
vividHDR sample, Lively mode
vividHDR sample, Dramatic mode
Reference: Apple Camera HDR
vividHDR sample, Natural mode
vividHDR sample, Lively mode
vividHDR sample, Dramatic mode
Reference: Apple Camera HDR
vividHDR sample, Natural mode
vividHDR sample, Lively mode
vividHDR sample, Dramatic mode

Right-click to view higher-res images


App Store link: vividHDR There's a new HDR iphone photo app called vividHDR. Its App Store description makes some pretty big claims, including accurate image alignment, ghost removal, and several HDR processing modes. It boasts images that are "stunning," "natural," and "accurate." Its developer has set very high expectations for…

vividHDR 1.0

Effects Quality
Resolution & Image Quality
User Interface
Price / Value


vividHDR is a true HDR app that creates stunning bright and vibrant color photos without the overprocessing and halos often associated with other iPhone HDR apps.

User Rating: Be the first one !

Updated 08.07.13: Added bit about importing from camera roll.

About Marty Yawnick 1826 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.
  • Andy Collins

    Great share and review Marty! So good that after reading it on my desktop I found the page again on my iphone and bought it through your affiliate link, purely in appreciation of your good work 🙂

    • I appreciate the few pennies and the extra page views! Thanks, Andy! =M=

  • Kathy Salvatore

    kool, thanks marty

  • Graison Swaan

    It’s better than ProHDR then?

    • I think the end results are visibly better than Pro HDR. vividHDR
      won’t import images from your camera roll, I’ve updated my review to note that it doesn’t. If you shoot first and process later with apps like Bracket Mode. I don’t tinker with HDR often, so not an issue for me.

      • Graison Swaan

        What I’d like to see is a mode where you:
        tap on the darkest area of the screen, tap on the lightest part of the screen, then tap to focus (which takes the shot).
        or be able to adjust the exposure compensation +/-.5, +/- 1 etc.

    • Daniele Purrone

      I think so, but I also think that iCameraHDR produces better results…

      • Graison Swaan

        oddly enough, that one is not available in the canadian app store.

      • No longer available in the US store either. Looks like all but one of Everimaging’s apps have been deleted from the App Store. =M=

  • queenmarylady

    Having some trouble connecting to the app store right now, but plan on getting this. One question, can the effects be applied to photos already in your camera roll, or not? Thanks! Great example photos! =)

  • Toastist

    I don’t think I can stop myself from grabbing this one! Thanks for the review on this!

  • Giuseppe Navone

    I read your review, evaluated, and I bought the program, I’m happy, I find it better than others, handy, fast, and above all excellent pictures, thanks Marty for review, congratulations for your work that I have always followed.

  • Daniele Purrone

    The problem with HDR on iOS is that our devices don’t have the firepower to properly handle 32-bit images. I assume that tonemapping is applied on 8-bit images, with some simulation involved.

  • queenmarylady

    REALLY liking this app, thank you again for the review! =)

    • Thanks, Bridget! I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. =M=

  • Youri

    Good review. Bought the app, and really liking it. I only have one problem. The app sometimes crashes whenever I set it at custom, and slide it to Dramatic mode for example. Whenever it crashes, I have to reboot the app, or even my phone for it to work again. Good app, but that annoying bug is keeping me from using it as much as I’d like.

  • Graison Swaan

    Been trying it out for a couple days, and one of my concerns is the small file sizes it generates. A normal picture can be upwards of 6MB (or more) the ones made by this tend to run under 2MB (I has one that was 1.5). You’d think the files would be at least the same size because of the extra detail.

    • Hi, Graison,

      I’m not able to duplicate that on my iPhone 5. Holding the camera pretty steady, I get close to 8MP output, minus some pixel loss around the edges fro alignment.

      What device are you using?


      • Graison Swaan

        Hi Marty, I’m actually talking about the file size (megabytes) as opposed to the resolution, which on my 4S is fine). I think they should be larger.

        • Ah. Apologies for the misunderstanding.


          • Graison Swaan

            No worries.
            I have discovered that pureshot has a 3 bracket exposure mode where you can select a bright spot and a dark spot as the 2 ends of the shot. you can bring them into an app like laminar and do some layering wizardry, more work but you might be able to get some better results.

  • JV

    I’ve gone through half a dozen HDR apps — I shoot mainly golf photos with them — and this one is by far the best I’ve found.

  • docmondo

    I have stumbled on your blog/review and bought my first HDR app based on it. ITS A GREAT APP! Thanks for the review. I love the simplicity and how fast it is. Faster than some free apps I have previously downloaded. And it’s a no brainer app, no sliders and settings and set-this-set-that like exposition, balance, colours ect. But don’t be fooled, app is very good at what it does, colours are just right and there is NO, and I mean NO, ghosting and visible overlays even when people are moving in the pictures.

  • Udit Sihag

    the developers are working very hard to bring a new update to resolve the malrotated images.Sooner they will add simple customizations like brightness,saturation,temp,contrast etc. & tiff support for geeky photographers.The new update is expected around the end of this month.

  • franwhite

    This app is amazing!! I can’t always select things that can wait for the three pictures to take (like hummingbirds) but still objects are FLAWLESS.

  • Nathan

    The review should point out a major failing of this app: the images it saves to the Camera Roll are far lower in resolution than when you output to Dropbox (a reviewer of the app in the App store pointed this out). Is there a technical reason for the app saving only low-res versions to the Camera Roll?

    • Hi, Nathan,

      My review was done using version 1.0 of the app. In that version, images saved to the camera roll at about 8 megapixels. You are right. In version 1.1, images save at much lower resolutions, although you can still transfer them at full res using Dropbox — a clunky solution.

      I’m not sure if this is a bug or a “feature”, but I’ll email the developer to see what the deal is.

      Thank you for posting this.


  • I’m going go be a hard ass but the natural photo looks washed out. The dramatic photos have magenta color shift. The only reason why I see when Colors are off is working at a photo lab will do this to your eyes, along with taking 4 semesters of color photo classes. I’m reading this review because I’m writing about this app. It was a request from a reader and people who swear by this app. I’ve tried the app. It doesn’t really impress me very much. Maybe I’m old school when it comes to HDR photography and used to Photomatix. I just feel it’s a lot of money for the app. Also ProCamera 8 has added it to their in-app purchases to compete with PureShot.

    I know you hardly write on here but you can find me. When you do we can talk about this app.

  • Mememom

    I bought this app and love the photos it takes. However, how do I get them onto my camera roll? After I take the photo and hit save, where does it go and how can I access it?? Thanks.