RAW Editing in Snapseed for Android


In 2014, Android phones were able to shoot in RAW format.  The RAW format is in DNG which is an Adobe proprietary standard for images.  RAW format means the image is taken in a loss-less fashion meaning it is minimally processed through the camera sensor.  What this means for mobile photographers is that your image is easier to edit with as much information possible.  This is the preferred method of many photographers so that when it comes to editing or post processing images, you lose little to no information.  Windows Phones already shoot in this format with the 1020 series a fews years back, and Android announced it saved in RAW in 2014.  The issue here is that sure you were able to shoot in RAW but you still had to bring it to your desktop editing software in order to take advantage of the RAW file.

Snapseed, owned by Google, is essentially the Photoshop of mobile photography.  It's easy to use, and the user interface is really simple.  Throw in the fact that if you are a photographer using an Android phone, you now get to edit your RAW images through Snapseed on your phone.  

This is a major upgrade for Android shooters. Needless to say, this helps further the idea of carrying around a mobile darkroom.  You have one of the most powerful editing systems on your phone and are able to maximize the capabilities of post processing through it with RAW images.

I began using Snapseed (and still do religiously) on my iPhone.  It's the first app that an image goes through to be honest.  Again I view the app as the Photoshop or Lightroom of mobile photography despite the efforts of Adobe trying to develop an app powerful enough in name to dethrone Snapseed.  Unfortunately, the iOS version of the app does not have this capability.

Keep in mind that smart phone cameras are still very limited by their sensor size.  It's simply the laws of physics but it does not impede the photographer to create amazing, quality images through their phones.  Throw in the ability now to edit RAW and the gap between is now closing at an alarming rate.  The Android Marshmallow OS has made Androids much more similar to the iOS system and again there is another gap closing as far as quality.

I recently got the HTC One A9 and am constantly wondering which phone I pick up every time I reach for one.  They both look like one another.  One or iPhone whichever came first, it does not matter any more. Add in the fact though that RAW capture and editing is available only on the Android and it makes the argument to leave Apple a bit more compelling.

The shear ability to edit RAW means that mobile photographers will have that much needed flexibility than working in the standard JPEG format.  You get original data that is captured by your camera phone.

Before writing this out, I tried it again on my HTC One A9.  I opened up Snapseed. Opened up a RAW image I just took and it immediately opened up to the "Development Tool." I was able to jump straight in and manipulate the exposure, contrast, white balance, saturation, shadows, highlights, and structure and all using the RAW data provided by the camera and its sensor.  I was and still am giddy at the idea of playing with this tool more.

This is a huge step in increasing the control and quality of output for mobile photography.