Huawei Honor 6X is a mid-range Android smartphone and was one of the first under 15K mobile to feature a Dual camera setup when it was launched. The performance and the battery backup are all great. However, the camera on Honor 6X is just average. The dual camera bokeh effect is fun though.
I have been using Honor 6X for a while now. At first, i took photos with the default camera app it shipped with. I found the images lacking detail and completely disliked the results. I also noticed, if you are in a low light environment, the camera app bumps up the ISO to get the exposure, hence resulting in images with less detail and a lot of grain.
So How to fix Honor 6X camera ? Shoot Manual and Shoot RAW.
Shooting raw ( DNG ) will enable you to store the complete data the image sensor captures in a file. On Honor 6X’ 12MP Sony IMX386 sensor, this is around 24MB. Regular Jpeg files will be around 5MB size.
On Honor 6X, the default camera app doesn’t support RAW DNG shooting. Even the Android 7 Nougat EMUI 5 update doesn’t enable this feature. Other Honor mobiles such as Honor 8, Honor 9 etc do support raw shooting out of the box. Of course you can edit some files and enable raw feature, however for that, you would need to Root your device, which is not recommended.
So in order to take DNG shots, you would need to download a third party manual camera app. Since Huawei has enabled Camera 2 Api, there are plenty of apps that will allow you to take photos with manual control. I use Adobe Lightroom Mobile app. It is freely available on Play Store and has an in built camera that supports both manual control and DNG shooting. ( switch to Pro mode to get these features ).
One problem with the Lightroom App is that, it only supports up to 1 sec Long exposure while the default camera app can shoot up to 32 secs. This is not a deal breaker if you don’t plan to shoot at night with tripods and all.
Shooting RAW DNG with Lightroom Mobile Camera App
Open the Lightroom Camera app and switch to Pro mode. If you are shooting in a sunny environment, you don’t have to manually adjust the ISO and Shutter speed as the app itself will choose the best setting for you. In good lighting, the app will choose the base ISO 50 which ensures the best image quality. When you are shooting low light, if you choose a low ISO like 50, the shutter speed will come down below 1/30s to 1 secs. To get blur free shots, you would need a higher shutter speed – at least 1/40s. Anything lower, it is recommended to use a tripod to get blur free sharp images.
When you take a pic in the Lightroom mobile app, it automatically imports those files to library for you to edit it further. You can pull down the highlights, adjust exposure, open up the shadows, adjust black and white points,increase saturation etc with this app. After you are done with the editing, you can save it. It will be saved as a smaller file, in jpeg format.
If you already own a Lightroom licence, you can login with that and get more Pro features right in the same app.
One thing missing in Lightroom mobile app is that it doesn’t come with a noise reduction tool or a sharpening tool. When you shoot Raw, both these tools are sometimes needed as the dng files are often grainy with less detail. Adobe has got you covered again.
Install Photoshop Express from the Playstore. This is another Free app. When you are using this for the first time, in order to access some tools like defog, noise reduction etc, you would be asked to sign in. Just sign in with an id or create one. Many Pro features such as Noise reduction, Defog etc are currently available for free – for a limited time.
Open the Photoshop Express and load a .DNG file you had taken earlier with the Lightroom Camera app.
The reason why the default camera app lacks details is due to the aggressive noise reduction. When you are editing, make sure not to increase the value of ‘Reduce Luminance Noise’ above 20. You can increase the sharpness around 60 if you want. If the image is already sharp, don’t over do it.
If you have never edited a RAW file, below are a few settings you can try with the DNG file you just shot.
- Decrease the Highlights to around 50
- Increase the Shadows to around 30 – 50
- If it’s a cloudy scene or a misty foggy scene, Use defog tool – move the slider to 20. If you over do this, the images will come out bad, with a lot of grainy noise
- Increase the sharpness to 50 – 60
- Increase the Noise reduction to 20 – 30
- Increase Vibrance 10 – 20
- Adjust the Saturation only if you want more color
- Clarity slider – 10 – 20.
After you are done with the editing, click on the Share symbol at the top right corner, and save it to Gallery or share it on social media. The image quality obtained by this way is much better the quality the default camera app gives.
If you want better control over editing, import these DNG files to desktop and edit them with Lightroom 6 Desktop version. I have found quality greater by editing that way. Some sample shots below.