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Question Camera app comparison for Google Pixel 6 - which app delivers natural pictures and videos?

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ifelcon

Member
Nov 11, 2021
5
1
The Google Camera app on the Pixel 6 sadly delivers over-saturated, over-sharpened photos and videos which have applied too much noise reduction. (The results on the Google Pixel 1 and Nexus 5X were much better - I just did a direct comparison).

So I did some tests of available photo apps and how they perform on the Google Pixel 6. Sadly, I didn't find one app which delivers good photo and video quality for both cameras (wide and ultra-wide) so I am currently using a combination of apps (Lightroom Mobile for wide photos, OpenCamera for wide videos, ProShot for ultra-wide photos and videos EDIT: Google Camera with DNG for photos and developed in Lightroom Mobile or RawTherapee, OpenCamera for wide videos, ProShot for ultra-wide videos - see post of Gnaius from 1st december) - not very ideal.

So my question is: Which alternative photo/video apps can you recommend?


Side remark:
- For DNG photo post processing, I found the (free part of the) Lightroom Mobile app on the phone quite useful as it automatically removes the vignetting from the lens. Better results can be achieved via RawTherapee on the computer with manual removal of the vignette.
- For video post processing, I currently use Kdenlive with video filters "Level" where I adapt white, black and the Gamma values and the filter "saturation" reduced from 125 to about 90. This gives a quite natural look.


Here is the comparison of the apps I tried (+ for pro arguments, - for contra arguments)

Reference: Google Camera:
- Sharpening NOT selectable, over-sharpens in photos and videos (exception: 1080p)
- Noise reduction NOT selectable, applies too much noise reduction
- Saturation NOT selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
+ DNG available in photos, half size EDIT: very good signal-to-noise ratio
+ Image stabilizer works in videos and different modes available

OpenCamera:
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: over-saturates in JPG and videos; flat mode for videos selectable, but flat videos have ugly color banding => unusable
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
- DNG available in photos, EDIT: DNGs have a bad signal-to-noise ratio
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
+ 4K60
+ good video quality

HedgeCam (a clone of OpenCamera):
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable, can be deactivated based on ISO
+ Photo saturation selectable for JPG
- Video saturation NOT selectable
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)

ProShot:
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: NO flat mode for videos selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
- DNG available in photos, however activation of DNG deactivates ultra-wide camera for photos and videos, EDIT: DNGs have a bad signal-to-noise ratio
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
- No 4K60
- mediocre image and video quality

Cinema4K (only video):
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: flat mode for videos selectable, however flat videos have ugly color banding
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
- No 4K60

Lightroom (only photo):
(- Sharpening NOT selectable for JPG)
(- Noise reduction NOT selectable for JPG)
(- Saturation NOT selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos)
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
- DNG available in photos, EDIT: DNGs have a bad signal-to-noise ratio
+ Allows to directly develop photos with preset (0 sharpening, +30 noise reduction, +50 saturation, +50 dynamic delivers natural results)

Firstsight (only photo):
- Sharpening?
- Noise reduction?
- Saturation NOT selectable: over-saturates in JPG
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
- DNG available in photos (ultra-wide currently shows errors while storing DNG), EDIT: DNGs have a bad signal-to-noise ratio
 
Last edited:

sdbe

Senior Member
Dec 9, 2007
51
6
The Google Camera app on the Pixel 6 sadly delivers over-saturated, over-sharpened photos and videos which have applied too much noise reduction. (The results on the Google Pixel 1 and Nexus 5X were much better - I just did a direct comparison).

So I did some tests of available photo apps and how they perform on the Google Pixel 6. Sadly, I didn't find one app which delivers good photo and video quality for both cameras (wide and ultra-wide) so I am currently using a combination of apps (Lightroom Mobile for wide photos, OpenCamera for wide videos, ProShot for ultra-wide photos and videos) - not very ideal.

So my question is: Which alternative photo/video apps can you recommend?


Side remark:
- For DNG photo post processing, I found the (free part of the) Lightroom Mobile app on the phone quite useful as it automatically removes the vignetting from the lens. Better results can be achieved via RawTherapee on the computer with manual removal of the vignette.
- For video post processing, I currently use Kdenlive with video filters "Level" where I adapt white, black and the Gamma values and the filter "saturation" reduced from 125 to about 90. This gives a quite natural look.


Here is the comparison of the apps I tried (+ for pro arguments, - for contra arguments)

Reference: Google Camera:
- Sharpening NOT selectable, over-sharpens in photos and videos (exception: 1080p)
- Noise reduction NOT selectable, applies too much noise reduction
- Saturation NOT selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
+ DNG available in photos but half size (I didn't see any difference)
+ Image stabilizer works in videos and different modes available

OpenCamera:
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: over-saturates in JPG and videos; flat mode for videos selectable, but flat videos have ugly color banding => unusable
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
+ 4K60
+ good video quality

HedgeCam (a clone of OpenCamera):
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable, can be deactivated based on ISO
+ Photo saturation selectable for JPG
- Video saturation NOT selectable
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)

ProShot:
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: NO flat mode for videos selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
(-) DNG available in photos, however activation of DNG deactivates ultra-wide camera for photos and videos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
- No 4K60
- mediocre image and video quality

Cinema4K (only video):
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: flat mode for videos selectable, however flat videos have ugly color banding
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
- No 4K60

Lightroom (only photo):
(- Sharpening NOT selectable for JPG)
(- Noise reduction NOT selectable for JPG)
(- Saturation NOT selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos)
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
+ Allows to directly develop photos with preset (0 sharpening, +30 noise reduction, +50 saturation, +50 dynamic delivers natural results)

Firstsight (only photo):
- Sharpening?
- Noise reduction?
- Saturation NOT selectable: over-saturates in JPG
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
+ DNG available in photos (ultra-wide currently shows errors while storing DNG

I am primarily interested in using my p6 camera for videos, that was one of the main reasons I got it. But from your post it seems like they are all over-saturated. I agree that the stock camera is definitely way over-saturated and I can't find any way to tone it down.

Why have you chosen opencamera for videos when you say it has the same issues as the stock camera? Is there something that I overlooked.?

Anyway, thanks for the write up it was helpful.
 

ifelcon

Member
Nov 11, 2021
5
1
@Izy: Thank you for your suggestion. I don't like the idea of installing apps which are not checked via a trustful store so I am still undecided. An analysis of the files via virustotal showed one scanner with a positive result however this seems to be a false positive.

@sdbe: I chose OpenCamera as a workaround because it allows to adjust the sharpening (which I did set to "None") and the noise reduction (which I did set to "High Quality"). This at least improves the quality a bit. Together with the post processing in Kdenlive against the over-saturation, I get acceptable results (however with less image stabilization so you have to have a steady hand). This is more a workaround than a solution ;)
 
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Izy

Senior Member
@Izy: Thank you for your suggestion. I don't like the idea of installing apps which are not checked via a trustful store so I am still undecided. An analysis of the files via virustotal showed one scanner with a positive result however this seems to be a false positive.

Virus Total:​

Some antivirus will "complain" about these files. If you upload one of the files to VirusTotal you will notice that at least one virus engine WhiteArmour - now Babable - flags the file as a PUP (potentially unwanted program). Even the apk shared on XDA's website is flagged, but according to them it's safe:

We independently confirmed the safety of the APK file thanks to Amir Zaidi who is the developer of the rootless Pixel Launcher app that brings the Google Now panel to unrooted devices. He published a full diff, using APKTool, of the small changes that were made to the app to see if there was any malicious insertions to the APK file. We found none of the sort, and can confirm that it is safe to install.
It seems that WhiteArmour Babable is a Chinese company that uses machine learning and AI to detect malicious software (according to this). Because I've never heard of them before and they are the only one out of +60 to flag these files, I'm tempted to say that this is a false positive. Either that or they are better than everyone else.

Because I don't know how these virus engines work, I also have no idea why Babable flags these apks. It seems that if a public/free signing key is used, some engines flag the file because the same key was used before by malicious apps, even if the apk file itself is clear.

I've scanned my phone multiple times with Google Play Protect and it never detected anything malicious, but how accurate is Play Protect?


also how trustful is googles store really
the fact you said thats kinda funny in itself with the amount of practical malware it can give (like launchers and other apps spamming you adds)

yet your here posting on xda which is mainly about custom roms/apps
gcam mods have been out for years since the nexus this is just a dedicated website for the main devs who still make them
 

Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
The Google Camera app on the Pixel 6 sadly delivers over-saturated, over-sharpened photos and videos which have applied too much noise reduction. (The results on the Google Pixel 1 and Nexus 5X were much better - I just did a direct comparison).

So I did some tests of available photo apps and how they perform on the Google Pixel 6. Sadly, I didn't find one app which delivers good photo and video quality for both cameras (wide and ultra-wide) so I am currently using a combination of apps (Lightroom Mobile for wide photos, OpenCamera for wide videos, ProShot for ultra-wide photos and videos) - not very ideal.

So my question is: Which alternative photo/video apps can you recommend?


Side remark:
- For DNG photo post processing, I found the (free part of the) Lightroom Mobile app on the phone quite useful as it automatically removes the vignetting from the lens. Better results can be achieved via RawTherapee on the computer with manual removal of the vignette.
- For video post processing, I currently use Kdenlive with video filters "Level" where I adapt white, black and the Gamma values and the filter "saturation" reduced from 125 to about 90. This gives a quite natural look.


Here is the comparison of the apps I tried (+ for pro arguments, - for contra arguments)

Reference: Google Camera:
- Sharpening NOT selectable, over-sharpens in photos and videos (exception: 1080p)
- Noise reduction NOT selectable, applies too much noise reduction
- Saturation NOT selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
+ DNG available in photos but half size (I didn't see any difference)
+ Image stabilizer works in videos and different modes available

OpenCamera:
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: over-saturates in JPG and videos; flat mode for videos selectable, but flat videos have ugly color banding => unusable
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
+ 4K60
+ good video quality

HedgeCam (a clone of OpenCamera):
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable, can be deactivated based on ISO
+ Photo saturation selectable for JPG
- Video saturation NOT selectable
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)

ProShot:
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: NO flat mode for videos selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
(-) DNG available in photos, however activation of DNG deactivates ultra-wide camera for photos and videos
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
- No 4K60
- mediocre image and video quality

Cinema4K (only video):
+ Sharpening selectable
+ Noise reduction selectable
- Saturation: flat mode for videos selectable, however flat videos have ugly color banding
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
(+) Image stabilizer works in videos (but different modes NOT available and video less stable)
- No 4K60

Lightroom (only photo):
(- Sharpening NOT selectable for JPG)
(- Noise reduction NOT selectable for JPG)
(- Saturation NOT selectable, over-saturates in JPG and videos)
- Only wide camera works, NO ultra-wide
+ DNG available in photos
+ Allows to directly develop photos with preset (0 sharpening, +30 noise reduction, +50 saturation, +50 dynamic delivers natural results)

Firstsight (only photo):
- Sharpening?
- Noise reduction?
- Saturation NOT selectable: over-saturates in JPG
+ Wide and ultra-wide camera selectable
+ DNG available in photos (ultra-wide currently shows errors while storing DNG)
Are you still finding that the dng files from the stock camera app show no difference? Mine show a *vast* difference, and they're full size. They have a slightly different pixel count, which is odd -- I believe that may be from slight cropping after the correction of lens distortion.

Here's an issue, however: the dng files are corrected *twice* when you open them in LR or Photoshop. The proper lens correction is in the jpeg; the dng applies the same correction to the already-corrected files, resulting in barrel distortion in the center of the frame, and pincushion on the edges. This is automatic, and irreversible.
 

Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
By the way, I hope you're all sending complaints to Google about the stock camera app, and requesting the ability to modify sharpness, noise reduction, etc. The more people who make noise about this, the more likely it will be addressed.
 

ifelcon

Member
Nov 11, 2021
5
1
Thank you for the responses!

@Izy: As I had to reset my old phone (Google Pixel 1) anyways, I did take the chance to test the GCAM mods. Most of the current ones didn't work (probably because the phone has a too old Android version). The first one that worked immediately triggered Google Play Protect stating that I have a potentially malicous app on my phone. Anotherone from cstark didn't trigger it, but I will end this experiment for now.

By the way, I did not write Google Play Store but "a trustful store" (hoping that the mentioned apks would be in a trustful store). I know that there are a lot of dubious apps in Google Play Store, but I think that you can live with Google Play Store if you are cautious enough.

@RiTCHiE007:
I heard of Filmic Pro but I didn't try it. Sadly, it only has an evaluator app stating generic compatibility but not a demo mode. From what I read, you first have to pay 15€ for the app and then 12€ for an in-app upgrade to enable flat video mode. This quite a lot for just testing whether the app is feasible, in particular as their homepage says that only the old phones are completely supported.

@Gnaius:
Thank you very much for the hint about the DNG files. I didn't compare them carefully enough and now I have to agree that there are huge differences between the Google Camera app and other apps. Sadly, only the Google Camera app delivers shadows which have nearly no noise. All other apps already show noise with default settings and it gets way worse with high-contrast scenes where you have to lift the shadows. So I will stick to the Google Camera app for photos in DNG for now. I will try to update my initial post and add a remark there.

About the picture correction: do you mean that the Google Camera DNGs are corrected twice or the DNG from other apps? I don't use LR or Photoshop on my computer. With RawTherapee you do not have any correction by default. I created a profile to work against the vignetting which works quite well. I didn't notice a lot of distortion with the wide camera but the ultra-wide camera has a lot of distortion towards the edges - I will have to find a solution for this.

I will send a review to the Google Camera app - I hope they read the reviews.

EDIT: I just saw that there was an update to the Google Camera app from 7th December - let's see if something was enhanced.
 
Last edited:

Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
About the picture correction: do you mean that the Google Camera DNGs are corrected twice or the DNG from other apps? I don't use LR or Photoshop on my computer. With RawTherapee you do not have any correction by default. I created a profile to work against the vignetting which works quite well. I didn't notice a lot of distortion with the wide camera but the ultra-wide camera has a lot of distortion towards the edges - I will have to find a solution for this.

The lens correction is applied automatically by both Lightroom and Photoshop; I haven't tried RawTherapee. Does RawTherapee produce files that are precisely the same, geometrically, as the JPEGs?
 

ifelcon

Member
Nov 11, 2021
5
1
The lens correction is applied automatically by both Lightroom and Photoshop; I haven't tried RawTherapee. Does RawTherapee produce files that are precisely the same, geometrically, as the JPEGs?
No, it doesn't. The Google Camera JPEGs are 4080x3072 for both cameras; the JPEGs developed via RawTherapee are 4072x3064 for the wide and 3998x3008 for the ultra-wide camera (and heavily distorted). The preview DNG are also heavily distorted.

For the main camera I do not notice any distortion when comparing developed DNG and JPEG.
 

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    @Izy: Thank you for your suggestion. I don't like the idea of installing apps which are not checked via a trustful store so I am still undecided. An analysis of the files via virustotal showed one scanner with a positive result however this seems to be a false positive.

    @sdbe: I chose OpenCamera as a workaround because it allows to adjust the sharpening (which I did set to "None") and the noise reduction (which I did set to "High Quality"). This at least improves the quality a bit. Together with the post processing in Kdenlive against the over-saturation, I get acceptable results (however with less image stabilization so you have to have a steady hand). This is more a workaround than a solution ;)