Google Ultra HDR is a new image format that builds on the ubiquitous JPEG format. It is designed to provide a more natural and less processed look than traditional HDR images, while still preserving the benefits of HDR, such as a wider range of colors and brightness levels.
Ultra HDR images are created by embedding an HDR gain map in the metadata of a standard JPEG image. This gain map is used to tell the device how to render the image in HDR, resulting in more natural-looking images with less tone mapping.
Ultra HDR images are backwards compatible with the standard JPEG format, meaning that they can be displayed on any device that supports JPEG images. However, to fully appreciate the benefits of Ultra HDR, the image should be displayed on a device with an HDR display.
Google Ultra HDR is currently only available on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones, but it is expected to be rolled out to more devices in the future.
Here are some of the benefits of Google Ultra HDR:
- More natural-looking images with less tone mapping
- Wider range of colors and brightness levels
- Backwards compatible with the standard JPEG format
Photos taken by the Pixel 8 series will have Ultra HDR enabled by default. Photos taken will have the Ultra HDR tag.
Below is a screen shot of the same shot using Pixel 8 Pro (Left) vs Pixel 7 Pro (Right). It gives a wider range of colors and brightness levels.