The Best HDR Plugins for Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom, without a doubt, is one of the best RAW photo editors and cataloguing programs in the world. Used by a huge number of professional photographers, Lightroom offers impressive editing controls that are easy to use. However, with the rise in the number of HDR editors, many people find it tedious to use two separate kinds of editors for their needs. Luckily, there are two very capable HDR software programs that offer Lightroom plugins that are as good as the standalone versions.

First, Understand HDR

Before we take a look at the Lightroom HDR plugins, it is important that you understand why HDR photography is becoming so popular. The main reason for taking HDR shots is to have a higher dynamic range shown in your photos. The higher the dynamic range, the more detail you will be able to see both in the highlights as well as the shadows of your photos.

HDR photos are great when showcasing a landscape in difficult lighting or a building that is backlit. HDR photography is also being used as a creative tool to get a unique and artistic look for photos.

lightroom hdr preset

Now that we are all up to speed about the basics of HDR photography, let’s find out a little about two great Lightroom plugins that give you complete control over your HDR photos.

Aurora HDR

Created by the world renowned HDR photographer Trey Ratcliff, Aurora HDR has made quite a reputation for itself as one of the best HDR editors in a very small amount of time. The editor claims to be the fastest HDR processing engine available on the market, and bring many pro features for creating the perfect HDR shot in an easy to use package.

Aurora is famous for its very accurate tone mapping techniques that provide very natural results. It has great luminosity controls, and allows you to work with RAW files as well. With Aurora HDR’s plugin for Lightroom, you can expect to have:

  • More than 75 presets that boast a very high quality
  • Many ways to control the colors in your photos
  • Control over your image in the form of layers
  • Very high image quality
  • Tools like luminosity masking, allowing for greater control over your images
  • Excellent noise reduction tools


Photomatix is another highly capable HDR photo editor that is famous thanks to its unique tone mapping algorithms. It provides an easy way to merge multiple photos into an HDR file, and the results are very pleasing. Unlike Aurora HDR, Photomatix comes in two variants; Essentials and Pro. The Essentials version provides basic control over HDR editing whereas the Pro mode opens up a bevy of additional features and tools that you can use. The Pro mode also provides the users with a Lightroom plugin. This enables photographers to make use of the excellent editing tools that Photomatix comes with while staying within the interface of their favorite RAW editor.

Both Aurora HDR and Photomatix are direct competitors. Therefore, whichever one of the two you choose, you can rest assured that you will be getting the best quality possible with a Lightroom plugin. Both offer great tools at reasonable prices, and both are known for their ease of use and ability to produce attractive results without a lot of effort.