Best Free Hdr Software For Mac

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This page is a directory to all kinds of software with HDR capabilities. Programs are grouped by common tasks and sorted alphabetically. Check the HDRI Handbook 2.0 for more detailed reviews. The book also explains the most interesting programs in practical tutorials. The rating on this page, however, is based on popularity. Photo HDR for Mac, free download. Photo HDR for Mac 1.0: Start using Photo HDR immediately No matter if you are a pro photographer or just a beginner, Photo HDR is the one that deserves a try. 1,746,000 recognized programs - 5,228,000 known versions - Software News. Pangea Software; $20. The Mac app store contains a wide and growing range of HDR apps for OS X. Choosing one depends not only on what your goals and level of interest in HDR photography are, but.

EasyHDR is available for Windows and Mac. There are many free HDR software options available. But if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the free programs, one of the best HDR software programs on the market is Aurora HDR by Skylum. There is not a free trial, but you can buy Aurora HDR and return it within 30 days. Free hdr software, free download - HDR PhotoStudio, SilverFast HDR, Photo HDR Free, and many more programs. Best Apps Popular Apps. All Windows Mac iOS Android.

  • February 15, 2020
  • 23 min to read

Have you ever taken a photo of the stunning sunset only to be disappointed by the end result? If it helps, you are not entirely to blame. The thing is that it is very difficult to capture photos with a high contrast. These types of shots have a big dynamic range that cameras find hard to capture. Consequently, you fail to keep both the highlights and shadows in a single photo. The good news is that there is a solution - HDR photography. What’s more, there are also tools to help you!

In a nutshell, HDR software solutions combine images taken at different exposures into a single image that boasts more detail. It can also usually be used for tone mapping, ghost removal, aligning images and reducing noise. If it sounds like a tool that you need to invest in, be sure to check out the following top 10 HDR software solutions (listed in no particular order):

1. Aurora HDR

Aurora boasts an intuitive interface which makes HDR, which can be hard, much easier.

With Aurora HDR, you can use its Quantum HDR engine to merge your photos efficiently for more natural-looking results.

Unlike other programs, it does not have so-called presets. Instead, it offers 8 Looks features that include Architecture and Essential. Though, if you would like to add more edits, you can use the masking and layers features. Moreover, thanks to its sliders and controls, you can remain in control over your photos. All in all, it offers enough effects to create impressive HDR photos quickly and with its use of AI you can add more details and depth to your images.

✅ Pros

  • It is simple to use the program and unlock its potential.

  • You can use it to change a single raw photo to HDR (unlike traditional HDR photography that combines more than one photo).

  • It is simple to undo an edit to revert back to your original image.

  • It can be used as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, Apple Photos extension or as a stand-alone app.

  • Its batch processing feature is very useful.

  • It is suitable for beginners as well as more advanced photographers.

✖️ Cons

  • It is not a full-featured image editing tool and does not offer the complete range of features.

2. Machinery HDR

If you are searching for a tool that can help you with HDR tone mapping, be sure to check out Machinery HDR Effects. Though, while the interface is intuitive, be ready as it does require quite some time to become skilful at using this program (and unfortunately its online manual does not make it much easier). The program might not be perfect, but if you are willing to play around a bit, you can successfully deal with less significant issues. All things considered, it is good at rendering tone-mapped HDR photos that look really natural.

✅ Pros

  • It is easy to auto-align handheld brackets.

  • It boasts an awesome range of built-in presets.

  • It is easy to navigate your way around in this tool.

  • The built-in vignette control panel is respectable.

✖️ Cons

  • It is not as straightforward as similar apps.

  • While the built-in sharpening control is a good addition, if your photo has noise it will create many noise artefacts and fixing it can be challenging.

3. Oloneo HDR Photoengine


If speed plays a major factor in your decision-making process, you will love Oloneo Photoengine. Not only is this program super quick, but you can also view your modifications in real time and as soon as you are done making changes, you can save your image directly (no extra time is required for processing). With the help of a single slider, you will be able to get most of the things done. Overall, it boasts a very decent selection of features and tools, (the Natural HDR mode in particular will grab your attention).

✅ Pros

  • Unlike the majority of other similar products, this tool does not remove as much sharpness.

  • It is very easy to use (without having to rely too much on presets).

  • It is easy to install.

✖️ Cons

  • The file browser is not built for efficiency.

  • At times it can create a halo around a darker area.

4. HDR Expose 3

If you are looking to create only natural-looking photos, you can check out HDR Expose. Though, if you are searching for a tool that can whip up more surrealistic results, skip this one and continue reading.

✅ Pros

  • It will check for distortion problems automatically.

  • It has an option to remove ghosting and align images.

✖️ Cons

  • It is not as simply to import photos.

  • It can take rather long to install.

5. SNS-HDR

SNS-HDR is one of the top software solutions for creating natural-looking HDR images. It offers 8 presets, but you can also create your own custom presets. Similar to Oloneo HDR Photoengine, this tool is also very quick. It does not take long to refresh which means that you can see your changes in real time. Though, if you are busy with a lot of batch processing, speed can become a problem. All things considered, it is very simple to use and one of the best tools if you need to recover detail.

✅ Pros

  • It is great for recovering detail.

  • There are no ghosting or halos, making it great tool if realistic images are important to you.

  • Revisions to the program are made regularly.

  • Its automatic alignment is very good.

  • It is easy to install.

✖️ Cons

  • It is not ideal if you want to create over-the-top saturation and extreme effects.

  • The program does take some time to open.

  • You do not have as much control over your RAW images.

  • It cannot be used as a plug-in.

  • It does not offer native support for Mac.

  • The manual is unclear at times.

6. Luminar 4

Luminar is a unique tool! It employs artificial intelligence (AI) to make those hard editing jobs a lot easier. Rest assured, if you want more control over your edits, this tool still allows you to take complete control.

It offers a wide range of tools that include: Layers, Portrait, Canvas, Creative, PRO and Essential. One feature that deserves to be highlighted is its AI Sky Replacement feature. It is really amazing and so realistic! In short, you can replace the sky in the click of a button. This means that you no longer need to wait for the right time of the day to take that photo. All in all, with Luminar 4 you can expect professional images in a flash. It is a feature-packed tool with several handy features.

✅ Pros

  • You can get it for a one-off payment. Included in this fee, you will have access to future updates, support as well as bug fixes.

  • Your workspace remains uncluttered.

  • If you like to work in Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, it is easy to open an image in Luminar. While it can be used as a plug-in for Apple and Adobe, it is actually best to use it in conjunction with these other apps.

  • Its AI Sky Replacement feature is really amazing (in short, you can replace the sky in the click of a button).

  • The interface is modern, yet functional.

Free hdr software

✖️ Cons

  • The panels could be organized better.

  • There is no option to export an image.

7. EasyHDR

EasyHDR is an affordable stand-alone app. It is a great tool if you are only beginning with HDR photography, but keep in mind that as you become more experienced you will find that you have outgrown this tool’s capabilities.

✅ Pros

  • It offers sufficient visual feedback for beginners.

  • It renders the final photos really well.

✖️ Cons

  • While this app has several features, you will most likely find that it is still simpler to use Adobe Photoshop.

  • It does not have that many options.

  • If you use JPEG images, you will see quite a degree of noise and artefacts.

  • It does not have an undo option.

  • It requires more work to get the colors correct.

8. Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro is a very good tool for those who want to play around with exposure and create HDR images. Its use of presets, rendering algorithms and basic set of tools to tweak the color makes it a great software solution for beginners as well as more experienced photographers. It has a useful selective brush tool that you can use to modify the tone or color and blend your images. Overall, it does not offer as much functionality as you might have come to expect, but it is still a cost-effective option to get the job done.

✅ Pros

  • It boasts a good selection of tools that you can use to adjust and manipulate your images.

  • Tips and written tutorials are available should you require more help.

  • It offers a nice range of presets as well as custom presets.

  • It can be used as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom.

  • It boasts many tone mapping options.

✖️ Cons

  • The program does have quite a learning curve.

  • It does not offer that many file sharing options if you would like to export edited photos.

  • Mac users might find that the final result looks different.

9. HDR Projects 7

This is a simple tool if you would like to start experimenting with HDR photography. All in all, it is a good tool to look at and can deliver respectable natural-looking results.

✅ Pros

  • It has a plug-in for Lightroom.

✖️ Cons

  • Its presets are not that great.

10. Adobe Lightroom Classic

If you are searching for a tool that is easier to use than Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom Classic is a good choice. This multi-functional image editing tool offers an impressive selection of useful features. If you want to use it specifically for HDR photography, you will find that it is quite intuitive and can deliver rather satisfactory results. Its Photo Merger feature is very quick. In just a couple of clicks, you can merge a couple of images so that you can then make your final tweaks.

✅ Pros

  • From import to the final image, it only takes four simple steps.

  • It is easy to take your HDR image too far which will only result in unrealistic photos.

✖️ Cons

  • It is simpler to use than Photoshop, but it still has some learning curve.

  • Its dynamic range is not that impressive.

Multimedia • Updated on Feb.27, 2019

There are a few things that only professional photographers hear about. HDR isn’t one of them.

In the past couple of years, many camera apps have brought HDR support to smartphone apps. You will not need a fully-fledged software if you have a mid-range smartphone with better camera.

But, that’s not how things work when you capture photos using a DSLR. You need a dedicated HDR processing software if you need better control over your professional photographs.

Well, before we actually start talking about HDR Processing tools and the best ones, we think we should get a quick look at what is HDR, what it means to you and why would you need a HDR Processing.

The world of HDR

In case you did not get that yet: HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. So, you should first understand what is dynamic range. Dynamic Range is the ratio of light to dark. Digital cameras and smartphone cameras have a limit when it comes to capturing this dynamic range.

The actual imaging technique may miss something — which is actually visible for the naked eye. This is where HDR Photography comes in. HDR Processing makes sure that the image can reproduce a higher dynamic range, as to make it look better.


Before (SDR) and After (HDR)

While HDR can bring out every color in a sunset, over-processing the images can also take away from the detail you captured. HDR photography uses digital imaging and the sensors in cameras to differently map what the cameras capture in order to create a more dynamic contrast.

Hdr Software Mac

The sensors in cameras are far less dynamic than the human eye, but HDR processing software will differently map shadow and highlights by overlapping several different exposures of the same image. The software takes each level of exposure and combines the data, distributing the light captured by the sensors across the image more accurately.

There are a few more things an HDR software can do — in order to make the photograph more awesome.

  • Tone Mapping is one of the great things you can expect from an HDR software. You may get a flatter image when you subject it to HDR effect. Through tone mapping, you can adjust this and get a better photograph.
  • Some photographers use HDR Software for noise removal as well. Noise may be present when you combine two images to form an HDR image. Thanks to the plenty of editing tools inside, you can use it for optimizing the details.
  • Being relatively easier than the likes of Photoshop, you can use HDR Software for editing photos also.
  • If not HDR, you can use the HDR software for bulk optimization as well. Personally, I use my favorite HDR software for editing photographs in bulk.

So, an HDR software does more than applying the HDR effect.

Now that you have an idea, let’s start finding the best HDR software out there.

How we chose the best HDR software

Well, there are more than a few HDR processing software in the market. And, don’t you dare expect random selection to give you an effective HDR processing software. So, when it came to choosing the best tools, we had some criteria in our mind. Some of the core aspects were:

  • We wanted the HDR software to be quite simple to use and gain expertise in. To say the least, HDR is not something like rocket science, you know.
  • The tool should be performance-friendly when it comes to rendering and development. This would save a lot of time in the long run
  • We also recommend a tool that is multi-platform — Windows and Mac, to start with. This can offer a seamless HDR processing experience almost everywhere.
  • Of course, the tool must not compromise features like Tone Mapping and Optimization. These can effectively convert the HDR processing software to a not-so-bad photo editor.

Best Free Hdr Software Mac

In addition to these, our selection also looked at aspects like additional features. It’s nice to have some extra editing features. If you want an HDR image and make some quick edits to the image, these features come in handy. However, the four points mentioned above were given the utmost importance in selection. Shall we now get into the tools?

The best pick – Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR is a reputed tool for HDR processing photographs. Both professionals and beginners have been using this awesome tool for years. Developed by Skylum/Macphun, Aurora HDR is noted for the brand-new features it packs.

It does not matter whether you want natural HDR or creative HDR effects. Aurora HDR can offer you a superb experience. We really loved using this latest version and we believe it deserves the top position here. Before we go further, let’s see what’s new in Aurora HDR.

What is new in Aurora HDR?

Compared to the previous version, almost everything in Aurora HDR has been improved. However, we believe the following additions are great for every photographer out there.

  • Quantum HDR engine
    Quantum HDR Engine from Skylum is the best addition to Aurora HDR. It is powered by AI and can offer a better tone-mapping process now. The best part is that the new engine has been proven effective for both bracketed and single photographs.
  • More Aurora HDR looks
    Aurora HDR Looks are presets that can come in quite handy. In the latest version, Skylum has included some more looks from reputed photographers. You can count them in when you are not so sure about individual HDR looks.
  • HDR smart structure
    HDR Smart Structure now takes care of details and more in your photograph. It makes sure that your photo looks fantabulous even after you’ve done the HDR part. Here too, we have to thank the Artificial Intelligence at work.

Furthermore, Aurora HDR now offers enhanced support for other apps like Photoshop, Apple Photos, Luminar, Lightroom etc.

Now, to the full review. Ready, folks?

Aurora HDR review

Nothing much has changed here to say. Once installed, you can start Aurora HDR quite immediately. If you don’t have prior experience, you can use the Tour feature as well. It does not matter even if you do not have bracketed images. Aurora HDR can help you create an HDR image from a single image or a single RAW file.

Therefore, you can simply open the file/files and start seeing the magic of Aurora HDR. If you’re already familiar with the tool, you can check out features like Batch Processing as well. From downloading the install package to creating the first HDR image using the program, Aurora HDR takes just only a few minutes, which is great.

The user interface

An intuitive User Interface is one of the best features we found in Aurora HDR. Nothing much has changed from the previous version. Once you have loaded the HDR image, you can choose the convenient viewing options as well. On the right side, the Optimization, Editing and HDR Control panels are available for easy access.

If you ask me what I love about the UI of Aurora HDR, my answer would be customizability. There are times when I just need to add a simple preset. And, there are times when I need a fully-fledged control panel for editing. Aurora HDR UI can be optimized for both these needs. You can simply hide/toggle toolbars and sidebars for the maximum productivity.

The HDR experience

Thanks to the awesome UI, it feels really easy to create an HDR image using Aurora HDR. As we said, it lets you create HDR from single images, bracketed images and RAW files. In all these cases, the tool gets the job done in a few seconds. We had tested Aurora HDR on a MacBook Air, one of the low-end Macs now in market.

So, if you are planning to run Aurora HDR on a mid-end or low-end device, it would be great. If you’ve a high-end device, though, the performance would be unbelievable. We really loved how Aurora HDR managed to focus on useful features and performance than making a messy interface. Altogether, the whole experience of making HDR images from Aurora HDR is pretty great.

Noteworthy features in Aurora HDR

As it happens, Aurora HDR does a few more things other than adding HDR effect.

It’s a full editing suite

Aurora HDR is by far one of the best minimal editing suites I’ve seen. Of course, there is no comparison with tools like Adobe Photoshop. But, take this scenario: you have made an excellent HDR image but it won’t look good without a few corrections. It has sections like Colour Toning, Glow, Image Radiance, LUT Mapping and HDR Basic edits and Colour Correction.

Aurora HDR looks collections

There are some amazing in-built presets in Aurora HDR. These are expected to make your job easier in the long run. If you are a beginner, you may not know which settings are suitable for which scenario. Using the HDR Looks panel, you can choose the best option. The collections include Architecture, Landscape and Artistic. You can also get pre-built looks from some of the reputed photographers who use Aurora.


Productive workflow

To say that the workflow of Aurora HDR is productive is an understatement. It feels really easy to get started with the tool and finish everything off. For instance, as we said, you can optimize the Viewing panes as per your needs. On a personal note, I find Aurora HDR as the better option than using two tools for HDR processing and image editing.

By the way, did we tell you that Aurora HDR is designed for professionals? So, it offers plug-ins for other software like Photoshop and Lightroom. Skylum developers don’t want you to stick onto their own software, it seems. The point is, at the end of the day, you can have the best HDR and image manipulation options.

Availability and pricing

Aurora HDR is available for both Windows and macOS as of now. It doesn’t matter whether you have a MacBook Pro or Surface Tablet, it delivers the best experience. The devices should have minimum 8GB of RAM to smoothly run Aurora HDR, though. Coming to the price, you can grab the bundle license by paying just $99.

Skylum is offering some promotional discounts if you have been using Aurora HDR old version. You can log in find out more. Anyway, there is no doubt that the latest version of Aurora HDR is worthier than the $99 you have to pay. And, it has managed the top-pick position of the best HDR processing software for the second time too.

Also Great — Photomatix Pro 6

Photomatix Pro 6 is another great tool when you are looking for HDR processing tools. It’s available for both Windows and Mac but isn’t that feature-rich. On the other hand, you can use Photomatix Pro 6 as an easy way to do HDR stuff. Unlike Aurora HDR, Photomatix Pro 6 does not offer many editing features either.

Looking at the User Interface, there isn’t much newer. You have the traditional interface with the photograph on the center, controls on both sides. Although not as rich as Aurora, Photomatix Pro 6 offers a collection of pre-sets as well.

Getting started with Photomatix Pro 6 and using the program would be an easy task. From adding the photo to HDR and exporting the final file, everything happens so cool. However, we think it could have improved the User Interface designs.

Last but not the least, Photomatix Pro 6 is available for macOS and Windows. Resembling the case of Aurora, it wants you to pay $99 for lifetime license. Some other features of Photomatix Pro 6 include plugin support and Quick Export options.

Other contenders

Aurora HDR and Photomatix Pro 6 were not the only considerations we had. Out of the 20+ choices we had, here are some of the worthy contenders.

HDR Projects 4 is yet another popular HDR Processing software we’d considered. It’s different from Aurora in many ways. For instance, it does not allow much customization. You have to select the HDR style first and then import the photograph. HDR Projects 4 offers a better collection of pre-sets though.

There are more than 150 HDR pre-sets that you can apply. Rendering is quick and HDR Projects 4 does not consume much resources either. In many ways, HDR Projects 4 User Interface resembles that of Aurora HDR, but that is actually good. We hadn’t much trouble in getting used to it.

It should be noted that HDR Projects 4 is a better choice for hardcore professionals. It’s offering a number of advanced features that we hadn’t seen in others. The problem is that the features aren’t that organized per se.

Despite all these, if you have $99 to shell out, HDR Projects 4 is a great choice for sure.

easyHDR is a multiplatform HDR software that you can count on. It’s available for Windows, macOS and Linux distros. Compared to the tools we have listed, easyHDR is more minimal. Still, it allows you to process HDR photos in the shortest time possible.

Best Free Hdr Software For Mac Windows 10

Coming to the User Interface, easyHDR has kept simplicity intact. You don’t have to worry about the complex toolbars or designs. On the left side, it shows the available presets and, on the right, you can use the tools to bring major edits to the photograph.

Performance is an area where easyHDR becomes a pain in the ass. You may have to wait for some time for rendering the HDR exports. Similarly, you don’t have the best collection of presets. Even then, we’d suggest easyHDR for those who need a customized way to handle their HDR projects.

The Home and Commercial versions of easyHDR are available for $39 and $65 respectively.

Yet another awesome tool in the market, HDR Darkroom is one of my personal favorites. It has been designed with simplicity in mind. From choosing the right style to mapping the correct tone, everything can be done so effectively.

You can simply drag-and-drop the photo and applying the HDR presets. The performance part is so quick and impressive for most people. We also loved the simple interface with two sidebars. Coming to advanced set of features, HDR Darkroom offers Batch Editing as well.

If you ask us why we recommend HDR Darkroom, the reason is the User Interface itself. Within a simple set of options, HDR Darkroom has managed to offer comprehensive control. Indeed, you cannot compare these features with those of Aurora or Photomatix.

HDR Darkroom costs $89 per license. You can run it on either Mac or PC.

As you have seen, all the programs we’ve covered above are paid. Luminance HDR is an exception here. You can use this software without any limitation to build HDR images. It’s not the fastest HDR processing tool in the market though.

Compared to the other contenders and top picks, Luminance HDR is pretty slow. If you are getting the HDR images from a RAW file, you will have to wait even further. But, the point is that you can get the final HDR image without watermarks or other limitations.

Due to the same reason, we would not recommend Luminance HDR for hardcore professional. On the other hand, if you just want to understand the whole HDR Processing thing, Luminance HDR is the best place to start. It is available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

The bottom line

So far, we have seen how all the top six HDR Processor software performed. We tested all these software in a bunch of ways, finally comparing the HDR output image.

Considering all these point, we believe Aurora HDR deserves to be at the top position. It brings the best of all words, be it an impressive UI, best-in-class performance or best compatibility.

So, if you are looking for some real magic in your photographs, make sure you go for Aurora HDR.