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January 16, 2017

Taking Photos in RAW DNG Format with Mobile Devices

Two Apps for Taking Photos in RAW DNG Format

Following on from yesterday's post (What is RAW photography format?), today I am going to share with you some ways you can take RAW DNG (digital negative) files using an Android device such as a smartphone or tablet. Currently I am using a Google Pixel XL smartphone running on Android 7.1.1 (Nougat).

If you haven't yet read yesterday's post, I recommend that you take the time to do so to give you an understanding of the advantages of taking your photos in RAW format.

Android Apps that allow you to take photos in RAW format

Currently, these are the two apps I use on my Google Pixel XL that allow the option to shoot photos in RAW format. Both of them use the DNG (digital negative) open source file format that I spoke about yesterday.

Open Camera by Mark Harman

Open Camera Android App allows you to take photos in RAW (DNG) format
This app is free, but donations are appreciated by the developer. This is a fantastic app that not only allows you to take photos in DNG format, but also has the option to shoot bracketed photos for HDR images. I made a donation soon after I installed this app once I had used it for a few days as I believe the developer deserves to be rewarded for his great work and to incentivize him to continue to enhance the app and deal with any bugs that may be uncovered.

After you install the app, you will need to adjust your settings as the default is to shoot in jpeg. To specify taking pictures in RAW format, start the app and then touch the settings icon (the gear icon). Then go to Photo Settings and then touch RAW and choose "JPEG and DNG". When you take a photo from now on you will get both a DNG file and jpeg file which is useful for quick sharing to your social networks if you wish.

Note that under the Photo Settings you will also find where you can specify exposure bracketing for taking HDR images if you are interested in that.

Additionally under Photo Settings, you can modify the settings for image quality. Note that these only apply to the jpeg files, not the DNG file. A BIG plus with owning a Google Pixel phone is that you get unlimited storage for full-size photos and videos from Google Photos, so I have all my settings at the highest quality settings since I never have to worry about exceeding any storage limit for my files.

Note that if you are considering getting a Google Pixel phone that they are unlocked phones, so you can buy them from Amazon and just need to get a sim card for your particular carrier for it to work on their network. If you wish to buy one through your carrier, the only carrier in the U.S. who has them is Verizon and they are sold unbranded and unlocked under the conditions of their agreement with Google.

Note: As far as I can determine, at the time of writing the Open Camera app is not available for Apple devices.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile for Android (Also available for Apple devices in the Apple App Store)

Adobe Lightroom Mobile
Adobe Lightroom Mobile by Adobe Systems is also a free app that allows you to take photos in DNG format. However, the free version only allows to to take, organize, and share your photos. To be able to edit them, you need a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud service. This service also allows you to sync all the photos you take with Lightroom Mobile with your desktop version of Lightroom. More about that in my next post.

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