Google recently released their latest version of Android (called Lollipop). The most exciting feature in this release was the introduction of a new Camera API for accessing and generating RAW images. Today Camera-FV5 released a new version of their app with the added capabilities of storing images directly in the DNG format. After installing the update on my Nexus 5 I gave this new feature a quick test and here are my findings:
To see how powerful the RAW capabilities are I shot an intentionally underexposed picture if my watch. This image was then stored in the JEPG and DNG formay. Below you see the JPEG version straight out of camera. As you can see there is almost no details of the watch left.
I then imported both versions into Lightroom and increased the exposure of both shots by 3 stops. Here is how much details have been recovered from the JPEG file:
As you can see there was little details recovered from the watch itself and essentially nothing from the darkness around it. As one might expect the RAW version of the same picture performed much better:
As one can see we not only recovered all the details in the watch but also recovered enough shadow information to see the texture of the the black cloth the watch was sitting on. Obviously there is noise but considering the 3 stop adjustment the fact this picture came from a cell phone the results are quite impressive. Here are some 100% crops of the processed images above. First is the JPEG version
and here is the RAW version
Here are some random observation I made during my testing of this new feature:
- There seems to no geometric distortion between the DNG and JEPG version. On thing I noticed though is that both files do not perfectly match up. By that I mean it seem like the JPEG version is shifted in both, x-xis and y-xis, with respect to the RAW version.
- While Importing both files into Lightroom I noticed that Lightroom copied them into 2 different date folders. It seems that the RAW files have an older date with them associated while the JPEG files contain the correct date.
- The file size of the DNG files seems rather big. In my tests I get consistently files around 15MB. For an 8 Mpixel camera that seems awfully big. For comparison, my 12-Mpixel D90 generates consistently RAW files around 10MB.
- Android does not recognize the DNG files. Neither the Google-Drive app or the Photos app show the DNG files. If you want to get your files off the phone you have to connect your phone directly to the computer or find a file manager which allows you to send the files via Bluetooth or Wifi (I had no luck with the ones I tested).
Here are the original files straight from the phone: