Free High Dynamic Range (HDR) Software

We had presented 20 beautiful HDR photos in our earlier post. In this article we will take a look at some free software for creating HDR images.


1. Qtpfsgui

Qtpfsgui is an open source graphical user interface application that aims to provide a workflow for HDR imaging. Qtpfsgui is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. Here are some the key features of Qtpfsgui:

  • Create an HDR file from a set of images (formats: JPEG, TIFF 8bit and 16bit, RAW) of the same scene taken at different exposure setting.
  • Save and load HDR images.
  • Rotate and resize HDR images.
  • Tonemap HDR images.
  • Copy exif data between sets of images.

It supports wide verity of formats like:

  • OpenEXR (extension: exr)
  • Radiance RGBE (extension: hdr)
  • Tiff formats: 16bit, 32bit (float) and LogLuv (extension: tiff)
  • Raw image formats (extension: various)
  • PFS native format (extension: pfs)
  • Discussions and images related to Qtpfsgui can be found on flickr.

2. pfstools

pfstools package is a set of command line programs for reading, writing and manipulating high-dynamic range (HDR) images and video frames. It includes also Qt and OpenGL HDR image viewers. pfstools can be integrated with GNU Octave or matlab, so that it can serve as a toolbox for reading and writing HDR images. If you are not comfortable with a command line interface or you want to save yourself compilation problems, you may want to check Qtpfsgui, which packages some functionality of pfstmo and pfscalibration in a nice GUI interface.

3. Picturenaut

Picturenaut was born in the German photo community. It has been in the works for almost two years, with consistent improvements according to user feedback. That’s why the first official release is already Version 2.1, marking a new milestone in making high quality HDR Imaging accessible and easy.

Some key features of Picturenaut are:

  • Image alignment
  • Exposure correction
  • Color balancing
  • Noise level compensation
  • Derivation of the camera curve from the source images

It supports various HDR formats like, PFM (Portable Float Map), HDR (Radiance), EXR (OpenEXR), TIFF (32-bit Floating Point), TIFF (LogLuv), LDR, JPEG
TIFF (only RGB color space) and TGA (Targa, no alpha channel).



4. FDRTools Basic

FDRTools Basic are a collection of capable tools for the ambitious shutterbug.

This software allows you to overcome the technical limitations of your digital camera and produce images with a contrast and dynamik range not considered possible so far.

The dynamic range enrichment is handled comfortable and far easier than with traditional methods. The performance characteristics outclass these methods.

Some of the key features are:

  • Combine several differently exposed photos of an exposure series into an HDR image
  • Prepare your HDR images for display or print with high quality tonal range compression (tone mapping)
  • Import the RAW images of your digital camera
  • Export and archive the optimised HDR image in a format of your choice


Try out some of the above software and you will see interesting results. If you are more serious about it then checkout the HDR Photography Techniques by Captain Kimo.

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  1. […] Here in this article we present a¬† collection of 20 beautiful photos that were created after processing through HDR techniques. To create such beautiful photos, checkout our article on Free HDR Software¬†. […]

  2. sven says:

    Cool software tips, looking for input on designing a new free SEO software suite.

  3. dbam says:

    I just wanted to ask for some advice. I’m trying to compress with zip (1 or 16 scanlines) an RGBA.exr (it does not have any compression applied) using Ubuntu/linux.
    The ones i could try (qtpfsgui, krita, imagemagick) read/write openexr images, but did not have the option to change the compression method used for writing the files on disk…
    Any experiences regarding this ‘issue’?

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  5. 3d movies are really great because it adds more level of realism ;~*

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