Current state of manual camera controls

With so many different news about flagship phones' manual control abilities, new OS updates, RAW and the likes, we thought here at Camera FV-5 that it could be interesting to summarize what the app can and can't do on some current phones, even more now that manual controls and RAW capture are the talk of the town. We have to note that this table contains what Camera FV-5 can do, which is often more than what the stock camera application (the camera app bundled with the phone) can do. If you discover any errata, please contact us or tell us in the comments below.

Last update: 2016/06/02

Manufacturer Phone OS EV Manual ISO Manual shutter Manual focus RAW capture
LG Nexus 5 Our pick 5.1
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 0.8"
Yes
Yes
LG Nexus 5X 6.0
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 1/5"
Yes
Yes
Motorola Nexus 6 5.0
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 0.6"
Yes
Yes
Motorola Nexus 6 5.1
No
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 0.6"
Yes
Yes
Huawei Nexus 6P Recommended 6.0
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 1/5"
Yes
Yes
Samsung Galaxy Camera 4.3
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/2000 - 2"
No
No
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom 4.4
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/2000 - 2"
No
No
Samsung Galaxy S4 5.0
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Samsung Galaxy S5 5.0
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 edge 5.0
Yes
Yes
Yes1/8000 - 1/10"
Yes
No
Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 edge 5.1.1
Yes
Yes
Yes1/8000 - 10"
Yes
Yes1
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 5.1.1
Yes
Yes
Yes1/8000 - 10"
Yes
Yes1
Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge Recommended 6.0
Yes
Yes
Yes1/8000 - 10"
Yes
Yes
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 5.0
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 5.1.1
Yes
Yes
Yes1/8000 - 10"
Yes
Yes1
OnePlus One Recommended CM12S (5.0)
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/5000 - 60"
Yes
Yes
OnePlus One Oxygen (5.0)
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
OnePlus Two Oxygen 2.1.0 (5.1)
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 30"
Yes
No
OnePlus Two Recommended Oxygen 2.1.2 (5.1)
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 30"
Yes
Yes
HTC One M8 5.0
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 4"
Yes*
No
HTC One M9 5.0
Yes
Yes
Yes* 1/8000 - 4"
Yes*
No
LG G2 5.0
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
LG G3 5.0
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
LG G4 5.1
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 0.7"
Yes
Yes
LG G4 Our pick 6.0
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 25"
Yes
Yes
LG G Flex 2 5.1
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 0.7"
Yes
Yes
LG V10 5.1
Yes
Yes
Yes 1/8000 - 0.7"
Yes
Yes

1 RAW might not be available on all variants of this device (carrier/country).

Our pick Our pick device (based only on the camera).
Recommended Recommended device (based only on the camera).

Notes

General remarks

Exposure compensation (EV) and manual sensor sensitivity (ISO) have been trademark of Camera FV-5 for more than 3 years already. We won't give more importance and discussion to these parameters from now on. Regarding manual shutter, Camera FV-5 is able to simulate manual shutter by using digital techniques even on phones that do not support manual shutter time setting. Therefore, the manual shutter parameter discussed here refers to native manual shutter control of the camera.

Nexus devices

Typically Nexus devices are reference phones in the sense that they are conceived as demonstration bench of what is possible with the latest Android OS versions. They also come to market conciding with new Android OS versions and they also receive prompt updates directly from Google. In this regard, it is of little surprise that Google enabled developers like us to incorporate as much manual control as possible. Camera FV-5 was the first app to support the new Android Lollipop camera subsystem, so pretty much every manual control possible is supported in Camera FV-5.

Surprising is the lack of EV control (which is pretty basic) on the Nexus 6 running Android 5.1. According to Google, they had to remove it because of image calibration issues. It is expected to come back in future firmware updates.

Samsung

Samsung has always provided relatively good OS updates support. However, with the transition to Lollipop, focused more on user-visible features than internal details. Updated phones like the Galaxy S4 and S5 do not mean any improved support for manual controls compared to Android 4.4.

The new Samsung Galaxy S6, as it came from factory, did implement the newer Lollipop camera subsystem, but its implementation was a mess: critical features were missing and basic parameters were badly implemented or completely missing. Camera FV-5 used the pre-Lollipop camera subsystem while trying to get the most of the manual controls through it. With the Android 5.1.1 update to the S6, Samsung finally implemented proper support for manual controls, so Camera FV-5 does immediately get RAW capture, manual shutter selection, manual focus and live exposure and ISO information immediately after updating the OS. If you are still using the original Android 5.0 that came from factory, be sure to perform an update from Android settings / About the phone / System updates.

Newer phones like the Galaxy S6 edge+ and Note 5 already support full manual control out-of-the-box. However, it seems that there are carrier-specific variants on some countries that do not support manual controls. Why this happens is completely unknown to us, but it is certain the international version does support full manual control (their model numbers end with "X").

OnePlus

The OnePlus one has been always sold as a tinkerer's dream. The phone is shipped with an OS that puts customizability above everything else, and the manufacturer even covers custom ROM installations inside the warranty. Thanks in part to this, Camera FV-5 was already able to get manual shutter speed (with a range from 1/5000 to a whopping 60 seconds long exposure) and RAW capture even back then when the One had Android 4.4. Now, with the update to CM12S (Android 5.0 based), the manual controls stay the same.

We have to note here that the OEM's home-backed OS, Oxygen OS, does not support manual controls of any kind as of now. If manual shutter speed and RAW capture are of importance for you, you should stick to the official over-the-air update to CM12S operating system.

Regarding the OnePlus Two: it was shipped without any manual controls of any kind, however, recently an update has started to be rolled out (Oxygen 2.1.0) and that one brings full manual controls, including manual focus. However, because of a bug in the OS itself, although in theory the phone can take RAW images, they are corrupted (30% of the image contains black pixels, and the color in the visible part is completely off). Oxygen 2.1.2 solves the issues with the RAW capture. Camera FV-5 therefore explicitly disables RAW capture on the Two for Oxygen 2.1.0 and 2.1.1, while enables it on Oxygen 2.1.2 and higher.

HTC

Even though the camera driver of the HTC One M8 and M9 phones is pretty basic, Camera FV-5 is able to get full manual controls from these devices, specially manual shutter speed with a respectable range of 1/8000 to 4" and manual focus.

LG

LG typically has not implemented any advanced manual capture control on its camera driver. All LG past flagship devices that got upgraded to Android Lollipop did not implement any new camera control. Everything changes with LG's 2015 flagship, the LG G4, that implements a Nexus-grade camera, and therefore, full manual controls are supported, and so are live exposure display and RAW capture. This is, as of now, the only full Lollipop camera subsystem implementation that is not a Nexus device, which is great, and this is a kudos for LG.

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