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CyanogenMod Adds HDR Mode, Mobile Photographers Rejoice

February 20, 2013 - Written By Michael Savino

CyanogenMod is a very popular, if not the most popular, aftermarket firmware for Android devices. It has been touted as being the most stable and feature rich aftermarket modification for Android devices. Many people install it on their rooted devices to get advanced features and stability while also gaining many of the features of the newest Android OS on devices that may not be receiving an update. I know from experience that it is also one of the most fully functioning firmwares and is relatively easy to install as long as the directions are followed (disclaimer there is always the chance of bricking a phone when rooting). As feature rich as CyanogenMod is, there are still pieces being added regularly. Today the team has added a greatly appreciated software update with HDR (High dynamic range) mode for ‘nearly’  every device’s camera on the market. I say nearly because of how many devices CyanogenMod supports but I’ll explain that in a minute.

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The HDR mode that has been added works a lot like how it does on the Nexus 4 and other popular devices, it utilizes software enhancements while also combining multiple photographs to get the best blend of high end and low end lights and shadows. The camera takes three images and combines the best elements of them all, this is called exposure bracketing to those in the photography know. It takes the EV (exposure value) of the lightest and darkest photographs and then takes the median value of the middle exposure to get the best blend of color saturation, exposure value and contrast. This is a great enhancement for those who love to use their phone as their only digital camera. By using HDR mode you can get some great variations in landscape, portrait and black and white photographs.

There are a few things to take into account though before using the HDR mode on your phone’s camera. Because CyanogenMod supports such a huge array of devices the software may not work well on all phones. Because of how many phones are released with Android there could be an issue with how the camera processes photographs if you have an older phone with a lower megapixel count and older image sensor. The team at CyanogenMod suggests using some kind of stabilization method whether that be a tripod, monopod or setting it on a hard surface to keep it from swaying. If you have a newer device though, especially the ones with zero shutter lag, then you should have no problems using this cool software feature. I always say it can’t hurt to just try it out and see what results you get, you may just be pleasantly surprised by the added “Pop” you get from HDR photographs. What do you think, is this a welcomed addition to the CM firmware?