Take Raw Photos on Android

Although our devices are not real cameras, it seems that the various brands are competing to mount better sensors and today we have devices on the market that even reach 40 MP. But does quality depend only on the resolution, or on the sensor?
Partly yes, obviously a 20 megapixel camera will take better shots than an 8 megapixel camera and more importantly is the quality of the sensor, the focal aperture and certainly other stuff that I don't even know about. 😀

An important role, however, is also the software part, the application to take the shot so to speak. Just consider a Samsung that has had its ROM changed and try to take a picture. This will have a much lower quality compared to the photos taken by the official application. So, in a nutshell, the software 'manipulates' the data of the photo taken, omitting some (correct me if I'm wrong).

Raw format

Some professional cameras - such as compact SLRs - use the Raw. The Raw format makes the most of the sensor, therefore it does not manipulate the data, in fact the image taken will seem 'poor' to an inexperienced eye since it lacks white balance, exposure, temperature and more. Another difference is the image size: if a normal shot may have a weight of a few MB, a photo in Raw format will be more than 10-20 MB, but it depends on several factors.
A photo taken in Raw format, then it will have to be modified with special software to obtain an optimal result, obviously the file can then be converted into other formats until you get a good photo in jpeg, therefore with a low weight.

Raw on Android

There is an application for taking Raw photos on Android, but let's first see the difference between a normal shot, a shot in Raw and the final image 'adjusted'. Click to enlarge

photo taken from the camera app

1. Camera photo app

photo taken on Raw

2. Photo taken on Raw

Photo adjusted via software

3. Software adjusted photo

As you can see, the final result is definitely better, although I am not an expert in this field. Leaving aside the first photo, the second is taken with an alternative application, Mi2Raw. But the photo I uploaded is a screenshot since the size was greater than 16 MB. The third is the photo two with automatic adjustment and some retouching a temperature e green means UFRaw, and finally converted into jpeg.

Taking the photo is simple thanks to the interface similar to that of any camera application. On-screen options allow you to adjust the exposure and ISO and a padlock-shaped button will further adjust the exposure automatically. You can also shoot with flash, but there is no zoom.
The final format of the shot is actually DNG, a format with compression lossless which occupies about 40% of space compared to the Raw format, but without loss of important data. Through the settings we can make sure that the shot is compressed further.

Unfortunately, the application is not compatible with all devices, but only with the following (for others, take a look at the end of the article):

  • Xiaomi Mi2 / S / a
  • Xiaomi Mi3
  • LG G2
  • ZTE Nubia N5Sn
  • OnePlus One

If you have one of these terminals in your hand, download the application from the Play Store using the following badge; also download Photoshop Express if you want to edit it directly on Android.
Obviously the PC software is more complete, but if photo editing is not your forte - as it is not for me - you can try to use UFRaw which can be installed on any operating system. It is also very light, and as soon as you open the photo you should find it already optimized; obviously you can adjust it further.

Mi2Raw Camera | Link Playstore

Adobe Photoshop Express | Link Playstore

Other devices

There is a thread on XDA where a developer has created some files that would allow shooting in Raw even on other devices. Not having any of the devices, I haven't tested the effectiveness, but you can make a jump to it this link.

The supported devices in this case are:

  • HTC One M8
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • Xiaomi Mi3
  • LG G2
  • ZTE Nubia Z5Sn

The last three terminals are also supported by Mi2Raw, so I recommend the latter as the operation of XDA is more cumbersome.

Let me know if your photos will be better! 😉

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