13 October 2009

Sony Alpha a550 HDR and DRO Explainations with Sample Photos.

Related posts :

If you asked me ... I would tell you that ... the two of the major selling points of the all new Sony Alpha a550 would be :
  1. 1. HDR
  2. 2. DRO


So... what is HDR? In short HDR stands for High Dynamic Range imaging, right up to now HDR images have to be manually produce with the help of image editing softwares like photoshop and others. Here is a link on how to create a HDR image manually.

Right up to now, there are no other DSLR camera that can do inbody HDR (well except for one but it takes forever and you gotta need a tripod for it .. so that dont counts.) but with the Sony Alpha a550 you can take Auto HDR photos while holding the camera with your barehands and still producing stunning images!

How or what made this possible? this is how ...

With the help of the all new Exmor CMOS sensor and New Bionz processor it is now possible to get your Sony Alpha a550 to take Auto HDR images!

Under-exposed + Over-exposed + Autostitch = AUTO HDR

How does this HDR works anyway? .... Actually its something fairly simple .... the camera will takes 2 photos. The 1st photo will be at a darker settings and the second photo will be a brighter settings, afterwhich these 2 photographs are then stitched together automatically by the camera (thanks to the super fast new Bionz processor) and viola!! The whole thing is done in less than 2 seconds!

Why HDR? So you will have the best of both world! ... you see, in an underexposed photo you can see alot more details wherelese in an overexposed photo you can see alot lesser details (and no shadows of coz but you will have plenty of lights innit) so to have the best of both world i.e. to preserve details and to ensure brightness + contrast HDR is your best bet!

Sample images :

This image were shot with DRO off and flash fired

This images were taken with HDR with no flash fired ... do you notice the different in the amount of details in both images? the one uses HDR managed to preserves the more details while maintaining the right amount of lights in the photo.


DRO stands for Dynamic Range Optimization, simply put ... if u standing with your back to the blazing sun and someone took a photo of you (without using a flashgun) your face will appear dark while your background will be overexposed.

This is because to the camera metering system which measures the amount of lights available, there is actually more than enough lights in the frame and therefore the camera will automatically compensate by increasing your shutter speed (if you are in A mode) and gives you a dark face of the subject.

So to counter this problem All sony DSLRs came with this DRO features which can be disabled and enabled according to your needs. On the Sony Alpha a550 this feature is further enchanced by enabling users to choose either AUTO DRO or any one of the 5 level available.

Take the below photo as example .... the stingray face would be alot darker than it is now if the DRO is switched off

But since my DRO on my Sony Alpha a550 are turned on ... you can see that the Stingray's face were not really affected by the lightings that came from the top of the aquarium. For some reason this is one of my favorite photo and it was taken in Langkawi under waterworld during the Sony Image3 media tour there.

Now the questions is ... Since both HDR and DRO also will helps give better brighter photos ... which one shall I use?

Look at below images for further illustrations :


Where DRO gives u brighter images they also gives you less details while they are at it and on the other hand, HDR give you better detailed low noise images as compares to DRO.

But HDR is still consider at its early stage of developement. So therefore people @ Sony came out with a chart telling you how to further utilise the HDR and DRO features built into every Sony Alpha a550.

Click on the above image for a larger version

In a nuthsell HDR is not recommended on moving object .... why? bcause the camera will takes 2 photos and stich it together, if you used HDR to shoot moving object .. your photos will end up looking something like this :

Photo taken by : Albert

So unless your object can remain perfectly static then its more advisable to turn to DRO instead of HDR.

Here are more examples of HDR photos I took a few days ago :

All these marine creatures is either slow moving or stationary subject thus shooting them in HDR mode is possible. The use of flash is strictly prohibited inside the aquarium, therefore i solely relied on either the camera's HDR or DRO features. If you look carefully these images are not without flaws because no matter how still they stayed ... some of their body parts will still be moving.

Later I met this handsome fler who keep moving everywhere in the aquarium ... i knew HDR will be useless on this little fler ... i switched to the DRO and I got this images of him.

Ok i m done! ... are you impressed yet?! The waiting list for the Sony Alpha a550 is getting longer by the day! If you wanna get your hands on one better make it fast!!


  1. Ello,

    how to merge 2 picture taken using HDR function. Are u use PS?

  2. This is good info. Thanks for sharing.


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