Some Initial HDR Explorations with the Canon S95

[Update: These same techniques apply to the Canon PowerShot S100 and, I believe, to the Canon PowerShot S110 as well as the Canon PowerShot S95.]

One of the new Scene mode options in the new Canon PowerShot S95 is HDR – High Dynamic Range. If you know me, you’ll know that I enjoy HDR photography – having done a bunch of it on my earlier S90. I’ve used the traditional approach – taking three auto-bracket images at different exposures and then using Photomatix Pro to merge them together and do something magical called tone mapping.

When the S95 was announced, I was curious how well the HDR Scene mode in the S95 would do – compared to both basic auto shots plus also versus the traditional approach I’ve been using for a while.

So, this morning – tripod in hand – I headed over to Stanford University to give the S95 a while. I’ve just completed post-processing the first photos – below you’ll see the result. These photos were taken at the Rodin Sculpture Garden at the Cantor Center – of Rodin’s Gates of Hell.

1. Here’s the first photo – this is the middle exposure of my HDR autobracket sequence on the S95.
IMG_0086.jpg

2. Here’s the second photo – this is shot using the in-camera HDR setting in Scene mode. In my opinion, it’s a definite improvement!
IMG_0084.jpg

3. And, here’s the final photo – processed the traditional way using three autobracket shots, Photomatix Pro, etc.
IMG_0085_6_7_tonemapped.jpg

What do you think? I certainly prefer #3 – the traditional HDR shot – but the in-camera one isn’t bad. With a bit of additional tweaking to warm it up a bit, bring up the saturation, etc. it’d be a very good image.

For some more of my traditional HDR from this morning’s Stanford shoot, see this set on Flickr.

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