Huawei Mate II Camera

Android L Fulfills Photographers’ Dreams with DNG Raw Picture Support

June 27, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Smartphones and other tech are quickly converging on eachother.  Smartphones have already replaced a number of stand-alone devices like calculators, MP3 players, flashlights, point-and-shoot cameras and so much more.  This Swiss Army Knife of inventions never ceases to amaze, and always improves with every iteration.  Now Google is taking the smartphone photography game to a whole new level with Android L, the latest upcoming version of Android, and is including raw DNG picture support.  Now before you ask what the heck a dang file is, no it’s not like a danged quesadilla, it’s actually a picture format that includes little to no processing at all.  Right now when you take a picture with your smartphone it likely saves the picture in a JPG format, a common format used on the web to save space while retaining fairly good image quality.  Besides packing it into a JPG format, the camera itself applies some processing to the image using a set of algorithms designed by the camera’s software and firmware, and does its best to make your picture look better than it might otherwise.

But what if you want the raw data from the sensor and don’t want some of the heavy noise cancellation or sharpening that a lot of modern smartphones try to add to the experience?  DNG, or Digital Negative Format, is just the file type you’re looking for, as it’s the new open digital standard published by Adobe and works with a number of photo editing tools out there.  Unlike the RAW format that Digital SLR cameras produce, DNG doesn’t require a special OEM tool to modify and is just generally more friendly than the RAW format in terms of being able to use it how you want to.  DNG stores the pixel data from the camera sensor in a separate metadata section of the file and allows you to modify the image in a more cohesive way.  If you’ve ever edited photos and used filters you know how important it is to use the right filter in the right order, because using some filters before others can change the entire look of the image.  DNG also includes a JPG thumbnail image for quick viewing in a thumbnail gallery, so no worrying about waiting for the phone to process the whole image before creating a thumbnail either.  Android L is bringing a lot to the table and trying to really please a lot of people, and now photographers can finally add themselves to that list too.