Hydra is a camera app for iPhone & iPad with innovative capture technology that lets you take gorgeous and unique pictures even in challenging lighting conditions.

Amazing photos, beyond sensor limits.

Mobile photography has become ubiquitous these days. Optical capabilities of devices have evolved a lot since the first iPhone. With good lighting, they make absolutely beautiful photos. However, these cameras still come with relatively small sensors which have physical limits in terms of the amount of light they can capture, which in turn create noise & other difficulties when shooting.

Following its original introduction in January 2015 pioneering computational photography on iPhone, Hydra is back with version 2. Artificial intelligence (or AI, also known as machine learning, ML) combined with traditional imaging techniques bring new superpowers to break free from physics and to get new creative abilities.

Diagram highlighting the core features of Hydra 2.

Hydra 2 proposes three key innovations:
  1. a unique and fully featured camera experience with both automatic and manual operation,
  2. an evolutive AI framework for photographic processing with a variety of shooting modes,
  3. a high-definition degradation-free photo editor to get the most out of your pictures.
These innovations are detailed below. You can also go through this blogpost for more behind-the-scenes stories and other technical details.

A unique camera experience.

Photo taking experience in Hydra has been rethought from the ground up. It now articulates around two modes of operation: automatic and manual (A/M). Exposure control and focus are available through tap and/or swipe in automatic operation, while manual operation provides precise control on all camera settings like speed, ISO, etc.

Hydra controls illustrated

All lenses (ultrawide, wide, telephoto, selfie) are exposed, and shooting with the built-in camera is now offered via the Normal mode, which includes RAW and ProRAW (when available). Handy for everyday photos that don't require specific AI processing.

Hydra also comes with a built-in photo gallery, a new photo editor (see below), customizable photo styles, and a variety of formats and destinations both for casual & more advanced uses.

AI-powered photo enhancement.

From the discrete nature of light (photons), through the incomplete sampling grid of digital photography, to the small sensor sizes and their inherent noise, it is a real challenge to create faithful pictures. That's where artificial intelligence comes in, going beyond traditional reconstruction techniques to get the… whole picture.

Hydra Image Hydra (HDR)
Original Image Original
Hydra will acquire many pictures in a snap second, feeding & fusing them through a pre-trained on-device neural network (AI) to produce a single better picture.
Bayer pattern image
Each color is not sampled at every location.

Demosaicing, denoising, resolution/detail/quality enhancement are all performed at once. A number of AI-based modes are offered in Hydra for specific photographic tasks: HDR, Lo-light, Macro, Zoom, Hi-res.

Extreme HDR & tone mapping

Photo sensors typically can store information with a 12 to 14 bits dynamic range, often compressed to 8 bits for display, which are not enough to cope with a bright scene with deep shadows that your eyes can see. With HDR mode, Hydra will shoot multiple pictures to cover the entire light gamut of over 20 stops (light doubling). Realistic or artistic tone mapping is then applied to make it displayable on screens.

Dramatically reduced camera noise

Noise in digital photography comes from many sources. Discrete nature of light, electronic noise, quantization noise, etc. When shooting in Lo-light mode, Hydra uses both light amplification from image fusion and machine learning to reduce or even remove it completely from your pictures.

A whopping 110-megapixel resolution

Printing photo enlargements can be useful, so is digital zooming but those often become blurry or pixelated. This is because mobile pictures are limited in their pixel dimensions by the sensor (typically 4000 x 3000, or 12 megapixels). Hydra's Zoom, Hi-res, and Macro modes all use AI to offer better upscaling known as super resolution. Combined with optical zooming, a factor 8x can be achieved, and photos can reach 110 megapixels with much improved details when compared to standard digital zooming.

Degradation-free photo editing.

Photo editing is an important step to let you emphasize specific aspects of the scene or ambience, to tell about your own mood, or just for the sake of creativity.

Hydra's new photo editor lets you edit your pictures on the spot. This is not just handy for creative purposes, it is actually a way to edit photos in their full definition, with 32-bit tooling, which leads to a lot less degradation than if you do that same editing after encoding in your album. With Hydra, forget Mach bands and histogram quantization artifacts, and brighten shadows to unheard-of levels.

The photo editor comes with a variety of tools with live preview, has a before/after comparison with the unprocessed photo (demosaiced single RAW), capability to export a crop and to filter out geotagging for social network sharing, etc.

Why choose Hydra?

Hydra will let you dig deeper with photography about quality enhancement, style customization, high-definition editing, and camera control. Moreover, on the photo quality aspect, mobile devices typically don't get photo quality enhancement after you purchase them, while Hydra, with its continuously updated photo stack, will let you try the latest photographic innovations straight from research, even years later. And it is fully optimized for Apple devices with support for SwiftUI, Metal, Accelerate, Core ML, Apple Neural Engine.

Having an alternative photographic core that is also portable to other device types (like DSLRs) & other brands is also one of our longer-term goals, which will allow more freedom like using HDR directly on high-end cameras & have your photo stack follow you and your choices.

Finally, Hydra is serious about privacy with all AI processing occurring directly on the device itself (no cloud-based AI, no photo uploading, etc.) and it proposes to filter out geotag/date when sharing photos on social networks to protect you. Hydra comes with totally free features such as normal shooting including RAW, ProRAW shooting with manual control which are deep-enough to define a full app just by themselves. See by yourself, go grab the free version.

Comparison of input vs. Hydra output in various modes.

Pricing model

The free app offers unrestricted shooting in normal mode (auto & manual), including RAW & Apple ProRAW (compatible devices only). AI capture modes & restrictions can be unlocked either with the Pro Pack one-time purchase, or with the Pro Plan subscription.

Free app
Pro Pack / Pro Plan
Normal shooting
Auto/manual operation
Before/after comparison
AI modes Watermarked
Photo editing Watermarked
'Purchase' hiding N/A
Minor updates (2.x) N/A
Major updates N/A Pro Plan

Refined Camera Experience

New and improved camera experience with faster shooting, review, and manual control.

Innovative Capture Technology

Hydra features an AI-powered photo capture technology that will merge together a large number of RAW input photos to enhance final output.

AI-powered Processing

On-device neural network processing optimized for Core ML and Apple Silicon. State-of-the-art quality & performance.

Manual operation

Precise camera control: focus, ISO, shutter speed, white balance. New advanced priority modes.

Privacy First

All processing is performed on the device (no cloud AI, no photo upload). Privacy filter available when sharing photos. No user tracking, no profiling, no ads.

Powerful photo editor

Powerful photo editor for 32-bit non-degrading edits, including tone mapping, detail boosting, precise colorimetry, and Apple ProRAW editing.

See all features