Review: Google HDR+ For Phone Cameras and Photography

HDR+. Phenomenal detail.

I am testing the OnePlus 5 with the default camera and the Google Camera with HDR+ and I am blown away by the superiority of HDR+.

Better green color rendition.
Default camera on OnePlus

Google camera with HDR+. Note colors are more true to life.
Default OnePlus 5 camera. Red is too saturated and not as much detail.
Default OnePlus 5 camera. Red is too saturated and not as much detail.

HDR+. Very good detail.
Default one plus camera. Blown out highlights

HDR+. White balance more accurate.

HDR+. Orange tones more accurate
Default camera. Too orange.

Default camera. Colors are very false. Too green.
HDR+. Blue tones look soooo much better.

HDR+. Phenomenal detail.
Default camera.Not as much detail. Too golden.

Why does this matter?

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset and HDR+

Okay so this is important because it shows the power of “computational photography”. The camera on the OnePlus 5 is the same in both pictures. But when shot with the Google Camera HDR+ app (instead of the default app) the photos look infinitely better.

Therefore, if you want the best value image quality for a phone camera on Android, buy a OnePlus and download the Google Camera HDR+ app. Otherwise buy the newest Google Pixel phone.

If you prefer iOS, just use iPhone.

Based to my eyes, I think the Google HDR+ photos look far superior than any iPhone picture.

For more information, read my article on COMPUTATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Another lesson for myself, no more wasting time having to process phone pictures. Straight out of phone camera with HDR+, the photos need no post processing. Adding some VSCO A6 filter does improve the aesthetic, but if you have HDR+ post processing or filters are no longer necessary.

Further thoughts:

  1. Image quality is now truly good enough on a camera phone, at least in my eyes when seen in HDR+. What is now the purpose of a “normal” digital camera which is so annoying to transfer files on SD card and having to wait for Lightroom? Maybe better ergonomics on digital camera?
  2. Barbell theory: only shoot with phone camera, or film camera. Avoid the middle with “normal” digital cameras. Digital Medium Format seems more tempting.
  3. Phone cameras better for shooting personal moments.
  4. What if Google open sources the HDR+ algorithm to the world? All phone cameras would improve, thus good for photographers all around the world, and humanity.
  5. Big access to data via Google Photos is what allows Google Camera HDR+ to be superior to Apple iPhone camera.
  6. What is the future of machine learning and photography, and the role of AI (artificial intelligence) and AI?

Some thoughts to ponder.