Tips for Creating Raw HDR Images in Camera Raw 9.0

Adobe Camera Raw and DNG

Click here to watch how to create raw HDR images in Camera Raw 9.0

Below are additional tips for creating raw HDR images in Camera Raw 9.0. Not all adjustments that you make to individual images will carry over when selecting  Photo Merge > HDR in Camera Raw. For example, if you have made local adjustments on individual exposures using the radial filter or the adjustment brush, those adjustments will not be applied to the merged file. Because of this, I would suggest that you don’t spend a great deal of time making adjustments to each of the individual exposures but, instead, merge the images and then make adjustments to the resulting, merged, HDR image. The settings that are NOT copied over from individual exposures to the merged file are:

– The primary tone settings in the Basic panel including Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks (since the merge is expanding tonal range using its own calculations).

– Tone Curve

– Local Corrections

– Red Eye

– Spot Healing

– Upright

– Crop

– Process Version (if set to anything other than the most recent – 2012)

• If you make adjustments to an individual exposures that can be copied over to the merged file (such as conversion to B/W or Split Toning adjustments) , make sure that the exposure with the adjustments is the “most selected” image.

• HDR merging requires exposure metadata. If aperture and ISO information is available, then it is used as well.

• Camera Raw will  show an error if you try to merge photos of different sizes, focal lengths, etc.

• The merged HDR images is 16 bit due to the significant (and painful) file size that would result if the HDR merge was 32-bit.

• By default Camera Raw appends the file name with -HDR. You can change this in the Camera Raw Preferences.

• The resulting (merged) DNG files will always default to Process Version (PV) 2012, despite any differing PV settings applied to the source images. This is because PV2012 is required for the extended Exposure range (+/- 10 stops) of 16 & 32bit files, where as PV2003 & PV2010 are restricted to (+/- 4 stops).

– Tap the “A” key to toggle the Align Images feature

– Tap the “T” key to toggle Auto Tone

– Tap the “Y” key  to show the Deghost Shadow Overlay

Adobe Camera Raw and DNG

Posted on 04-23-2015


  • By Hayo Baan - 8:14 AM on April 25, 2015  

    It’s nice to know we can now merge to HDR in Camera Raw directly. But why limit it to 16 bit? Sure, the file size would be huge in case of 32 bit, but I don’t mind that and now you loose quite some (potentially important) info 🙁

    Why not make creation of 32-bit files an option?

    Hayo Baan

    • By Jeffrey Tranberry - 7:00 PM on April 26, 2015  

      16-bit floating point DNG files support over 30 stops of dynamic range. Provides just as much latitude but with a much smaller file.

      • By Hayo Baan - 8:02 AM on April 27, 2015  

        Hi Jeff, thank you for your answer. I see what your saying but I still think it would be nice if one can opt to have the larger files.

        I’ll do some testing to see if it is worth switching my HDR worklow to ACR and 16-bit DNG as opposed to the 32-bit Photoshop workflow with smart objects, I now use.

  • By Michael Matthews - 11:17 AM on May 5, 2015  

    Is merge to HDR in camera raw 9 supposed to work in CS6? Or only for CC subscribers?