Google Camera

The only complaint you can make is that Google didn't release these features sooner.

Google has dropped a pretty notable update to its stock camera app, given it a proper name and at the same time opened it up to non-Nexus devices running KitKat in the Play Store. While the interface still isn't mind-blowing, it has changed pretty dramatically from what you'd be used to if you used a Nexus 5 just yesterday. Google has overhauled the picture-taking interface for regular shots, panoramas and Photo Spheres, while also adding a brand new feature called "Lens Blur."

We've taken some time to walk through the new interface, and you can color us impressed with the changes that have been made. While we know most of you will be able to get your hands on the app right away and give it a try for yourself, we're going to take a run through all of the latest features of the Google Camera app and give you a few tips for getting the best shots possible.

Use the quality settings!

Google Camera Settings.

If you just install Google Camera and never enter the settings menu, you'll be missing out on taking the highest-quality pictures possible. While I understand the decision to set settings to "low" or "standard" by default for performance reasons, those who want to make the most of their phone camera will want to make some changes in the app.

Google Camera Settings ButtonTo take control, swipe in from the left side of the interface to show the camera modes, and hit the gear icon in the top right corner (in landscape) or bottom right corner (portrait) to enter the app settings. The big ones you'll want to see are at the bottom: Panorama Resolution and Lens Blur Quality. Tap into the first and switch to "Maximum," tap the second and go to "High." You'll notice processing time for panoramas and Lens Blur shots increase dramatically (as in, 2-3x the time), but you'll be greatly rewarded with much nicer looking photos.

Once you're in there, make sure the photo and video qualities are set as high as you like. Considering how much storage modern phones have available to them, I see no reason to set your photo or video quality any lower than the maximum. Use all of the resolution!

Standard pictures, HDR and video

Google Camera interface

When you launch Google Camera for the first time, the visual changes from the stock Android camera are quite obvious. First and foremost, what you see is now what you get when it comes to the viewfinder — you'll no longer be greeted with a 16:9 preview for a camera that will eventually take 4:3 pictures (hooray!). A small settings button in the corner of the viewfinder expands when tapped to give you options to turn on grid lines (hooray again!), toggle HDR, toggle flash and switch to the front-facing camera.

Swiping in from the left edge of the screen reveals multiple shooting modes (from top to bottom) — Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur, Camera and Video — each with their own colored buttons. The camera seems to switch very quickly between modes, and the transition from regular to HDR+ on my Nexus 5 seems to be quicker as well. The only downsides with the interface that I can find here are that when you flip the phone over 180 degrees, the shutter button doesn't switch positions to be on the left side of the interface for lefty shooters, and that there are no longer dedicated white balance controls (exposure controls, however, can be enabled in settings > advanced).

As far as regular pictures, HDR+ and video go, I can't say there's a dramatic change in photo quality from shot to shot compared to the previous camera interface. As someone who regularly keeps the Nexus 5 in HDR+ 99 percent of the time I can say I was impressed by some of the non-HDR+ shots I was able to take, but that will naturally be dependent on what device you're using. The biggest thing you'll notice in photo quality is how well you can frame and capture shots now with the grid lines turned on and the large capture button area that's easier to hit. Tap-to-focus also seems to help meter out pictures better, though, and I noticed that it did help a lot for non-HDR+ shots. Check out some example shots below (mix of HDR+ and regular modes) from a rather grey and rainy day.

And a quick 1080p video sample. Nothing seems to have changed here in terms of quality, but a nice interface feature gently reminds you to turn your phone into landscape mode to take video if you're holding the phone in portrait.

Taking the best Lens Blur shots

Lens Blur feature

Nokia has Refocus, Samsung has Selective Focus, HTC has Ufocus, Sony has Defocus and now Google is getting in on the game With Lens Blur. It's a completely software-generated background defocusing feature that creates and artificial shallow depth-of-field effect on photos that are taken in the Lens Blur mode. The immediate difference maker here is that Google doesn't have the advantage of tailoring software to specific or purpose-built camera hardware, so things are a tad limited compared to other manufacturer's offerings.

Swipe in from the left edge of the camera app, switch to Lens Blur and you'll be ready to go. While it isn't clear precisely what the camera's doing in the background, the process you follow to take a Lens Blur picture is to simply center your subject in the middle of the frame, hit the shutter button then slowly move your phone upward and slightly toward the subject in an arc.

While the tutorial and on-screen guide show the feature being used in portrait mode, it actually does work in landscape as well with no noticeable difference in quality to my eyes. The trick to Lens Focus, it seems, is to move extremely slowly upward after hitting the shutter key. The on-screen guide will indicate that you're moving too fast if you suddenly jerk the phone upward, but if you can go extra slow it will improve the quality.

After you've successfully captured a Lens Blur photo, you'll have to wait a bit to render (even longer with the highest quality settings) and then the editing fun begins. Swipe over to the photo you just took, tap it and hit the small Lens Blur button (between the share and edit buttons) to change how the effect is applied to your photo. The interface is simple, but easy to understand. Move the slider at the bottom to choose how intense you want the software blur to be, and tap anywhere on the picture to change the point that will be considered "in focus" on the final picture. When you've made your edits, hit "done" and wait for the photo to re-render in the gallery.

It's pretty easy to go overboard with the Lens Blur feature, and considering that this is a completely software-based effect the limitations of what it can do while looking good are very apparent when you try to go too far. I've found that the default amount of blur (somewhere around 20 percent on the slider) is actually quite good, providing a realistic depth-of-field effect that a phone could likely take. Go anywhere over the 50 percent mark on the slider and you're getting into a territory where nothing is going to look properly in focus. The same goes for selecting the focal point — deviate too far from the original focal point you chose when taking the picture, and things will get clear as mud.

When you dial in the Lens Blur effect just like you like and let it render out, you can share the pictures out anywhere that you'd normally share a standard picture. This is probably the best part of this implementation — there's no fancy sharing system or specific app to view the pictures. The original photo is still editable on your phone, where you can change and re-share it at any time. The results from my excursion out to the market are a relatively mixed bag, but I'm extremely impressed with what's possible if you take your time with the composition and don't go too far with applying the defocus effect.

Panoramas and Photo Spheres

Panorama on Google Camera

Panoramas and Photo Spheres haven't been dramatically touched in the Google Camera, but panoramas in particular have been improved. Panoramas now take on an interface that's nearly identical to the old Photo Sphere layout, which lets you take several individual pictures — using dots as guides to keep you centered — that are then stitched together. The results are drastically better than the old "sweeping" method, and work in both portrait and landscape mode.

Panorama captured with Google Camera

Photo Spheres are basically the same, with the same quirky stitching errors that are mostly based on the proximity of objects to you and your ability to have an extremely steady hand while taking them. The big thing here is that Photo Spheres are now available to even more devices, regardless of whether or not they say "Nexus" on the back. Try your hand at a Photo Sphere or two, and be sure to share them on Google+ or to Google Maps so that people can see them in their complete quality.

 
There are 150 comments

cj100570 says:

I can also make the complaint that they removed time lapse, white balance and exposure controls.....

rmkilc says:

Exposure controls are still there. Enable them under Advanced. The other things you mentioned have strings in the apk (Android Police did an apk teardown), so we can assume these are being worked on for a future update.

cj100570 says:

Exposure isn't the same as white balance!

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-exposure.htm

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/white-balance.htm

And it really doesn't matter what strings are in the apk, the functions aren't in the app! They removed useful features and added fluff.

rmkilc says:

I know, I misspoke. I meant to say white balance. My main point still stands.

Joshua Kelly says:

Time lapse is a useful feature but lens blur is fluff? Many would disagree with that.

Posted via Android Central App from my Moto X

TenshiNo says:

Check out LapseIt in the Play Store. I know, it would be better if the stock camera did this, but if you're really dying to get your time lapse on right now, this is a great alternative. Free version limits to 240p, but for a couple of bucks, you can get the paid version that will do 1080p.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ui.LapseIt

pchao says:

I guess I don't understand why anyone would use time lapse on your phone... An effective time lapse video takes a really long time to complete, and you will have to commit your device to sit there and take photos all day. I need my phone to be portable and prefer that it's within reach.

I guess for the tablet, sure, but I'd rather have a time lapse feature on a dedicated camera than a multi-purpose one.

etnpnys says:

Lol - how about capturing an awesome sunset/rise in Hawaii? I did plenty of that.

Or a funny video of your kids running around and being crazy?

Or a home improvement project?

I could go on if you would like... I've done all of the above and find it quite useful and fun.

pchao says:

I'm not saying there's no value in it. All I'm saying is that effective time lapse photography needs a steady, stationary position for the device and time. On a phone, more often than not, does not come with a tripod, and several hours of filming for a short video. If you have time to sit still for several hours with your phone to film a nice video of the sunrise *anywhere*, good for you. The rest of us need our phone play music, respond to emails, log a journal entry, etc.

A funny video of your kids running around and being crazy? Is that really an effective use of time lapse? Wouldn't a burst function be more effective for that kind of activity?

etnpnys says:

Haha

You sound like you're pretty hard core into your time lapse. These are phones, after all, and therefore obviously aren't the best devices for going crazy professional or anything. That said, "the best camera is the one you have with you." That's why I like a good feature set because with young kids, you don't get to push pause on life while you get a tripod set up.

And my time lapse videos of sunrises in Hawaii are stunning, to say the least. My hood and windshield wiper served as a fantastic tripod when I needed it and I got to walk away.

And time lapse video modes make for great stop motion video cameras for Lego videos. Again, the kids think it's hilarious to see their stuff come to life.

sdreelin says:

I've done this a few times with my phone. I have a mount and a tripod that keeps it steady and I always plug in the power adapter mostly because the battery on that device sucks). An hours worth of shots every 5 seconds will yield about 25 seconds of time lapse video which is plenty for most scenes.

TenshiNo says:

Some of us keep our old devices, too, so that we can use them for this sort of thing ;)

paa79594 says:

I have an old car mount that sticks to windows, so when I travel and don't have my regular camera, I mount my phone to it and take a time lapse. It can come in handy.

nbell978 says:

Manual exposure is an option in the "advanced" area of the settings.

dbdynsty25 says:

White balance is included. Under advanced controls, allow for manual exposure. Then it's an option in the pop up menu when taking the shots. It might not be "official White Balance" but it sure acts like it. At least it is on my M8...haven't tried it on my N5 yet.

bigbill25 says:

Not on N5, even with the advanced manual controls set...

Just exposure. No white balance, at least on the Nexus 5. Though I don't really see a need for white balance controls — they were pretty useless before.

pchao says:

White balance was really good for when the photo turns out too cool or too warm. I would usually calibrate it with a piece of paper to tell the camera "Ok, here's what white looks like; everything white in the picture needs to look like this color"

I understand the importance of white balance in photography overall, but the settings on the Nexus 5's camera before were pretty poor for white balance. Unless Google could all of a sudden do a dramatically better job adjusting white balance I see no need to have the settings cluttering things up.

pchao says:

That's a fair point. It is a phone with a camera built in after all, and not the other way around. But for indoor pictures, it was tolerable and it made a difference on photos.

TenshiNo says:

That's a really good idea, actually. A good, simple solution.

etnpnys says:

...and snapping photos when taking a video, and low-light scenes, etc....

Justin967 says:

I know! Also it doesn't seem to be possible to take pictures during a video anymore, which is dissapointing.

Posted via Android Central App

TheDu9du says:

Lucky for all is that the apk for the previous cam can easily be found. The link was posted some months ago.. I still have a copy somewhere.

this is a huge improvement on the front facing camera on the Nexus 4

Nice!

I am getting force close when i push the settings button, is anyone with the same issue?

I am having the very same issue with my SG3. Please help!

What device are you on?

Galaxy note 2 with Ditto Note rom..

ahmedmahdy says:

Same problem occurs here over Kitkat 4.4.2_r2 on Galaxy S3 (I9300) with ART Runtime enabled

avantard says:

The Timer feature vanishing is indeed something to complain about. I rolled back to the previous version and won't be coming back until that's fixed.

reefrunway says:

Agreed. Timer was great. Hope it returns.

ChromeJob says:

Ditto. Timer is a great way to touch the shutter button, then take a breath, steady your hand, and wait. Except that the stock camera app would sometimes refocus on something else if i set the timer > 3 secs. :(

rkirmeier says:

It's all completely useless without a widescreen picture option!

4:3 is the only way to take a real photograph :P . Embrace it!

crxssi says:

Actually no. The only way to take a REAL photograph is 3:2. And the Google camera STILL doesn't offer that option. Doesn't matter what the sensor is, they should still offer it (will lose some resolution, but it is a small price to pay to have a correct aspect choice available).

Impulses says:

Just because DSLR use 3:2 doesn't mean it's any more legit than other aspect ratios, some mirrorless cameras use 4:3 and they'll kick any Canon APS-C sensor up and down curb all day long. :P

DirkBelig says:

The 35mm film negative is a 3:2 aspect ratio and why prints are 4" x 6". REAL photographs are 3:2. Video photos are 4:3.

The people who prefer 4:3 are probably still butthurt that HDTV is widescreen and their ancient standard definition TV and immense collection of VHS tapes are obsolete. Wah.

Posted via sheer force of will on my Nexus 5!

Impulses says:

So higher quality formats (larger than 35mm) used by pros aren't "real" photos? Super 35mm uses 4:3, medium format cameras use 5:3 and other aspect ratios. 35mm was what the masses used, it was the 16:9 of it's heyday. ;)

Impulses says:

http://m.dpreview.com/news/2014/04/15/ricoh-announces-medium-format-pent...

Newly released medium format camera, 4:3 & 51MP, I guess the photos that $8,500 fine piece of hardware takes don't meet your criteria for REAL photos... Never mind the $30,000 Hasselblad or Phase One cameras many pros use. I'm all for choice, but arbitrarily proclaiming one aspect ratio as the correct one is silly and ignorant. The default is the sensor's native ratio, makes complete sense, and even Instagramers know how to crop down to personal preference so I would hope a 35mm enthusiast can manage it.

rkirmeier says:

Taking picture with professional equipment that would likely be prepped for viewing first is a different story. We talking about taking and view pictures from a widescreen smartphone or tablet and/or viewing on a widescreen TV. Having large black bars ruins the experience, not different then watching 4:3 show on a widescreen TV. These are consumer devices not some high end photo equipment. Get real!

Impulses says:

What are you talking about, 4:3 and 3:2 both leave you with black bars. Whether that ruins the experience or not is subjective, are you gonna tell every other director filming at wider than 16:9 that they're also running your home theater experience? They're arguing 3:2 is the CORRECT aspect ratio, I'm saying it's just personal preference. If you wanted to avoid black bars you'd have to shoot at 16:9, unless you have an iPad, or a 4k TV with an even wider aspect ratio...

rkirmeier says:

Apparently you are confused... I'm saying there should be 16:9 and/or a 16:10 (widescreen) options. I don't care if that means I technically lose some data. I view my pictures on widescreen devices 100% of the time. Anything other then a widescreen picture causes black bars which IMO ruin the experience.

Impulses says:

I'm not confused, you're just not following the comment thread buddy. I agree they should offer all crop options btw, I just disagree with calling anything that isn't the native sensor ratio the "correct" aspect ratio. Look at your first reply tho, look at the comments above it... You said "We talking about taking and view pictures from a widescreen smartphone or tablet and/or viewing on a widescreen TV" when in fact no one but you was talking about that, every other comment was making a case for 3:2. The very first comment of the thread was yours and alluded to widescreen tho, but the discussion quickly took a turn!

Omahgosh thank you for saying this! My G2 was set to 16:9 by default. Blasphemy!

gtg465x says:

On phones with widescreen 16:9 camera sensors, the shutter button is translucent. The Nexus 5 has a 4:3 sensor though. Widscreen 16:9 pictures are kind of pointless on phones with a 4:3 sensor because all it does is crop off the top and bottom of the photo, which you could do yourself in 2 seconds after the fact anyways. Regardless, I think Google plans to add a wideangle mode for phones with 4:3 sensors in the next update.

rkirmeier says:

That's just silly! 100% of the time I am and 99% of the time others are viewing photos on a wide screen device (phone, tablet, and TV) unless you are am iPad user. Why on earth would anyone ever want black bars?

rkirmeier says:

I don't want to mess around with every picture I take to crop it. It always gets displayed on a widescreen so of course I want wide screen regardless if I technically reduce the MPs...

daveloft says:

Google should definitely make 16:9 as well as 3:2 an option in settings, even if it is just cropping the image

Impulses says:

There's no other way to do it than cropping...

Zig261 says:

It's very sluggish on my phone. Especially on focus.

Posted via Android Central App

eahinrichsen says:

Which phone? On my N5, the focus is MUCH quicker now. Slow focus was one of my big complaints about it before.

Posted from one of an unnecessarily large collection of Nexus devices because I'm That Guy

JeffDenver says:

Ditto...Focus times are dramatically better for my nexus 5 now.

Ronnie May says:

Looks like the ability to take photos while recording video is gone too, that one was priceless. Rolling back....

xgalalx says:

Pause button please .

Posted via Android Central App

sladyrko says:

Why people say Nexus 5 camera is garbage? Photos look pretty decent to me.. Like it.

TexasNexus1 says:

I tested the lens blur feature via a selfie while on the John...needless to say, it was an out of body experience!

Posted via Android Central App

emad1995 says:

I don't see the HDR option :( I'm using galaxy note 3

Posted via Android Central App

VAVA Mk2 says:

HDR options are on the same menu with the flash, grids, and switching between the front and back camera...

SEGROUKIN says:

No its not

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ACADM says:

Make sure you're in camera mode and not blur.

Posted via Android Central App

Blucose says:

Andrew, it might be worth mentioning that panorama and photosphere are nexus only right now. At least, theyre not enabled on my moto G. Anyone else?

Taz89 says:

I have them on my s4,maybe the moto g isn't powerful enough maybe?
Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

Blucose says:

Hmm, shame. Broke my nexus 4 a few days ago, bought my G as a replacement, and its pretty good for the price, but i was very excited to hear i could get photospheres back... alas, no. Hey ho. Thanks for the clarification Taz

TheDu9du says:

Ok now you're coming up with phones that don't exist or you're the wrong keyboard @Taz89

Taz89 says:

Not sure what you trying to say

Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

TenshiNo says:

No such phone as "Note G". Most of use realize you meant "Moto G" though ;)

Taz89 says:

I seem to have found an issue, you can't access the lens Blur editing option either through the gallery or the photos app and the only way to access the lens Blur editing option is to open the gallery and swipe left into the gallery and only then do you see the lens Blur editing option. Let me know if anyone else has this issue.
Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

BobbyBeans says:

Yes I see the same/similar. The only place I see the lens blur edit is if I open the new camera app and swipe the the left. I do not see the lens blur edit capability in Gallery or Photos apps

Taz89 says:

I seem to have found an issue, you can't access the lens Blur editing option either through the gallery or the photos app and the only way to access the lens Blur editing option is to open the gallery and swipe left into the gallery and only then do you see the lens Blur editing option. Let me know if anyone else has this issue.
Posted via Android Central App on nexus 7 (2nd gen)

crxssi says:

I would really like to know how they are doing this blur thing and how they are storing the photo. Since it DOES allow editing the blur later, they are not just storing a standard, single JPEG.

UnarmerAaron says:

Rubbish on the Nexus 4

Posted via Android Central App

TheDu9du says:

Fowl rubbish may I add.

daglesj says:

Yes the picture quality is still "your Dads Nokia from 2004" quality on the N4.

HunterKen7 says:

I have a question about the resolution of the lens blur photos. I have the HTC One m7 and no matter if I choose high or low quality, I always only get lens blur photos at 1024 x 540 resolution. I'm guessing it has to do with HTC One being a wide screen camera?

1746bklynave says:

Why the camera button has to be 1/3 of the screen now?

Posted via Android Central App

crxssi says:

They are masking off the unneeded part of the screen. If your sensor is 4:3, it is a big button. But if the sensor is wider, that masked button area is actually used for the preview.

Seemed shocking to me at first too. The real issue now, is we should be offered the ability to chose between 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9... even if it means loss of resolution from cropping.

TheDu9du says:

I understand all that, it still bugs me and causes me to peeve.

TenshiNo says:

Seems like a good solution, to me, to provide a larger "tap" area to make it easier to take a picture. Better than just having a bunch of wasted black space, anyway.

vnyN5 says:

Same is here that camera button is using most of the part of the screen Is there any way make it as full screen.??? getting irritated

Dave7744 says:

Has anyone tried this on a moto x ?

Posted via Android Central App

dmgerbino says:

I've used it on my X. Photosphere and blur work great. I don't think they're is HDR.
Posted via Android Central App

blackbyrd says:

Can you double twist the X to wake up this app? I really like that feature in the stock camera.
Posted via Android Central best phone available: moto x

Ben Joynes says:

No HDR option on my Note 3 running 4.4.2 stock.

Anyone else missing the HDR function on a moto x?

Posted via my tricked out Moto X.

dmgerbino says:

I'm missing the HDR option on my X

Posted via Android Central App

flan says:

I've got an LG G2, and HDR is there. After you select camera mode, you touch the ellipsis and it lets you change to HDR mode and it lets you set the flash to on, off, or auto. (Just in case you weren't sure where to look.)

Anyway, here's my question. Does HDR mode in this camera app (or any camera app that's not the camera app that came with your phone) take advantage of the phone's hardware HDR capabilities? I had a GS3 for a long time with CM installed, and the stock camera app in CM did software HDR, which gave significantly worse results. Now, with my G2, when I used HDR mode, it seemed to run pretty quickly. I'm not sure if that's because the camera app does much faster HDR now, or if it's taking advantage of the phone's hardware.

Impulses says:

HDR is by definition a software feature, it's basically the combining of multiple photos taken at different exposure... On high end cameras it's considered somewhat of a gimmick since enthusiasts will just use bracketing to take the different exposures and combine them into an HDR shot later on their PC... I'm not knocking it's use on smartphones btw, it gets around some of the limitations of small sensors and phones are powerful enough to do a decent job of it. Some of the specialized ISP that OEMs are coupling with their cameras might be more efficient at it (particularly if they allow fit tighter bracketing thru quicker bursts), but it's ultimately still a software effect applied after the picture(s) is taken.

sharpehenry says:

You should try before and after the update with same shots to compare. I know I feel that the new update improved a lot and forgot how bad the old one was.

Posted via Android Central App

crxssi says:

OK, overall I am very pleased with this update on the Nexus 5. I *HATED* the cascading menus before- mostly fixed... although having the "..." thing on top of the preview is very akward. I also hated the mismatch of what you see vs. what you get aspect ratio- fixed. The lens burr thing is fascinating (how do they do that??) and impressive. The focusing does seem faster, although it is still "hunting" a lot more than any HTC phone I have used in the past.

There are still things that need improvements, of course. My biggest dislike is that the resolution setting is buried too deeply and still has no choice for 3:2 aspect ratio so it will match "real" cameras. Who knows, now that it is not part of the ROM, it might improve even more!

This is how they do it : http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2014/04/lens-blur-in-new-google-camer...

Posted via Android Central App

crxssi says:

Cool, thanks. I have been playing with it some now... it often works well, although I just discovered it is storing the image as only 0.7 megapixels... too low to be useful for anything. I could deal with 5MP, but 0.7???

Impulses says:

Did you adjust the settings Andrew suggested? I got more like 2.5MP, still not great but better... Artefacts or bad layer selections were pretty obvious for me, but a close up of a control remote in a dimly lit living room isn't a terribly fair test. You definitely don't wanna mess with this in challenging conditions, unlike shooting a DSLR/mirrorless ILC/SLT (just for you crxsi ;) ) lens wide open, which would be perfectly at home in the same circumstance since half the reason for a larger aperture is gathering more light (besides DoF obviously).

crxssi says:

Ah! I found it, finally. Google incorrectly labeled it "quality" which it is not, it is "resolution". But with that set to "high" it jumps to a usable 3MP!

Yeah, I found in low light it doesn't work well.

Impulses says:

That's pretty interesting, either they're really good at selling the concept or the approach is more sophisticated than HTC's without requiring a whole second camera. I wasn't very impressed with some of the layering I saw on the One M8 samples and even the defocus effect looked a lot more binary (one whole plane out of focus, one layer atop it in focus, not much of a gradient in between)... Neither approach seems capable of very high res results tho. These software tricks have a long way to go, still, it's interesting and I'm sure genuinely novel to many. Camera makers who blame smartphones for their industry's downturn are missing the forest for the trees, there's more interest in photography now than ever... The camera industry was pretty stagnant for a long while, even Sony's recent attempts (P&S with relatively large 1" sensor, full frame mirrorless) and the slow moving mirrorless movement haven't fully shook them out of it, but there's still a market out there.

Impulses says:

Real cameras? Pfft, my real camera shoots 4:3 and does beautifully defocused backgrounds with 50mm equivalent f1.4 and 90mm equivalent f1.8 lenses that APS-C DSLR users could only wish for... On the other hand, if you're toting around a $2,000 full frame 5D or A7 then I bow down to your superior bokeh. :p

In all seriousness, since I do have a so called real camera I never cared much for how much better or worse the Nexus 5 camera was vs other phone's. I did notice it does a LOT better at focusing close up shots than any of my three HTC EVOs, I use the phone camera a lot to take pictures of stuff in stores or in my hand so that was very obvious.

New changes don't do a whole lot for me, outside of aspect ratio fix, about friggin time.

crxssi says:

I have a Sony Alpha and a $1k lens, so I am pretty familiar with "real" cameras too (and real bokeh)... And really, I find 4:3 annoying for photos (and 16:9 too) and really would appreciate a 3:2 mode (which would be incredibly easy for them to add). It is all about choice!

Of course, I am not going to take any serious photos with the N5... it is mostly like what you do- wiring stuff, store photos, diagrams, things to do... that kind of thing. It is amazing how handy it is to always have a camera around.

Impulses says:

Choice is good, I'm all for choice, I'm just not in board with calling any particular aspect ratio the "correct ratio", specially if we're talking about aspect ratios that aren't the sensor's native ratio... Personally I got used to 4:3 on my micro four thirds (tho the only $1k lens I've bought was an f2.8 zoom for my mother!), I do think crop modes are nice to have tho. Even 16:9 is useful, arguably by a large majority of people that never sees their photos on anything but 16:9 & 16:10 displays.

vividrich says:

HDR mode isn't sticky for me. If I close out of the app with it enabled and go back into it later it is no longer enabled. That's a bummer.

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App

HDR+ sticks for me on the Nexus 5.

vividrich says:

After posting this it stuck twice in a row. And then, it didn't. So it seems to have a mind of its' own, which is worse. Thankfully the time to switch modes is so much quicker now.

kgh00007 says:

Unfortunately, HDR, Photo Sphere and Panorama are not available on the moto g :(
But Lens Blur is, so there's that!

Joshua Kelly says:

Why no HDR on Moto X?

Posted via Android Central App from my Moto X

Frazzel 001 says:

No hdr on experia z1. Must say the apps OK but not the most user friendly. Will stick to my stock app

Posted via Android Central App

tr-1 says:

Same on MotoX. Strange......

Wicket says:

great update! Been playing around a bit with Focus on my Nexus 4 and it does rather well especially in the right conditions.

Alan_UK says:

Many thanks for the comprehensive walkthrough of the changes, very helpful!

bryan64613 says:

I have a Galaxy S4 and I would like to know if the pictures that I take are getting moved to my SD card? Also and I don't see an option for the HDR+, even when I go to the advanced settings I don't see any of these options. Maybe they are not available for my device?

Rirruto says:

No HDR option on my Google Camera app on my GS4 either. Why would they leave that out for some phones, especially when the stock camera app on the GS4 has HDR?

T Well says:

The camera app on my nexus 5 will not even open
Posted via Android Central App
And it worked before the update

TechNut79 says:

Says this version is not compatible with my device. Thanks Google!

knahrvorn says:

Same here. So while letting in non-Nexus devices, they shut out at least one Nexus-device. Perhaps it's finally time to upgrade that wonderful Galaxy Nexus to a Nexus 5... :-)

TenshiNo says:

I believe this app is limited to devices running 4.4 (KitKat).

knahrvorn says:

Ah, that might very well be. Makes sense, thanks!

Jake Cukich says:

Cant save photos to my sd card. Da fuk? Note 3

Posted via Android Central App

manhattan123 says:

Question: I have a Moto X. I d/l this new camera app and note that when I do the twist the phone thing to open the camera quickly (a feature I love and use a lot) it still goes to the stock camera app that came with the phone. Can I (should I?) delete the stock app? Also, is there a way to turn off all the shutter noises and beeps the new app makes. You can put the stock app into silent but I don't see where to do that with this?
Thanks.

TenshiNo says:

Probably not going to be able to make the "twist" thing open a 3rd party camera app, and you're definitely not going to be able to delete the stock camera app without root. Even if you did "freeze" the stock camera app with Titanium or something, it likely still wouldn't launch this one when you did the wrist flick thing. You *might* also introduce some issues by removing a stock app. I would say, if you know what you're doing, go ahead and give it a shot. Otherwise, I wouldn't risk borking your device.

As for making the app "silent" I haven't found any setting for that. There are some schools of thought that cell phone camera apps should not be allowed to be silent because people are paranoid that their privacy will get violated by people taking pictures around them without them knowing (I'm not even going to get into the whole "privacy while in public" thing).

manhattan123 says:

Thanks for the reply and answers. I'm definitely not versed enough to try to delete the stock camera app and I do like and use the twist thing a lot so don't want to lose that. The noises that were annoying me were not even the shutter sounds but the beeps it makes. I tried some panorama and sphere shots and it made those beeps every few seconds when it hit the marks. I felt goofy enough doing a sphere shot in public without adding the noises! :) The X has panorama but no sphere function so I can live with that, and maybe Moto will add that feature to the stock app some day.

TenshiNo says:

I know what you mean about the beeps. You might try putting the phone in "silent" mode and see if the camera app will respect that setting.

"While it isn't clear precisely what the camera's doing in the background, the process you follow to take a Lens Blur picture is to simply center your subject in the middle of the frame, hit the shutter button then slowly move your phone upward and slightly toward the subject in an arc."

Actually they explained it in the Google Blog, but the Reader's Digest version is that they use the part of the image that you keep focused to generate an artificial/simulated 3D depth map of what is photographed, and then generate the blue according to it, so that the depth still looks correct, instead of looking like it's just superimposed on a blurry background, as some things do. Fairly nifty, really.

Jacques says:

Taking photos while in video and time-lapse are the two I miss. I may consider rolling back or finding a 3rd party camera app that has those features.

From my Nexus 5 via the coolest of cool Android Central App

gboyegab says:

Why is this app not available in my country. I opened Google play store and it says app isn't available in my country anyone knw why I'm in Nigeria and I use a GS4 with kitkat

Posted via Android Central App

Budius says:

it really impresses me that almost no one is complaining with the timer and the time lapse. Essential tool in any (if not all other) camera apps and an awesome fun way of creating videos throw away with no good reason.

really hoping G. brings it back sooner than later.

daglesj says:

Never use them.

adazamim says:

Can't install it on my HTC One with Android 4.4.2!! Says "This app is incompatible with your device." :(

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yankeesusa says:

Can someone please ban this guy! He's been posting this junk all over AC.

Posted via Android Central App

perozu says:

I cant get into settings. Cm11 issue, maybe.

Posted via Android Central App

SEGROUKIN says:

No HDR on the Note 3 and also can't change the exposure values on stock 4.4.2.
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big_Drew says:

I don't know if this is new, but I just realized that the volume rocker functions as a shutter button in the camera app.

ACADM says:

Not new.

Posted via Android Central App

dcstuntman says:

HDR:
I believe this is missing from many devices due to hardware limitations imposed by device maker. Although its own camrera can, my Samsung devices were never able to use some apps like HDRphoto+ or the newer "A Better Camera" app until just recently... and I can only assume those 3rd party apps implemented a workaround. Not sure of details but from what I understand, the app must be able to interface with the camera module and be able to tell it to change exposure and then take multiple shots. Samsung in particular seems to not have those instructions surfaced for apps to take advantage of.

As far as how HDR works in general on smart phones, from my understanding most ARE taking multiple exposures (not just a gimmick) which is why we must hold the camera steady. Its just usually the software then processes the exposures for you without interaction. While I obviously get much better results from my dSLR, I use apps on my phone (like I mentioned earlier) to take multiple exposures (bracketed) and actually save each image... I can then later process those using software on my PC.

To add to the confusion some editing apps do have an "HDR" setting, which can work to good effect sometimes, but is not a real combined exposure... which is usually implied when most people talk about HDR.

Impulses says:

It's still a software feature either way tho, if anything some cameras might not be presenting the necessary exposure controls or allowing apps to perform the quick burst bracketing required. I think that's what you said, other commenters seem to think it's some sorta specialized hardware feature tho. I do have one question tho, how can a phone be able to do an HDR bracketing yet not have a burst option? Seems you'd need at least a basic ability to do the latter in order to realize the former while handheld.

TenshiNo says:

For a lot of devices, they may not offer a "burst capture" mode, even if they are *capable* of doing a 3 shot burst for HDR. Most people are going to expect more than 3 frames in a burst capture, so enabling the feature and then only letting people get 3-4 frames would actually just create more frustration that the lack of the feature.

dcstuntman says:

Nice I don't have to sideload Nexus camera APK anymore for photosphere (and they are much better quality.) I'm curious if we'll be getting RAW capture any time soon, as has been rumored, or if that will require some OS underpinnings beyond play services.

I have this on my Droid Maxx, I don't see a setting for HDR at all on this app.

murdermitten says:

Its been a while since I've used Android for my full time device but my N5 is arriving today so I just have this one question.

Is there a way to use a 1:1 crop for Instagram square shots by default in the camera app? Or do I have to take full size pictures and THEN crop them?

My favorite thing about the iOS camera app is I can choose that IG crop right away and take the picture the way I want it the first time.

Impulses says:

Not with the stock camera app, it's always lacked crop modes. See all the arguments above about people wishing for 16:9 and even 3:2 crop modes... It's a valid request and something they should definitely add, it's not very hard to crop in post either tho.

murdermitten says:

Looks like I'll just have to use VSCO Cam as my default cam app then.

Which is a bummer because I've heard this camera app has helped the N5 take way better pictures.

I know you can crop in post but its kind of hard to focus where you want originally and then hope it is centered properly after you crop it.

Conan Hughes says:

Don't see the HDR toggle on Moto X. Is this not an included option yet?

GoranJosic says:

HDR+ is there, in new camera, and that is most important function on nexus 5!!!
I miss Self timer, but hopefully google will correct that soon...

I really miss the 16:9, I hated it before and now it's back, sigh

Posted via Android Central App

I installed Google Camera app on Moto g, I see no changes and no camera blur option. I had same app installed on my Nexus 4 and see the visual changed and the new feature. Both devices running latest OS. Hmmmm.

ChromeJob says:

[cross-post]

This isn't an "update." It's making a stripped down version of the stock Nexus Camera app available to other devices.

Problem is that it's missing some settings and options available on my stock Nexus 4 with the 4.4.2 camera app. Well, that's not the problem. The problem is that my 4.4.2 N4 sees this as an "update" on the Play store to that stock app, so if I leave Auto Update enabled, my stock camera app is overwritten with a "lite" version with less flexibility. Yes I do like (and use) those settings and options, and no, Google, I do not want to lose those.

That's a big ol' #FAIL from Google. Don't override my better, stock application with a new "lite" version on the Play store for other device users. Duh.

MarkSeven says:

Taking pictures while shooting video is gone.. I need that feature way more than photo blur.. Smh..

vnyN5 says:

its showing half of the screen is there any idea to make it as full screen in camera mode???

mark shirley says:

I can't find - white balance exposure compensation image size - its not where everyone says in settings I have no options there

InGrazAT says:

I have a Samsung Galaxy s4 i9500, and have replaced the default camera app with Google Camera.
Providing I already rooted the device and fixed the android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE thing...

How can I force the app to save pics and videos TO the external SD card?
There seems no option I can select within the app

thanks.

Lizan says:

Please google return the timer feature. It was so cool.