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Smartphone Photography

How to Fix Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Camera Issues [Part 1]

Note 3 camera 1

If there’s one thing that makes smartphones attractive, it’s the camera feature. The camera has become an integral part of any phone today that it is unthinkable to have a snartphone without the ability to capture moments of our lives. As phone-mounted cameras become the norm, camera hardware and apps have also become sophisticated creating more and more possibility of points of failure. It’s no surprise for us to know that there are many Android users reporting all sorts of camera-related problems all the time. Below are some of these problems sent via email by some of our loyal readers.

Let us know if the solutions provided here on how to fix Samsung Galaxy Note 3 camera issues are effective using the link below.

 

Problem #1: Galaxy Note 3 won’t focus after updating to Lollipop

Hi. My phone’s camera won’t focus and i can’t take pictures with my phone. This problem occurs after i update the Android version to 4.2 but now i updated to 5.0 and the problem is still not fixed. Is it an issue with the lens or software? How can i fix this problem? — Sharon

Solution: Hi Sharon. If this problem remains after you updated to Lollipop, it is most likely a hardware failure. Some users who updated their devices to Lollipop reported some autofocus issues after the installation but they were fixed by factory reset. If you haven’t tried performing a factory reset after installing Lollipop, you may want to do that.

Otherwise, consider getting a replacement phone.

Problem #2: Galaxy Note 3 auto rotate won’t work

When I take a picture with my phone the position is always to the side. If I straighten out the picture and send it in an email it comes in the email sideways or inside Instagram it will turn sideways. I have turned off my phone and rebooted. I have took the battery out and put it back in. I don’t know how to fix this problem. Can you help me? Thank you. — Nina

Solution: Hi Nina. Many users reported this problem months ago. The problem appears to be caused by a faulty ROM or by a malfunctioning root firmware. If your phone has been rooted, please revert it to its stock ROM to resolve the issue.

However, if you did not root your phone, try to restore the device to its defaults via recovery mode. Here are the steps:

  • Turn off the device.
  • Press and hold the following three buttons at the same time: Volume Up key, Home key, Power key.
  • When ‘GALAXY Note 3′ appears on the screen, release the Power key but continue to press and hold the Volume Up key and the Home key.
  • When the Android System Recovery screen appears, release the Volume Up and Home keys.
  • Press the Volume down key to highlight wipe data / factory reset.
  • Press Power button to select.
  • Press the Volume down key to highlight delete all user data.
  • Press Power button to select and start the master reset. When the master reset is complete, select Reboot system now using the Power button.

Problem #3: How to recover corrupted photos from internal memory of Galaxy Note 3

Hello. When I updated to Lollipop in my Galaxy Note 3, the camera photos were damaged all the time. The setting was to save directly to the external card.

I changed this setting to save the photos to the internal memory instead of the microSD and the photos were ok.

The problem is that when I moved my photos to a folder in the external card all moved as damaged and I cannot open them. I need those photos and I don’t know how to do it.  Please help me. — Luis

Solution: Hi Luis. If you can’t transfer the photos normally from your phone to another medium, there’s a chance that these images may have become corrupted. Try checking these recovery tools to see if they can help you. We can’t guarantee the effectiveness of these recovery software and they are not free but they have been reputed to have work by many people. Keep in mind that software recovery is a tricky business and there’s always the risk of failure.

Make sure to create a back up of your other personal data before attempting to recover your photos.

Problem #4: Galaxy Note 3 “server error occurred. Restart camera.” error

Hi. Can you please help me rectify this issue? My front camera is not working. The screen goes black when i select the front camera. And when i click its says “server error occurred. Restart camera.” Please let me know how to solve the issue. —  Murtaza

Solution: Hi Murtaza. Were you using the stock camera app when this error came up? If you were, the camera app may have failed to launch properly due to issues with other apps. Gallery and camera app are closely linked together and if any of them suffers from a glitch, the other one is  more likely to get affected too. Try clearing the cache and data of both apps and observe the phone for a few hours. If the problem continues, other apps may be to blame. You can then clear the phone’s cache partition. If you haven’t done this before, here are the steps:

  • Turn off the device.
  • Press and hold the following three buttons at the same time: Volume Up key, Home key, and Power
  • When GALAXY Note 3 appears on the screen, let go of the Power key but continue to press and hold the Volume Up key and the Home
  • When the Android System Recovery screen appears, release the Volume Up and Home
  • Press the Volume Down key to highlight wipe cache partition.
  • Press the Power key to select and wipe the cache.
  • With Reboot system now highlighted, press the Power key to restart the device.

Problem #5: Unmounting SD from Galaxy Note 3 solves front- camera issue

I read your solutions on the front facing camera not opening. I was suffering from the same dilemma. I was about to reformat my SD card, but decided to take it out and immediately reinsert the card. Luckily/surprisingly, this fixed the problem. Thanks for the help. — Greg

Solution: Hi Greg. Good to hear you fixing the issue yourself. In theory, we can’t really see the logic why that would resolve the issue but we can’t argue with a fact. Maybe unmounting the SD card refreshed the circuit or eliminated some errors. Whatever the explanation for the phenomenon, we’re glad to know that it was effective. We appreciate your effort and time by letting us know about it. We’re hoping there are more Android users out there who can give us any feedback. Keep it up!

Problem #6: Galaxy Note 3 front camera stopped working after updating to Lollipop

I updated my Note 3 to Lollipop and everything was working fine. After a week or so my front camera stopped working. Whenever i switch to front camera the screen go black and message appears saying camera is not responding. My model is SM-900. Rear camera is working fine but front one is not. I bought it back in August last year. Front camera was working fine until now. Please help. Thank you. — Abhishek

Solution: Hi Abhishek. Did you install any update or app before noticing the problem? Many not-so-good-things happen after updating to Lollipop so you may want to check our previous article on how to fix your problem: Why Android Lollipop Causes Problems.

You may also want to unmount the SD card, then re-insert it again just like what Greg (above) did.

Problem #7: How to get stock camera app back in a rooted Samsung Galaxy Note 3 after it was deleted

Hi. My name is Dao Ton. Recently I have rooted my Galaxy Note 3 SM-900 to explore more about Android phone. I accidentally deleted the original camera app of the phone. My question is that as follows:

  • Is there any better camera app than the Samsung one?
  • If not, please teach me how to reinstall the original Samsung camera app.

Thank you and best regards. — Dao

Solution: Hi Dao. There’s a long list of excellent alternate photography apps for Android out there so it’s just a matter of personal preference. We really can’t say if the stock Samsung camera app can be used as a standard to measure what makes a photography app good. We’ll leave the judging to you. Just use Google to search for the best photography apps for Android and you’ll be presented with tons of them.

If you want to continue using the stock app though, consider reverting to the stock operating system to get it back.

Problem #8: How to recover some photos in Galaxy Note 3 gone missing

Hi The Droid Guy. I hope you can help me. Couple days ago i was just shocked finding out that hundreds of my photos are suddenly missing. Not all photos missing, only in my camera albums which the photos are gone and only videos remain. 2 other photos folders are also gone missing. I have been sad and desperate about it, I don’t know how this happened.

Before this, i did uninstall 2 application from Note 3 and also I connect the Note 3 via USB to my laptop few times. Can those affect why my photos are now gone?

Is there any chance to bring back the file or the photos that are missing?

Thank you. i will so appreciate if you reply my answer 🙂

Best Regards. — Siaowan

Solution: Hi Siaowan. As long as the files are intact in the storage memory units, there’s always a chance to recover them. Please try using the recovery options provided for Problem #3 above.

Problem #9: Galaxy Note 3 camera won’t save pictures to SD card

For some reason my phone will not let me default to save pictures to the SD card. I have even gone into the camera settings and manually done it. I will take the picture and I then get a message dating it cannot save to the SD card and saved to device instead.

I cannot download some apps also,  as it says I cannot save to SD card. With these, it automatically tries to save them there. This is sine apps,  not all. And it will not let me move apps from the device to the SD card.

Galaxy Note 3. — Tony

Solution: Hi Tony. Make sure that the SD card you are using is formatted using your Note 3, and not by any other device. If you continue to be unable to save your files in the SD card, try another card to see if it makes any difference. Old, recycled SD cards sometimes no longer works as expected. If possible, get a brand new SD card and try again.

If the problem continues though, just perform a factory reset.

 

 


Engage with us

If you are one of the users who encounters a problem with your device, let us know. We offer solutions for Android-related problems for free so if you have an issue with your Android device, simply fill in the short questionnaire in this link and we will try to publish our answers in the next posts. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem. 

When describing your issue, please be as detailed as possible so we can easily pinpoint a relevant solution. If you can, kindly include the exact error messages you are getting to give us an idea where to start. If you have already tried some troubleshooting steps before emailing us, make sure to mention them so we can skip them in our answers.

If you find this post helpful, please help us by spreading the word to your friends. TheDroidGuy has social network presence as well so you may want to interact with our community in our Facebook and Google+ pages.

Samsung Galaxy S7 will supposedly come with a 20MP camera and superior software features

Galaxy S7

The #Samsung #GalaxyS7 smartphone has been talked about a lot of late, and with good reason. The 2016 Samsung flagship is expected to be available in the markets by February this year and there’s talk of the company using Qualcomm’s #Snapdragon820 silicon underneath.

A new report now mentions that the Korean manufacturer will use a 20MP rear camera on board the Galaxy S7, with emphasis on some interesting camera features like Pro and RAW image capture. This could be crucial features as most devices don’t support RAW image capture by default.

Since we don’t have confirmation on any of these features at this point, we’re treating them with skepticism. But given Samsung’s insistence to innovate with each model of the Galaxy flagship, we won’t be surprised if all of these rumors come to fruition. The company takes great pride in its camera potential and it will be interesting to see what the manufacturer will have cooked up for the Galaxy S7.

Source: @sleaknow – Twitter

Via: Sam Mobile

Update to Snapseed app on Android brings RAW image editing support

Snapseed Logo

Snapseed RAW Image

Google’s #Snapseed app for #Android is one of the highly rated photo editing applications on the platform. What makes it even better is the fact that it comes directly from #Google, which means the team behind it knows exactly what the Android users want. The application has now received a new update, which finally brings the ability to edit RAW photos by default.

Here’s the full changelog listed by Google:

  • Zoom navigator doesn’t obscure any part of the image
  • Filter name is displayed in title bar
  • Exif data is now fully preserved

The update should be live from the Play Store right away, but if it isn’t, make sure you head over to the My Apps section on the Play Store app from your phone and check manually. The ability to edit RAW or .dng images will go a long way in making Snapseed a more attractive proposition to photography enthusiasts.

Source: Google Play Store

Smartphone Portraits and Selfies in Mixed Lighting Scenario

galaxy_s6_edge_front_gold_04

In this article we setup a smartphone portraiture scenario in mixed lighting setup and test the capabilities of the smartphone camera in shooting print quality images.  Overzealous DSLR and Point & Shoot camera owners would not even think twice before saying that the ‘humble’ smartphone is a no-match when it comes to serious photography. In reality, however, the smartphone is a very powerful and is capable of producing professional quality images in the right hands.

A significant advantage of smartphones over other cameras, especially DSLRs, is that with smartphones what you see is what you get. Live view, is a potent composing tool, something that DSLR users tend not to use.

Getting Ready

Most top-end smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6, come with excellent cameras which are more than capable of producing great images. Apple iPhone 6 comes with an 8-megapixel iSight camera with Focus pixels. The latest Samsung Galaxy S6 comes with a 16-megapixel camera. Needless to say with better sensor designing, low light performance and the associated qualms about noise are becoming a thing of the past.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus has a wide open aperture of f/2.2. It is responsible for creating those shallow depth of field and is ideal for our needs – smartphone portraiture. Another fine technology is the presence of Focus Pixels. Focus Pixels allow for faster auto-focusing. Comparatively the Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 16 megapixel main camera. It also has auto-focusing but the iPhone wins the race with the presence of Focus Pixels.

The shopping list:

  1. A screen / diffuser / reflector / foam core

smartphone photography reflector

The best thing about shooting portraits in ambient light and even in mixed lighting is that the shopping list is just a bare minimum. The first thing you need, apart from your smartphone, of course, is a way to create shade.

Believe it or not, shade produces the best portrait images. This is because ambient light in shade is uniform and flattering; just the right kind to produce excellent smartphone portraitures. To experiment ask your model to stand under the sun and take a picture. Next, ask him/her to stand under a building or wall (so that there is no dappled light). Take another picture and compare the two.

The one shot directly under the sun is harsh, contrasty and the model is probably squinting. The one shot under shade is uniformly lit and is much better. Thus, you need to be able to produce some shade when shooting outdoors. This is not a requirement when shooting indoors though.

But the problem is you don’t often get a big shady tree or some buildings or even a high wall everywhere you go. E.g., the beach or the Death Valley. This is where a quintessential item like the reflector come into the picture.

Hold the reflector, such as this CowboyStudio Photography Reflector Disc Kit, above the model’s head to create shade. You can also use a foam core or a white sheet for this purpose.

  1. A continuous light source

neewer

An artificial continuous light source would be a good idea to use when shooting smartphone portraitures. There are a few external flashes for smartphones, like the Neewer Smartphone Dimmable LED Light, which works with both iPhone and Android systems and comes with its own battery. However, for best and more predictable results a continuous light is a better bet.

Which continuous light to use?

Continuous lights are no different for smartphones, DSLRs and Point & Shoots. You can buy one and it will work across the entire range of cameras that you use. What you need to consider, however, when buying such a light is that it should be daylight balanced and can be used with modifiers such as TDG’s LED Video Light.

That’s it. While there are a ton of other accessories that you can opt for including external lenses, image stabilization in the form of tripods etc. for this experiment we shall limit it to the bare minimum.

Camera App

Which camera app to use? Really, with so many choices you can feel a bit spoilt. But not all apps are really that good in terms of shooting convenience. A few are noteworthy including Google Camera and Camera Zoom FX for the android system. Google Camera features Touch to focus which works particularly well with the Samsung Galaxy S6.

IPhone’s native iOS camera app is a powerful tool for most purposes. The camera complements the Focus Pixels technology to deliver fast and accurate auto-focusing at a touch.

Notwithstanding, start by using the default camera app on your smartphone. In most cases it is fine-tuned by the OEM for the built-in camera to give the best results. Only if you find the built-in camera app insufficient for your needs should you give a try to other external camera apps.

Camera settings

White balance – Check the white balance settings. It should be set to around 5500 ° kelvin if you are shooting under the sun. If you are shooting under shade it should be around 9000 ° kelvin. The logic behind this is shade produces images that are slightly bluish. You need to warm it up a bit. The reverse for images shot under direct sunlight.

ISO – Next is the ISO settings. In most certainly it would be set to auto. It should be fine that way. Just remember, at any point, lower ISO means less noise.

Turn on the grid lines – Next turn on the grid lines. The grid lines divide the frame (the image area) into nine equal rectangles. Try and place the dominant eye of the subject on one of the four intersecting points on the frame.

Turn on image stabilization – Image stabilization is built-in in modern smartphones. Even then it is a smart move to shoot in ‘burst mode’ just so that you can get at least one image out of a bunch that is tack sharp.

Auto-focus tracking – The Galaxy S6 has a tracking auto-focus feature. This is the same as continuous auto-focus on DSLR cameras. This is a handy feature to have. It allows you to keep the subject in focus if she/he moves slightly during the shot. This will not compensate if the movement is exaggerated.

Getting it done: The shooting process

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for! Place your model outdoors under some shade. If there is not shade use the reflector to create it. In case you skipped the shopping list and went straight to the shooting bit, don’t worry, there is a way out. Ask the model to turn around so that the sun is behind him/her. This way the model’s face is in the shade.

The wide aperture of a typical smartphone camera like the f/2.2 of the iPhone 6 will allow you to use a fast shutter speed. At an outdoor environment that should give you a properly exposed face but a slightly darker background. Remember, aperture controls the depth of field (DoF) white shutter speed controls the ambient light. Bring the continuous light into the mix, to illuminate the face just a little.

An alternate way of shooting to balance ambient and artificial light would be to fire the artificial light from a side. The ambient light source, say a golden hour sunlight, could be placed at the back creating a beautiful rim lighting while the artificial light, exposes the face.

Not always do you have to use artificial light though. In the above golden hour example, the reflector can be used to fill in the shadows. Again, at blue hour the main light would be the artificial light. In such dark ambient lighting situation you will need to expose for the background and then throw in some light to expose the face.

Whatever you do don’t use the camera’s built-in zoom feature. Unless you are using an external lens, which may be a good idea, the built-in zoom is a waste of time and photographic opportunity.

The Editing process: A foreword

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is destined to get a new update which would enable it to shoot in the DNG format. DNG is the acronym used for Digital Negatives. A format that is based on TIFF, DNG is in short what RAW is to DSLR. The ability to shoot in RAW (in this case in DNG format) allows you an incredible advantage in terms of post-processing. In the case of DNG the JPEG file is not created by the software inside the phone. At least you are still able to see a preview JPEG but the main file is not processed. That means you can edit things like white balance, sharpness, contrast, color tone even give the whole image a monochrome treatment without endangering the quality of the image. JPEG and Gif are lossy formats. Any edits you do tend to reduce the quality of the image. DNG, however, is a lossless format. RAW however is not supported on iPhone / iOS 8 as of writing this article.

Editing: The preferred tools

My favorite editing tool is Photoshop Express. It is light, designed for smartphones and has most of the features that you need to ready an image before sharing. If you shot in RAW, the image can be edited on your computer using Photoshop CC / Photoshop Lightroom.

Smartphone Camera Product Photography Tips: Lighting Dos and Don’ts

smartphone product photography

smartphone product photography

Without light, there’s no picture. For taking photos with your smartphone, even the best angles and background take a backseat to lighting considerations. You can easily produce professional level images using simple lighting techniques. Whether it’s shots of food, products, or your dog, these rules help you create great photography.

As part of the our smartphone photography tips series, here we provide some tips for users that are interested and capturing stunning images for small images or products using their smartphone.  These tips will apply to the most common smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, Note 6, and HTC M9.

Dimmable LED lights give you versatility to capture perfect images for Pinterest or Instagram.

Do Use Natural Light

The sun is the best lighting source of all – when you have it. It’s best to use indirect natural light, since direct sunlight creates harsh glare and shadows. Try setting up your shoot near a window on a sunny day. If the rays come in too strong, hang a white sheet as a light diffuser over the window.

Don’t Use A Table Lamp

Let’s face it, even though sunlight is best, you can’t always be near a natural light source. In a pinch, any light source can be modified, but if you’re taking lots of pictures get a decent light. Table lamps are unwieldy and produce a lot of heat. Plus the bulbs burn out fast. Low consumption light bulbs are even worse as they give off a sickly yellow glow.

You can get a pro-level LED light for less than $25. LED lights use less energy, produce very little heat, and can be mounted. Make your life easier and pick up one of these – you won’t be sorry.

Don’t Use Your Flash

Flashes are to be used only when no other light source is available. Like direct sunlight, flashes cause glare and can blur the natural texture of the subject.

Do Use Tripods

No matter how steady your hand is, a flexible tripod improves clarity and precision. You should consider mounting both your smartphone and your light source. Tripods facilitate experimenting with different camera and light angles.

Do Use A Dimmable Light Source

A dimmable light source works great as it saves you from having to move the light or hang a sheet over it. These lights also allow you to quickly experiment with different levels light within the same setup.

Don’t Position Your Light Head On

Always set up your light source at an angle in relation to the subject. This highlights textures and colors much more effectively. Reflectors (see below) can help even out the lighting.

Do Use A Reflector

Across from you light source (with the subject in the middle) you should place a reflector to ensure that lighting is even. You can use white paper or poster board for this purpose. To achieve a more sparking effect, try crumpled aluminum foil spread out over cardboard.

Do Keep Your Camera Lens Clean

Remember, your smartphone is a phone first and a camera second. That means it gets used and abused, and the camera lens gets dirty fast. Make sure you clean the lens with a lens cleaning cloth before every shoot.

Do Move Your Light Source

Test your light source from different distances. Both dimming and distance have different impacts on how your subject appears. Light size can only be changed in two ways, stacking light sources or moving them.

Don’t Forget To Diffuse

The reason indirect sunlight is so effective is because the light is diffused. For example, the best outdoor shots occur on overcast, not sunny, days. When using indoor light sources, you can diffuse the light with a thin sheet, opaque plastic, or wax paper. Some lights even come with snap on diffusers.

Do Experiment

This is the best advice of all. Consider all the tips here, and don’t be afraid to try different techniques. Sometimes the best images occur by accident, so have fun with it and take lots of shots.

Top 10 Android smartphones better than Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

They say the new iPhones could easily break the mind-blowing sales records posted by their forerunners, both for the first week-end of pre-orders and as far as total shipment numbers go, though of course that latter tally is much harder to forecast.

Android-VS-Apple

And why shouldn’t they? Because they look identical to last year’s 6 and 6 Plus models? Pfft, Apple could have repackaged the original 3.5-inch 2007 iPhone, and their clueless iFans would still be swept away by the “higher-res-than-ever” display.

Any other reasons you can think of possibly blocking the 6s and 6s Plus ascent to 100 million unit sales? Well, here’s a very obvious one. The two aren’t the best of the best in stores this year. Not even close, as we had relatively little difficulty selecting ten, count’ em, ten Androids that are just better, and you can either already buy, or that should roll out before the holidays.

Disclaimer – the selection is extremely subjective and totally biased, but if you can’t find at least one device that’s objectively superior to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus on the following list, you’re probably an ideal candidate for a Jimmy Kimmel interview.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus – available for $728 unlocked on Amazon

Why it’s better: To sum up our recent 1,000+ words comparison in a phrase, it’s nice to see Apple recover some lost ground in departments like photography or memory, but after years of stagnation, a radical revolution is needed to ensure a fair fight.

iPhone 6s Plus vs S6 Edge Plus

You know, a bit like how Sammy completely started from scratch when designing the S6 and S6 Edge, further polishing the looks of the already handsomest, swankiest, curviest gadget around. More to the point, the S6 Edge+ offers better specs, customizable software and an extra razzle-dazzle exterior at the price of a boring 16 GB iPhone 6s Plus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – $726

Galaxy Note 5

Why it’s better: First of all, it bundles for free a stylus accessory Apple charges a ridiculous $100 for when paired with the iPad Pro. Number two, it targets those who may feel the S6 Edge+ design is a little tacky, eclipsing the iPhone 6s style thanks to a winning combination of metal and glass, as well as super-slim screen bezels, and aristocratic sharp corners.

Last but not least, it’s a powerhouse, exactly like its edgy cousin, and it’s sensibly priced, all things considered.

Samsung Galaxy S6 – starting at $540 factory unlocked

You’d have probably expected to see the S6 Edge, not the standard S6 make the cut here. But we wanted to also pick something genuinely affordable… for a flagship, free of distracting curves, S Pens, or other gimmicks.

iPhone-6s-Samsung-Galaxy-S6

It’s great the GS6 perfectly slots between the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in terms of display diagonal too, illustrating the triumph of the Korean company’s engineering efforts, as it’s essentially just as tall, wide and thick as the rival 4.7 incher despite sporting a 5.1-inch Quad HD panel, and stellar battery endurance figures.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

Xperia Z5 Premium

It may not be as impervious to water damage as you had hoped, it’s not up for grabs yet, and most content is shown in 1,080p quality instead of 4K to save juice. Nonetheless, when it finally rolls out, the Z5 Premium shall humiliate Apple’s newfound 4K video capturing capabilities by also playing the clips back.

Oh, yeah, and Sony has the greatest smartphone cameras in the world, with nearly twice the pitifully upgraded megapixel count of iPhone shooters.

LG G4 – $432 and up SIM-free

LG G4 vs iPhone 6s

Why it’s better: It’s leather-clad and elegant in a retro, evergreen way, it’s decidedly inexpensive, and yet, can still hold its own in a direct specification battle against the GS6 Edge+. Maybe not win the war, but survive it enough to give iPhones a healthy run for their money, courtesy of a vivid 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS LCD screen, agile hexa-core Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3 GB RAM, 16 and 8 MP cams, and 3,000 mAh battery.

Motorola Moto X Style (Pure Edition) – $399.99

Moto X Style

Why it’s better: Largely because it’s cheap. For crying out loud, it’s less than half the no-contract tariff of a 64 GB iPhone 6s Plus, and though it only accommodates 16 gigs of data internally, it’s got a microSD card slot for 128 more.

Not to forget the massive, high-res 2K 5.7-inch display, water-repellent coating protection (no immersion, just spills, splashes, and rain), 21 megapixel dual-LED flash rear snapper, TurboPower charging functions, stock Lollipop software, guaranteed Marshmallow support and beyond, as well as the generous 3 GB memory.

Google Nexus 6 – $350 with 32 GB storage; $400 in 64 GB configuration

Nexus 6

There’s no way to know how long Amazon intends to sell the one year-old “pure Google” giant at the heavily discounted tag, or if the arrival of a Huawei-made sequel might wipe out the OG altogether.

What we’re certain of is this is the current top bargain for power users who don’t mind “settling” for a quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, 13 MP dual-LED flash main photographic unit, 2 MP selfie camera, and 3,220 mAh battery.

Wait, 3,220 mAh is quite a lot, and the 6-inch Quad HD screen is also remarkable by any standards, not to mention the vanilla Android Lollipop experience, stereo speakers, and wireless charging support.

ZTE Axon Pro – $450 factory unlocked

ZTE Axon Pro

We’re entering dark horse territory, where you’re advised to tread carefully, and remember Chinese brands aren’t awfully popular stateside for good reasons. Some of them, given the Axon Pro is manufactured in America, for an American audience, designed as robustly as you’d expect from tier 1 OEMs, and fitted with pretty much all the best 2015 technologies at a hard to beat price.

You have your 4 gigs of memory, which Apple will probably match in 2020, Hi-Fi audio playback and recording, free bundled JBL headphones, Quad HD 5.5-inch screen, dual-camera 13 + 2 MP lens, 8 megapixel selfie prowess, 4K video shooting abilities, large 3,000 mAh battery with fast charging functions, and octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip.

OnePlus 2

OnePlus 2

Hard to come by without an invite, the “2016 flagship killer” is almost worth the $475 charged by a resourceful third-party Amazon seller. Almost, as it “kills” the memory count and juicer capacity of the iPhone 6s Plus, tying its Full HD 5.5-inch glass, fingerprint recognition skill, photography muscle, and autonomy numbers.

How embarrassing it must be for Apple to admit defeat against a Chinese startup! Of course, they’ll never do that, spending billions of dollars on TV commercials, newspaper ads and billboards revolving around the “perfect blend” of homebrewed software and hardware.

Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S

If you absolutely, positively need to own a device with a pressure-sensitive display, why not be original and purchase the Mate S… when it commercially launches? The top-of-the-line Force Touch-enabled model will cost you an arm and a leg, make no mistake about it, but at least you’ll get 128GB internal storage plus microSD space, 3 GB RAM, 13 and 8 MP cameras (both equipped with flash systems), and octa-core punch.

Solutions For Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Camera Issues [Part 1]

Note 4 camera 1

Hardware-wise, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a beast. The photography department is especially terrific for its class with its rear camera packing 1/2.6-inch 16MP BSI CMOS image sensor and F2.2 maximum aperture. The front sports a 3.7MP camera paired with a fast F1.9 maximum aperture that translates to excellent selfies. Pair those with the phone’s rich 5.7-inch 2560×1440 QHD display and you have such a terrific photography device.

In simple terms, the Galaxy Note 4 undeniably leads in smartphone photography among the many similar devices in its class. As awesome as it is though, this smartphone also suffers from occasional problems so we discuss some of them here to make the general Android community of their fixes.

We hope our solutions for Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera issues are of help to you but should you want to contact us for a different problem, please use the link provided below.

 

Problem #1: T-Mobile Galaxy Note 4 camera focus issue

Since I upgraded from Note 3 to Note 4 I have been having camera problem. First, when I turn on the camera it appears blurry and it won’t focus on the target. No matter what it will not focus. I have to actually give it a hard tap in order for it to focus. This is my second Note 4 of the same problem. Most of my friends with same phone, their camera work flawlessly. First time T-Mobile tells me that their diagnosis shows camera problem. The second phone, they’re telling same thing. Does it mean T-Mobile got faulty batch of phones that have camera problem. T-Mobile have reset, tweak the phone because I thought I was doing something wrong yet the problem still persist. They said that they will give me refurbished phone unlike before, I’m afraid the problem may be there. What do I do? Thanks. — Prince

Solution: Hi Prince. While there’s a chance that the problem may be hardware in nature, having the same issue on the second phone from T-Mobile seems to suggest a firmware problem. Carriers like T-Mobile modify the phone’s firmware so they can lock, remove, and add certain apps and features of their choosing before releasing them to their subscribers. Your issue is not unique as other T-Mobile Note 4 users have reported the same problem on this thread.

We have an international version in the office without this particular problem so yours may be carrier-specific. Please work with T-Mobile closely so they can help you properly.

Problem #2: How to enable Voice control in Galaxy Note 4

I had a Galaxy Note 2 with a Verizon contract. About a month ago I cancelled the contract and on the advice of a grandson ordered an unlocked phone from Amazon and went with StraightTalk. I got a Galaxy Note 4 and installed the SIM card successfully and ported my old number. I watched several of your YouTube videos and I don’t have some of the options you show. I really would like to be able to use voice control for the camera (tell it “cheese”, etc) but I don’t have that option. I have panorama and beauty face and no option for other modes as discussed on the website. I have found a couple of other things that are simply missing. I did manage to download an auto correct program because I like that mode for texting but it wasn’t there to begin with as standard choice.  I also tried to establish an account with Airbnb and kept getting a message that they couldn’t send a validation to my number. Tonight I send someone a message and my phone number came up a completely different number than my phone number. I am thinking I have a dud and am going to send it back to Amazon. I am fairly good at technical stuff but this has me frustrated. I loved my other phone. Anything I can do about this? Thanks. — Anne

Solution: Hi Anne. We can’t see a reason why you don’t an option for voice command because it is  a core function of a Note 4 stock camera app. The usual way to turn voice command on your phone would be as follows:

  • Go to camera app and open it.
  • Tap the menu icon (cog).
  • Tap the submenu icon (a line of three dots).
  • Tap Voice control.

If you don’t have access to voice control, please contact Amazon and see if you can get a replacement.

Problem #3: Pixelated videos when using slow motion mode in Galaxy Note 4

Hello Sir. I have a problem with my Note 4 wherein I upgraded it to Lollipop. However, the slow motion camera sucks real bad. It’s laggy and pixelated. I read some articles saying that in order to have a smooth slow motion video, it should be recorded with 60fps. However, in my case, once you choose slow mo, the video quality is permanently on HD which I believe only records in 30fps. Please help me sir. Thank you in advance. — Gio

Solution: Hi Gio. Slow motion mode in a Galaxy Note 4 works by recording more frames per second compared to a normal video so the camera cannot fully go on full resolution (1080p). Slow mo mode restricts the camera in 720p or 1280×720/30 fps only. Unfortunately, this limit cannot be lifted.

We recommend that you use either 1/2x or 1/3x speed when in slow motion mode for better results. 1/8 speed gives you 8 seconds of playback for every second but also forces the phone to capture pixelated frames. This can sometimes results to pixelated videos of lower than 720p resolution.

Problem #4: White screen appears when switching between front and rear cameras in Galaxy Note 4

Hi there. I am using a Galaxy Note 4. Recently I got the Lollipop update which is working fine but there is a problem in the camera. When I switch the camera from front to back or back to front there appears a white screen just for a second or two. It looks so disturbing. Can you please tell me what is it and how can I fix it? I already have reset the phone after the update. Screenshot of it is attached below. I will be really thankful to you. Regards. — Badar

Solution: Hi Badar. If this problem persists after doing a factory reset, a third party app may be causing this problem. Try to boot the phone in safe mode and see if it works normally. If switching to different cameras works normally when in safe mode, make sure to uninstall apps until the issue is gone.

Problem #5: Black spots appear on Samsung Galaxy Note 4 pictures and viewfinder

Hello Mr Droid Guy. I have a Samsung Note 4. Recently I noticed that when I was taking a picture I saw a couple of black blotches showed up in my viewfinder. The 2 black blotches also show up on all of the pictures I take. I contacted Verizon Tech support. They advised me to do a software update. I tried to but it says that the software is the latest current one available. Tech support then told me that since I have cell insurance, I should go to Verizon and have it fixed or exchanged. I am reluctant to give my phone away since I have so much info and apps on it and they never come back the same way. I almost always have to spend hours recreating some of my audio file books and others. 

Do you have any recommendations to fix this camera problem?

p.s. I did read your back-up solutions. I plan to do some backing-up. This phone is only a few months old and I do not feel like sending it back or getting a replacement.

Thanks for your assistance. — Gary

Solution: Hi Gary. Try doing a factory reset to see if the problem has something to do with the camera app software. An issue like this can also be caused by faulty hardware. There’s a chance that the lens or sensor may be damaged so doing a factory reset is the best way to determine whether or not that’s the case.

If you want to continue using your Note 4, there’s really nothing more that you can do except to ask for a replacement or repair, especially if the issue is hardware in nature.

Problem #6: Galaxy Note 4 camera and gallery apps laggy after Lollipop update

I love my Note 4…but with the recent Lollipop update, everything is slow! Probably the most noticeable and irritating lag is on the camera and gallery. I’m using the stock camera, which I love, and when I open the camera (and every other app), it seems like there’s a delay…more than there was pre-Lollipop. When I’m in the camera and want to click my gallery to review, the screen locks up for a second or two (sometimes more!) before opening. Is there something that changed with Lollipop that I can adjust?

Another annoyance is how slow any app is to open, mainly messaging.  Also, when I pull down my notification bar, then tap on whichever notification I want,  there’s quite a delay to open. Anything I can do?  Or is there a way to revert back to the old version and not update? Thanks in advance! — Melissa

Solution: Hi Melissa. Please check this article and follow our suggestions: Why Android Lollipop Causes Problems.

Problem #7: Galaxy Note 4 stops responding when trying to take a picture

Hello. I’ve been having issues with my camera. My phone freezes/crashes after I take a picture or two. My phone will not respond until I remove the battery. I’ve also had issues with the video, every video I record shows as a corrupted file. I’ve switched microSD cards, and I’m still having this issue. I’ve also factory reset my phone but that hasn’t resolved the issue.

Thanks!! — LC

Solution: Hi LC. A factory reset is usually not that effective when dealing with this type of problem if the root cause is the app you are using itself. This usually happens when a user choose to use third party apps instead of the more stable, stock camera app. If you are using the stock app, other camera or video apps, or any app linked to the camera function may be to blame. Make sure that you don’t install them after a factory reset.

Try to do another round of factory reset and observe the phone for at least 24 hours using only the stock camera app. If the problem does not happen when using the built-in app, that’s a confirmation of our guess.

Problem #8: Galaxy Note 4 camera won’t focus

Hey, thanks for the ongoing article on Note 4 problems. I had a strange problem that seem to just come out of nowhere.

I woke up one morning with my phone very hot and the battery very drained.

I checked the battery under settings and normally the screen is the main drain, but it showed “index service ” and it had been running for over 5 hours. I tried restarts and removed the battery but it  still was draining.

After calling Samsung and they telling me to do a factory reset , I started  pouring through the forums. It’s a common problem but no common fix.

Every one seem to think it was bad file names. That’s when I remembered I had changed some file names in Adobe Reader. I deleted all those files, restarted the phone and problem was gone. I have no idea what or how that fixed it. Thought I would pass it on to someone smarter.

The problem that is driving me crazy is in the camera. It won’t focus when about a foot from an object.

I can go to app manager clear cache and data or restart the phone a this sometime will resolve the issue, but it comes back. This also is a common problem I found on the forums. Thank you for taking the time to read my email. — Greg

Solution: Hi Greg. Indexing Service or Index service for Android only runs from time to time, depending on the materials it needs to work on. If you insert a full SD card in your phone, it may take some time for Index Service to come up with an updated directory. A well-kept directory is essential for your operating system so it functions normally and at speed. Needless to say, index service is an important maintenance tool to keep your phone going.

If you interrupt index service while running, you are simply lengthening the process as it will continue  to run again after the device has been reset. This service does not require intervention so if you notice it running, just leave it to do its job.

For your camera issue, you have to remember that there a few factors to consider when resolving it. If the problem is due to mechanical or hardware malfunction, your best bet is to contact your carrier, retailer, or Samsung to get a replacement. While some people claimed to have make autofocus work by hard tapping the phone, that certainly is just a workaround, not a permanent fix. The only reason that we can think of why autofocus won’t work is that the camera may be loose. Forcing something to move inside sometimes work but that is definitely not a reliable fix.

If autofocus failure is due to software glitch, the most effective solution that you can do is factory reset.

Some users reported that changing some camera settings helped them fix this issue so you may want to try doing them. Under camera settings, tap on the submenu settings (the three-dot line), tap metering modes, and change existing mode to Spot or Matrix. You can also deselect everything under Mode>Manage modes.

 

 

 


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Best contemporary HD (720p) Android smartphones

Quad HD handheld display resolution is overkill, and everybody knows that. Including the device manufacturers trying so hard to sell the “feature” as something that’s not – useful and groundbreaking.

Quad HD TV

Well, yeah, sure, it’s innovative and all on paper, but the end consumer needs a magnifying glass to tell the difference between 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. And even then, it’s marginal. Don’t get us started on 2K content, still fairly hard to come by for living room TVs, let alone portable miniature gadgets.

Meanwhile, you can’t argue with the sharpness advantage of Full HD smartphones over their 720p ancestors. Yet we’re certain there are mobile enthusiasts around who’d be happy “settling” for HD, aka 1,280 x 720 panels.

1080p 720p

Besides, the ppi makes the stills and clips pop first and foremost, so if the display is small enough (but doesn’t require constant squinting), HD res can produce excellent pixel per inch tallies. Lastly, it’s good to take into account the affordability factor in a time when $700+ “powerhouses” no longer feel thrice as impressive as sub-$250 “low-end” affairs.

Without further ado, and in order to please the most Android aficionados, we give you one candidate for the title of best 2015 720p smartphone from ten different household names in the industry:

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $379 and up

Xperia Z3 Compact

They say this muscular but diminutive 4.6-inch Lollipop soldier will soon be replaced by a slightly larger 1,080p soldier. Replaced? Never! It’s perfect the way it is, with a remarkable 319 ppi count in tow, quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor inside, 2 GB RAM, 20.7 MP photography beast, 2,600 mAh battery and (relatively) reasonable price point.

The only good that can come out of a Full HD, 4.8-inch or so upgrade is a discount to, say, $300 bucks. Boy, would the Z3 Compact look irresistible then!

HTC Desire 820U – $308

HTC Desire 820

A lot bigger than the 4.6-inch contender above, at 5.5 inches, the plasticky, playfully colored Desire provides a sub-par 267 ppi pixel density. It’s also in dire need of a software renovation, as it runs 4.4 KitKat, and the 2,600 mAh cell feels a little on the light side given the footprint and juice-demanding octa-core Snapdragon 615 CPU.

But the 13 MP and 8 MP cameras, as well as the 2 GB RAM make the compromises all worth it. Let’s hope Lollipop is nigh, though.

Samsung Galaxy A5 – starting at $276 GSM unlocked

Samsung Galaxy A5

A premium full-metal chassis, excellent 71 percent screen-to-body ratio, bright and vivid 5-inch Super AMOLED glass, 2 gigs of memory, 13 and 5 megapixel cams, microSD capabilities and super-slender 6.7 mm profile.

All for the low, low tariff of 276 US bucks in black, or $282 in white. The only thing missing is Android 5.0, which should make its way over-the-air soon. Perhaps more than 2,300 mAh battery capacity too, but alas, a software update can’t bring extra autonomy to the table.

LG G3 Beat – $185

LG G3 Beat

Also known as G3 S, this inexpensive 5 incher offers 294 ppi and a similar albeit obviously inferior construction compared to the standard, stylish G3. You got your rear physical buttons, slim resulting bezels, surprisingly robust plastic build and overall lackluster specs: Snapdragon 400 chip, 8 MP LED flash main shooter, 8 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, 2,540 mAh battery.

Pre-installed KitKat as well, though Lollipop will “import” Material Design goodies before long, according to official manufacturer statements.

Huawei SnapTo – $178

Huawei SnapTo

This is by no means a flagship, or even unexpectedly solid budget challenger to Moto G2’s throne. But unlike all the phones listed so far, it’s sold directly by Amazon, with Huawei’s express permission and thus no concerns as to US network support, lengthy shipping or faulty packaging.

Not exactly a looker, the SnapTo rocks a decent 5-inch IPS LCD panel with 294 ppi, quad-core 1.2 GHz S400 SoC, 1 GB RAM, 5 MP/2 MP cams, non-removable 2,200 mAh battery, 8 GB ROM, microSD external expansion and Android 4.4. Yawn!

Motorola Moto G second-generation – $172 global GSM unlocked

Moto G second-gen

Speaking of the devil, i.e. the world featherweight low-cost champion, it’s still available extremely close to its MSRP almost a full year after its commercial release. But the third-gen is on the way, and soon enough, you should be charged $150 tops for the OG Snapdragon 400 5 incher running close-to-stock Lollipop backed by a 2,070 mAh juicer.

Asus Zenfone 5 – $139

Asus Zenfone 5

The name is no doubt misleading. Obviously, the Zenfone 5 doesn’t outdo the ridiculously cheap, high-end Zenfone 2. It’s actually a 5-inch forerunner of the 4 GB RAM monster, with a quarter of the random-access memory, 294 ppi screen, Intel Atom inside, 8 and 2 MP cameras.

Essentially, standard features for the sub-$150 segment, so it’s up to you and maybe your aesthetic sense to embrace or pass on the 10.3 mm thin matte plastic phone.

Sharp Aquos Crystal – $129 with Boost Mobile; $132 for Sprint prepaid

Sharp Aquos Crystal

It’s not fair to compare prepaid and completely unlocked prices, since the former arrangements come with strings attached, but the Aquos Crystal is a steal, no matter how you look at it. Of course, the 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution isn’t the display highlight here, but instead the no-border artful conception.

Art is really the best way to describe the 78.5 percent screen chin-tastic Crystal. If only the Now Network would finish “optimizing” Lollipop already, helping the 1.5 GB RAM/S400 hardware config perform at its finest.

Xiaomi Redmi 1S – $127

Xiaomi Redmi 1S

It’s always risky to throw your hard-earned money at “Generic” (literally), obscure importers, but Xiaomi’s one-year-old may well be worth it. Despite sticking to Jelly Beans when Lollipops are flavor du jour.

It’s simply too good cheap to be true refused, at 4.7 inches, 312 ppi, quad-core 1.6 GHz Snapdragon 400 velocity, 1 GB RAM, 8 MP LED flash photo skill and 9.9 mm waist.

BLU Life One 4G LTE – $99

BLU Life One 4G LTE

Technically not yet released and squarely up for pre-orders ahead of a July 17 bow, the LTE-enabled, Lollipop-upgradeable 5 incher is the ultimate bargain. At least at the moment, because next week, it should leap to its “normal” SIM-free tariff of $149.

You can activate it on AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS and any other GSM carrier you can find operating stateside, and everything from design to cameras to battery screams $200+ value.

Somehow, BLU managed to pull off both a 7.5 mm supermodel figure and respectably spacious 2,420 mAh cell, plus 13 MP LED flash rear camera, 5 megapixel selfie pro, 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor, 1 GB RAM and microSD support. Cue slow clap!

Best Android camera phones available today. Bonus: three future contenders

Quick, can you remember the last time you used a standalone digital camera? It was back when you were still listening to ”new” Rolling Stones hit singles on your dedicated MP3 players, right? Boy, have smartphones changed the game and sent a bunch of once crowd-pleasing gadgets to the pits of oblivion.

Android photography

Multimedia performers, skilled point-and-shoots, personal assistants, self-portrait producers, these are only some of the tricky roles Androids undertake day in and day out without flinching. Forget “convertible” tablets and laptops, our routine handhelds are the real 2-in-1, 3-in-1, 4-in-1, all-in-one MVPs.

Of course, while nearly all of today’s smartphones are versatile enough to transform into modern Walkmans, complex cameras and miniature PCs at will, only certain models can fulfil every task flawlessly.

Android camera

And if you don’t need a cutting-edge multi-purpose device, but rather the perfect machine for a specific imaging function, you may want to revisit our selfie specialist roundup or stay tuned for the ultimate list of camera phone pros.

That’s right, it’s time to put the selfie fad behind you, and concentrate on the best rear-facing cam-equipped Android contraptions available today, as well as a few imminent photography savants:

Samsung Galaxy S6 – $657 factory unlocked; $200 with Sprint, AT&T or Verizon pacts

It’s difficult to find something the GS6 (and its “edgy” sibling) aren’t great at. Cam performance is no exception, with 16 megapixels, optical image stabilization, autofocus, LED flash, face detection, auto HDR and panorama features covering all key areas a shutterbug might need when not in possession of a DSLR.

Galaxy-S6-Camera

Granted, the actual lens remains tiny compared to bulky digital single-lens reflex cameras, whereas the f/1.9 aperture system is no longer the cream of the crop after LG G4’s introduction. Yet at the end of the day, this powerhouse will produce amazing pics in whatever conditions… all things considered.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – $540 unlocked; starting at $230 with Verizon contracts

At first glance, Note 4 and S6’s main snappers are virtually identical. The same 16 MP count, OIS across the board, LED flash and so on and so forth. But if you look close enough, you’ll find Sammy’s newest top-shelf phablet boasts narrower f/2.2 aperture, resulting in slightly less low-light muscle.

Galaxy Note 4 camera

Needless to point out the on-contract GNote 4 is also pricier while packing an inferior processor that could well influence shutter speed.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom – $411 unlocked

This weird hybrid is more digital camera than phone, and it’s nowhere near as widely available stateside as the mainstream new members of the S and Note families. But hey, it can make and receive voice calls, and when it comes to photography skill, it’s Android’s best shot at keeping Microsoft’s PureView technology at arm’s length.

Galaxy K Zoom

Hands down the 10x optical zoom is what makes this chunky monkey a shutterbug’s wet dream, alongside 20 hefty megapixels, 24 – 240 mm focal length, Xenon flash and a CMOS sensor.

Sony Xperia Z3 – starting at $465 international SIM-free

Though it also rocks 20.7 remarkable MPs, the Z3 is hardly an ideal DSLR replacement, since it lacks the sharp close-up miracles of optical zoom. Not to mention optical image stabilization.

Xperia Z3 camera

On the bright side, the CMOS 1/2.3″ sensor is a standout performer, and you get LED flash, autofocus , Burst Mode, HDR, a decent digital zoom and image stabilization system, plus 4K video recording at 30 fps in the 5.2 incher’s bag of tricks.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact – $380 unlocked

Xperia Z3 Compact

Smaller but not humbler than Sony’s most recent full-sized global flagship, this diminutive beast also unleashes the fury of a 20 megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture, LED flash, autofocus and 2,160p vid shooting at 30 fps. Including underwater.

LG G3 – $353 factory unlocked; $0.01 on-contract at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint

Let’s not beat it around the bush. 13 MP is low when pitted against the 16 and 20 megapixel giants listed above. F2.4 aperture certainly doesn’t help G3’s cause, letting less light in and thus harming both overall night-time photo performance and focal quality.

LG-G3-Camera

Thankfully (for LG), the perennial Korean underdogs were wise enough to adopt a proficient OIS solution, as well as offer dual-LED flash and something called laser autofocus to improve just what the narrow aperture hindered. All in all, for a market veteran, the G3 holds its own decently, keeping up with the times.

Google/Motorola Nexus 6 – $630 unlocked; $180 with AT&T contracts, $200 for Sprint

Yes, it’s expensive, somewhat precarious to handle with one hand and no, it doesn’t break any sensor records, at a humdrum 13 megapixels. But there’s OIS class to be had, f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, face detection, HDR, panorama functions and 30 fps 4K video recording.

Nexus 6 camera

Besides, the always up-to-date, stock software guarantees nothing will get between you and capturing that mesmerizing sunset the way God intended man to admire it – no bells and whistles, little to no post-processing correction.

What’s on the horizon

LG G4

Moar megapixels (16, to be specific), record-setting aperture size (f/1.8), “truer colors”, improved white balance, beefed-up optical image stabilization, ultra-sharp UHD video capture, manual settings for fine-tuning everything from shutter speed to ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation.

LG G4 camera

Frankly, I’ve no idea what half of those things do or mean. What I’m pretty sure of nevertheless is the leather-backed soon-to-be G4 drastically perks up its predecessor’s already impressive camera performance, going up against Nokia’s PureView virtuosos with great aplomb. Let’s just hope LG finds the pricing sweet spot eventually.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

Unveiled back at CES in January, this direct Samsung Galaxy K Zoom opponent is nowhere to be found on store shelves stateside or around the globe. Even worse, we doubt it’ll ever be picked up by a major American carrier.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

The best we can hope for therefore is a reasonable price tag outright and an adequate distribution effort. What makes this so desirable? Simple – 3x optical zoom, dual-LED, dual-tone flash, OIS and laser autofocus. Unfortunately, the megapixel count is mediocre at best. Yes, we’re afraid you can’t get rid of the unlucky 13 here either.

Sony Xperia Z4

Looking familiar as ever, the latest “Sony flagship nobody asked for” pulls off the “amazing feat” of once again snubbing optical image stabilization. No words on an LED or aperture upgrade yet, but ultimately, even if nothing’s changed, this 20.7 MP shooter remains a classic.

Xperia Z4

Do keep in mind that, while identical on the outside, the Z4 stands out from the Z3 under the hood with a state-of-the-art octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip. That perhaps doesn’t directly boost photography excellence, but it definitely aids with the phone’s general wow factor.

Android Photography: Still Life Up Close

IMG480
Photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus

My wife is a food blogger, and when going somewhere with the intention of taking pictures, she packs her DSLT. Unfortunately, there are occasions when a photo opportunity comes up, and she does not have a dedicated camera.  Needless to say, a DSLT is a bulky device and she simply cannot bring it anywhere, everyday. What she does have with her all the time though is her smartphone. So sometimes, her phone’s camera needs to step up to the plate.

Cameras on Android phones range from mediocre to excellent. What many Android users fail to realize is that the camera software on their phones and third party software available on Google Play have some pretty powerful settings and options which can make for a better shot. Surprisingly, even mediocre cameras seem to do an excellent job at close-up still shots. I want to share a few simple tips, which should help you obtain better results taking close-ups of still subjects.

1. Prepare some basic settings: Disable the flash and set it to Macro. Taking shots up close means that the flash will be of no use. The bright light from the LED flash will overexpose the shot, so let us disable the flash. If your camera software has a Macro setting, enable it.

Screenshot_2013-07-03-21-54-452. Manually set ISO. ISO in digital photography follows the same principles as in film photography. The lower the ISO setting, the less sensitive the camera is to light and the picture comes out sharper. Higher ISO settings result in grainier or noisier shots but allow the camera to use faster shutter speeds and are usual in situations when light is poor. When the camera app is set to “Auto,” it will select the appropriate ISO setting. But the camera app normally plays it safe, and usually quickly goes up to ISO 400 or 800, when a lower setting would do. For really fine shots on a smartphone camera, I like to keep the setting to 100 or 200 if possible.

3. Get rid of the shake. By using a lower ISO setting, the slight trembling of your hands is more likely to cause blurred shots. More expensive cameras cancel out the slight shaking of the hand using a technology called Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). OIS uses a gyroscope to detect the motion of the camera and the lens will physically move in the opposite direction of the motion to cancel out the movement. But very few smartphones have OIS technology. To my knowledge, only two smartphones have OIS: The Nokia Lumia 920, a Windows Phone 8 device and the Android powered HTC One. If you do not have one of these phones, you will have to get rid of the shake some other way.

donut
The HTC Desire HD had a pretty mediocre camera, but it did pretty well on closeups with ISO set to 100.

Without OIS, one thing you can do to help reduce the shake is to keep the smartphone stable by resting it on an inverted water glass or a book.

Another option is to use an app. Camera ZOOM FX from androidslide has a feature called Stable Shot. Stable Shot uses your smartphone’s gyro to detect the shaking of your hand and takes the shot when it determines that the shaking of your hand is at an acceptable level.

minionlow
That line graph going up and down the screen indicates the amount of shake. This one is shaking more than normal since I have to press volume down and power simultaneously on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus to take a screenie, causing more movement.

So, if you are sick and tired of masking your poor-quality camera phone shots under layers of artificial effects on Instagram or embarrassed about subjecting your friends to your blurry mobile photo uploads on Facebook, try these three simple tips. They should help get you better shots.

Top 3 Free Android Apps For Photography

One of the best things about owning a smartphone is that you can customize it to perform any way you want to by simply installing apps on it. Some people make their smartphones as their gaming center while others their music hub. Most people however will say that they rely heavily on their smartphones for taking photos. The advances made in the camera technology of this device let them easily compete with dedicated point and shoot cameras.  Developers often offer these apps for Android for free to accumulate a larger user base.

android apps for photography

The Android platform has various apps for photography that you can use to enhance or edit your photos. If you love to share photos over your favorite social networks then here are the top 3 free apps for photography you can choose from.

Pixlr Express

If you are looking for a powerful photo editor that’s easy to use then you can’t go wrong with Pixlr Express. This app is created by Autodesk, the same people who created the award winning design software AutoCAD. While the Android offers basic editing tools for your photo this app extends it even more by providing you with almost everything you need right in your smartphone.

What a lot of people love about this app is its user interface that isn’t confusing at all. Everything is as simple as it gets. You will be able to make adjustments on your photo as well as place effects on them. There are more than 600 customization options for you to choose from making it a perfect choice for shutterbugs.

Snapseed

People looking for greater control over the effects and filters of their photos will love using Snapseed. This app which is created by Nik Software a company recently acquired by Google, first made a big impression over at the iOS platform. There are a lot of effects to choose from and the autocorrect feature is amazing. The design of the user interface is definitely a plus as users will find it easy to navigate. Once you have processed your photo you can immediately share it to your Google+ account. Oh, and by the way this app won the Best Mobile Photo App of 2012 (TIPA) and iPad App of the Year 2011.

Instagram

I know, I know, some of you might be thinking why is this app included here? Its recent change in Terms of Service has drawn flak from majority of its users but then the company has decided not to push through with the change. Instagram, which is now owned by Facebook, makes it easy for anyone to take amazing photos and share them easily to social networks. It makes ordinary pictures look like works of art just by adding filters to them.

One other feature this app has is its social aspect where you get to follow other people and see their latest uploaded photos. You’ll even be able to like the photos and comment on them.