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HOWTO: RAW photo management on android / tf201

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By jaypm, Member on 13th February 2012, 05:12 AM
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HOWTO: RAW photo management on android / tf201

one of the original reasons i wanted the tf201+dock was for digital camera management while traveling. the dock's SD card slot is really what makes this practical. if i'm traveling and shooting 500-1000 photos then having the ability to manage these files out-of-camera becomes very useful. in various cases i would like to:

- review and discard photos
- copy or move photos from the original SD card to internal memory, or a microSD card, or a USB key
- run a slideshow on screen, or hdmi out
- share via email/etc
- upload videos to youtube

if you own a typical point-and-shoot digicam then android is more or less ready to handle all these tasks out of the box. in my case i am shooting with a canon DSLR, the 550D more specifically, in RAW format - as is the case for most 550D/600D/7D/5MD2/1D* owners along with equivalent nikons/etc. each of my RAW files are 25MB and that generally only increases as the cameras get better. RAW files are also raw, meaning the raw CMOS sensor data has not yet been processed and rendered into an image file. this is why working with RAW files is a pain in the ass on every platform - it pushes the limits of both CPU and I/O.

i just spent a chunk of time evaluating what works and doesn't in trying to do all these things with the current state of software. figured i'd share the results in case other RAW shooters come out of the woodwork.

working with RAW photos

RAW files come in various manufacturer- and even model-specific formats which means that android out of the box has no idea what to do with them. nothing in the entire android stack currently recognizes or handles RAW files, at least as of 4.0.3. so you need apps if you hope to do anything other than move the photos around.

at current time in the android market it looks like only 3 apps really try and provide a somewhat complete environment for viewing and handling RAW files. my experience with each of them was as follows:

- Photo Mate - supports viewing, rotating/mirroring, resizing and converting to JPG, backing up, slideshow, ratings, and sharing - all useful features, but amazingly there is no multi-select, meaning you can't do most of these things in bulk. this is a real limiting factor. in a few cases you have the option to do a task on an entire directory, but for most DSLRs this will mean every photo on the card and is unlikely to be what you want. speed of raw thumbnail rendering is fast, rendering of full images a couple seconds so not the best for just flipping through quickly. however the renders are full-res and the processor looks good which means it is excellent for zooming into the 1:1 pixel-level and scrutinizing sharpness and clarity.

- cr2-Thumbnailer / nef-Thumbnailer - has fewer features than Photo Mate but is faster for casual browsing and does more things in bulk. thumbnails render very fast, full-screen images renders quite fast, sub-second. the price is that these are not full-res renders, meaning when you try and zoom you won't find the full resolution to scrutinize.

- RawPal Gallery - couldn't find any way to set the read location to /Removable/SD. even tried editing the shared_prefs.xml via terminal and putting it in myself; app borked on it and reset the field. so, DOA, at least for now.

none of these have any basic developing features like crop or brightness/contrast/color/sharpness adjustments, so they make it to the point of "handler and converter" and then stop. once converted to jpg, if you need to crop something down then the built-in gallery actually does a fine job of this. it's an extra step, so things can start to drag out, but it's definitely usable at least for the one-offs.

working with HD video

videos on some of the more recent DSLRs are encoded in gigantor full 1080p and can chew up 300MB per minute, even more on some models with 60Hz rate. but increasingly codecs are starting to converge on a few and players are getting better compatibility for it. so the issues related to working with DSLR HD video files are about the same as playback of a variety of downloaded content.

in my case, both MX Video Player and BS Player Lite were able to play my 550D's videos correctly (HW accelerated as well). the built-in video player did also play but couldn't select the right audio track so it was silent (and with zero configuration operations, therefore DOA).

uploading to youtube also worked fine through the youtube app.

backup/move/prune files

i was almost surprised to see copying and moving files around between various partitions and physical devices all worked as i would have hoped/expected. the built-in file manager app can be used to pretty easily copy and delete files around the fs. other similar apps like ES file explorer and root explorer also fine of course. operations done via shell in terminal app, also fine. all as expected. the relevant locations that you will be working with are:

/Removable/SD - dock's SD card slot
/Removable/USBdisk1 - USB memory stick via dock's USB port
/Removable/MicroSD - tablet's micro-SD card slot
/sdcard - tablet's internal storage (27GB volume on the 32GB models)

in my testing, copying files across all combinations of these devices worked as expected.

of course, handling files in standard file managers and in shell means no thumbnails which means having to go off perfect memory of file numbers... which is annoying. this is why i'm hoping apps like photo mate will eventually get more multi-select functionality.
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13th February 2012, 09:17 AM |#2  
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Thanks for the research on that! Look forward to seeing these sorts of apps get better.
13th February 2012, 11:17 AM |#3  
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Did you try Photoshop Touch? http://goo.gl/lPXMX
There is no support for RAW files and it only supports image resolutions up to 1600x1600px (enough for FB, blogs,...) ...but it's probably the best app for photo editing.

For RAW files I hope adobe will make something similar to bridge(+camera raw)/lightroom soon.
13th February 2012, 01:59 PM |#4  
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Thanks for the info on working with raw files. I want to add one more program to the mix and it is NEF-Thumbnailer which is for those of us that are working with Nikon raw files. It is done by the same people that did the CR2-Thumbnailer program which was reviewed in first post so the same limitations and features apply. Also wanted to note that the RawPal Gallery program let me access my removable card but it seems to need root to do it.I was not to impressed with the program though. RawPal also picked up my DropSync program and did galleries of all my pictures on Dropbox.
13th February 2012, 02:09 PM |#5  
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Being a professional photographer I would never attempt to use a tablet as a processing platform, NEVER! Firstly, even though the prime is the fastest tablet out there its not enough to run batch process on RAW files even if there is an app for it. Secondly you cant calibrate the colors on any tablet. You mentioned already the file sizes and I have 0 patience on the speed of the SD reader built in to the dock, like usb 1.0 speeds. I shoot a Canon 1D MkIV and 1Ds MKIII that both have enormous files and USB 3.0 reader.

I do use the tablet for previewing images but thats it. I shoot both raw and jpeg and with the Pro series bodies you get CF and SD card slots so I save RAW to CF and jpeg medium to SD. To preview I just insert the SD card and have smaller files for preview purposes. If I need to process images I use my laptop if Im away or desktop at home. Both have the processing power and displays needed for professional results that you cant get out of a tablet.
13th February 2012, 03:31 PM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esm922

Thanks for the info on working with raw files. I want to add one more program to the mix and it is NEF-Thumbnailer which is for those of us that are working with Nikon raw files. It is done by the same people that did the CR2-Thumbnailer program which was reviewed in first post so the same limitations and features apply. Also wanted to note that the RawPal Gallery program let me access my removable card but it seems to need root to do it.I was not to impressed with the program though. RawPal also picked up my DropSync program and did galleries of all my pictures on Dropbox.

thanks i added information about nef-Thumbnailer to the OP.

i have root on my tf201 but wasn't able to get it to look in the /Removable directory, maybe i missed something. if you want to share instructions on that i can add them as well.
14th February 2012, 06:14 PM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin_Thyme

Being a professional photographer I would never attempt to use a tablet as a processing platform, NEVER! Firstly, even though the prime is the fastest tablet out there its not enough to run batch process on RAW files even if there is an app for it. Secondly you cant calibrate the colors on any tablet.

never say never... tablets are just computers like any other and there's nothing fundamental that will prevent them from eventually being good RAW processing devices. quad-core tegra3 clocked at 1.3ghz is already in the vicinity of the minimum power needed to process RAW files in a reasonable amount of time, provided that the RAW processing engine is sufficiently multi-threaded. by next year you'll see 2ghz quad-core tablets hitting the market. it's really only a matter of time until the software starts to strengthen and these devices become viable for real RAW work.

once we have the right software then the limitation becomes the fat-finger interface to a touchscreen for making fine adjustments. the tf201 dock adds a touchpad that remedies that problem. other tablets could be paired with bluetooth mice to gain the same functionality.

and then there's color calibration. well, tablet screens are using current display technology like any other and can be calibrated once the software supports it. it's already the case that one of the programs i listed above supports its own color calibration settings.
15th February 2012, 04:48 AM |#8  
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Thank you! Photomate is nice and appears to have some bulk features now.
18th February 2012, 09:07 PM |#9  
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Anybody know if any app take panasonic or olympus's raw file? M4/3 shooter here.
15th March 2012, 05:34 AM |#10  
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If you are canon user, DSLR controller is a must!! Too many features to use and the developer has more planned. Some of my favorites are the timelapse and HDR features.
15th March 2012, 01:58 PM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin_Thyme

Being a professional photographer I would never attempt to use a tablet as a processing platform, NEVER! Firstly, even though the prime is the fastest tablet out there its not enough to run batch process on RAW files even if there is an app for it. Secondly you cant calibrate the colors on any tablet. You mentioned already the file sizes and I have 0 patience on the speed of the SD reader built in to the dock, like usb 1.0 speeds. I shoot a Canon 1D MkIV and 1Ds MKIII that both have enormous files and USB 3.0 reader.

Get back on POTN you jack-ass..
[ <-- BrandonSi ]

I guess being a professional photographer as well, I'll go ahead and disagree with you.

Unless you're printing, color calibration isn't *that* much of an issue, especially if you can profile with sRGB. I would prefer to edit in LR on Windows, but in a pinch, I'd be OK editing on a tablet, especially the prime, with the dock + mouse and keyboard.

It's not an editing machine by a long-shot.. It's not even a laptop, but for a instances where you're traveling or are on-location and want to do a quick edit here and there, it can handle the job.
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