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GuidesWhat is an HDR file?

What is an HDR file?

With the development of digital photography services for editing these photos began to develop as rapidly. In connection with this, various unusual formats for images began to appear. This includes the HDR format. However, many users still don’t understand exactly what this format is and why it is needed.

For what HDR is needed

With the development of digital technology began to appear more and more different programs for image editing and editing. This is very convenient because people no longer need to spend a lot of time making a perfect photo. It’s enough to take a picture as close as possible to your requirements and then edit it a bit.

In fact, professional photographers and editors can change photos so much that they become unrecognizable. They can change colors, add different objects or simply retouch some of the photos. Many different image editors have been developed for this purpose. They can work with different types of images depending on the purpose of the editing.

This also includes the HDR format. It’s a file with a high dynamic range. Many users wonder why they need such a file and where it is used.

Why HDR files are needed and where they are used

File with the format .HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”. This primarily indicates the type of Radiance HDR/RGBE Image File (.hdr). It was developed by G.Ward for ray tracing and lighting modeling technology.

In essence, .hdr files are HDR raster images. These files usually add one more byte per pixel to the normal RGB byte value. This converts the file to HDR (RGBE) and uses 32 bits instead of the standard 24.

Such images are used for a variety of purposes. For example for lighting simulations, professional digital photography, and virtual reality renderings where you might want to show very bright and very dark areas at the same time.

In addition to the program Radiance itself for which this format was developed, it’s also supported in many other apps for working with images. For example in various raster editors, viewers or VR simulators and converters.

Besides there is another type of file that is also connected to .hdr, this is Esri BIL/BIP/BSQ Header File (.hdr). BIL (Band Interleaved by Line), BIP (Band Interleaved by Pixel), and BSQ (Band Sequential) are raster image formats. They were developed by Esri and are primarily used for storing images in Esri ArcGIS geodatabases.

Also, files with the extension .hdr can mean “Header” representing the type of Microsoft SQL Server FILESTREAM Header File (.hdr) used by Microsoft SQL Server. This is a data time management system for commercial organizations developed by Microsoft. In their program, you need to create a header file, e.g. “filestream.hdr”, for each FILESTREAM-enabled database. It also cannot be deleted or changed for the database to work correctly.

How you can open an HDR file

If we’re talking about files with HDR extension, then most often we’re talking about files with raster images. Such files can be opened in most modern powerful visual editors. For example with such a file can cope such programs as:

If you don’t want to download any apps and you’re interested in how to open such files online, you can help such online services as:

Besides some users might find that they need to open ESRI BIL Header files. If this is your case, the following programs will help you to open this type of file:

Be careful though, because it is possible that your PC may think that you can open such a file with a Windows app. In this case, you will need to download a special app to open HDR-type files and then manually bind it to open all these files.

What are the programs to convert files to HDR format

If you need to convert files with the extension .hdr you can convert other files to this format. There are several conversion programs that can do this quickly and easily.

One of the most popular conversion programs that support .hdr is Imagenator. This is a program that can convert images to an HDR file. In addition, this app also supports other image formats, among them:

  • HDR
  • EXR
  • TGA
  • JPG
  • ICO
  • GIF
  • PNG

If you’re looking for a service online that can convert, you can use Convertio. It offers 10 minutes of free conversion per day. If you need to convert more files, you can either run the service in incognito mode or buy a paid subscription.

Other than that, these programs are also suitable for converting ESRI BIL Header files. Usually, in any editor, you can save such a file using File > Save as button or any export option.

You should also pay attention to the program CubeMapGen. It will help you if you want to convert HDR to cubemap.

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