Sky HDR App Review

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Sky HDR App Review

Sky HDR is an app created by Sony; it is available for a range of cameras through their Play Memories Website.  There are many apps available via the website.  Some are free while others require a fee, but it will not break the bank if you decide to purchase any.  There is also a wide variety of apps available which can cater for any photographers needs.  I have a few already and are good to use.

For this review I will be using the SKY HDR App, one I have been looking at but was never sure whether to purchase it as I already have various filters.  A short video below to explain how it works…


Sky HDR for Sony looks pretty good on the video.  First thoughts are impressive; it got me interested.  Initially, I thought it would be a good idea to use, mainly to save processing time when exposing images for the foreground and sky at the same time.  This, I thought at first, would cut down processing time, in an image editor and as I also use filters I wanted to see if this would give sharper image quality due to not having to use filters in front of the lens.

Downloading Sky HDR

Purchasing & installing Sky HDR on your camera is pretty straightforward.  You can either download it using your WiFi on your selected Sony camera or buy it directly through the Play Memories website via a USB or wireless connection to your camera to your pc or laptop; it will then automatically download the app direct to camera.

Using Sky HDR

Sky HDR is very easy to use once you initialise it.  I must admit i thought I was going to be playing around with it for a good few hours trying to understand how it works.   But it is effortless to use.  You first compose the shot with how you intend to see the image firstly by dialling in the setting.  However, it should be noted that the buttons will change when using the app compared to using your camera commonly.

Once you are happy with the land area of the image, you then need to press the delete button (sounds scary, but it will not delete your pictures 🙂 ) & it will then bring up a new screen to compose for the sky.  This is where you can play around with the settings again including the line to expose for the sky including a defocus area to help blend the two shots.

Various modes using the app also help to use it in whatever situation you face during the time such as blue sky, sunset sky, ND mode & 2 custom options to create your customised choice.  You can also choose a different white balance between the two images.

Example images using Sky HDR App

Some examples below using the Sky HDR App from Sony.  These images were taken with a Sony A7 & a polarising filter screwed to the front of the lens.  The first image is the finished version.  The second image I have drawn some lines on the original to show where I selected my second shot to blend the two.

porthgain harbour,pembrokeshire,wales,uk,landscape,seascape,sea,water,boat,buildings,cliffs,image,photo,photography,sky hdr, app,sony
This is of a sunset at Porthgain Harbour in Pembrokeshire. I was pleased with this one; it blended the two images well giving a proper exposure.
porthgain harbour,pembrokeshire,wales,uk,landscape,seascape,sea,water,boat,buildings,cliffs,image,photo,photography,sky hdr,app
The image is showing where I selected the line and defocus area. The line in the middle is the area where the two images are cut together.  Two faint lines above and below are defocus areas to blend the image and avoid being too dark in the middle using the Sky HDR app.
wild garlic,woods,pembrokeshire,wales,uk,landscape,green,image,photo,photography,sky hdr,app,stackpole
Another example shot this time at Stackpole Woods in Pembrokeshire. Wooded area shots are not the easiest due to having a blown out sky in the background, requiring a grad filter.  Sky HDR did a great job to reduce the exposure of the top half including blending the two.
wild garlic,woods,pembrokeshire,wales,uk,landscape,green,image,photo,photography,sky hdr,app
Image of where I chose my lines to give an idea of how the Sky HDR app handled the two images.
sunset,neyland,pembrokeshire,wales,uk,landscape,seascape,sky,cloud,water,sea,image,photo,photography,sky hdr,app
A twilight evening over Neyland in Pembrokeshire using the SKY HDR app from Sony.
sunset,neyland,pembrokeshire,wales,uk,landscape,seascape,sky,cloud,water,sea,image,photo,photography,sky hdr,app
Same image but with the lines to give an example of how the SKY HDR app blended the photos.

Summary of Using Sky HDR App

I liked using this app; it is ideal for someone like me who takes a lot of sunset images, it helps to reduce the image being blown out in the sky & it also helps to reduce processing time when sat in front of the computer.  The app is also straightforward to use with no problems installing it or using it.  I can only think of two negatives while using this app.  The first being you cannot use manual mode, my favourite mode but you can use all of the other methods.  The second is I feel that this will not replace long exposure photography unless you select a tiny aperture & select the lowest iso your camera can go.  It is also advisable to use a tripod while using Sky HDR.

I also noticed an improved sharpness of the images.  This is down to not having so much glass like ND filters at the front of the lens except for a polarising filter.

Pros

  • Easy to use & install
  • Cheaper than buying a grad filter kit
  • Flexible to work with
  • Blends the two images well
  • Cuts processing time

Cons

  • Will not replace long exposure photography
  • Cannot select manual mode

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All images ©Chris Ball.  Copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer (Chris Ball).  Any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright.  If you wish to use any images for publication or use, please obtain permission from me before using my work.

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