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Camera [Q] Reflections and questions on camera apps for custom ROMs

OP fabecoool

27th January 2015, 08:06 PM   |  #1  
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Hi!

I have been a heavy user of custom ROMs for more than three years now on all my Android devices. Lately, although I have a phone that not so long ago was still Samsung's flagship (the galaxy S4, I9505), the pictures I get with it really suck. A couple weeks ago, the phone could not detect my SIM card (pure hardware issue), so I re-installed the stock firmware and took it to the repair shop to get the warranty repair. They fixed it and I got my phone back. Just to make sure it was working fine, I decided to use the stock ROM for a while, and oh surprise: the camera takes much better pics in low light conditions or indoor than the same camera with any custom ROM app (usually AOSP-based, AOKP or CM-based). I tried to download the Google camera, and the low light pictures really suck. Then I tried a bunch of camera apps from the Play store, but I invariably got similar results to what I got with my custom ROMs.
That got me thinking. I'm no dev nor programmer, so I won't get technical, but it seems to me that there can be two reasons for the samsung app to work better:
- Either it has access to (proprietary) hardware drivers that other camera apps cannot access, and therefore it can get everything out of the camera hardware
- Or Samsung (which is not known to be great for its software) has developed a great camera software.
I would think it's something along the lines of the first reason. So does that mean I am either stuck with a ROM I cannot stand (Touchwiz is awful, has always been, and may always be) and a decent camera, or a decent ROM but a camera that is kind of useless when I'm indoor?
If so, how are the cameras on other similar phones (I'm thinking Nexus 5, Sony Xperia, etc.), running on custom ROMs compared to the stock camera apps? Is there also a noticeable difference, or is it just with Samsung?
I understood that you cannot run the Samsung camera apk on a custom ROM (even one on a Samsung phone), because the camera relies on some kind of Samsung proprietary framework.
Does this mean I should be looking for a phone that is running not only on open source software, but also open source hardware, does that even exist?
Anyone has noticed something similar? Am I the only one to be bothered by this?
I'll post here a couple pics taken in the same ambient light conditions. One with the Samsung camera (Auto setting), one with Google camera, and one with another camera app from the market (don't remember which one, but I tested about 15 of them and their results were quite similar).
Anyway, even if you don' have a solution to the problem but can point me to information that could help me understand how to choose my next phone, I would really appreciate. Thanks!

Cheers,
Fa
Last edited by fabecoool; 27th January 2015 at 08:10 PM.
27th January 2015, 08:17 PM   |  #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fabecoool

Hi!

I have been a heavy user of custom ROMs for more than three years now on all my Android devices. Lately, although I have a phone that not so long ago was still Samsung's flagship (the galaxy S4, I9505), the pictures I get with it really suck. A couple weeks ago, the phone could not detect my SIM card (pure hardware issue), so I re-installed the stock firmware and took it to the repair shop to get the warranty repair. They fixed it and I got my phone back. Just to make sure it was working fine, I decided to use the stock ROM for a while, and oh surprise: the camera takes much better pics in low light conditions or indoor than the same camera with any custom ROM app (usually AOSP-based, AOKP or CM-based). I tried to download the Google camera, and the low light pictures really suck. Then I tried a bunch of camera apps from the Play store, but I invariably got similar results to what I got with my custom ROMs.
That got me thinking. I'm no dev nor programmer, so I won't get technical, but it seems to me that there can be two reasons for the samsung app to work better:
- Either it has access to (proprietary) hardware drivers that other camera apps cannot access, and therefore it can get everything out of the camera hardware
- Or Samsung (which is not known to be great for its software) has developed a great camera software.
I would think it's something along the lines of the first reason. So does that mean I am either stuck with a ROM I cannot stand (Touchwiz is awful, has always been, and may always be) and a decent camera, or a decent ROM but a camera that is kind of useless when I'm indoor?
If so, how are the cameras on other similar phones (I'm thinking Nexus 5, Sony Xperia, etc.), running on custom ROMs compared to the stock camera apps? Is there also a noticeable difference, or is it just with Samsung?
I understood that you cannot run the Samsung camera apk on a custom ROM (even one on a Samsung phone), because the camera relies on some kind of Samsung proprietary framework.
Does this mean I should be looking for a phone that is running not only on open source software, but also open source hardware, does that even exist?
Anyone has noticed something similar? Am I the only one to be bothered by this?
I'll post here a couple pics taken in the same ambient light conditions. One with the Samsung camera (Auto setting), one with Google camera, and one with another camera app from the market (don't remember which one, but I tested about 15 of them and their results were quite similar).
Anyway, even if you don' have a solution to the problem but can point me to information that could help me understand how to choose my next phone, I would really appreciate. Thanks!

Cheers,
Fa

So here come the pics. Of course XDA compresses them, but you'll get the idea.

Fa
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Stock.jpg
Views:	14
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ID:	3136839   Click image for larger version

Name:	Google.jpg
Views:	14
Size:	254.6 KB
ID:	3136840   Click image for larger version

Name:	HD camera Ultra.jpg
Views:	14
Size:	250.1 KB
ID:	3136841  
27th January 2015, 08:55 PM   |  #3  
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That is the example difference between things that are built for the device over using open-source options. Software will always be better from the OEM. You see the same thing with HTC and Sony devices. Take the m7 and m8. They have great cameras as long as you use HTC Sense. Other wise all you get is a basic 4 mpx camera that sucks. If you want one that works the same no matter the rom then get a nexus. This is something OEM are doing to make people want to use their software
28th January 2015, 07:20 AM   |  #4  
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Thanks @zelendel,
A Nexus could be an option, but the screen size of the Nexus 5 was already too large for me (and so is my current phone, the Galaxy S4), so there's no way I'm getting a Nexus 6 (plus it's prohibitively expensive, at least here in Europe). When will Google make a Nexus mini or compact? That would rock, especially if they go the Sony way (not compromising too much on hardware features). The only downside of Nexus phone is their lack of MicroSD card slot, but that's off topic.

Anyway, what about the Google Edition phones? As I understand, they have the same hardware as their OEM counterpart (don't they?), but instead of running on proprietary stock ROMs, they ship with a pure Vanilla Android. Does this mean they ship with a camera that sucks, or is there some kind of tweak included to get the most of the camera with those editions, too? If so, would flashing that ROM help (if I can get my hands on it)? Unfortunately it seems the whole Google Edition concept has not gained a lot of traction (maybe because of the unavailability of the handsets in many places, maybe thanks to the OEM who did not play fair game and rather managed to get their crappy proprietary stock versions in the hands of customers), so I'm trying not to get too excited about this either.

I guess I will have to go to my local phone shop, spend time there with different devices and see if some of them have less heavily customized skins than TouchWiz. That means I'll no longer go for a Samsung, which have been my only devices so far. The end of an era...
28th January 2015, 07:33 AM   |  #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fabecoool

Thanks @zelendel,
A Nexus could be an option, but the screen size of the Nexus 5 was already too large for me (and so is my current phone, the Galaxy S4), so there's no way I'm getting a Nexus 6 (plus it's prohibitively expensive, at least here in Europe). When will Google make a Nexus mini or compact? That would rock, especially if they go the Sony way (not compromising too much on hardware features). The only downside of Nexus phone is their lack of MicroSD card slot, but that's off topic.

Anyway, what about the Google Edition phones? As I understand, they have the same hardware as their OEM counterpart (don't they?), but instead of running on proprietary stock ROMs, they ship with a pure Vanilla Android. Does this mean they ship with a camera that sucks, or is there some kind of tweak included to get the most of the camera with those editions, too? If so, would flashing that ROM help (if I can get my hands on it)? Unfortunately it seems the whole Google Edition concept has not gained a lot of traction (maybe because of the unavailability of the handsets in many places, maybe thanks to the OEM who did not play fair game and rather managed to get their crappy proprietary stock versions in the hands of customers), so I'm trying not to get too excited about this either.

I guess I will have to go to my local phone shop, spend time there with different devices and see if some of them have less heavily customized skins than TouchWiz. That means I'll no longer go for a Samsung, which have been my only devices so far. The end of an era...


The GPE device dont come with stock android completely. I have a GPE HTC M7 and the gpe software has some of the closed sourced drivers and such for things like Beats audio and the camera. As I run pure AOSP I wind up with a 4mpx camera that really sucks. While i agree alot of the newer devices have huge screens that make it almost pointless for me. The m7 is not bad at about 5in. But then again it doesnt have an SD card slot but comes with 32gb of storage which I think is plenty for my use. Part of me misses my old samsung devices but I made the mistake once of getting the one with the Samsungs chip and not the snapdragon which killed development.
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28th January 2015, 07:41 AM   |  #6  
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Originally Posted by zelendel

The GPE device dont come with stock android completely. I have a GPE HTC M7 and the gpe software has some of the closed sourced drivers and such for things like Beats audio and the camera. As I run pure AOSP I wind up with a 4mpx camera that really sucks. While i agree alot of the newer devices have huge screens that make it almost pointless for me. The m7 is not bad at about 5in. But then again it doesnt have an SD card slot but comes with 32gb of storage which I think is plenty for my use. Part of me misses my old samsung devices but I made the mistake once of getting the one with the Samsungs chip and not the snapdragon which killed development.

Alright! Well, if I could find the GPE edition for my phone (I9505), then I would get all the camera features and none of the TouchWiz crap, which would already be quite an improvement over what I have now (complete TW stock). I guess another possibility would be to flash a stock based ROM that is rooted and from which I could remove all the bloatware...

OK, the hunt is on for a new ROM!

Cheers!
Fa
28th January 2015, 07:43 AM   |  #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fabecoool

Alright! Well, if I could find the GPE edition for my phone (I9505), then I would get all the camera features and none of the TouchWiz crap, which would already be quite an improvement over what I have now (complete TW stock). I guess another possibility would be to flash a stock based ROM that is rooted and from which I could remove all the bloatware...

OK, the hunt is on for a new ROM!

Cheers!
Fa

If you want all the features of the camera then yes I would run a stock de bloated rom. I used to run Samsung devices and you can remove most things which will give you the camera app which has all the best features.

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