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Disclosure: I received Aurora HDR 2018 for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This post also contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a commission if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase. I only share products that I believe will be valuable to my readers. All opinions are my own.
Aurora HDR 2018 has been out for about a month and I’ve been giving it a thorough shakedown. I’ve run hundreds of images through it and I think Skylum Software (formerly Macphun) knocked this one out of the ballpark.
The results are consistently great – the software is faster than previous versions and the default tone mapping is beautifully realistic. The editing tools have also improved by leaps and bounds which gets me closer to a finished image with less jumping around to other software.
Aurora HDR 2018 also marks Skylum’s first foray into Windows compatible software. (Yes, you can now get Aurora HDR for PC!) Even though I’m firmly on Team Mac, this is great news for HDR fans using Windows.
If you’re a Windows user reading this review, please note that there are still a few differences between the Mac and Windows versions and that all of my screenshots were captured on a Mac.
7 Reasons to Love Aurora HDR 2018
- Speed and Efficiency – Aurora HDR 2018 was rebuilt from the ground up with faster RAW processing, masking, and real-time image processing.
- The HDR Enhance Tool – It’s like Luminar’s Accent-AI Filter. (i.e. MAGIC!)
- New Lens Correction and Transform Tools – Fix lens defects without having to jump to another software program.
- Realistic Results – Bracketed images are now tone-mapped into even more natural looking results.
- The Dodge & Burn Tool – Quickly and easily brighten or darken areas of your photo without having to create additional layers.
- The History Palette – Not only can you see the edits you’ve made, you can step back in your process as much or as little as you’d like without having to click “Reset”.
- Significant Improvements in key tools such as RAW conversion, Image Radiance, Structure, and more!
Aurora HDR 2018 Review
Now that you know a few of my favorite new features in Aurora HDR 2018, lets get into the details and examine the user interface, functionality, and quality of the results. I’m using a series of brackets I captured handheld with my Canon 6D and 16-35mm lens of the Bodie Island Lighthouse in North Carolina.
I’ve worked with several HDR processors, and hands down, Aurora HDR is the nicest to look at. The user interface is well-designed and the tools are easily accessible and intuitively arranged.
When I first started doing HDR years ago I had to use HDR software to merge my photos before jumping from plugin to plugin to do my stylistic edits. Now, with Aurora HDR 2018 I can do most of my work in one program with the included comprehensive set of tools. With Aurora HDR 2018 I can create my desired photographic look faster and easier than ever before.
While a pretty interface and fancy tools are nice – the real test of photography software is the resulting photograph. Between the natural default results from Aurora HDR 2018 and the included tools, I’m able to craft an image that I’m proud to share.
Who Needs Aurora HDR 2018?
If you enjoy making photographs then Aurora HDR 2018 is for you. HDR has long been associated with garish, over-processed images, but there is so much more to HDR than grit and saturation! High Dynamic Range photography opens up potential for creative imagery that simply isn’t possible with a single exposure. Blending exposures to bring out details in the shadows and highlights can turn a good photo into jaw-dropping art. The tone-mapping technology in Aurora HDR 2018 makes it easy to extend the dynamic range of your photographs while maintaining a realistic look and feel.
Should I upgrade?
Yes. The realistic results from the improved tone-mapping alone make the upgrade worthwhile. The added and improved tools are just icing on the cake.
- New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 for
$99$89 with coupon code ANGANDRIEUX
- Own a previous version of Aurora HDR? Upgrade for
$59$49 with coupon code ANGANDRIEUX
- Processor Core 2 Duo from late 2009 or newer
- Minimum 4 GB RAM
- OS X: Sierra 10.12.6, El Capitan 10.11.5, Yosemite 10.10.5
- 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance
- Display resolution 1280×800 or higher
- Retina displays supported
- Windows-based hardware
- PC with mouse or similar input device
- Direct X 10 compatible Graphics Cards of better
- Intel Core i3 or better
- RAM: 4 Gb or more
- Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10
- 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance
- Display 1280×768 size or higher