How to enable HDR Camera mode on iPad, and iPod touch 4G

By , Feb 20, 2013

HDR iPad 3

HDR is a photography mode that stitches together several pictures along a range of exposure settings. Using various algorithms, the effect creates pictures that can have fewer dark or washed out spots than a conventional digital still, which is great if you intend to capture textures and detail instead of glare or shadow.

Apple introduced HDR photography to iOS 4.1, but the feature wasn’t rolled out to every device. The devices that currently lack the option to enable HDR in the stock camera app include the iPod touch 4G, iPad mini, and the iPad 2 to the iPad 4. Lucky for us, this disabled feature is fairly easy to manually reintroduce on a jailbroken device…

HDR tutorial filesystem

In order to enable HDR photography on your unsupported iPod, iPad, or iPod touch, you will need to be able to navigate into the core filesystem. I used iFile to edit the plist files from my device, though you can also use iFunbox or a FTP client if you prefer editing system files from a Mac or PC.

According to Tkf1 of the iFans forum, each device has a different code, which will determine where the Plist files are located. Find the code for your device from the list below.

iPad 2nd generation – K93, K94, K95
iPad 3rd generation – J1, J2
iPad 4th generation – P101, P102, P103
iPad mini – P105, P106, P107

The first thing you will want to do is enable HDR from the AVCaptureSession.plist file. You can access it by navigating to ‘/System/Library/Frameworks/MediaToolbox.framework/*/AVCaptureSession.plist’, where the asterisk(*) is the code for your device, listed above.

Open the plist file using a text editor and find the following snippet of code:

<key>AVCaptureSessionPresetPhoto</key>
<dict>
<key>Description</key>
<string>Back Facing **MP Photo</string>

Then scroll down a little until you find the section that reads:

<key>ChromaNoiseReduction</key>
<true/>

Right below here you will want to add:

<key>HDR</key>
<true/>

If the string is already there, but assigned to ‘false’, change the string to true. Once you are done, save and exit.

Next we will need to navigate to ‘/System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app/*AP.plist’, where the asterisk represents your device’s code. Open the plist with a text editor and find the following string:

<key>capabilities</key>
<dict>

All you need to do is add the following strings in place below (it does not need to be entered in alphabetical order, just make sure each string is directly followed by a boolean value):

<key>camera-flash</key>
<true/>
<key>hdr-image-capture</key>
<true/>

Once you are done, respring your device and the HDR mode should appear in both the Camera app and the Photos & Camera page in Settings.

settings HDR

If you’re wondering whether the HDR shooting mode was disabled for practical reasons or just for artificial product differentiation, take a look at the image at the top of the page. What you see on both sides of the photo is the same shot, taken from an iPad 3 with and without HDR processing. In our glare stress-test the HDR photo provides a staggering visual improvement over the original.

Does iOS’ native HDR processing make a difference in your day-to-day photography? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • Bob

    Very misleading before photo. Never seen any photos come out like that. The shot on the right is how it looks like normally using the camera and looks nothing like HDR lol.

    • http://twitter.com/Mtfr123 m

      Actually if you tapped on a dark side then you take a picture, the photo will look very bright. HDR will let you see the dark side and the bright side so everything is clear.

  • http://twitter.com/Stickhandling_ Stick

    The shot on the left is just over exposed. Misleading. You should’ve shown a picture exposing the inside of a house while a window was in background blown out, then, an image where the outside is exposed proper, while the inside is underexposed, then, the HDR shot, where the outside and inside are both properly exposed.

    • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

      The shot on the left is the exact same shot, not a second shot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380073379 Quang Truong

    it works :)

  • http://twitter.com/Devin_Plebuch Devin Plebuch

    I tried it. HDR photo is better, but nothing significant.

  • http://twitter.com/ice2dragonkiss Visar Abdullai

    does not work on 3gs, it doesn’t save the pic

  • http://twitter.com/FinalSynFrey Dustin

    I tried It and It does not work on the 3GS. The function is there, but it freezes the whole app. When you turn off HDR, It works fine.

    • hkgsulphate

      make sure you are under the right Back Facing **MP Photo line
      there are at least 2 “back facing **MP Photo” lines

  • Vincent

    awesome!

  • hamza

    i request for a video for this its kind of confusing

  • http://www.facebook.com/shingo.hoshino Shingo Hoshino

    not appear on my iPAD4 , whats wrong…….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000096645583 Lucas Felix

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Springtomize can enable HDR in ALL the iDevices listed above, right? I just did that in my iPod touch 4th through the capabilities menu (don’t forget to check the other options you want to keep as well)

    • http://www.facebook.com/logan.harrison.3954 Logan Harrison

      Hi,
      You are right : Springtomize allows to enable HDR on jailbroken devices, although even the latest version, for iOS 5 & 6, freezes the photo app when choosing HDR from its options button (at least on my iPad 2). Even worse, when you change back the photo app option to non-HDR it still freezes at taking pictures. Issue is easily solved by just desactivating HDR in Springtomize options pannel. Let’s just hope developer will be able to fix this one day soon : )

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000096645583 Lucas Felix

        It was freezing for me too, I just disabled the “Keep Normal Photo” and it is now fully working (:

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Diaz-Escandon/569033218 David Diaz Escandon

    Have to say it, it didnt work for me, HDR key appears, but there`s an infinite procesing bucle while using it (never end procesing), then camera app crashes. Seeking for pictures with HDR on pictures, i have found that nor even one got HDR, just normal pics whit a 10 minutes post process

  • http://twitter.com/soooooil soooooil

    yeah but actually the left photo is with HDR and the right one is without. Try disabling Keep Normal Photo and they will be overexposed

    • hkgsulphate

      exactly same thing happened on my iPad mini

  • sarimkhan

    Hmm, This brings a HDR in Camera App’s option but doesn’t do any HDR processing. just normal snaps, with HDR on and off, no difference.

  • hkgsulphate

    Does this do the same thing?
    open the AVCaptureSession.plist using Property List View instead
    then search for “HDR”; check the most upper line

  • Guest

    Or install HDREnabler from Cydia

  • Guest

    i accidentally selected to open the file with adobe and now i cant open it. how do i fix this?

  • Tatyana McPimp

    I keep trying to add the HDR but it wont save
    HELP PLEASE

    • Adithya Sairam

      Try Springtomize 2 Capalibilities

  • cmverde

    it does’t work on the 3gs iOS 6.1

  • Roger Sagastume

    Anyone know if this work in ios 7 jailbreak ipad 2?