HDR photo : how many photos to amalgamate together?

There is two ways to get a HDR photo, the first one is with 1 RAW file, the second is the amalgamation of 3 to 5 JPEG files. This post is about the second option. For this test I took 7 photos with a tripod from underexposed at -1.0, -0.7, -0.3, 0, +.3, +0.7, +1.0 and tried different combination at amalgamating those JPEG shots.

I am using the Corel Paint Shop Pro X 6 software, with that software I can use up to 5 files to create and HDR photo but no less than 3. So here is the comparison.

Photo A – HDR photo with 3 JPEG files ( exposure at +0.33, 0 , -0.33)

test 3 photos proche a

Photo B – HDR photo with RAW file ( at +0.33, 0 , -0.33)


If you compare photo A and B, colors are a little more saturated with the RAW file version (photo 1). Since nothing is moving in the photo, there is no major difference but if something had been moving in the photo (click here to see results), picking the RAW file or JPEG file option does make a major difference.

Photo C – HDR photo with 5 JEPG files (+0.67, +0.33, 0 , -0.33, -0.67)

test 5 photos a

With photo C I have higher contrast if you compare it to photo A (3 JPEG files). Contrast in the sky is more visible and colors are more saturated with the photo C.

Photo D – JPEG version correctly exposed and “untouched”


I also tried the amalgamation of exposure at +1, 0 , -1 and the results are not too good (photo E), it’s blurred. The photos I used for this amalgamation were the 1st, the 4th and the 7th in my set. I suspect that each time I changed the setting on the camera and pressed the button even if I used a tripod, the camera did move a little so by the time I was at photo number 7 the camera had move a little bit. The other option is that my software does have a problem at precisely amalgamating the exposures together, maybe other software are better are that.

Photo E – HDR exposure (+1, 0 , -1)

test 3 photos loin a

RAW file do have some advantages when you want to create HDR photo. If you compare the HDR photo created with 3 JPEG and 1 RAW file you see little difference. If you compare the one created with 5 JPEG to the one created with 3 JPEG, you see noticeable differences between the two. Depending what you are looking for, you’ll get better results with 5 JPEG files but you’ll need to be very careful not to move the camera when you take your shots …….. and just forget it if you do not have a tripod as I will show you in a coming post.


3 thoughts on “HDR photo : how many photos to amalgamate together?

  1. I use either 7 or nine for my merges. I can’t really say I have drawn a conclusion on which is the best number but I use several point-and-shoots, and for all of them, the higher number of captures works better than the 3 or 5.
    I too use Corel Paintshop Pro X6 and like it much better than Serif PhotoPlus for HDR. Just a side note for those looking good and affordable software.


    1. I think Corel Paintshop Pro is a very nice software for its price with a lot of features, I did not have the chance to compare to other software but I think the only reason not too many photographers are using it, is the money that Corel put in the marketing of it, they just do not advertise this product


      1. I think you are right and I agree about them not advertising it enough. I saw it for the first time two years ago advertised by Staples and bought my first copy ,PaintShop Pro X4 I think, at closeout that year. It is solid, user friendly and fast compared to Elements and Serif. I am looking to forward to more of your HDR.~John


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