You may be familiar with Hydra if you are a Mac user and that you are into photography and you make a famous HDR photography software. Hydra is a high dynamic range software for Mac OS X developed by the Belgium editor Creaceed. I’ve used them quite a few times for software reviews and loved their ghost images removal technology which I found quite efficient. Now, the good news is that they have worked hard on bringing their HDR technology to our iPhone and iPad. Hydra for iOS is born and will enhance the capability of your iPhone’s embedded camera thanks to a lot of software intelligence. But the app Hydra for iOS is not only about HDR although it is one of its most appreciated strength. It allows also to improve image quality in low light, to record HDR video, to make high resolution images and to zoom in the pictures without losing too much on image quality.
Here are the 5 shooting modes offered by Hydra for iOS:
- HDR video
- Low light
- High resolution
Hydra for iOS : innovative high-quality HDR images
So you understood that Hydra is quite a powerful photo application for the iPhone and may be one of the most innovative one I have seen these past 18 months. First of all, the HDR mode of Hydra is really efficient. To make a real HDR shoot, while the iPhone only takes a couple of images to blend the exposure, Hydra for iOS can take 40 images of the same scene, in burst mode, at various exposure levels. From all these wide dynamic range images, Hydra is going to blend the tones and do the tone mapping for you to enter with a very convincing HDR image. Once you have taken the image in HDR mode, Hydra is going to offer you 3 versions: Black and white HDR, medium or high. It’s a question of taste but I usually hate heavy HDR processing and love the basic ones, the realistic ones. Good for everybody, Hydra for iOS offers both a realistic HDR processing in medium strength and a rather heavy one if you go for the strong effect power.
So you understood that Hydra for iOS is taking 40 images to blend them into one. So you’d better be very steady when you take the images and it makes action shoot absolutely forbidden in this mode. Yet, the ghost image removal technology of Creaceed is applied here and all 40 layers are really well-aligned all together.
Hydra can actually also record HDR videos. That is a pretty new concept on iPhone.
Hydra and low-light photography for iPhone improved
The other mode that I have appreciated is the low-light that Hydra offers to iphonographers. When you lack of light, the tiny little sensor of the iPhone cannot do miracles and you end up with noisy grainy images, washed away colors and details. In these extreme conditions, Hydra uses the same method and takes 10 to 20 shoots to blend them into one cleaner image with better colors. The difference is obvious.
Zoom and Hi-res mode : Hydra for higher quality images
Aside from these modes you can also zoom in a scene. This is one big limitation of photography on iPhone : it has no optical zoom. When you zoom in a scene with your iPhone, you instantly see a huge decrease in quality and sharpness. Really, Apple’s and iOS digital zoom kind of suck. That is too bad… but Hydra replicates its multi-shot blending technology to end up into one high-resolution photo out of which it can grab a portion of the image to crop and zoom in. I have tested it and I have to say that the result is not spectacular, but I have to admit that the final image when you zoom is much better than the best one I could take with my iPhone and zooming in.
The high resolution mode is still built on the same picture multiple image blending technology, Hydra for iOS is going to create a 12, 16, and even 32 megapixel for you out of the 8 megapixel sensor of the iPhone.
User Interface : Hydra wears iOS 8 design and layout
The user interface of Hydra for iOS has been well thought out: Hydra operations are similar to the iOS camera. You slide form one mode to another. You can tap a small button which lead you to the settings area. Easy. To take a photo or to launch the video recording, there is a huge red button that you cannot miss. It’s easy and straight forward. If you are used to taking photos with your iPhone in iOS 8, then you feel at home with a Hydra.
Hydra for iOS edited by Creaceed is sold on the App Store at the price of 4.99$
I’m going to make a full review and some Hydra tutorials very soon, but I can tell you that it’s already a killer app for all iPhonographers and you can easily spend those three bucks on Hydra for iOS, I can guarantee you that you will not regret it.