Unlock your phone camera’s true potential with these 10 tips on how to use Open Camera
If you think that your phone’s stock camera app can do a lot, you’ll be surprised to learn that Android lets you do much more with the Camera2 API. Unfortunately, you’ll have to download third party apps to fully experience the features your phone’s camera is capable of.
Open camera is one such app that is completely free. It doesn’t have ads and can be used without any in app purchases. So what can you do on Open Camera which cannot be done on your stock camera? Read on to find out:
When you’re shooting video everyday, you’d be lucky if you have a device that has image stabilization built in. For now, it is a feature reserved in the top flagship devices only. Open Camera cleverly implements camera stabilization by using the accelerometer to show you the angle at which the camera is tilted. You can use this virtual spirit level to adjust your grip so that the photos and videos you shoot are perfectly level. To use it, simply open up Open Camera and look for the readings on the bottom left corner of the screen.
Detect faces and not objects!
You can enable face detection in the settings menu and let the camera focus on the faces that are recognized in the frame rather than having to manually select the focal points. This makes it easier to shoot portraits and not having to worry about the person going out of focus.
Use volume keys to take a picture!
Open Camera lets you customize the volume keys to perform various functions when using the app. You can head over to Settings>more camera controls and set the behaviour for the volume keys. The volume keys can be used to take a photo, toggle video recording, adjust the focus, zoom in/out, change exposure level and toggle auto stabilization. So fly through the app with the volume controls to take better images, faster.
Control your camera with your voice
You can set the camera to automatically take a picture or start recording video when you say a trigger word such as “cheese” or set it respond to loud noises. You’ll find this handy when trying to take a groupie or an usie.
Adjust audio sensitivity
Not all environments you record video in are the same, some might be more noisy than the others. Unless your phone’s mic adapts automatically, you’ll be left with extremely noisy or muffled audio recordings. To counter this, you can manually adjust the sensitivity of the microphone to best suit the environment you’re recording in. Head over to Audio control options to increase or decrease the sensitivity.
Lock photo/video orientation
When you’re shooting video, the internet will collectively groan if you’re shooting it in portrait. If you have a problem with the orientation when you rotate your device, you can lock the orientation to landscape regardless of how the device is oriented. Or you can always record in portrait and endure the collective hate. Set the orientation under “More camera controls” in settings.
Save your photos where you want!
If you’re one of the lucky ones who managed to snag a good phone with a memory card slot, you can take advantage of the increased storage by setting Open Camera to save the photos to the external storage. This saves valuable space in your phone for other content. You can change the “Save location” to any folder on the phone that the app has write access to. You’ll also be able to customise the names of the files Open Camera would be saving on your phone by using prefixes. Add a prefix for a video or a photo file separately and you can make your life a bit easier by reducing the frequency of manual photo organizing sessions.
Mark your photos and videos based on when you took them!
You can add stamps on photos and videos with the date and time and even embed the location information if permissions are granted. This will help you catalog the photos better and remember the context to your photos when you’re reminiscing your green and salad days. Add the timestamps in any format you want, add custom text and even customize the style of the text you’re adding.
Customize how the screen looks when using the app
Stock camera apps can have confusing UI and can be content agnostic when it comes to interfaces. You can control the layout of the UI for left handed and right handed people and toggle the various controls shown on the screen. Head over to Settings > On Screen GUI to play around with the UI.
Burst mode lets you take photos in rapid succession to capture memories that are too fast to frame and compose a picture. You can set how many photos the phone takes when you trigger burst mode. You go from 2 to 10 and even set it to click photos as long as you’re holding down the shutter button. Use the burst mode with caution tough. Taking so many photos can fill up your phone’s storage fast.
Open camera comes with a lot more features than the stock camera and is useful for users who want complete control over taking photos. As with other third party camera apps, you can manually control the exposure, ISO, resolution, frame rate, timer, color effect, scene mode, HDR, flash and white balance. Note that the app may not be supported on all phones as it relies on Google’s latest Camera API. Check if your phone is running the latest version of Android available and keep your Google Services updated for optimal usage.
This article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.