Aurora HDR 2018 App Reviews

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Best HDR app I’ve ever used

Let’s be frank. Aurora is expensive, and they charge for upgrades. An upgrade discount is only available on their website - not as an in-app purchase from the App Store. One of the most useful features of Aurora - being able to use it as a plug-in to Luminar and vice versa, only works with the app if purchased directly from Skylum. There are a few bugs - correction of lens distortion is anisotropic - one cannot fully correct for an extreme wide angle without either bowing of horizontal lines or pinching of vertical lines. There are no editing tools in Aurora other than cropping - one must use another editor in conjunction with it. That’s it for the negatives - everything else about this app is strongly positive and warrants 5 stars. I’ve used a lot of HDR photo apps over the past decade, some of which require multiple exposures and some of which can work with a single photo. Aurora does both. Simply drop a series of bracketed exposures on the app and it will, if selected, align all the images, remove ghosts and correct for chromatic aberration. It doesn’t do as good a job of aligning images as does Affinity Photo or Hydra, but the results are nevertheless outstanding. Tone mapping works with both single images and HDR brackets. The interface is exceptionally intuitive and not at all difficult to master. Aurora comes with a basic set of presets and a number of others are available on the website for free or for purchase. The free ones are adequate to address almost any situation and selecting the best one is often all that is needed to yield a great, realistic-appearing photo. Taking the time to learn the fuctions of the individual sliders on the right of the interface, will reward the user with outstanding results. Some common exposure and color controls are available, as well as less common controls such as HDR enhancement of fine, medium-sized and large details. A polarization slider works surprisingly like a polarizing filter would, helping to reduce glare from reflections and to enhance blue skies. One of the most useful features is a separate set of exposure and color controls for the top and bottom of the image. This works nicely, for example, to enhance a sunset sky while darkening the landscape below. The possibilities are endless. Just a word about Luminar 2018. I bought the old version on the App Store, but had to buy the web version to then get the upgrade price. Hence, I can’t review it directly because I didn’t purchase the upgrade from Apple at full price. Luminar is useful as an adjunct to Aurora if both are purchased from Skylum directly and not from the App Store, as they can be used as plug-ins for each other. This adds editing functions that otherwise would not be available in Aurora itself. However, there’s enough overlap of functions and an identical interface that one cannot help but wonder why Skylum didn’t integrate the two programs. If I could rate luminar separately, however, I would give it only three stars. For one thing, I cannot fathom why there is no provison to use a defalut workflow environment. Every single time one opens a new image, one is forced to select the interface elements they wish to use. Even if one uses one of the pre-defined workflows, this become tedious after a while. Otherwise, the interface is intuitive and useful. The erase and clone tools work exceptionally well, but there is no provision to reflect, rotate or scale a cloned section as there is in Photoshop and Affinity. Still, these tools when used in conjunction with Aurora make the combination formidable. The biggest shortcoming of Luminar, which makes it unsuitable as a general purpose photo editor, is the utter lack of selection tools. If one wants to combine two images, for example, it must be done entirely with layers and masks. There is no easy way to replace the sky in one image, for example, with the sky from another. There isn’t even a way to resize the canvas. Luminar is a great start and an excellent adjunct to Aurora, but it’s not yet ready to serve as a stand-alone photo editor. One final note - tech support is highly responsive and definitley not outsourced. In contacting tech support via e-mail or their website, one gets a quick resone from a developer - not a canned response - in 24 hours or less. This is among the best tech support of any I’ve used.

It can’t do Batch Processing like it says it can. Useless for time lapses

I baught this program spicifically because it does batch processing. I do a lot of time lapse photography and saw that maybe this could be a great alternitive to Photomatix and Light Room. However I was wrong. I purchased both Affinity and Aurora HDR and both can’t Batch photos. When you run the batch it doesnt look anything Like the origanal photo. I contacted the developers and they said they were aware of the problem and will let their designers know about it. If they are aware of the problem, why even say how this new version has batch processing? Missing a few steps from the final image is huge when it comes to time lapse photography and batching 1000 plus photos. I want each photo to have the exact same contrast applied, clarity, color, levels, etc. Very Disapointed. If you want to do batch processing I’d advise using something else.

I can’t get it to work

I’ve tried to edit an image and I can’t do anything. I get it to the editing page, and everything is greyed out. I’ve tried batch editing and that wont work either because it freezes up on me. I have the top end iMac 27” so it’s not my computer. I don’t know what is going on.


I purchased through the App store and their plugin will not work with lightroom, I emailed them and they sent over a version that will allow plugins and the activation code they sent does not work! Come on get it together people!!!! I’m giving three stars only because of this hassle and not for the software itself.

Thanks for updates

It is awesome app and I can recommend it to everyone who know what is HDR Photography.

Aurora 2018 (Up date 12/21/2017)

This product doesnt function on my computer. Atempting to get my money back now. I have a early Mac Pro 2009 with OS X version 10.11.6 and 16 GB RAM and a 2.93 GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon. Up Date (12/21/2017) Aurora 2018 now functions without crashing. While I do not know for sure what was causing the crashing, I suspect receipt of payment might have been a hidden issue. Strangely after correcting credit card data in the Apple Store, the Aurora 2018 stopped crashing. I did receive an immediate receipt from the Apple store directly after purchase indicating there were no issues. I have sent an email to the Aurora HDR support team withdrawing my request for refund and included all the crash dumps the program produced. I will learn this new HDR software and provide a better review but for now, at present, users should know Aurora functions on my early 2009 Mac Pro.

I’m not a fan of HDR, but I LOVE Aurora HDR

I was deeply impressed with Aurora HDR. A couple of years ago I tried other HDR software, but the reults were so overdone, I could not use them. With all the hype around Aurora, I decided to give it a try, and I do not regret a secod. I find “extreme HDR” terrible, but what you get with Aurora is so realistic and natural-looking. I do hardly a couple of tweaks after merging brackets and usually that’s all. My photos look perfect. And they’re not overdone, usually you won’t even tell this is HDR. But if you want, that’s easy to go further. There are hundreds of presets in Aurora, and tons of tools to perfect your photos. I hardly use them all, but how awesome is that?

The new Aurora got so much better

I’m not a pro photographer, just taking my first steps, and I love shooting both brackets and single images. I also have the previous version of Aurora HDR, and I have to tell that the 2018 version is so much better. I love the new UI, it looks clean and the overall look improved like 10 times. It got significantly faster (I own a MacBook Air 2015), the tonemapping works magic as a first batch of enhancements, then I usually use presets as a startng point. More often than not, that’s basically all that I do, but I also learn a lot and play around with new filters and everything. I like how it works with RAW files, of course some take longer to process than other, but I can totally live with that, as I don’t have tons of images to process all the time, so it works great for me. I’m not a big fan of crazy HDR, so I really like how presets, Structure and Enhance filter work together to create very beautiful, yet normal looking images. All in all, I love the product, though really have to learn more about its capabilities, as I’m pretty sure I’m using it on 50% of its potential.

Using and loving it since version 1

I discovered it from Trey Ratcliff, who is one of my photography mentors. Back then Aurora felt like a breath of fresh air since most of photographers were using HDRsoft or HDRefex Pro. I switched to Aurora HDR and never looked back. It is definitely the best software for HDR photos. Aurora HDR is not for everyone, but if you want your HDR photos to really stand out it is definitely a must have. In the latest version I highly recommend to use the layers and save it in native format, since you will be able to then revert to your original file and perform non-destructive edits. I also highly recommend the HDR enhancer - it reminds me of a perfect enhance but with clarity and structure on top of it.

“Aurora HDR 2018 quit unexpectedly” every time

Update after Developer Response: “It seems your Mac was released before 2009…” Well duh. That’s the first thing I said in my complaint that my iMac was a mid-2007. But now my point is your listed “Compatibility" is incorrect by your own admission. And now it is knowingly incorrect. In commerce, there’s a legal name for that. Still waiting a response from Apple on how to get a refund. =original post below.== I have mid-2007 iMac 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (a 64-bit processor), w/4 GB installed RAM, running El Capitan 10.11.6. Just installed HDR 2018. (I know this is a minimal config for HDR, but it is supposed to be compatible as Core 2 Duo is a 64-bit processor and running OS X 10.11.6) HDR 2018 will not initialize. I get “Aurora HDR 2018 quit unexpectedly.” everytime I try to start HDR. I have cold rebooted iMac twice. All El Capitan updates are applied. Sent the anonymous Report to Apple. How do I get my money back on a bad product that fails to meet its advertised compatibility? (minor edits 7 hours after initial submission in order to correct two typos.)

App is great but beware no plugins from app store

Update - I raised it to four stars because I got a response from Skylum and they were able to fix the no plug in issue. Warning - the App Store version does not offer plug-ins. You have to get that from Skylum directly. Looks like the App Store sales limited version software. Ugh!!! Original Review I’m hoping I end up rewriting this. I spent $79 because all the reviewers said it was good HDR software. The standalone product seems to be, however I wanted the plug in for Lightroom and Photoshop. I don’t want a stand alone product. Ends up there is no way to install the plug in, at least not with the version downloaded from the app store. The software menu items in their manual says to use, don’t exist in the current version. Something is amiss.


I purchase aurora hdr 2018 over the weekend to use as a plugin with lightroom. Turns out the APP STORE version is different than the macphun website version… There is no plugin support with the APP STORE version. Im still waiting to hear back from customer support about fixing this.

This app is AMAZING!

I had the very first version of this app when it came out, and loved it. I have used it to create some AMAZING images. Trey and his team have done such a great job. I was happy to pay the $79 to support this app, even though I had already purchased the desktop version and had no reason to buy again…just like it that much! Looking forward to where it goes! Thanks Trey and team! ~David Foster

As advertised

Who would've thought that one day I would be able to fix the deep shadows of a favorite photo of mine. And remove the layer of “fog” that seems to pervade most of the outdoor photos I’ve taken with Sony RX100 (gen 1) to bring clarity, vividness, and vibrance to them. That day is today. I’m very satisfied with my purchase. Thanks!

Just what i needed

Love this app. Does just what it says it will do. Makes my photos look amazing. Thanks!

A bit pricy, but I can see myself using this a lot

In the past, it seems like I always had to have at least 3 photos with different exposures to use HDR apps, and who remembers that when they get back home from vacation that they might want to do that? This app takes an exisiting single photo and creates what it needs to have some pretty decent HDR results. I am not a huge fan of “extreme HDR” and this give you options for “realistic” among it many thumbnail presets. I also love that I could tweak every possible setting (including for both the top and the bottom) of images to create my own HDR — with the heavy lifting already done — and with very pleasing results. I also love that it integrates with Adobe Photoshop (my go-to photo editing app), which provides tools to add titles, crop, etc. I did find that high quality photos (I used some from a Panasonic Lumix micro 4/3) work much better than low-light iPhone versions, which emphasize every pixel you didn’t see before. However, if you have good, daylight, iPhone photos, they work fine (you’ll want to have at least an iPhone 6 and later). It crashed just once — when it asked if I wanted to rate it, when I agreed, and upon arriving at the web version of the App Store :)

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