Apple finally released iOS 4.1 yesterday evening, and after waiting 2 hours for the 585Mb download to complete, I quickly put it through its paces last night.
Today I wanted to tell you about the HDR photography function that was added into this release because I think this may be the single greatest feature Apple have added to the iPhone (other than multi-tasking). For years now, people have suffered the frustration (often unknowingly to be fair) of over-exposed skies or under-exposed shadow areas. The photos below shows you a couple of examples taken without HDR of a typical scene.
To explain briefly, HDR is High Dynamic Range. Camera sensors and film are unable to replicate the wide range of brightnesses the human eye can see, so lots of techniques can be used to try and replicate it. For a long time, this has been the domain of the photographer and/or Photoshop operator. Now, however, camera manufacturers are beginning to build cameras that do the work for you. They do this by (in effect) taking a couple of photographs at once and blending these so the full range of brightness in the scene is shown in one photograph. How it does this is not important, but let's see the results of turning HDR on in the two scenes above.
The beauty of this feature will be more evident in your holidays snaps from the beach. No longer will you have to suffer the indignation of blown-out skies that do not show how beautiful the weather was last year in Puerta Ventura or Florida, and most importantly without any effort from the user. For my money this is one of the biggest things to happen in pocket camera photography for a long time, and makes the iOS 4.1 upgrade well worth the effort to put onto your iPhone 4.