HDR photography is fast becoming mainstream, and the number of HDR photo editors is growing exponentially.
In this context, does one of the oldest HDR photo editors out there – Aurora HDR – still have what it takes to compete?
- Aurora HDR 2019 has a patent-pending HDR engine, called the Quantum HDR Engine. It’s based on machine learning, with the algorithm automatically analyzing millions of pixels and intelligently building the HDR starting point for you to create your own HDR image.
- Download this Free Aurora HDR Preset 'The Vandelay' compliments of Presetpro.com. The 'Vandelay” preset includes dynamic base settings. (at a discounted price.
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In short, yes.
Aurora HDR 2019 takes the award-winning features of earlier Aurora releases, and adds a powerful AI-driven algorithm that produces great results (almost) every time. Coupled with an intuitive user interface and some of the best tools around, and you’ve got a killer HDR photo app.
// Aurora HDR Features and Specs
// The Pros and Cons of Aurora HDR
// Aurora HDR Review – Conclusion
// FAQs of Aurora HDR
What is Aurora HDR?
Aurora HDR is a photo editing tool for working with HDR photographs, it offers a range of editing tools for you to fine-tune HDR images as expected, specially, it does quite well with single-exposure RAW photos. It’s available for both Mac and Windows, as a standalone App or a Photoshop and Lightroom plugin, and has been through several iterations (and improvements) over the past 5 years.
Aurora HDR is developed by Skylum, the story of Skylum starts way back in 2008. Back then, amateur photographers Alex Tspeko and Scott Bourne founded Macphun, a company devoted to producing apps and plugins for photographers.
Alex and Scott have released more than a dozen apps since then, and many of them have won coveted ‘app of the year’ awards. The software the company offers covers many aspects of photography, from black and white photo editing (Tonality) to noise reduction (Noiseless).
More recently, the company was renamed Skylum in 2018, and has combined all of these tools into a fully-featured piece of photo editing software, Luminar, which is quickly winning fans from across the photography world.
What is HDR Photography?
In case you are new to the subject, let’s do a quick crash course on what HDR photography is.
You are probably aware of the technique from your smartphone. Most smartphone cameras now come with software that will automatically produce HDR images. Tools like Aurora give you more control over the process.
The basic principle of HDR photography is simple enough. If you are taking a picture of a landscape, for example, that has very dark shadows and very bright highlights, it is (almost) impossible to set the exposure so that everything in the scene looks right. You will lose detail either in the blacks or in the whites. What you need is a High Dynamic Range, which is what ‘HDR’ stands for.
A HDR photograph is actually a stitched-together mixture of several different photographs. To make one, you take a number of photographs at various exposure levels, and then combine them so that everything is properly exposed. Your phone camera probably does this automatically: tools like Aurora HDR let you control the process.
How Much Does Aurora HDR Cost?
Aurora HDR 2019 costs $99.00 retail, and is available for Mac OS 10.10.5 or above, or Windows 7, 8, and 10. Good news is, We applied a coupon code for all readers, you can apply the coupon code “MACLIBS” when check out to save at least $10 or more.
It’s also possible to buy Aurora HDR 2019 packaged with other popular tools from Skylum, or to add extra filters and features to your basic install.
Aurora HDR 2019 Features and Specs
If you are already a user of Aurora HDR, you’re probably here to work out whether it is worth upgrading. So let’s look at the new features of Aurora for 2019.
- First, and most importantly, Aurora HDR 2019 includes a brand-new Quantum HDR engine, powered by AI. This is an amazing addition to an already great photo editor.
- Aurora HDR 2019 includes LUTs support, with 11 new integrated LUTs.
- Some of the basic processing has been improved, particularly when it comes to artifact reduction.
- ‘Presets’ has been renamed ‘Aurora HDR Looks’. This is a bit unnecessary, in my opinion, but there we go.
- The adjustable gradient filter has been improved, with new sliders to individually adjust shadow and highlight detail.
- Photos are now shown in high-definition while you are fine-tuning the filter, which gives you instant feedback on your processing decisions.
All in all, Aurora HDR 2019 represents a significant advance over earlier iterations of Aurora, with the new Quantum engine being the most striking new feature.
But do these new features make for an improved experience when it comes to editing HDR photos?
What Is Aurora Hdr
To see why, let’s take a look at the key features of Aurora HDR 2019.
1. Ease of Use
First up, the user interface.
If you’ve used previous versions of Aurora, the UI of Aurora HDR 2019 is going to be very familiar. If you haven’t used Aurora before, you are in for a treat. The native UI of Aurora HDR 2019 is arguably one of the most intuitive, neat, and powerful interfaces out there.
If you are used to Adobe Software, the contrast between Photoshop and Aurora HDR 2019 will be particularly striking. Whilst you can’t move parts of the Aurora HDR 2019 UI around, you don’t have to, because everything just works.
2. HDR Filters
The mainstay of Aurora HDR 2019, and the tools that you are going to be making the most use of, are filters. ‘Filters’, in Aurora HDR 2019, are basically the same idea as ‘adjustments’ in lightroom, rather than the (significantly less powerful) ‘filters’ of Instagram and similar apps.
When it comes to applying filters to your HDR images, Aurora HDR 2019 gives you a number of options. These are HDR Basic, HDR Enhance, HDR Clarity, HDR Smart Structure, HDR Microstructure, and an adjustable denoise filter.
Each of these filters does what it claims to, and does it very well. Whether you are looking for powerful processing to give your HDR photos more pop, or more subtle adjustments, each of these filters can be tweaked to get just the look you are after.
3. Color Correction and Toning
The color adjustment tools available in Aurora HDR 2019 will be familiar from most photo editing software, and in general do an excellent job in giving you control over color correction. So instead, let’s take a look at some of the unique features of Aurora HDR 2019.
The first of these is the ‘adjustable gradient’ tool. This tool allows you to edit the colors at the top of your photo independently of those at the bottom. Whilst it might sound like overkill to provide this functionality as a stand-alone tool, it actually makes a lot of sense for landscape photos, because it automates a technique that can be time consuming to set up in other software.
Another great feature of Aurora HDR 2019, and one that is new for 2019, is LUT mapping. ‘LUT’ stands for ‘Lookup Table’, which is essentially a file that contains RGB data on your HDR photos. The LUT filters in Aurora HDR 2019 allow you to edit this file directly, and this gives you a huge amount of control over the way your photos look.
4. Layers, Masking, and Transform
Another of the staple tools in Aurora HDR 2019 is the layers, masking, and transform tool. This, in fact, is one of the features that makes Aurora HDR 2019 stand out in comparison to less powerful HDR photography software.
Aurora HDR 2019 manages to combine the power of a fully-featured photo editor with the intuitive interface of a stand-alone app. You can, for instance, add as many layers as you want to your HDR photos, and use blending and opacity sliders to control their contribution to the final image.
The only disadvantage here is that, unlike Photoshop, you cannot merge layers into each other. In reality, however, this might actually be a great limitation to have, because it transforms Aurora HDR 2019 into a non-destructive editor!
Pros and Cons of Aurora HDR
So, is Aurora HDR 2019 worth the money? And in a marketplace full of HDR photo editing software, does it stand out from the crowd?
Let’s take a look.
1. Pros of Aurora HDR
Is Aurora Hdr Worth It
There are, to be blunt, many pros of Aurora HDR 2019. If you are familiar with earlier versions of Aurora, you already know that. If you aren’t, just know that the UI of Aurora HDR 2019 is among the best around, and the software gives you easy access to a range of very powerful tools.
The 2019 version of Aurora is also the best yet, by quite a significant margin. The new AI-driven Quantum engine is nothing less than a marvel, and reliably turns out amazing results.
The LUTs functionality in Aurora HDR 2019 also elevates it above most other software in this category. With a range of intricately designed effects, this tool can add a lot of depth and extra interest to photos that you had long written off.
2. Cons of Aurora HDR
When it comes to the cons of Aurora HDR 2019, in truth it is hard to come up with many.
I guess you could argue that Aurora HDR 2019 falls far short of fully-featured photo editing suites in a number of key ways. On the other hand, Aurora has never claimed to be a fully-featured piece of photo editing software, so I can’t really deduct points in this regard!
Bear in mind, also, that it is really easy to use Aurora HDR 2019 in combination with full photo editing suites. You can use the powerful tools it provides from within Photoshop, or you can go all the way and get Luminar. Aurora HDR 2019 integrates very well with both.
Aurora HDR Review – Conclusion
In short, Aurora HDR 2019 is arguably the best stand-alone HDR photo editing software around. Not only does the Quantum engine manage to get HDR processing right 90% of the time, but the sheer amount of control that Aurora gives you means that you can fine tune your HDR photos to a degree not available in other apps.
This is particularly impressive when you consider that, at €99, Aurora HDR 2019 is also pretty cheap. It’s certainly a lot less expensive than Photoshop, and importantly Aurora is also a ‘buy once’ piece of software: there is no monthly subscription to pay, unlike Adobe’s model.
Finally, what really makes Aurora HDR 2019 stand out is that it is as well suited to beginners as experts. The UI makes it easy to edit HDR photos, even for those new to the process, whilst also encouraging you to learn more about the techniques and tools you are using.
FAQs of Aurora HDR
1. What Is Aurora HDR Express?
Aurora HDR express is a slightly less complex version of Aurora HDR 2019, and is a good place to start if you are getting into HDR photography. Whilst it doesn’t come with all the features of Aurora HDR 2019, you still get access to Skylum’s AI engine, and Express is a great place to start learning about HDR processing.
2. How do I add Aurora HDR to Lightroom software?
This is easy enough. First up, purchase Aurora HDR 2019. Then:
1). In Lightroom, select your images.
2). Go to File > Export with Preset.
3). In the flyout menu, you’ll see a new section for Aurora HDR 2019. You can choose Open Source Files or Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments.
3. What is the best HDR software?
Well, it depends on your personal taste, but Aurora HDR 2019 is certainly one of the best pieces of HDR software around.
Not only does Aurora HDR 2019 give you powerful HDR editing tools on its own, but it will also integrate with either Luminar or Photoshop when you are ready to take your HDR processing to the next level.
4. Is Aurora HDR 2019 better than Lightroom?
In my opinion, yes.
It all comes down to a trade-off between the user interface and the tools available to you. Whilst Aurora HDR 2019 does not – yet – have every single tool available in Lightroom, it still has all the important ones. And, most importantly, they are easy to use.
This means that editing HDR photos in Aurora HDR 2019 is simply more enjoyable, more intuitive, and faster than doing the same adjustments in Lightroom.
You might have wondered how the professional photographer delivers awesome quality photographs time and over again.
However, you may wonder why you often fail to churn out great pictures each time even though you have the latest single-lens reflex digital camera and use the best flashlight along with a bounce adapter with accessories like lenses (macro, zoom, telephoto, wide-angle), filters, and studio umbrellas.
Be prepared for a surprise when you visit the home of a photographer friend and find him seated beside his computer, retouching photographs he had taken the previous day.
You might not believe that most professionals have full knowledge of lighting and photo shooting angles, but most of them are rarely able to click stunning photographs at the first instance.
They use special software to edit the digital photographs to remove unnecessary background as well as make color correction with the help of color, hue, and saturation controls available in those programs.
Once done, they save the RAW images in .jpeg format and send it to a processing studio to print the digital photographs on high quality glossy or matte paper.
You too can achieve the same quality photographs as those shot by professionals with the help of two of the leading photo editing programs, Luminar and Aurora.
Quickly Navigate to:
Is Luminar Better than Aurora?
Go through this Luminar versus Aurora comparison to find out which is best and if Luminar is better than Aurora or vice versa. I shall be reviewing both of them separately, and then highlight the differences between the two so that you can decide which one best suits your requirements. By the way, Skylum produces both these programs.
What is the Difference Between Luminar and Aurora?
The major difference between these two offerings from Skylum is that Aurora HDR is exceptional when merging multiple images and is designed for more enhanced details and toning whereas Luminar allows for starting editing and enhancements with single exposures and more stylistic editing. Both programs can be combined.
If you have bracketed photos to merge, Aurora HDR will still be useful to you when using the released Luminar AI.
Luminar 4, being marketed as an alternative to Adobe's offering has caused a stir in the market. Thanks to the Adobe Lr-esque catalog of this program along with its powerful editing tools. It has been able to convert thousands of users of Adobe Lr to this more affordable program.
Unlike Adobe, Luminar 4 does not charge a yearly subscription, and this itself is a game-changer.
In this review, I shall check what the software is capable of and whether it can live up to its expectations. This is the latest version of the program. The vendor offers a free update to those who already own Luminar 2018.
Fast Processing Speed
The developers have burned the midnight oil to make this version a league ahead of its predecessor. Forget the slow editing speed of the previous version, as this version almost instantaneously applies changes to the photograph made by the slider. This is what I was looking for.
This software is a hybrid between Photoshop and Adobe Lr and permits you to apply layers on the photographs when you are editing them.
One important point: Make it a habit to switch layers before changing the workspace or you will lose the edits. The ideal method is to set up the workspace for a single layer, make the requisite edits, after which you can create a new layer.
The software offers you the choice to choose from many pre-determined workspaces. As different filters are used to make each workspace, you can easily do everything you desire and much more.
I loved this feature because it allowed me to design my personal workspace as well as get rid of filters I would never need.
I was also able to create a methodical process by creating workspaces for individual stages of my photo-editing workflow. In fact, I created a workspace that permitted me to make my primary color changes and RAW adjustments, before creating a new layer and switching over to a de-noising workspace. I could then shift to a different layer and workspace, dedicated to sharpening my file.
Easily Recover Edits
The “undo” feature of this software is a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to undo any changes I made, which also includes workspace switches. This implies that you can recover your edits if you swap over and lose them.
Flexible and Adjustable
The structure of Luminar 4 allows you to customize the program according to your personal preferences and for smooth editing process. You can also configure the software to ensure that it fits into your workflow, and eliminate anything unnecessary that gets in the way.
The fact that this program permits you to work in layers is beneficial as well. Unlike Adobe Lr that allows you to apply masks and a limited number of alterations to areas selected within the mask, Luminar 4 allows you to apply a mask to any layer or filter. This implies that you can make numerous adjustments to just a single area of the image.
One in All
Unlike other programs, Luminar 4 consists of an entire editing bundle and allows you to do everything you require from within the program itself.
After you have completed the editing task, you have the choice of leaving the edits within the library or export them as a file for use with any other program. I was slightly disappointed with the size of the export window, but I am not complaining as I know this software only has the absolute necessities.
Good Price for Great Value
Do not crib as this program offers a standalone software at a pocket-friendly price. The latest version of the software also includes a digital asset manager, in the form of an image gallery, which allows users to organize photos in a better way than Adobe Lr.
The slider feature of Luminar 4 allows you to move a single slider to make slight changes to the picture or add multiple layers and masks, as well as experiment with third-party plugins.
There are some filters which are unique to Luminar such as top and bottom lighting, sunrays and AI sky enhancer. All of them combined allow for endless opportunities for artistic and creative editing.
As mentioned above, the latest version of Luminar has a huge range of new and exciting updates such as:
• Organizing photos automatically with smart shortcuts
• A brand new Accent AI filter
• Folders that remain in synchronization with images on the hard disk drive
• Ability to synchronize adjustments between multiple photographs
• Multiple viewing options (filmstrip, gallery, and single image view), and
• A library for viewing, organizing, and editing multiple photographs
Luminar 4 has the ability to do everything that the offering from Adobe does and also has certain improvements over it.
How to clear ram on laptop windows 10. I was surprised to note that the program's library scanned the hard disk drive of my computer and updated itself to match what my HDD looks like.
I was a bit dismayed by the slow import feature, but this should not be a constraint for first-time photo editing software, considering the low price of Luminar 4. The new version of Accent AI speeds up your workflow immensely.
Use of Artificial Intelligence
The single slider adjustment employs artificial intelligence to access an image and enhance it. This is a powerful feature if you want to develop your photographs quickly. This module handles everything from contrast, color, exposure, details, depth, and tone with remarkable accuracy.
The software is available both for the Windows and Mac operating systems.
The manufacturer offers a free version. However, it lacks all functionalities. Therefore, you should purchase one of the following versions of Luminar 4:
• The Inspiration version costs $89
• The Plus Edition costs $99 and includes “Inspiration Looks” and “California Sunsets” (you save $64)
• Max Edition costs $169. It includes “Inspiration Looks” plus “Aurora HDR” (you save $93).
By the way, the company is offering a special discount on their home page.
This is, without any doubt, one of the easiest photo editing programs I have come across as you will find out in this Luminar vs Aurora 2021 review.
Luminar 2021 vs Aurora HDR 2021 Comparison
This comparison explains why I prefer the latter and the differences between the Luminar and Aurora Bundle.
Easy to Use
I prefer to use photo editing software that gives me the desired results without having to go through a steep learning curve.
Despite being sophisticated, Aurora is user-friendly and easy to use. The 2021 version of this photo editing tool creates a finalized tone-mapped file in a couple of steps, pushing it one step ahead of its competitors.
The 2021 version boasts of a Quantum HDR Engine that has an updated tone mapping algorithm over its predecessor.
I was pleasantly surprised by the immediate and natural improvement in the dynamic range of the bracketed shots I opened in this program without making any adjustments. This means that I can have a quality base image to use as a reference point for advanced tone control.
Following this basic tone improvement, the software provided me with a wide range of editing possibilities, with the help of the intuitive slider-based interface of the program.
HDR Panel that is Easy to Understand
Those who have used Adobe Lr will feel at home with the HDR Basic Panel, as this tool employs a very similar control layout. The friendly control layout also makes the learning process simple for beginners.
Easily Edit Photographs Even At Night
This is the tip of the iceberg as Aurora HDR also has an impressive range of style customization tools, which provides precise control over both detail and color.
Those who like editing photographs at night will love the “dark color scheme” of the software that makes slider and menu nomenclature easy to read and also helps in accurate assessment of brightness and color.
This puts Aurora HDR ahead in this Luminar 4 vs Aurora HDR 2021 review and will help first-time purchasers decide whether they should opt for Luminar or Aurora.
Features that Help You Compare Luminar and Aurora
The vendor has added a number of useful updates in the 2021 version despite the fact that the overall functionality of both are the same.
Be prepared to be surprised by the HDR Enhance Panel that offers a quick way of adding enhancements to micro contrast and structure. You can easily extract fine image details without introducing over-processed and unnatural effects with minor tweaks to the positions of the slider in this section.
This area too takes advantage of the new Quantum Engine. This updated algorithm permits you to push sliders further for attaining stronger effects without image degradation artifacts like edge halos from creating an impact on the integrity of an image.
This version also includes an inbuilt noise reduction capability, allowing you to address luminance or color patterning without the need to import the image to different software.
I am sure that by now, you have understood more about Luminar compared to Aurora, and the power of the latter.
The “denoise” function of Aurora is a useful feature that makes this software a one-stop HDR option, even though this function is not as effective or powerful as a dedicated noise reduction plugin. This feature permits you to minimize noise real-time while you change the tone mapping.
Easily Go Back to Any Point of the Editing Process
I loved the history function that keeps a track of all of the changes I make to an image. This allows me to revert to any point during the editing process. Thanks to this, I hardly wasted any time revisiting any image stage without interrupting the creative process.
Luminar and Aurora HDR Further Compared
Aurora HDR allowed me to keep colors within natural limits following tone mapping without having to undertake extensive editing in Adobe.
Another advantage of Aurora is its capability to apply alterations to Adjustment Layers from within the software itself. I was amazed by the degree of details I could extract from just one RAW file.
I could get images that effectively duplicate the human vision's dynamic range through orthodox tone mapping of bracketed exposures. The new version boasts of a “color lookup table,” which, in combination with the amazing gradient tool and tone curve, provides dynamic color control, which was, in the past, only possible with dedicated RAW editors.
Aurora Hdr 2019 Price
This advanced photo editor costs only $99 and works on both Mac and Windows operating systems. You can purchase both Aurora HDR 2021 and Luminar 4 for a discounted price of $169.
Aurora Hdr Review
Hopefully, this review of Luminar vs Aurora HDR 2021 will allow you to decide on which to go for between Skylum Luminar and Aurora and purchase the software that is suitable for your needs. Or better still, getting both as a bundle.