Stop iPhone HDR from Saving Two Photos

Sep 1, 2011 - 7 Comments

iPhone camera

The iPhone camera HDR mode takes great pictures, there’s no doubt about that. What is not so great for avid photographers is that when you have HDR mode enabled, the iPhone will store two versions of all photos you take into Camera Roll in Photos app, which at 5+ megapixels a pop can quickly consume an iPhones available storage. For some situations, the two photos look so similar that they just look like duplicates too.

The solution is to stop iPhone from saving both the normal and HDR exposures, which instead opts the iPhone to only save the enhanced HDR version to the Photos app Camera Roll. Here’s how to do this in all versions of iOS:

How to Stop HDR Saving Two Pictures on iPhone Camera

  1. Tap on “Settings” and scroll and tap on “Photos”
  2. Under the “HDR (High Dynamic Range)” option, slide the “ON” button to “OFF” next to “Keep Normal Photo”
  3. Close out Settings

This setting exists on all iOS versions with a camera that is HDR capable, yes the settings menu can look slightly different but the effect is the same.

Stop iPhone HDR from taking and storing two pictures

From here on out, if you have choose to take an HDR photo, only the HDR exposure will be saved. As before, if you aren’t using HDR then the normal picture will still be saved. This makes a lot more sense to me and I’m slightly confused why storing the duplicates is the default option.

Disabling this feature prevents duplicate image storage and will save you a lot of storage space over time. Admittedly, this will be much less necessary when iCloud rolls out this fall since the photos will be stored automatically in iClouds free 5GB plan, if you use it at least.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Ray says:

    I kind of think the opposite, normal is better than HDR with the iPhones camera. Hopefully the next 8MP will be even better ;)

  2. Tinman says:

    Be careful if turning off the saving of two photos. Since there is a delay between the capturing of the two images used to create the HDR photo if there is movement the HDR image can come out poor to unusable whereas the non-HDR image is fine. If you turned off the saving of both photos you would never be able to get to the usable image.

  3. Devy says:

    “iPhone’s HDR mode takes great pictures, there’s no doubt about that.” That’s an overstatement, as HDR is an algorithmic way to blend in multiple images at different exposure settings, there are definitely times where it doesn’t blend in right. I personally experienced that there are more times in low-light condition where HDR would introduce artifacts like “ghosting” and losing sharp edge details than what HDR is good at: expose correctly in partial area of the photo. So leaving an normally exposed photo would at least give you a change to see and compare. Oh yeah, since 3 images are blended in, HDR is about 1.5x-3x bigger than the normal one. Plus what Tinman says is true. Using HDR means you have to hold it a bit longer for iPhone to shoot 3 images – when that’s a slower shutter speed in low-condition, you odds of smearing the photo / ghosting due to premature movement is pretty high!

  4. […] be sure to have “Keep Original” left on so that you can decide which picture is the […]

  5. Adam Mirkovich says:

    The comments on this were awesome. I hadn’t done any research into how the HDR worked and, like the poster’s target audience, thought the “duplicates” were just that. Glad I read the comments. I’ll just have to browse through all those HDR vs not photos!

  6. Howard says:

    Totally agree with the comments above.
    If you shoot in RAW (TIF) and keep the original component files you have the opportunity to edit then in LightRoom or PS and re-blend to HDR. Not always necessary for average shots; but when the mobile gets it wrong it seems a bit silly to have thrown away your “negatives”.
    The only downside is that you need to do some housekeeping from time to time.

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