Unlocking your Dual-Camera Smartphone’s Hidden Imaging Power
The past year or so has been great in terms of emergence of new smartphone photography technology. Across the globe, brands have been making dual camera smartphones that promise more powerful cameras with the most popular selling point of the “Portrait mode” which is a camera mode wherein the phone uses 2 cameras and takes two different pictures and synthesizes them into making the background blurred. What most of it’s users don’t know is that theres more to these phones than faking that “bokeh” or shallow depth of field effect.
*All photos in this article were taken with and processed on an Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom
Raw image capabilities
What are Raw images? Many uninformed users, who discovered how to open their Raw files by accident, think that the Raw image is useless. The think that it lacks contrast and color, the images seem flatter and non vibrant. Heck, you can’t even post that sh*t onto social media. What are they for, really?
Raw images are images in an expanded form. They are larger in file size for the reason that they contain more information. They are named “Raw” for the fact that they are meant to be processed. Much like when you buy raw meat, you have to cook it. When you shoot raw photos, you have to process it. Raw photos contain a wider spectrum of information from Black to white across many colors and tones and processing the raw file unlocks all those potential details. And in the same sense that you shouldn’t eat raw beef, you should’nt and actually can’t post raw files on social media.
Processing Raw files allow more detailed, sharper, images that can have more vibrant colors and dynamic contrasts. They also allow the photos to be rendered in sizes bigger that the Jpeg versions in the phone and have more potential for more serious uses of the photographs.
Locating and opening your Raw file
Most phones don’t readily reveal their raw files. The reason for that is because most, if not all, of the on-board photo softwares of the smartphones do not have raw processing. Not even Instagram’s editor can not open raw files. To be able to access your raw files, you have to download a capable editing app such as Adobe Lightroom Mobile.
Processing the Raw file
First, import the Raw files onto LR mobile by tapping the Add Photos button. It will open to a selection screen showing photos both the Raw and Jpeg versions. You still can edit the Jpeg versions but not extensively. In fact, doing that is pretty much superimposition. Just like drawing on top of an already fixed drawing.
Then select all the Raw images you would like to import onto LR mobile and locate it on the Lightroom Photos collection.
The screen will then show your flat, stale, and boring Raw file. This is where the processing begins. Tap the left most button to select the different developing modules. BASIC is for global adjustments such as exposure/brightness, saturation, vibrance, clarity, contrast and adjusting the Whites, hightlights, shadows and blacks. The TONE CURVE module is a graphic module that adjusts the last 4 adjustments of the basic module. Split toning renders color tints on the entire photo.
The COLOR/B&W module allows an extensive color adjustment that adjusts specific tones, adjusts the saturation on each color and controls the luminance or brightness of each primary or secondary color. This is a great way to increase the visual pleasantness of your photo. DEHAZE is a specialized tool created by Adobe to overcome the lack of detail in hazy shooting situations. The LENS CORRECTION module is pretty much useless for photos taken with a smart phone. However, if you are processing photos taken with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, LR can correct lens distortion, chromatic abberation and vignetting for as long as the lens used is supported by the app.
It’s true. The Raw photos are flat which is why usually the most necessary step is increasing contrast and clarity. Then, proper balancing of the exposure can be done by achieving balance between Whites, Highlights, Shadows and Blacks. The graph above, called the histogram, can help you check how balanced your exposure is. A balanced exposure, 99% of the time, shows optimal details. All these can be adjusted by accessing the different adjustments by sliding from side to side on the Basic platform.
Cameras record color in different ways. They assign different tones to different colors differently. That’s not a flaw of the camera but really just a matter of subjectivity. Color adjustments have 3 approaches. Hue adjustments can help you match the colors in your photograph much like matching the colors of your attire. Saturation adjustments can enhance emphasis on certain parts of the photograph, and Luminance adjustments control the intensity and brightness of each specific color. Masterful color blending can increase the beauty of a photograph by so much.
The Dehaze module can unlock more details, more contrast and more sharpness from a photograph. However, it should be used in moderation. Too much Dehaze-ing can lead to a botched, charred photograph.
Selective Adjustments or adjustments applied to specified parts of the photo can be done by tapping the right-lower most button. This can allow point adjustments or gradient filter adjustments that allow adjustments on a specified region of the screen. The above mentioned adjustments can be done and are all available in this module. This can help attain a more balanced photograph altogether.
The last step is rendering the final output into a jpeg format ready for social media posting and/or printing. This can be done by tapping the right-upper most button, tapping “save to gallery” and choosing between rendering to the highest available quality (ideal for large printing or large image use) or Limit to 2048px which is ideal for social media posting. After that step, you can find your final output in a folder in Gallery labelled Adobe Lightroom and do whatever you want with it! Enjoy!