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.

11 Days ’till my Lightroom Seminar in Washington DC
Come on out and spend the day with me learning all the cool stuff in Lightroom Classic. Only $99, it includes a detailed workbook, plus a bunch of videos, and it’s 100% money-back guaranteed if it’s not the best Lightroom seminar on planet Earth. Tickets and details here.

Have a great Monday, ya’ll. 🙂

Best,

-Scott

Author: Scott Kelby

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books. You can learn more about Scott at http://scottkelby.com

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17 Comments

  1. 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?

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  2. 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?

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

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  4. I compared an image edited in Photomatix to one edited using your method.

    Now I feel dumb 🙁

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  5. 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!

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  6. Thanks Scott,
    I’ve noticed a lot of noise in the shadows in my Lightroom HDR images. I’ll give this a go.

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  7. 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?

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  8. 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.
    Mike

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  9. 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.

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  10. 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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  11. Great tip! I haven’t tried HDR in PS

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