Exporting AVIF and HDR with Web Sharp Pro v5.6

Support for both AVIF (smaller file format) and HDR (“high dynamic range” via new monitor technology) is rapidly increasing. Adobe Camera RAW 15.4 just added a great new capability to export AVIF images at any time which enables new features in Web Sharp Pro.
Web Sharp Pro (WSP) v5.6 is a free update for all customers and includes two very significant updates:
  • The ability to export  AVIF images on via ACR (on both Mac and Windows). This offers the ability to export images which are up to 85% smaller than JPG and at the same time higher quality (fewer artifacts and higher bit depth).
  • A new option to convert and enhance standard (SDR) images to HDR. This can make any image look significantly better and makes it easy to use HDR with your existing edits, AI tools like MidJourney, stock images, etc.

Note that unless you see YouTube’s red “HDR” indicator by the quality setting at bottom right, you are viewing the content tone mapped to SDR (ie, it simulates the effect but true HDR will look much better).

Export as AVIF (via ACR):

The AVIF export is now possible by leveraging a new capability in ACR v15.4 which allows you to save images at any time. AVIF offers numerous benefits over JPG and will be universally supported by all major web browsers very soon (MS Edge is the only missing browser and AVIF support has been in test for a couple months now.
The workflow for the “AVIF (via ACR)” method involves manually clicking to save the image from ACR. When WSP opens the ACR interface, you should do the following:
  • Click <ctrl/cmd>-S or the save icon (this is the icon at top right with down arrow in a box).
  • Set output folder. I recommend setting it once and leaving it, this keeps things simple.
  • Set the first part of the file name to “Document Name” (the first one). This will preserve the name created by WSP.
  • Set file format to “AVIF”, leave metadata on “all” (since WSP already manages metadata for you), and quality between 8 to 12 (8 is fine for most use, 10 is ideal if you expect the viewer may zoom in beyond 100%).
  • Set “enable HDR display” appropriately (checked if and only if exporting HDR).
  • Set the color “space” to sRGB for SDR exports and or to either HDR P3 for HDR (any HDR option is safe). These are remembered separately, so once you’ve set them, you can ignore this and just make sure the enable HDR display is checked appropriately.
  • Do not use image sizing or output sharpening options, as WSP has already taken care of this for you.
  • Click “save” or <return>.
  • Exit ACR by clicking “OK” or <return>.
The steps above in bold are the ones you’ll need to do typically after you’ve setup ACR the first time – click the save icon, paste the filename, update HDR options if necessary, and save. If you aren’t changing output folder or switching between HDR and SDR, you should be able to simply press <ctrl/cmd>-S and then <return> twice each time you see the ACR interface. Note that WSP will show a guidance message during ACR export covering the key details (you may need to move ACR to see it underneath in Photoshop).
WSP does all the standard file prep (resizing, cropping, borders, watermarks, etc), manages several scenarios to simplify the export process with ACR, and then invokes ACR for the final save. ACR is not really intended for this kind of use and Photoshop does not yet natively support saving AVIF, so there are a couple minor manual steps involved. Still, it’s amazing to see ACR continuing to add valuable features like this to make it easier to work with AVIF and HDR images. I’ll update WSP on MacOS to a fully automated solution if/when PS natively supports AVIF (this is already possible for Windows users). If you’d like to see native support for AVIF in Photoshop, please be sure to vote and comment in support of AVIF.
If you’re using WSP on Windows, you can now choose to export as AVIF in two different ways:
  1. Export via a free 3rd-party plugin for Windows. This offers a fully automated export and supports both SDR and HDR images. It may also offer slightly better highlight color and detail in SDR images. See this tutorial for details on this Window-only option. https://gregbenzphotography.com/photography-tips/exporting-avif-files-from-photoshop/. I recommend this method for exporting SDR images.
  2. Export via ACR. This offers enhanced support for exporting HDR images which will offer the best possible image quality for HDR. ACR v15.4 only offers AVIF exports for HDR images. I recommend the ACR mthod for exporting HDR images.
MS Edge is the only browser which does not yet have AVIF support. You can enable it via MS Edge Canary with a development flag as shown here. The Canary build is at v115 and the latest production release is v113, suggesting support may get into production as soon as late July.

Enhancing SDR images to HDR:

WSP v5.6 also adds a new “Enhance SDR to HDR” setting to allow you to easily enhance any standard image. This feature will convert an SDR image to HDR and significantly enhance it (by automatically expanding the dynamic range in an intelligent way). This may be used for enhancing your existing edits, enhancing images created by AI tools like MidJourney, converting stock photos to HDR, etc. For those of you focused on editing for print, this also offers a simple way to enhance that same image for online display.
This will be increasingly useful as more and more software catches up to the great HDR screens already in circulation. Most Apple computers since 2018 include HDR hardware and can properly display such images on Chrome, Opera, and Brave (ie 65% of web browers). Android 14 beta with Chrome Canary now supports it, suggesting those with a Samsung Galaxy, Pixel 7 Pro, and other HDR-capable Android phones should be able to view HDR images on their phone by the end of this year. If/when Apple WebKit adds support to display HDR images, a massive number of iPhones and iPads will be able to display these images too. If you’re buying a new phone, tablet, or computer I recommend considering one which supports HDR to ensure you’re ready.
Recently, zonerama.com added support to let you share your HDR images on the web, including an elegant mechanism to automatically show the SDR version of your image for any viewer which does not support HDR.
Greg Benz Photography