Last month, I wrote about how to improve your iPhone photography with one of two camera apps that give you more professional-level control of the native camera. Essentially, you replace the native camera by installing an aftermarket camera app from the Apple App Store. This month I track down a pro camera app for Android users.
We’re talking about full control over things like shutter speed, ISO (film speed), the ability to save files in the RAW format (the highest quality setting), and far more than simple filter effects you find in social media apps. There’s nothing wrong with those social media filters, for sure, but if you want to up your Android camera game you need an app.
Open Camera App screenshot by TJ McCue OPEN CAMERA APP SCREENSHOT BY TJ MCCUE
I had heard about how Google Camera was the full control app you want, but they recently made it only accessible to Nexus and Pixel smartphone owners. There are hacks to install it on other Android phones, but I’ll save that for a possible future post. I kept looking for something more accessible (easier to install and use) and found Open Camera by Mark Harman. Here are a few of the pro-level features:
- First, it is open source, completely free, with no ads. Harman, the creator, asks for donations via another app and it appears to be working for him. Open Camera works with Android phones and tablets, although there’s no guarantee it will work on your hardware.
- Option to auto-stabilize so your pictures are perfectly level.
- Expose your camera’s functionality: support for focus modes, scene modes, color effects, white balance, ISO, exposure compensation/lock, face detection, torch, antibanding.
- This one is kind of cool: Option to take photo remotely by making a noise (e.g., voice, whistle), or by voice command “cheese”.
- Zoom via multi-touch gesture and single-touch control.
- Disable shutter sound. (This is a big deal to a lot of people – think nature photographers, although those types usually have the full DSLR rig with a lens that takes two to carry it.)
- Optional GPS location tagging (geotagging) of photos and videos.
- Support for Camera2 API: manual focus distance (with optional focus assist); manual ISO; manual exposure time; manual white balance temperature; burst mode; RAW (DNG) files; slow motion video.
- Focus bracketing mode.
Yes, you can get some of the above features if you have a more recent Android phone, such as, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S10 or perhaps an LG model. I recently broke my S7 (completely crushed is more accurate) and picked up a used S9. Its native camera has some pro features, but I am liking the ease of use for the Open Camera app, which has an intuitive interface to change most settings, too.