Smartphone raws never quite the same as the jpegs

My phone (google pixel 3a) has the option to save raw files as well as jpegs. Sometimes I have the curiosity to go back to these raws and try to make something better in Darktable… and I usually can’t! Sometimes like in the examples that I post here I do like the edited raws better than the jpegs because there’s less sharpening, they look more “organic” but anyway, I can never make exact (or 90%-exact) replicas of the jpegs.

I’m aware that there’s a lot of computational photography that these Pixel phones do, but I think it’s mostly coming into play when you do night or star photography or capturing smiles and stuff like this, not with simple, static shots. But I may be wrong…

Anway let me post here a couple of examples – I’d like to see what other people here think about this and what you can make out of them.

example 1 (jpg)

example 1 (raw+xmp)

IMG_20200108_171429.dng (12.5 MB) IMG_20200108_171429.dng.xmp (9.8 KB)

example 2 (jpg)

example 2 (raw+xmp)

IMG_20200108_171530.dng (13.1 MB) IMG_20200108_171530.dng.xmp (19.1 KB)

All These file are licensed Creative Commons, By-Attribution, Share-Alike.


My take
IMG_20200108_171429.dng.xmp (12.4 KB)

IMG_20200108_171530.dng.xmp (9.6 KB)

These smartphones always do a lot of “magic” in processing and the manufacturers know exactly their hardware. So it is difficult to match. Sometimes, I develop images from my sons phone. It is always a challenge because the hardware is relatively weak and the software “strong” :wink: .

Here my try to match. Maybe I try later my own “interpretation”.

IMG_20200108_171429_01.dng.xmp (10.6 KB)

1 Like

Trying to match the jpeg with art

google_pixel.arp (11.2 KB)

1 Like

My version.

IMG_20200108_171429_01.dng.xmp (13.9 KB)


And here the “match” for example2:

IMG_20200108_171530.dng.xmp (14.5 KB)

IMG_20200108_171429.jpg.out.pp3 (11.5 KB)

1 Like

I didn’t try to emulate the jpg but instead tried to emphasize the dreaminess of the image. Baiscs in RT and then some “magic” in Gimp:

1 Like

my Pixel 3a is also really good. I always save both JPEG and RAW.
After obtaining the right color profile for RT the results are great.
I find that sometimes in difficult conditions you easily get better
pictures from it than from a dslr or mirrorless.
Of course its sensor is just mediocre and the lens is just average,
but even for RAWs it takes several shots and merges them together in
what google calls a computational raw.

@aadm I’ve experimented only briefly with some profiles. I need to revisit this in a more systematic way. I have a spyderchecker24 and I have tweaked x-rite software to calibrate it and create icc, also used dcamprof and argyll to make icc profiles, I have converted the dcp files for the pixel 3a from adobe to icc. And used Pascals colormatch script and darktable chart to do a jpg color match approach. I mainly use Dt but when playing around with this color profile stuff RT is so much easier to see what is going on, esp the ability to use dcp files and turn on and off the various components of the profile. The problem in playing around in so many workflows for creating the icc files etc I have not been very systematic and actually I had a large catalogue of old shots from my lumia phone so I had been working more on that one…I will post any findings or thoughts back to the thread if I find something worth sharing…

1 Like

@aadm This is the default ACR tone curve from the DCP file

ProfileToneCurve": [
[ 0.000000, 0.000000 ],
[ 0.019608, 0.019608 ],
[ 0.058824, 0.098039 ],
[ 0.196078, 0.419608 ],
[ 0.392157, 0.709804 ],
[ 0.784314, 0.952941 ],
[ 1.000000, 1.000000 ]


Because I like to play with stuff like this, I converted the curve data to a rawproc curve command and applied it to my test image:

I’m not at the right computer to look at it, but I think this just a bit darker than the embedded JPEG. Here’s the rawproc command:


Control points are the Adobe data multiplied by 255…

Basic default processing

I took a quick snap leaving work and processed the raw file 3 ways with only the base curve from the pixel 3aXL dcp file, only filmic defaults no color preservation, with a custom icc processed with a modified version of the colormatch script . Provided are the original raw, the in camera jpg, filmic and basecurve processed raw files and using only the colormatching icc…no filmic or basecurve…just for comparison of starting points generated by each method for raw vs jpg…

BaseCurve P3aXL

In Camera JPG

Color Match ICC

Filmic Defaults

Original Raw

@priort ya need some vignette correction!

The vignetting is far more pronounced in the raw files. The adobe lens corrections don’t correct for vignetting and there are none in DT but I did try the Huawei P10 lens correction files just for fun and they actually do quite a nice job…

Filmic with Vcorr

Colormatched ICC with Vcorr

Ya I was just posting about that …but my original post was intended to apply no modules or corrections other than those listed…ie focus on starting point differences…

Great atmosphere in this scene! To think you can get a shot this good with a phone…

pixel-3a-IMG_20200108_171429.dng.xmp (63.4 KB)
darktable 3.2.1

@aadm: Nearly a week of examples, suggestions and discussion. Maybe you could comment on that?

@Thomas_Do and others: I’m sorry if I haven’t commented yet! I still wanted to test a few more of these settings that I also liked. I wasnt expecting that much interest out of a phone shot!

The first settings I have tried did not return the same “crispiness” of the jpeg, which was the original idea behind my post (something that I also couldnt reproduce). But then so many other variations that I enjoyed but did not test – that’s why I havent written anything so far.

I will keep the conversation alive anyway, sorry if I seemed uninterested in the followups – that was not certainly my intention! thanks to everybody, I will come back with some more meaningiful remarks soon.

Thanks for the “progress report” :wink: .