I recently upgraded my HTC One to the brand new Nexus 6 by Motorola. The Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 were the first two devices to launch with the new Android 5.0 Lollipop, which features the new Camera2 API. This new API gives developers a lot of control over the camera on an Android device — in fact, it gives developers direct access to the sensor. One of the awesome features this adds is the ability for developers to save photos as RAW DNG photos!
For those of you unfamiliar with shooting in RAW, it’s a format that preserves more data in the photo. The point of shooting in RAW is to give the photographer more creative control in post-processing and the ability to recover blown out highlights or dark shadows. It also allows the photographer to adjust exposure and white balance in post, in case these settings were incorrectly set.
Some phones are already getting updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop and others will be receiving the update very soon. However, there is some bad news to share. I tried Android 5.0 on my HTC One before upgrading and found that it did not support the new Camera2 API features. I found out that it is up to the manufacturer to update the drivers to take advantage of the new API. The point is, just receiving Android 5.0 on an old device does not mean the new features are supported.
Currently, only the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5 support the new Camera2 API features, but feel free to let me know otherwise. If you own a phone with support for the new Camera2 API and want to start shooting in RAW, below are a few camera apps that support the new features:
If you’re interested in editing your RAW photos on your Android device, I only know of two apps that can do that right now. No, one of them IS NOT Adobe Lightroom, despite it recently launching. However, be warned that that the way Android manages RAM can cause problems editing RAW photos on older devices. Your experience may vary. The two RAW editors are:
NOTE: In order for Photoshop Express to open a RAW photo, it must first be shared from a file manager to Photoshop. Photoshop Express will use the gallery app by default to browse for photos and the gallery app generally will not recognize RAW photos.