Skylum Aurora HDR Review

HDR photography is one of the most efficient techniques to record and manipulate a dynamic picture.

What is Aurora HDR?

Aurora HDR is a photography software that combines bracketed photographs into a single HDR image. Through a technique known as tone mapping, it aids with the recovery of highlights and shadows.

Skylum AuroraWhat is HDR Photography?

This Aurora HDR review will cover the fundamentals of Skylum’s (previously Macphun and makers of Luminar 4) high-dynamic-range editing software, as well as my initial thoughts. I’ll tell you about the most crucial characteristics, in my opinion.

First and foremost, the software is a direct rival to Photomatix, my primary HDR product. As a result, I was a little skeptical of Aurora HDR’s quality, given that HDRSoft’s Photomatix was widely regarded as the king of HDR tone-mapped photos.

In 2015, Aurora HDR was presented for the first time. I haven’t utilized it yet because of the aforementioned reason. But I figured I’d give it a shot, especially since it had a few years to mature.

Aurora HDR 2019 was the software’s most recent major version, and it’s still going strong. Although no additional major releases have been made, the program continues to get maintenance updates. It continues to remain at the top of our list of the finest HDR software.

How Aurora HDR Works

Aurora HDR comes with a variety of tools and effects to help you create high-quality HDR photographs.

Here are some of the main highlights of the software.

Quantum HDR Engine

Aurora HDR’s innovative Quantum HDR Engine technology is the center of attention. Isn’t it a cool moniker? As a result, it appears to be a clever marketing approach.

Nonetheless, I’ll bite.

According to Skylum, the Quantum HDR Engine was developed after thousands of bracketed photographs were evaluated.

This implies that the patent-pending AI-powered technology aids in the reduction of issues seen in many HDR applications, such as ghosting, halos, noise, color burn, chromatic aberration, and contrast loss.

Smart Tone

Smart Tone automatically brightens or darkens your photo while leaving the regions that are already bright or dark alone. It’s an easy technique to brighten up your HDR shot.

Smart Structure HDR

The HDR Smart Structure function helps you to enhance your image’s quality, texture, and depth. Use this tool sparingly, since it might make your image appear overdone.

Color Grading

LUT mapping allows you to make enhanced color modifications and give your photographs a more aesthetic appearance. You can use the software’s preloaded LUTs or load your own LUTs.

Aurora HDR Looks

The Aurora HDR Looks, which are basically another term for presets, are perhaps the finest feature. Aurora HDR comes with a number of high-quality presets. You may also get my Aurora HDR Looks for free.

Image Radiance

By enhancing global contrast, this option allows you to incorporate more bright colors. You may give your image a utopian or dreamy atmosphere by using image brightness sparingly.

Aurora HDR Includes Plugins

Plugins provide the advantage of speeding up editing operations. Unfortunately, the Lightroom and Photoshop plugins are not automatically installed when Aurora HDR is first installed on your computer.

How to Install Plugins in Lightroom and Photoshop

  • Open Aurora HDR
  • Select Aurora HDR Install Plugins on your Mac.
  • Choose File > Install Plugins on a PC.

I modified three bracketed photographs in Aurora HDR 2019 as an example.

These photos were taken at Tikal, Guatemala. The exposure values for the first three photographs are 0, -1, and +1. The final HDR image is the fourth image. Without getting too creative, I tried to make this image appear genuine by making basic tweaks in Aurora HDR.


The cost of Aurora HDR 2019 is $99.00 at the time of writing. You may get a $10 discount by using the code aperlust.


I have to admit that Aurora HDR 2019 has wowed me, even going so far as to state that it outperforms Photomatix.

There aren’t any disadvantages that I can think of with the program. Some photographers may find the manual labor required to install the Lightroom and Photoshop plugins inconvenient. Or that it lacks a sharpening tool – a problem that can be readily remedied in Lightroom and Photoshop. I shouldn’t presume you have LR or PS, though.

This program is worth purchasing for your high-dynamic-range photos because of the several features listed above, including the advantages of adjustment layers and masking brushes.

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