We've spent some time talking about photography and Android. The two things go together very well, and most of us want to take the best pictures we can when we pull out our phone to take one.
Here at AC, we're all Android fans at heart — just like you are. We want the same things you do out of the camera on our phones, and we want the best pictures we can get. Again — just like everyone reading this. We get to try and use more Android phones than most folks due to the nature of our job, but because we're Android fans we all have a favorite when it comes to features like the camera. Join us as we take a minute to go around the table and talk about how we do Android photography.
1. Looking for something different
Phil Nickinson: I really should be more selective about the phone I use. I wish I could be. But for whatever reason the two manufacturers that have dominated my pockets the past year or so — HTC and Motorola — just can't get it done in the camera department. And the others have just sort of underwhelmed me in other areas. (I tried with the Sony Xperia Z3. I really did.) And it kills me that for some irrational reason the Galaxy Note 4 just wasn't for me. It's one hell of a phone.
But I'm very much excited about the Galaxy S6. Or maybe the GS6 edge. I honestly haven't decided yet. I want a normal-sized phone with one hell of a camera. I'm begging for one. I think I'm even ready to leave behind great front-facing speakers for a camera that doesn't make me want to carry a second phone. It's time I put my foot down on that front, I think.
And again that's not to say you can't get great shots out of phones from Motorola and HTC. You can, and I have. But I want a more consistent experience. I want to know that I'm going to get a really good picture every time.
Or maybe I'm just ready — truly ready — to try something different.
2. The Note 4 is awesome
Alex Dobie: I've used a lot of different Android smartphones over the past twelve months, and I'm lucky enough to be able to switch relatively frequently. There's a phone I keep coming back to as my daily driver, though, and it's mainly because of the camera. That device is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
Of all the Android flagships released thus far, the Note 4 is the one that's just awesome at taking photos in any situation you're likely to find yourself in, be it a perfectly lit sunny day, a close-up of a subject that won't quite stay still, or a crowded bar at night. Samsung's OIS-equipped 16-megapixel shooter is without equal in the Android world right now, and only looks like being beaten by the upcoming Galaxy S6, which packs the same Sony IMX240 sensor behind a brighter lens.
This, after all, is the phone that bested the iPhone 6 Plus in iMore's camera shootout. And while I find the iPhone's camera is faster and easier to use, the extra effort (and time) required to tame the Note's camera almost always results in a fantastic photo.
When I'm done taking photos, I my go-to editing apps are Snapseed and Pixlr. The former gives me quick access to the tools I use the most — tweaking color temperature, bringing out shadow details or ramping up vibrance a little. And given the Note's tendency to take cooler, more muted images in darker conditions, this helps a lot. Pixlr offers a wider array of features if I want to get more involved.
3. OnePlus One equals a great camera
Russell Holly: After months and months of using the 2014 Moto X, and being frustrated by how long the camera takes to focus and the lack of features, I switched to the OnePlus One almost exclusively for the camera. The ability to shoot in camera RAW and edit in Adobe Lightroom Mobile is a big deal for me, but so is the ability to take a quick photo when my kids are running around. In those situations I usually just let Google+ Photos do its auto enhance and then send to friends or family.
4. Sony's Z3 Compact does it for me
Jerry Hildenbrand: I'll start by saying that I'm still the guy who carries around a "real" camera in my backpack. I like playing with controls and lenses, and am willing to add one more thing to my bag so that I'm ready when I need the best picture possible. But I don't always carry my backpack, so my Android camera still gets plenty of work.
I've been able to get great pictures from almost every Android phone I've used as my daily driver, but I've been seriously impressed by what the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact can produce. You've got an excellent Sony sensor (like most Android phones who claim a great camera) software that scales from automatic to uber-complicated, and firmware that puts all the pieces together for a beautiful image. All this is wrapped up in an ergonomic package with a dedicated camera shutter button. The camera was a factor in my decision to make the Z3C my personal phone, and I'm still impressed when I start taking photos with it.
I'm a firm believer that if you fiddle with settings and set things up just so, you'll get a great picture from most any Android camera. The Z3C allows for endless fiddling, but the intelligent auto setting also regularly churns out amazing pictures. Is it that much better than other Androids known to have excellent cameras, like the LG G3 or the Note 4? Probably not, but it's the best for me.