Apple’s iPhone may have fallen off a cliff recently with their new iPhone 6S camera but to add insult to injury, it still hasn’t figured out if DNG file support is warranted even though Snapseed is already supporting it natively on Android.
Now let’s not blame Tim Cook for this oversight, after all, the iPhone isn’t a serious mobile camera to begin with as it is used for casual shooters and will continue to appeal to casual shooters. Neither is he to blame for the fall from grace from the DxO lab ratings for the iPhone 6S as doing so, would mean you’re accusing him of first degree murder for running over a cat.
The iPhone, like the cat, will spring up once again thanks to its many lives so don’t go pronouncing its doom as yet. Sure it’s got a measly 12 magepixels but hey, the once mighty Nikon D700 also had a 12 megapixel sensor so don’t knock it.
So I digress, let’s get back to Snapseed support for DNG files. Yes, it is finally here but no, it’s not as easy as you think.
Snapseed Caveats Explained
Snapseed is awesome. When Nik Software first released it, Mac and iOS users paid good money to get its tools on the desktop as well as on mobile. Google then bought it out. Apple users around the world cursed Tim Cook on why he didn’t see that opportunity first, well you can’t blame him. He was focused on getting profits and not on making users happy. Can you blame him?
After it was acquired, Google made some changes, including releasing it for free as an app for mobile and killing the Mac desktop version.
When Google announced that it was going to support DNG file formats, everyone went WTF?
DNG files are massive. They can easily be 20mb a piece or more.
Now for casual photographers who shoot selfies and post to Instagram and Facebook, there is nothing to worry about since there is no need for DNG as part of your digital imaging workflow.
DNG was a file format invented by Adobe that has gone open to allow some form of portability of RAW format image files to exist indefinitely. One of the problems of native RAW files taken from cameras is that it is proprietary. Once support for that particular format goes defunct, there is no way to open that file in eternity. So Adobe figured that if you convert the native RAW format to a DNG Raw format, with all the data intact, you could allow that file to exist forever.
To date, very few mobile devices shoot with DNG in mind. Android has one paid app, Camera FV-5, which allows you to shoot and save in DNG format. The Leica M9 shoots in DNG too but not a whole lot of other cameras do. One reason is that converting native Raw files to DNG takes some heavy lifting on DSLRs and it is ill advised.
So getting back to the Mobile camera of choice, why would you want to shoot in DNG?
For one, DNG format these days are as good as having a second back up camera to your DSLR if you’re a pro. The merits of having a good RAW file should your DSLR suddenly found its way into a Craiglist advertisement as a stolen artifact is a good reason to have a backup camera as a sound investment.
Think about it, if you had a backup photo residing on your mobile device capture with a 16 megapixel sensor, it could save your day. Unfortunately, there are some caveats to using RAW editing on Snapseed which has yet to be sorted out.
DNG will not load from Gallery App
If you had DNG files stored on your phone, the only way to retrieve it is through a file manager. For Galaxy Note users, please do not rely on My Files app that comes with your mobile device won’t recognize DNG as well. What you need is a third party File Manager from the Playstore such as File Manager HD, which is free to use.
With the file manager, you go to your desired folder with the DNG files and get that to open in Snapseed.
You can also use this method to open files in the cloud to Snapseed. For example if you had a folder on Dropbox where you store all your DNG files, you can the mobile app for Dropbox to open the file in Snapseed.
DNG is still not a recognized format for External Cameras
Besides the Leica M9, and probably a few of the other Leica cameras that has since arrived in stores, you need to be able to convert those native RAW files from Olympus, Nikon and Canon all on your own and store them in a place where you can reach them. Cloud storage is probably the best way to do this but I hate to think what would happen to your mobile broadband bandwidth once you start pulling down 40mb files from the cloud to edit on your Android device.
For me, I have a dedicated folder in the cloud where I processed these native RAW files into DNG format. This means that should a client suddenly need a file and want to pay for it, you could of course download it, process it the way they want and send the file to them.
DNG isn’t perfect, at least for now but it sure gets the work done. For the rest of you who are already shooting DNG on mobile, Snapseed is a god sent.