Note to All Phone Manufacturers


Hall of Famer
Jul 3, 2010
Back in 2007, I blogged about how Canon was letting down photography enthusiasts. At that time, I was reacting to the fact that Canon had dropped RAW support from the venerable Powershot G series:

Canon representative Chuck Westfall recently gave an explanation for the absence of RAW in Canon's flagship G7. Basically he said that as a result of Canon stuffing so many pixels into a small sensor, the RAW material isn't good enough to yield any better results than DIGIC III is extracting in the in-camera processing. As any RAW shooter knows, he is full of it. Shooting RAW is not just about getting better results, it's about flexibility. When I shoot RAW, I can choose my white balance, sharpening settings, and noise reduction after the shot. I can also process using the enitre dynamic/tonal range that was captured. With the G7, every bit of this has been determined during the shot. If I look at the ISO 400 shot on my computer later and want a B&W conversion where I'd be willing to accept greater noise for greater detail, too bad, the choice has been made.
Five years have passed since I wrote that, and today most people are using phones as their day-to-day pocket cameras. Phone camera quality has come a long way. There is no longer any doubt that phones can be used for quality photography, so I have to ask Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, LG, Google, and Dell: Where is the RAW support?

If you poke around the various phone forums, you'll occasionally find people asking this question, and in nearly every case, you'll find a know-it-all response that there is no point to adding RAW support to these phones. The JPEG engine is extracting every last bit of information, they'll say. All it would do is increase the processing requirements and lower performance. The sensors are too small, and the pixel counts too high.

None of this is any more true for today's phones than it was for the Canon G7.

Every time I take a photo with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the JPEG goes straight to my Google cloud storage. When I get home, the RAW file ought to be sitting there in my Lightroom library. We have the technology, and there's no doubting the usefulness. It's all long overdue.


Aug 13, 2011
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
I hear you Amin.

I have never taken phone cameras seriously until my Galaxy SII. I have always said that a phone is a phone and a camera a camera; I don't after all, grate my cheese on my car. I have still yet to see a cameraphone with a tripod socket or a cable release socket but I grant they have come a long way.

However it still feels like grafted-on technology - "there's some processing space left on the chip so let's stick in a camera" sort of thing. I agree raw would be most welcome but before - or as well as - that let's get some other basics sorted. The biggest thing for me is that the damn thing resets itself to defaults every time you switch it off. That plus a sensible shutter release would lead me to start taking these things seriously rather than just as an occasionally-useful visual notebook for price tags and the contents of whiteboards...


Dec 15, 2011
Bangalore, India
Heather, you just got me holding up a Ricoh GRD to my ear ಠ_ಠ

... and it didn't feel as awkward as I thought it would be! It's roughly the same size as my Blackberry. Twice the weight and thickness of course, but I would gladly live with that. And the Ricoh feels better built than the BB with it's rubberized grip. Those of us who used the Nokia 3310 would be right at home :biggrin:

Maybe it's all backwards. Maybe we should design a very small camera, then get it to make calls and texts.


Jul 10, 2010
Huntsville, AL
One of the biggest compaints I have about my camera phone is the jpeg compression. Horrible artifacts. Android, even in ICS, has no way to actually control jpeg compression, at least I haven't found, without rooting the camera. Having a RAW file on hand would be pretty awesome.


Aug 13, 2011
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
Many many many many many years ago I remember laughing at one of the first "multifunction devices" that was on sale in Dixons. It was about the size of a box of household matches and had a calculator on one side and a dictaphone on the other... How far we have come :wink:


Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
Dallas, TX
Were i to be able to use my grd 3 as a phone i would have to use bluetooth headset, grd too bumpy to be comfy!
As for RAW i only ever us it with my XZ-1, on my n8 and 808 one can get close using camerapro app, this allows zero compression jpegs.
Nov 11, 2011
Milwaukee, WI USA
Not to take away from Amin's request for RAW support. I'm all for that. But I'd also like to voice my support for the camera with phone idea. I mean, there are phones you can buy for $ reason they can't pack that phone into a camera.

Or give my phone an aperture dial, a shutter speed dial, an ISO button and a proper (threaded!) shutter release button and a tripod mount.

First phone to do mthat will sell a small boatload to camera geeks everywhere.


Sep 26, 2011
Minnesota USA
Kyle Krug
Good question, Amin!

I was just thinking that one big advantage (or disadvantage) of the current smartphones is the fact that you nearly always have internet connectivity. You can immediately share an image on social networking or photo sharing apps... I guess this is part of the bad/instant photography going on (i.e. too easy/convenient)?

It does seem like you should be able to get a RAW, either for more PP flexibility right there on the device (bigger screens, better apps like Snapseed), or, as you said Amin, for editing when you got back home.


Sep 7, 2010
Western Australia
I have not read all the replies to this post yet but last week I had all my equipment stolen when my home was broken into so I have been using my iPhone more, until the insurance comes through. Anyway, while I was using true HDR (very good app) my thoughts returned to a line of thinking that I had when I first got my iPhone 3Gs (its four years old now!) 'Why the heck can't my cameras interface be as good as this!" it is so much better than any camera I have ever used. The M9 comes close its simple, nearly all functions are like the iPhone 1 click away and bracketing is more straight forward than bracketing in any other camera I have used. I heard somewhere that Android is going to be used in a camera that would seem to be a step in the right direction...

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