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Friday, November 30, 2012

Adjusting Android Stock Camera Photo Quality

While it may not include all the bells and whistles available in some camera apps, the flexibility of the photo quality adjustments found in the stock Android camera should be enough to satisfy most casual photographers. In fact, with the exception of certain missing features (particularly the timer and optical zoom), the Android stock camera is as good–or better–than my compact digital camera. I decided to take a look at the photo adjustment settings in mine (Android 4.0), and discovered some that had been unused, ignored, or missed completely.

An earlier Android stock camera is displayed below.

In version 4.0, the adjustment settings are similar, but the interface is somewhat different.

To adjust photo quality and resolution in the 4.0 camera, tap the settings icon (below left).

For picture size, tap the three-dot menu button (lower left below), and touch either the right or left arrows displayed by the pixels indicator (Picture size). Generally, the camera is set to the maximum by default. The larger size photos are higher quality, but their storage consumes more space. Reducing the image size allows more efficient use of storage and provides quicker and easier uploads and sharing. On the other hand, the more photos you have stored on your phone, the more difficult it becomes to find a particular one.

Camera controls are seen below, as they appear in the menu from left to right.

To zoom, or to switch back and forth between the front and back cameras (if both are installed), tap the arrow at the right.

To control zoom; touch, hold, and move the slider above the blue shutter button.

To switch from front to back cameras, tap the camera rotation image (below right).

If your Android phone is an earlier version, but you’d like to try the version 4.0 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) camera, there’s the free Camera ICS app. According to the developer, “Camera ICS is an improved version of the official Camera app included on Ice Cream Sandwich”. The interface is nearly identical, with some added photo adjustment options.

As a relatively new inhabitant of the world of smartphones, and one of the few people who–before venturing into this world–didn’t have a camera phone, the ability to take quality photos with a device that’s nearly always handy is still fresh and fascinating.

Now, all that’s left is to develop the skills to match the tools.

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