9 Best HDR Software for Windows and Mac

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

April 13, 2021

For most landscape photographers, HDR software can be a huge asset. Beyond having good lighting and the right exposure, good HDR software is essential to bring out perfection in your photography.

HDR stands for High Digital Range and is a popular photography effect that helps you capture an image’s actual depth. This technique uses a camera's automatic exposure bracketing function to combine different exposures to bring out the details in a dynamic scene.

There are several HDR software available for both Mac and Windows. While some of them are free HDR software, others are paid but may offer a free trial. This article will show you the nine best HDR software you can pick from for the best editing experience.

Comparing the Best HDR Software

Software

Pros

Cons

Main Features

Movavi PicverseSupports multiple languagesThe free trial version has a limited periodQuick image background removal
Luminance HDRFree to download and installJon intuitive user interfaceExport photos to other photo editing software such as Lightroom
EasyHDROne-time license paymentLack of post-processing toolsLive preview with full resolution
Aurora HDRIntuitive, easy-to-use user interfaceNo free or trial versionAdjustable gradient for the independent color picture part editing
Photomatix ProLong-lasting free trial versionMandatory watermark on the free trial versionGhost removal tool for removing unwanted image components
LightroomBasic and simple to useFree trial lasts for a short periodDeghost Overlay function for previewing deghosting operations
Nik HDR Efex ProLifetime access through a one-time purchase of a licenseRelatively high system requirementsThe U POINT Technology for precise editing and adjustments
Oloneo HDREngineVery fast processing speed and easy accessibilityNo mobile versionVariety of presets to help beginners become more productive
HDR ProjectsA large amount of presets for quick editingComplicated user interface for beginnersIntelligent Search feature to assist users in choosing the best shot

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android

Movavi Picverse is photo-editing software developed for beginners, intermediate, and advanced level photographers. It is designed with intelligent tools that deliver top-notch functionalities for image editing.

Its built-in artificial intelligence technology helps editors to enhance photo colors and contrast for the best output. By adjusting the colors and contrast, you can give your photo different feels and moods.

Another exciting feature of Movavi Picverse is the Quick Image Background Removal feature. With just a few preset clicks, you can change the background of a picture, set it to silhouette, or even make it a transparent background.

Movavi Picverse also maximizes artificial intelligence to enable photo editors to restore old pictures. The HDR app does this by hiding the cracks, stains, and crease lines. With just a toggle button, you can colorize the old photo with a perfect auto blend of colors to make it look as new and natural as possible.

The photo editor also provides an object removal feature that lets you clean out unwanted objects without leaving any trace. You can take complete charge of your picture details by manually adjusting the sharpness and brightness to your desired level.

Movavi Picverse runs on both Windows and Mac and also has an Android version for smartphone users. It supports a wide range of picture formats as input, including JPEG, JPEG 2000, PPM, BMP, WebP, unanimated GIF, etc. The interface can support over ten different languages.

Pros

  • Supports multiple operating systems
  • User Interface supports multiple languages
  • Software download size is relatively belt lightweight at 56.4 Mb
  • Has both Android and iOS version for mobile users

Cons

  • The free trial version has a limited period

*The free version of Movavi Picverse has the following restrictions: you can save up to 10 images with added watermark, screenshots are disabled. Learn more

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows, Linux

Like other HDR programs on this list, Luminance HDR allows photo editors to merge photos of different exposures to create a high digital range photo. You can map HDR images to standard displays using multiple tone map operators.

One feature that makes Luminance outstanding is its ability to export photos to other photo editing software like GIMP and Photoshop. It supports image formats such as JPEG and is also compatible with RAW. The output can come in different formats such as JPEG and TIFF.

The most interesting part of the Luminance HDR software is that it is free. It is multi-platform, too – you can download and install it for free on Mac, Windows, and UNIX.

Pros

  • Free to download online and install
  • Can export photos to other software
  • Supports multi-platform
  • Easy-to-read and detailed documentation

Cons

  • The layout is not intuitive and user-friendly

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

EasyHDR is a powerful HDR software that is compatible with both Windows and Mac. It supports most of the popular image formats such as JPG, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. It also supports RAW.

With the tone mapping feature of EasyHDR, you can enjoy the flexibility of creating either realistic or dramatic outputs. It also has enhancement functionality for single RAW or JPEG photos.

The app allows you to have a live preview of your work while maximizing the image's full resolution. It assists photographers in processing hand-held photos via its Auto Image Alignment. It helps correct the image perspective, rotation, and shift.

Pros

  • Provides a demo version for both Mac and Windows
  • The EasyHDR license is a one-time payment. You can use it indefinitely without the need for renewal
  • The license is user-based. This means you can sign in on multiple computers
  • Provides an easy-to-understand user manual to guide subscribers through the application

Cons

  • No post-processing tools available

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

Developed by Skylum, Aurora HDR is one of the most recognized HDR apps for photographers. Aurora provides you with top features such as smart color tone, polarizing filter, LUT mapping, and so on.

With its AI-powered Quantum HDR engine, Aurora HDR delivers results free from chromatic aberration, halos, and artifacts. The AI enables photo editors to produce high-quality bracketing and clean color enhancements. The Aurora HDR also supports pro features such as RAW support, masking, batch processing, etc.

Photographers can use the Aurora HDR either as a standalone program or as a plugin to Apple Photos, Adobe Lightroom, and Adobe Photoshop. Aurora’s formats include JPEG, JPG, PNG, NEF, RAF, RAW, CR2, TIFF, etc.

Aurora HDR also has a mobile version for Android users. This means that photographers no longer need to wait to have a PC before they can do HDR photography.

Pros

  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Easy-to-use and intuitive user interface
  • Many options for filters including HDR Basic, HDR Classic, HDR Enhance, HDR Smart Structure, etc
  • Supports RAW files
  • Adjustable gradient allows you to edit different color parts of an image independently
  • Can work as a standalone or a plugin to significant photo editing software

Cons

  • No free or trial version
  • Lack of lens correction profiles and limited localized retouching

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

The powerful Photomatix Pro enables you to create a perfect HDR photo by combining and bracketing different exposures of a particular shot. Photographers can achieve this with the Photomatix Pro without losing the highlights and shadow details.

In case you generate some unneeded artifacts through motion blur, Photomatix provides a ghost removal tool to help you handle it. You can select from a robust list of 40 presets which are editable if they do not match your taste.

Photomatix can be used as a standalone HDR program or as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom. If you want to have your final output without a watermark, you need to purchase a license that costs $99. The free trial version does not expire but must have a watermark on the final output.

With Photomatix Pro for Android, photographers may enjoy their HDR mode and editing with more ease and mobility.

Pros

  • Long-lasting free trial version
  • Supports both Mac and Windows OS
  • A large number of presets to work with
  • Ghost removal tool which can be set to auto or used manually

Cons

  • The free trial comes with a mandatory watermark

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

Adobe Lightroom is one of the most popular and most used HDR photo makers. With a built-in Photo Merge feature, photo editors will merge two or multiple photos in Lightroom to create an HDR image.

Photomatix also provides an Auto Align feature to allow editors to align photos that are taken hand-held properly. The Deghost Overlay function will enable users to preview their deghosting to ensure it is within the plan.

Lightroom offers 3 subscription packages, with each of the packages offering a free trial version.

Pros

  • Provides a free trial
  • Basic and simple to use
  • Compatible with both Mac and Windows

Cons

  • The free trial does not last long

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

The Nik HSR Efex Pro is an HDR software built for precision in editing. The application includes U-POINT technology which enables you to make very precise adjustments to your image. The HDR Efex Pro provides control points which the photo editor can use to adjust sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation, and exposure.

The U-POINT technology allows users to place their control points exactly where they want to make the changes. That way, you can apply the adjustments at the exact moment it is needed without distorting anything in other parts.

Conventionally, HDR photography and editing involve more than one photo of different exposures. Although the HDR Efex Pro does the normal HDR process, it can also work on a single image. The app utilizes its tone mapping algorithm to expand the dynamic range of just one shot to give it that HDR feel.

Pros

  • Its purchase grants you lifetime access through a one-time license. The license also covers the eight plugins
  • The app works with multiple operating systems – Mac and Windows
  • The U POINT technology provides for accurate and precise editing and adjustments

Cons

  • No free version, and no trial version too
  • High system requirements

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

This HDR software is renowned for its fast processing speed and easy accessibility. It helps beginners boost their productivity by providing several presets they can start from. Users can pick from the available HDR style presets and apply them to their real projects without any issues.

One of the significant issues photo editors face while working on HDR projects is real-time speed. But with the HDREngine, you can rest assured that tone mapping and other HDR operations reflect in real-time.

The HDREngine provides a series of options for the enhancement of pictures. It makes it easy to apply effects such as saturation, contrast, white balance, and brightness to make the image look exactly the way you want it.

The Oloneo HDREngine has both Windows and macOS versions. The system requirements are relatively moderate compared to other HDR software like HDR Efex Pro.

Pros

  • Supports both Mac and Windows
  • Fast and real-time processing
  • Supports RAW format
  • Contains many presets to fast-track the editing process

Cons

  • No mobile version

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows

The HDR Projects is suitable for both beginners and experts in HDR photography. The software helps photos to retain all details, capturing every available information when a picture is taken.

HDR Projects Pro comes with an impressive 188 presets. You can choose any of these presets to apply the already made effects to your photo. It also provides an intelligent search feature that helps you select the best shot out of many possible options.

Photographers and photo editors can install the HDR Projects Pro as a standalone application. Alternatively, the software can be installed as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Although a paid program, the trial version can give you an idea of what the HDR Projects looks and works like before you subscribe.

Pros

  • Can be tested before purchase with the trial version
  • Variety of already made presets
  • Compatible with both Mac and Windows
  • Versatile as either a standalone or a plugin
  • Supports editing for advanced RAW

Cons

  • The user interface can be complicated for users at the beginner's level

Nataly Bogorad

Nataly Bogorad is a seasoned content creator and web text editor with 7 years of experience in commercial writing and website UX. In 2012, she graduated from Universität Kassel with a bachelor of arts degree in English and American studies and art criticism. At the same time, Nataly had worked as a project assistant for Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH where she wrote and managed the content of the company website. An advanced speaker of English and German, she specializes in writing SEO-optimized and user-friendly content.