Every photographer strives to take that perfect shot. While a natural eye, great timing, and a high-end camera will get you close, the truth is that creating perfection is only possible with software that enhances the raw material.
HDR software is designed to help visual artists capture the true depth of imagery, and present it to their audience. But as with any software, each one offers a different set of benefits.
If you’re looking for the best suite, try packages with a trial period, or talk to colleagues about what they recommend. Editing is a personal, expressive process, so take your time.
So, what is the best HDR software for Mac?
1. Aurora HDR
This Mac-only suite is as close to perfection as possible.
Billed as a one-stop shop for editors, Aurora HDR offers users the perfect balance of simplicity and power. The interface is simple and easy to use, with a range of presets that can be reset at the touch of a single button.
The ability to create natural and hyper-real imagery is a real testament to software.
Overall, it’s the best product on the market and is affordable too.
2. Machinery HDR
As contradictory as it sounds, a lot of HDR fanatics use their equipment to achieve greater realism in their images.
A skill in itself, recreating the world calls for a good camera and an editing suite that’s less about creating fantasy and more about subtlety.
Machinery HDR is a Windows-run suite that’s easy to install and simple to use thanks to a drag-and-drop interface. It also includes a range of presets for quick touch ups but has a depth of options that won’t take your images straight into the over-produced space.
It’s an affordable, agile option for the purists.
3. HDR Darkroom
Capable of running on either Windows or Mac OS, HDR Darkroom is touted as a big hitter across various HDR platforms and forums.
It’s a blend between technical and easy to use – you can expect the convenience of automatic DE ghosting, but because you’re working with RAW files, there’s no drag and drop interface.
For more advanced users there are 3 tone mapping options, which, when coupled with the manual options, means you should be able to get the effects that you’re looking for.
If you’re prone to using JPEGs, you might want to check out rumors that the upload is a bit heavy on the magenta, although this is not consistently reported.
While the functionality you get is a step up, whether it justifies the steep price tag (around $90) is debatable. If you’re looking to invest, then you might want to research more popular suites.
4. HDR Projects 4
This suite is like a utility knife. It has all the advanced features you need, coupled with a range of presets for smaller changes.
Most impressive is the seamless integration with Lightroom, which is included in the suite. The ability to edit across both offers a real range of creative possibility and provides the opportunity to generate enhanced, natural images or more creative visions.
Although there are countless options to edit the presets, these can be a little tedious. Therefore, many choose to incorporate Lightroom and tweak presets. This software is not for beginners, but a solid option if you are a more seasoned editor searching to create a distinctive personal style.
As the name suggests, easyHDR is an entry-level suite designed to help you come to grips with the possibilities of HDR software.
The interface is simple and intuitive, allowing you to manipulate JPEGs and raw files by merging an array of exposures. It comes with a handy Lightroom plugin and a series of preset features for quick edits and updates.
There is also a tool for removing unwanted objects, correcting the alignment of your image, and even noise removal filters.
While this is a good way to start developing an understanding of image editing, the use of presets and filters is better for aspiring photographers. True artists looking to really design their images and evoke distinct textures and tones will probably want a more advanced program, but this software provides a good starting point for those just getting into editing.
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com