In the past two weeks we demonstrated you how to create HDR images by using Dynamic Photo HDR and easyHDR. Unfortunately, they both are payable products. Now it’s time to test a free alternative, which is another type of HDR software, namely Luminance HDR.

Luminance HDR is not only free but also open-source program. In practice, the use of it is not limited. When you open the application for the first time, Luminance HDR suggests you to transfer some money on developers’ account, but only if you want to. The dialog box can be disabled.

In order to start working with Luminance HDR we need to click New HDR Image button on the toolbar. Then the wizard will be opened, by means of which you can add some source files. Remember that ‘real’ HDR is created out of few shots of the same frame but different exposures.

Luminance HDR also enables you to polish up a single photograph. As usual, we will focus on this feature for a while. After adding a picture, modify the value of exposure and then click Next button. Then, we are offered a choice of six HDR profiles and manual settings panel as well.


Unfortunately at this stage, Luminance HDR does not display the photo preview. Therefore, we need to test profiles by method of trial and error. Finally, we click Finish. The preview will appear in the main window. On the right, there is a sidebar with different types of so called operators (also called filters).

On the left, there are also operators in the form of drop-down bar and some basic settings. Finally, we click on Tonemap. It is worth to spend a while and check the output image size because its’ default setting is usually circa 400x250 pixels so the image comes out very small.

The last step involves clicking ‘Save as’ on the toolbar and saving the new version of our photo on the hard drive.

Unfortunately, Luminance HDR is a program which includes only some basic editing functions. Comparing it with apps that have been described earlier, its capabilities do not impress much. In addition, its service is sometimes even cumbersome. However, the program is still worth recommending to novice users.