Last week Google announced that the Android version of its mobile photo editor, Snapseed, will be able to edit RAW files. Last year Google announced that Android Camera API would support DNG, allowing Android cameras to create JPEG+ RAW files in camera. Now photographers can now be able to use Snapseed’s powerful editing tools for a seamless photographic workflow. Since that announcement several smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG and of course Google Nexus have developed their phone’s camera to create DNG files. The good news is by using DNG you are able to use the RAW data from the phone’s small sensor for better photographic results. The downside is that DNG files are bigger and will take up more storage.
There is one pretty big Google Snapseed gotcha. If your phone doesn’t shoot RAW natively, the only folder that will work for converted RAW to DNG files is Google Drive. A strangely simple yet elusive solution to a problem Google’s Snapseed team should have put into their help file from the start. With that in mind, Snapseed will recognize the files and open them automatically in its Develop module. Once developed, the file can then be edited using the rest of Snapseed’s extensive toolset. As with all RAW processors, you should use a light touch and refrain from fully editing the image in Snapseed’s new Develop module. You don’t want to pre-bake too many problems into the file. Still it’s important to experiment to see what can be accomplished.
Another gotcha is while Snapseed will create a “layered” Stacks during processing an image, it doesn’t save that file as a Snapseed proprietary file with those History Stacks in tack, but as a flattened JPEG. No big deal, however it would be a very nice touch if Snapseed would create that type of file. Since Adobe Lightroom mobile took a few pages from Google’s U-Point playbook, Google should do the same. Because with Lightroom Mobile you can work on a file with your mobile device, save it back to a Lightroom Collection which syncs the file in your Creative Cloud account or other cloud storage. Then open that file up in Lightroom for the desktop and all of the file’s basic development setting travel with the file for adjustment later. It would be very cool if you could save a Snapseed file to a Google Photo Album and the settings followed the file, but not yet. Okay Google?
The slideshow accompanying this article walks you though a sample Snapseed DNG edit workflow, so be sure to check it out . You can get the Snapseed update at the Google Play Store here. Pickup the latest version of Adobe’s DNG Converter here, and if you don’t already have a copy of Google Drive download the desktop version here and your mobile device version here. Sorry, iOS no update yet, but it should be on its way soon.