How to start shooting RAW on Android devices and Why it can be much more Powerful.

Author
Jascha Luca
Publication date
25.10.2016
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Anyone who has spent some time around digital cameras or browsed through photo forums the likes of Instagram, Flickr or 500px have probably heard of the term “RAW image file” A .RAW format file is the prefered file format for professional photographers, enthusiasts, hobbyists or anyone who likes to have more room to play with adjustments when editing photos in photoshop lightroom or any other equivalent program.

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The main differences between a .raw file and standard jpeg file is the compression. Raw files are uncompressed data, therefore save much more information about the scene. Exposure, white balance, contrast and sharpness adjustments can be made with a larger range of adjustment before image quality is lost. However, by default, an unedited .raw file will look quite dull and flat in comparison to a .jpeg file. Jpeg files, on the other hand, are compressed and adjusted in camera to balance out the images for exposure, white balance and so on, leaving a much more finished look straight out of the camera no editing required.

The 5 biggest reasons to shoot in raw format

  1. Higher quality images with more detail and sharpness   
  2. Better adjustments to over-exposure under-exposure and brightness  
  3. White balance options are dramatically more adjustable
  4. Better colour space to work with
  5. They generally print out much better

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There are of course a couple downsides to shooting in .raw. The files are generally very large and can sometimes be in excess of 50mb, which might be a problem if your current phone storage isn’t very generous. They will also require some sort editing software to get a more finished, desirable look. Honestly though if you have the time to do some adjustments and use the extra space on your device it’s well worth it.

Start shooting in .RAW with your Android Smartphone or Tablet

Most android devices released since Androids Lollipop 5.0 in October 2014 will have support for the Camera raw file format. To make sure your device is able to shoot in raw you will first have to check if it supports Camera2 API (this can be done with a simple Google search). It is worth noting Camera2 API is far more commonly found on mid to high-end devices even after Lollipop 5.0.

Note: Camera2 API cannot be added via an app. So if your phone doesn't support this, then shooting in RAW will not be an option.

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To shoot in .raw you will have to download a special camera app that enables your phone to save to the correct format. (On some newer models of android the default camera will allow shooting in .raw. It is worth double checking before Downloading) Android raw files will be saved to the device with a .DNG extension, this is still an Adobe RAW format. To open the file, you will need specialist software that is compatible with the specific RAW format you're using. Photoshop and Lightroom are two popular choices and will open all .raw files.

Once you have checked if your phone is compatible with Camera2 API and Raw format files you will be able to browse Google play store for Camera apps that accommodate this feature. Some of the most popular ones available for download are listed below.

Four apps worth looking into, that allow shooting in Camera .raw on your Android Device

ProShot $5.27

Manual Camera $4.09 (before purchasing there is a compatibility checker available)

Camera FV-5 lite (free)

Camera FV-5  $3.75

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