How to Use Samsung’s Advanced Photo App

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

The best camera phones are really great these days, with superb hardware and software that have bridged the gap with the high-end camera market. However, those looking to show off their photography skills still turn to advanced editing tools and the power of RAW files to polish their images to perfection. Enter Expert RAW from Samsung.

Designed for handsets like the Galaxy S22 series, Samsung’s latest photography app gives expert snappers much more control over the look of their mobile scopes. Here’s what you need to know about Samsung Expert RAW.

More apps: The best camera apps for Android

What is Samsung Expert RAW?

Samsung Galaxy Camera Manual Controls

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Expert RAW is Samsung’s advanced camera app for its Galaxy smartphones. Released on February 25, 2022, the app brings a selection of new features and photography controls to some of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones.

Aimed at more experienced photographers, Expert RAW is designed around shooting in RAW image format, with wider dynamic range for more detail in light and dark areas of a photo and maximum editing potential . These 16-bit RAW image files can be between 10MB and 30MB each, compared to less than 3MP for standard app JPEGs. These larger files are used for editing rather than distribution. You should therefore be familiar with RAW editing software, such as Lightroom or Photoshop, to get the most out of these shots.

See also: What is RAW, and should you shoot in it?

The app also introduces manual camera controls to put a personal stamp on images compared to Samsung’s pre-installed smartphone camera app. Samsung Expert RAW offers manual controls for ISO, shutter speed, EV, metering and white balance to help you choose the perfect exposure whether you’re shooting static or action scenes. That’s in addition to RAW support, of course. In other words, Expert RAW is a gateway to the wider world of the most powerful photography tools and edits.

How to get Samsung Expert RAW on your phone

Samsung Expert Store RAW Galaxy

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The Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Plus, S22 Ultra, and Galaxy Z Fold 3 all support Expert RAW. The 2021 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only older phone on the list at the moment. This will be followed by the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 in the first half of 2022. Samsung says the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, S20, S20 Plus and Note 20 are not supported because their telephoto lenses do not offer the required 2x optical zoom.

Expert RAW versus a standard camera app

Samsung camera app icons

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There are a surprising number of feature similarities between Expert RAW and Samsung’s standard camera app. Both are aligned with the aforementioned manual camera controls, such as ISO, EV and shutter speed options. These options are found in the ‘Pro’ mode of the standard app, along with manual focus.

You’ll also notice that the zoom numbers at the bottom of the screen have been replaced with letter icons, indicating each of the camera’s four lenses. Unlike the standard app’s default mode, Pro and Expert RAW lock you to the lens you choose rather than trying to pick the best option based on the lighting conditions. This additional control has advantages and disadvantages for image clarity and exposure.

Read also : Photography terms explained – ISO, aperture, etc.

Samsung’s default camera app also has a toggle for RAW format output. It’s equally important to note that Expert RAW doesn’t include many of the staples of the modern mobile camera experience, such as a dedicated portrait, night shot, or even a video mode. You also cannot take selfies or videos with the app. So what’s the point of using the additional app?

Expert RAW includes a histogram tool that you won’t find in Samsung’s standard camera app, even in Pro mode. Samsung claims that Expert RAW also offers improved dynamic range over the standard app through the use of multi-frame RAW files. These take a fraction longer to capture and result in different RAW shots than Expert RAW and Pro modes, with varying noise levels and exposure despite similar settings. The expert-level app applies slightly less processing, but it’s not always clear which one is strictly better than the other.

The main reason to use Expert RAW is its streamlined interface for quick access to manual controls when you want/need them. It is a minimalist app that focuses exclusively on pro-level photography features.

How to use Samsung Expert RAW

Samsung Expert RAW manual controls shooting flowers

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Before you start with Expert RAW, you will need to familiarize yourself with all the toggles. Generally speaking, the benefit of switching to manual control is to tailor the camera setup to your scene, balancing the ideal exposure to your subject. After all, your phone’s camera rarely gets that perfect spot. For example, a fast shutter speed should be a priority when capturing action shots, while a low ISO will reduce noise for more detail. Here is a brief overview of the individual options.

  • ISO— Increases light capture at the expense of additional grain/noise. Increase it to allow you to set the desired shutter speed or decrease it to reduce an overly bright exposure.
  • Shutter speed – Closes the shutter faster for a sharper image at the expense of light pickup. Longer shutter speeds capture more light in dark conditions, but are more prone to blur. However, prolonged exposure blur can create impressive light trails and water effects.
  • EV — A general exposure compensation toggle that will adjust other automatic settings. Positive values ​​increase exposure while lower values ​​lean towards underexposure.
  • To concentrate – Manually adjust the camera focus from foreground to background. The peak focus feature applies a green halo around objects in focus.
  • White balance – Measured in Kelvin (K), adjust the white point of your image between blue/cool (2300K) and red/warm (10000K). This should end somewhere around the 5,000,000 mark most of the time.
  • Count — Determines the portion of the image to use when automatically balancing exposure. Center weighting will attempt to expose based on what is in the center of the image. Spot exposures are based on a specific selectable point, while the matrix takes into account highlights and shadows across the entire frame.

See more : What can Samsung’s Expert RAW app do for your photography?

The main purpose of shooting in RAW is to make powerful edits to your shots. Once you’ve mastered the art of manipulating exposure, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the powerful RAW editing software to polish your photos to perfection. Popular Android apps for photo editing include Snapseed from Google and Lightroom from Adobe. You can also move your photos to a computer to use Adobe Photoshop or similar alternatives.

While their specific features vary, these apps offer tools to further correct highlights, shadows, noise, and sharpness to make your image look its best. Plus, you’ll be able to play around with options to balance and manipulate colors for an extra artistic touch without the banding and distortion issues encountered by JPEG.

Here is a small example of the types of image manipulation made possible by RAW.

Advanced tips and tricks

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 1 Camera Housing

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There is an art to composing the perfect exposure that comes down to practice. So our best advice for getting the most out of Samsung Expert RAW is to get out there and take as many photos as possible. Still, for a more in-depth explanation of how these important manual features work and how to get the most out of them, here are some great resources to read:

Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are a few hidden tricks tucked away in Expert RAW. For example, reading the histogram is far from essential, but can serve as a good guide to knowing if you’ve nailed exposure. The clustering on the left side of the histogram suggests the image will be underexposed, while the curves pressed up on the right side indicate overexposure. There are no hard and fast rules as it depends on the subject, but generally you want a decent distribution on the histogram with no clipping at either extreme. The example below is a bit underexposed.

To help, the app lets you set separate points for focus and exposure. To do this, press and hold the viewfinder to set your focus point until the AF/AE ring flashes yellow. You will then be able to move around separate exposure and focus points. The difference this makes is more pronounced when using the spot metering option.

Expert RAW Separate Focus Exposure

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Speaking of autofocus, the settings menu contains an option to enable autofocus tracking. This option keeps your subject, such as a face or object, in focus as it moves through the frame. It’s useful for tracking a subject that won’t stay still, but beware, it’s not super reliable.

Some other little tips: use the high-efficiency RAW option to reduce their file size without losing quality, enable gridlines to help use the rule of thirds, and you can press the volume keys to take a photo like a manual shutter, which is more fun than tapping the screen.

Next: These photography tips will help you take your photos to the next level

Jack C. Nugent