One thing that always seems to plague even the best Android devices is camera performance. The best they can ever seem to do is to be put on the same level as the iPhone. Manufacturers have thrown giant megapixel counts and fancy sensors at the problem, but the software always seems to hold them back.
Google is trying to fix that with some new API’s in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Right now the easiest way to try them out is with an app called “L Camera.” It’s an open-source experimental camera app for Lollipop devices using the new camera API. Here’s what it can do with the new API:
- True manual focus (adjustable focus distance)
- Manual exposure time (0.8″ to 1/75000)
- Manual ISO (40 to 10000)
- DNG output support
- 30-fps full-resolution burst capture with focus stacking & exposure bracketing
- 30-fps full-resolution (3264×2448) video recording on Nexus 5
- 30-fps 4K UHD (3840×2160) video recording on Nexus 6
We put the L Camera to the test against the stock Google Camera on the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5. Check out the results below in the embedded slideshows:
Google Camera on Nexus 6
L Camera on Nexus 6
The biggest differences appear in the low-light photos. We utilized the new features and adjusted the exposure and ISO which brightened them up a lot. The photos in well-lit conditions appear to look more natural with default settings. With both camera apps using default settings there isn’t a ton of difference, but the new tools from the API allow big changes. Here’s how the Nexus 5 fared in the same test:
Google Camera on Nexus 5
L Camera on Nexus 5
The Nexus 5 photos show much of the same. Slight improvements in well-lit conditions, and major improvement in low-light when messing with exposure and ISO. We can’t wait for more official apps to utilize the tools offered in the new API. What do you think about the L Camera? Did it make a noticeable enough difference for you to care?