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Using the HDR Mode on the EOS 80D

HDR shooting produces photos with a wide dynamic range by capturing three images with varying exposures and merging them. This helps to overcome the large tonal differences among highlights and shadows in an image that may occur as the result of limits to dynamic range (the range of brightness and darkness that can be captured) in photography. You can easily use the HDR mode on the EOS 80D, and we explain how in this article. (Photos and text by: Ryosuke Takahashi)


HDR mode on EOS 80D automates the workflow from image capture to merging

HDR shooting involves the creation of photos with a wide dynamic range by capturing three images with varying exposures (“bracketing”) and merging them. Its biggest feature is simultaneous suppression of blowout and black crush. This is suitable for scenery with large variations in tones, and when you want to capture indoor and outdoor elements in a photo.

With conventional HDR shooting, the images captured have to be aligned and then merged on a computer with an editing programme such as the HDR tool on Digital Photo Professional. But this means that it is difficult to visualize the finished image on-location and any positional misalignments cannot be corrected at the shooting location.

These inherent inconveniences are alleviated by the HDR mode in camera, which automates the bracketing, image alignment and merging processes. This not only makes HDR photography possible with hand-held shooting, but also more convenient as you can check and adjust the finished image on-the-spot. The first Canon camera to be equipped with a HDR mode was the EOS 5D Mark III, and you can read more about what the developers say about it in EOS 5D Mark III Interview with Developers [Part 2].

It is also possible to take HDR photos with artistic effects. For example, you can select the degree of exposure, by first going into the HDR mode from the Shooting menu, and then selecting [Adjust dyn range]. In the same menu, you will also see five finishing effect options, including Natural. Choose an option other than “Natural” for a HDR photo with an artistic twist.

Another way to enable HDR shooting on the EOS 80D is by selecting it from the Creative filter mode on the Mode Dial. However, you will not be able to access all the camera settings and Effect options. This is because HDR shooting in Creative filter mode is meant to be a simplified version orientated to beginners, so there are limited options for automating settings and applying finishing effects. If you want to customise your HDR shooting settings further, do configure them from the Shooting menu.


Steps to using HDR mode


1. Select [HDR Mode] from the [SHOOT3] tab.

To start shooting, scroll to the bottom of the [SHOOT3] tab’s menu. Select [HDR Mode], which is disabled under factory settings. This allows you to carry out more detailed settings.


2. Select [Auto] under [Adjust dyn range].

Press the [SET] button to set the dynamic range. The larger the value, the more large tonal differences are minimised. Select [Auto] so your camera will select an appropriate exposure.


3. Select [Art standard] under [Effect].

The [Effect] function determines the style of HDR composition. You can choose from various effects including the no-frills [Natural]. I chose [Art standard] here.


4. Select [Every shot] under [Continuous HDR].

This setting determines how HDR shooting will take place, so once you select [Every shot], HDR mode remains in effect until this setting is disabled. This time we will select [Every shot] to enable continuous shooting.


5. Select [Enable] under [Auto Image Align].

Once you select [Enable] under [Auto Image Align], the camera will automatically account for slight misalignments in images. Because of this feature, some of the edges will be cropped off.


5 types of HDR effects


Expands dynamic range through image processing by minimizing blowout and black crush in the image, creating a natural-looking merged image. As no special effects are applied to the image, this is suitable for a variety of scenes including landscapes. The most basic mode among all the HDR effects.

EOS 80D/ EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 10mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/4 sec.)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto (Ambience priority)


EOS 80D/ EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 10mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/13 sec.)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto (Ambience priority)/ HDR shooting: Natural


Art standard

Creates greater visual effects than that of Natural. This HDR effect makes the photo look like a painting. The gradations are relatively flatter, and detailed highlights and shadows can be depicted in the same photo. This is suitable for times when you want to make a slightly stronger impact than what would be possible with Natural.

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 18.0mm/ HDR Art standard (f/3.5, 1/250 sec.)/ WB: Auto (Ambience priority)


Art vivid

Colours are more saturated than that of Art standard, strengthening the visual effects unique to HDR. This is suitable for sunset and nightscape scenery, and also shots of modern streets with vivid colours. Use this effect when you want to make an impact with your subject.

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 18mm/ HDR Art vivid (f/3.5, 1/250 sec.)/ WB: Auto (Ambience priority)


Art bold

Colours are most saturated among that of the five HDR effects; brings out the three-dimensional aspect of subjects. This effect is suitable for subjects such as scenery, objects and manmade architecture. A unique mode that makes the image look like it was painted with a brush.

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 18mm/ HDR Art bold (f/3.5, 1/250 sec.)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto (Ambience priority)


Art embossed

Depicts the outline of subjects clearly by emphasising silhouettes. A feature is the normality achieved from suppressing colours like those created with bleach bypass. This HDR mode is most suitable for photographing industrial-looking subjects such as construction sites and objects.

EOS 80D/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM/ FL: 18mm/ HDR Art embossed (f/5.6, 1/640 sec.)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto (Ambience priority)



  • When HDR mode is selected, the Auto Lighting Optimizer, Highlight Tone Priority and Distortion Correction functions will be unavailable.
  • HDR shooting also cannot be used together with multiple exposure shooting.
  • HDR shooting places restrictions on image quality and cannot take place in RAW or RAW+JPEG. Make sure image quality is set to JPEG when you start shooting.


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EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

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EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

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Ryosuke Takahashi


Born in Aichi in 1960, Takahashi started his freelance career in 1987 after working with an advertising photo studio and a publishing house. Photographing for major magazines, he has travelled to many parts of the world from his bases in Japan and China. Takahashi is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS).


Digital Camera Magazine


A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
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