What is HDR on a Digital Camera?

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Updated July 27, 2022

When it comes to digital photography, there are a lot of important terms and functionalities floating around. A few to name include sensor size on a digital camera, live view mode, continuous drive, and digital camera image stabilization. Additionally, you may be wondering, for instance, what is HDR for a digital camera. These are some of the things to consider when you are looking to invest in a highly-rated digital camera. Don’t worry. We have all the information you need.


  • HDR stands for high dynamic range and it is a relatively new process to capture gorgeous landscapes and still photography shots.
  • Simply put, a camera’s HDR mode takes multiple photos at once at different exposures, combining them using software.
  • You can typically adjust your camera’s HDR settings in the settings menu under “HDR” or under Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB).

What is HDR on a Digital Camera?

HDR stands for high dynamic range and it can help you capture more color and detail with your digital images. Most modern DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, and even smartphone cameras can shoot in HDR. To see HDR ratings on specific cameras, check out our mashup of the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS vs Nikon Coolpix A900 digital camera.

Insider Tip

An HDR image may appear to be a single image, but it is actually many photos combined into one.

How Does HDR Work?

Simply put, engaging a camera’s high dynamic range mode expands the limits of your camera’s image sensors. A camera’s dynamic range is the difference between the lightest lights it can capture and the darkest darks it can capture. Snapping on that HDR mode expands this range and captures details from both ends of the visual spectrum. This is something that is incredibly hard to do with an ordinary photograph.

HDR works by snapping multiple images at the same time with different exposure levels. These images are then combined seamlessly to create something that captures the most visually appealing exposures. After that, the digital camera stores the images on inner storage or SD cards. If you want a top-rated digital camera then you should keep in mind what is ISO in a digital camera.

Tips to Shoot in HDR

If you are looking to create some gorgeous high dynamic range content, here are some tips to follow.

Engage HDR Mode

Some cameras will automatically turn on their HDR mode when needed, but not all of them will do this. Dive into the settings and turn on the HDR mode to ensure you will be taking high dynamic range photos. Can’t find the right setting? Check the instructions, as the setting could be called auto exposure bracketing or AEB.

Put the Camera on Tripod

HDR photos work best when the camera is completely still and when there is no moving image in the frame. Your hand may be too shaky for the camera’s image sensors, so we recommend placing it on a sturdy tripod before shooting in HDR. Still photography, landscape photography, and portrait photography are all good options for HDR.


HDR photos are much larger than traditional photos, with beefy raw files that will take up plenty of space on your memory card. Plan accordingly.

Choose Manual Focus

Autofocus is a great tool in most circumstances, but if you are looking for gorgeous HDR landscape shots, go with manual focus. This will allow you to find the perfect focal length for your shot. You may also want to know what is FPS in a digital camera if you want to learn how to shoot better pictures.


What photos work best in HDR?

HDR doesn’t do well with movement, so landscape photos and still shots, such as portraits, are your best bet.

What to know about HDR camera settings?

The actual settings will vary depending on the make and model of your digital camera, but these settings usually allow you to set the number of photos taken, the exposures used, and various other criteria.

When not to use HDR?

If you are a sports photography, an active wildlife photographer, or an action photographer of any kind, HDR may not be the best choice for you. Additionally, if you do not own a tripod, HDR may not be a viable option.

STAT: The idea of using several exposures to adequately reproduce a range of luminance (HDR) was pioneered as early as the 1850s by Gustave Le Gray. (source)

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