Cultered Kiwi: 7 Best HDR Software Options for Photographers – Commentary


“Having the right software is essential if you want to get beautiful HDR images. But, if you’re not sure where to start, here we share the best HDR programs for photographers— plus, some practical tips!”


Lately I have been documenting work in progress on a house building project for a good friend and now it’s time to produce photographs that are a little less documentary style and a little more intended for marketing the house though work on it is not quite complete.

Time to get out my copy of Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019, possibly the most feature-complete and fun high dynamic range imaging software I’ve used so far.

Architectural interiors and exteriors under natural lighting over which you have little to no control combined with artificial lighting and, possibly, photo or video lighting that you can add if you have it are a challenge and cannot be approached in exactly the same way you might make and process, say, documentary photographs.

The best comparison I can make is that documentary photographs need to have a realist style whereas architectural and interior photographs need to be more in the nature of illustrations.

Realism as against pictorialism, as it were.

Depicting how something looks as opposed to how it might or should look, perhaps.


I recently completed the main photographs for a set documenting the interior and exterior of a house designed by my best friend, and am now waiting for decent weather and light to complete the project.

Meanwhile here are some of my favourites so far.

Skylum hasn’t updated Aurora HDR 2019 since, well, 2019 and I’m wondering if an update is coming sometime soon or whether HDR functionality will be built into the company’s coming Luminar Neo AI-driven application.

Time will tell but in the meantime I should download a copy of Luminar AI and explore its capabilities in preparation for things to come.

Great software benefits from great hardware

Skylum has long supported Fujifilm Bayer and X-Trans sensor-equipped cameras and so most of the brackets I shot in the past for processing in various versions of Aurora HDR were made with Fujifilm cameras and lenses, most often a Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R.

Around that time I spotted a local real estate photographer work with a Fujifilm X-T 2 and a Fujinon XF 10-24 f/4.0 R OIS wide-angle zoom lens.

Nowadays, if I were doing architectural and interiors photography professionally, I’d seriously consider the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR Red Badge zoom as my core lens supplemented with the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Red Badge standard zoom for longer and narrower views.

Both lenses are often described as “a box of primes” and if the 8-16mm is anything to go by, both are remarkably well optically-corrected for zooms.

I love the XF 14mm f/2.8 R for its almost perfect optical correction that is so reminiscent of Leica’s M Series medium and super wide angle lenses as well as the fact that it is as effective for architectural photography as it is for documentary photography, and does a fine job as a video lens too.

Another benefit is that the 14mm f/2.8 easily accepts screw-on 58mm diameter filters, step-up rings and matte boxes whereas the 8-16mm f/2.8 can only be used with matte boxes and square or rectangular filters, rear-mount filter systems or special filter mount kits that can be rather costly given they rely on oversized screw-on filters.

On the other hand, the newer XF 10-24 f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens has the benefit of optical image stabilization, an aperture ring and a 72mm filter diameter at the cost of reduced in-built optical correction compared to the alternatives.