The Shocking Truth About Lightroom’s HDR

The truth is, if you’re trying to make a realistic-looking HDR, Lightroom’s built-in HDR is not nearly as sharp or color accurate as you can get by starting in Lightroom, then jumping over to Photoshop’s HDR Pro and changing one all-important setting. Check out this video —

When I first figured this out, I asked our own Rob Sylvan to take a look and test it on one of his bracketed images, and he agreed — sharper and more accurate color.  That’s a pretty important discovery and one you have to try for yourself to really appreciate.

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Have a great Monday, ya’ll. 🙂





  1. Don Johnston 9 August, 2018 at 16:04 Reply

    Hey Scott

    Definitely sharper but some weird colour anomalies in sky and reflected regions in water. Dark bits of clouds have a green tinge. Not in LR. Correction?

  2. Petr Klapper 7 August, 2018 at 05:43 Reply

    Hi Scott, one thing not clear to me yet – when you go to Photoshop and use the 32bit>ACR way, I’m pretty sure there’s some default sharpening applied before it’s converted to 16bit bitmap later. Is the Lightroom version, which is still RAW, also sharpened in LR Detail panel? And if not (enough), have you tried to match the PS version?

  3. David Klinger 6 August, 2018 at 22:18 Reply

    This is a great tip! Thanks Scott. I immediately tried it on some images and this technique is destined to become the norm.

  4. Gary Kranston 6 August, 2018 at 18:35 Reply

    Thanks very much for this tip Scott. I just shot a great sunrise this past Friday and merged the bracketed shots in LR and then stitched them together to make a pano….I think I’ll go back and try the PS approach!! Much appreciated!

  5. John Ross 6 August, 2018 at 16:52 Reply

    I can’t get the ‘Tone in ACR’ button to appear after merging. I guess this method only works for Photoshop CC users not Photoshop CS6?

  6. Mike Garcia 6 August, 2018 at 14:29 Reply

    Scott, What format do you use to save in Photoshop when you are bringing the photo back to LR? Tiff? PNG? etc? Thanks for your help.

  7. AD Wheeler 6 August, 2018 at 14:01 Reply

    That’s because Ps HDR engine is creating a 32bit file that Lr can interpret. Time compression is then done in Lr where it is more intuitive. You’ll have you full brackets worth of dynamic range to play with. This not only makes for a better creative flow, but also has hidden benefits with masks and adjustment brushes allowing you to push your range even beyond what the basic controls allow by stacking adjustments with no ill effect. I have been teaching this since Lr 4. I don’t need HDR as much as I did in the past, but when I do it’s 32bit only.

  8. Howard Smith 6 August, 2018 at 10:45 Reply

    Thanks Scott. I’ve been using the Lightroom HDR since it was added, but I’ve never been happy with it. I’ll go back to using the Photoshop Pro.

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