Activating HDR In iOS Camera App

If you are using an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus like me you may have noticed the HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature missing from the Camera App. Apple has deemed that the iPhone 8 camera system is good enough to know when HDR is needed in a photo. However, Apple does not always know best. If you wish to activate the HDR feature on your 8, read on.

What Is HDR?

Here is a explanation of HDR:

What is HDR photography on iPhone and why would I want to use it? HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It works to balance the shadows and highlights of a photo so that neither are being favored or ignored. Basically, HDR on iPhone is done by combining three different exposures into a single shot.


HDR on your iPhone is the combination of three shots, taken within milliseconds of each other, and stitched together into one photo. Your iPhone takes three photos in order to capture each part of the landscape in perfect exposure. As we stated above, it’s hard to achieve perfect exposure of both land and sky. So the iPhone creates a High Dynamic Range (HDR) by combining the properly exposed parts of each of the three images, then combines them into one that looks seamless.

It is amazing the iPhone Camera can even do this. The HDR feature is for the more serious minded photographers. So, how do you activate the HDR feature on the iPhone 8?

Activating HDR

Here is a typical Camera App setup on my iPhone 8:

Camera App

The HDR feature is not showing, even though the Camera App does use it when it is necessary. To activate the HDR feature so it always shows on your iPhone 8 do the following.

Go into Settings and scroll down to Camera:

Settings Camera

When you are inside the Camera Settings you will see “Auto HDR” is set to on:


 iOS 11 comes that way from the factory. All you have to do here is toggle the “Auto HDR” setting to “Off”: 


Now switch back to the Camera App:

HDR Activated

The HDR feature is showing. If you tap on it you get these choices:

HDR Choices

It will be set to Auto, but you should adjust it however you like.


The Camera App does a pretty good job of balancing the lighting of photos on it’s own. There are times when we need to intervene to get the best photos. That usually involves using the HDR feature.