Best HDR merge software for stunning photography

Teodor Nechita
by Teodor Nechita
Download PDF
Affiliate Disclosure

  • Adobe Photoshop together with Lighroom are a must-have if you want to perform HDR image merging.
  • However, there are other alternatives out there, some of which are much simpler but yield inferior results.
  • However, these products are more like a means to compensate for the lack of professional cameras or real-life natural settings.
  • Check out our dedicated Graphic and Design page for more great articles on the topic.
hdr merge software

HDR photographs, also known as High-dynamic-range is a technique used in photography and films to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than what is possible with typical digital imaging or photographic techniques.

This feature is most commonly used in cameraphones and they usually result in stunning imagery.

However, one step further beyond HDR photos is merging HDR photos in order to create even greater pieces of work. These include panoramic views, 180 or 360-degree photos, and more.

That being said, we will be looking over some software tools that we consider to be the best when it comes to merging HDR photos.

We will be judging based on how common the program is, how easy HDR merging is done, how seamless the end-result looks like, and other important criteria.




What are the best software to merge HDR photos?

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe photoshopAdobe Photoshop is probably the world’s most famous image editor, and you can use it to adjust pretty much every aspect of a digital image.

In the case at hand, Adobe Photoshop is perfectly capable of handling HDR images as well, including the process of merging them.

The program has been around for so long that everyone is bound to know the UI in one form or another, so adjusting to it is easy for every user.

Besides, once you get an Adobe Photoshop license, you will open yourself to an entire world of possibilities as far as image editing is concerned.

Here are some of Adobe Photoshop’s main features:

  • Professional raster-based image editor
  • Familiar UI for Adobe users
  • Constantly updated
  • Full support for plug-ins
  • Handles HDR image editing without issues.

 Download Adobe Photoshop free

Lightroom Classic

If you love Adobe Photoshop but are discouraged by the UI, then maybe a simpler variant that is more beginner-friendly is what you need.

That being said, the first product that should come to mind is Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic is super basic with only three options when it comes to handling HDR images. However, results can be very realistic and pleasing.

Admittedly, the lack of tweaking options means that while the results are indeed great, they cannot compare to what the first entries from our list can do.

Here are some of Lightroom Classic’s main features:

  • Entry-level HDR image editor
  • Provides great results with a minimum effort
  • Light on your system’s resources
  • Familiar for those used to Adobe Products
  • Compatible if the other Adobe products.

 Download Lightroom Classic free

Aurora HDR

Probably the newest entry on our list in terms of the launch date, Aurora HDR is yet another tool that proves that you don’t need a rich history in order to be efficient.

Like the beefier entries on our list, Aurora HDR gives you the ability to use layers and masking features like in Photoshop. This, in turn, is very helpful in developing the perfect HDR image and then merging them afterward.

More so, if you’re looking to process a lot of photos without having to tweak each image at a time, then you’ll be glad to know that Aurora HDR also supports batch editing.

Here are some of Aurora HDR’s main features:

  • Compatible for both Windows and Mac
  • Supports batch processing
  • Realistic HDR images
  • Easy-to-use
  • Light on your CPU

 Download Aurora HDR

Luminance HDR

Compared to the other entries on our list, Luminance HDR is a much newer software product. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking it is not good.

The highlight of this tool is that it is extremely easy-to-use thanks to the build-in drag-and-drop feature and that it is also free-of-charge.

The only visible downside to this tool is that the processing speeds for images are a bit slow, although this is only noticeable if you use another premium tool by comparison.

Here are some of Luminance HDR’s main features:

  • Entry-level HDR image editor
  • Free of charge
  • Many automated tools
  • End-results are quite good
  • Doesn’t load your CPU during processing

 Download Luminance HDR

Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro is a software tool that has been around for over 10 years, and for good reason. Those of you looking for a software tool that looks and feels simple and clean should go for Photomatix Pro without a second thought.

However, the over-simplification of the menu and toolset did nothing to affect the way the images look after conversion, as they look as if professional photographers took them.

Finally, you’ll love knowing that you can also use it on both Windows PC and Mac.

Here are some of Photomatix Pro’s main features:

  • Simplistic UI
  • Realistic HDR images
  • Can easily handle HDR image merging
  • Works on Windows PC and Mac
  • Dedicated to HDR imaging

 Download Photomatix Pro

Thanks to the tools mentioned above, you should be able to create and then merge HDR images in order to create fantastic works of digital art.

Not only will these tools compensate for the lack of professional physical equipment, but they can allow you to generate images that would otherwise be impossible using normal environmental settings.

FAQ: Learn more about HDR images

  • What does HDR mean?

HDR is an abbreviation for High Dynamic Range between the darkest and the lightest parts of an image.

  • Do HDR images take up more memory?

In short, yes, HDR images take up more storage space, regardless of whether they are on a PC, digital camera, or phone. However, they can be more easily edited if you use a professional graphics design tool.

  • Do I need HDR?

If you work as a professional photographer, or any other profession were you manipulate imagery, HDR is a must. More, you will also need specialized software that can handle HDR images.