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Android Phone Camera Research


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After poking around and not seeing and answer to this question, I figured I'd do some research into what it takes to get good photos with and Android phone. 


There are numerous recommendations for iPhone. This makes sense; they are using the same softwear and hardwear, whereas in Android phones, the hardwear AND the softwear the manufacturer installs may be different. 


This matters. 


If you have an Android smartphone built after 2015, it probably came with the operating system Android 5.0 (Lollipop).  This means you MIGHT have the new, better Camera2 API softwear installled, the predecessor to the original Camera default system softwear. Camera2 API lets you shoot in RAW and manually adjust ISO, whitebalance, and other parameters like you could do on a DSLR. After market apps are available to help you with this in the app store. 


Unfortunately, it's still standard for manufacturers to install Camera instead of Camera2 API, and if you have Camera, there's no way to adjust these things. You can't install Camera2 API yourself, either.  I did find one free app that says it can do this, called Bacon Camera, but it doesn't work for my phone. 


How do you know if you have Camera2 API?  There's a free app that will test it for you. Look for  "Manual Camera Compatibility". 


Great, so you are Camera2 compatible. Now you can get an app to allow you to use your smartphone camera like a DSLR and manually adjust everything.   Open Camera is free and gets a lot of recommendations, and Manual Camera is currently $2.99. 


You will probably want an app for post-processing too. Snapseed and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC are both free and popular. 


TL;DR you should get a camera that has Camera2 API. You can download the free app Manual Camera Compatibility app to see if your phone has it, or look it up before you buy a new phone. 

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