Android working with Camera

Now a days lot of apps offer users to take pictures and record videos for various kind of purposes. This tutorial describes how to do the same in your applications.

Integrating camera can be done in two ways. One is to use android inbuilt camera app which is very easy process. This method won’t give you much control over camera as everything is taken care by inbuilt camera app. This way will be appropriate when your app need just a picture or video from camera.

Second way is to build a custom camera interface and adding the functionality. This needs higher effort as we have to do everything by our own. Building custom camera interface will be useful when you are building an app which mainly deals with images and videos like Instagram.

This tutorial covers the first scenario which is using android in build camera app in your application.

android working with camera api

Let’s start by creating a new project

1. Create a new project in Eclipse from File ⇒ New ⇒ Android ⇒ Application Project and fill all the required information. I left my main activity as MainActivity.java

Adding Permissions / Features

2. Working with camera needs set of permissions and features in the AndroidManifest.xml file. Add following in your AndroidManifest.xml

android.hardware.camera – Required to use camera hardware
WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE – Required to store images / video in external storage
RECORD_AUDIO – Needed when recording video with audio

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    package="info.androidhive.androidcameraapi"
    android:versionCode="1"
    android:versionName="1.0" >

    <uses-sdk
        android:minSdkVersion="8"
        android:targetSdkVersion="17" />

    <!-- Accessing camera hardware -->
    <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.camera" />

    <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE" />
    <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO" />

    <application
        android:allowBackup="true"
        android:icon="@drawable/ic_launcher"
        android:label="@string/app_name"
        android:theme="@style/AppTheme" >
        <activity
            android:name="info.androidhive.androidcameraapi.MainActivity"
            android:label="@string/app_name"
            android:configChanges="orientation|keyboard|keyboardHidden"
            android:screenOrientation="landscape">
            <intent-filter>
                <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />

                <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
            </intent-filter>
        </activity>
    </application>

</manifest>

3. For demo purpose I have created a simple layout with two Buttons, ImageView and VideoView. Open your layout file of your main activity activity_main.xml and paste the following code.

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
    android:layout_width="fill_parent"
    android:layout_height="fill_parent"
    android:orientation="horizontal"
    android:baselineAligned="false"
    tools:context=".MainActivity" >

    <LinearLayout
        android:layout_width="0dp"
        android:layout_height="fill_parent"
        android:layout_weight="1"
        android:gravity="center"
        android:orientation="vertical" >

        <!-- Capture picture button -->
        <Button
            android:id="@+id/btnCapturePicture"
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:text="Take a Picture"
            android:layout_marginBottom="10dp"/>

        <!-- Record video button -->
        <Button
            android:id="@+id/btnRecordVideo"
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:text="Record a Video" />
    </LinearLayout>

    <LinearLayout
        android:layout_width="0dp"
        android:layout_height="fill_parent"
        android:layout_weight="1"
        android:orientation="vertical"
        android:padding="10dp">

        <TextView
            android:layout_width="fill_parent"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:text="Preview" 
            android:padding="10dp"
            android:textSize="15dp"/>

        <!-- To display picture taken -->
        <ImageView
            android:id="@+id/imgPreview"
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:visibility="gone" />

        <!-- To preview video recorded -->
        <VideoView
            android:id="@+id/videoPreview"
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="400dp"
            android:visibility="gone" />
    </LinearLayout>

</LinearLayout>

4. In MainActivity.java I started with adding code like declaring required variables, referencing the xml UI elements and adding button click listeners.

I kept default location to store images and videos in “Hello Camera” directory which will be created under SD card Pictures/Hello Camera

public class MainActivity extends Activity {

	// Activity request codes
	private static final int CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE = 100;
	private static final int CAMERA_CAPTURE_VIDEO_REQUEST_CODE = 200;
	public static final int MEDIA_TYPE_IMAGE = 1;
	public static final int MEDIA_TYPE_VIDEO = 2;

	// directory name to store captured images and videos
	private static final String IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME = "Hello Camera";

	private Uri fileUri; // file url to store image/video

	private ImageView imgPreview;
	private VideoView videoPreview;
	private Button btnCapturePicture, btnRecordVideo;

	@Override
	protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
		super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
		setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);

		imgPreview = (ImageView) findViewById(R.id.imgPreview);
		videoPreview = (VideoView) findViewById(R.id.videoPreview);
		btnCapturePicture = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btnCapturePicture);
		btnRecordVideo = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btnRecordVideo);

		/**
		 * Capture image button click event
		 * */
		btnCapturePicture.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {

			@Override
			public void onClick(View v) {
				// capture picture
				captureImage();
			}
		});

		/**
		 * Record video button click event
		 */
		btnRecordVideo.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {

			@Override
			public void onClick(View v) {
				// record video
				recordVideo();
			}
		});
	}
}

Checking Camera Availability

5. You might think about the scenario if the device does’t have the camera. So before using any camera feature, it is better to check availability of the camera. This can be done in two ways

a. Defining the camera feature in AndroidManifest.xml

By adding android.hardware.camera feature in manifest file, Google Play prevents the app to be installed on devices those doesn’t have camera.

b. Checking in code manually
You can also do a check in the code.

/**
	 * Checking device has camera hardware or not
	 * */
	private boolean isDeviceSupportCamera() {
		if (getApplicationContext().getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(
				PackageManager.FEATURE_CAMERA)) {
			// this device has a camera
			return true;
		} else {
			// no camera on this device
			return false;
		}
	}

Taking a Picture

6. As we are using android’s inbuilt camera app, launching the camera and taking the picture can done with very few lines of code using the power of Intent.

MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE – Requesting camera app to capture image
MediaStore.EXTRA_OUTPUT – Specifying a path where the image has to be stored

captureImage() function will launch the camera to snap a picture.

	 /*
	 * Capturing Camera Image will lauch camera app requrest image capture
	 */
	private void captureImage() {
		Intent intent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE);

		fileUri = getOutputMediaFileUri(MEDIA_TYPE_IMAGE);

		intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_OUTPUT, fileUri);

		// start the image capture Intent
		startActivityForResult(intent, CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE);
	}

7. As we are starting an activity using startActivityForResult(), we can expect some result in onActivityResult() method. Override this method in your activity like below. We also can check whether the user successfully took the picture or cancelled the camera.

	/**
	 * Receiving activity result method will be called after closing the camera
	 * */
	@Override
	protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data) {
		// if the result is capturing Image
		if (requestCode == CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE) {
			if (resultCode == RESULT_OK) {
				// successfully captured the image
				// display it in image view
				previewCapturedImage();
			} else if (resultCode == RESULT_CANCELED) {
				// user cancelled Image capture
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"User cancelled image capture", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			} else {
				// failed to capture image
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"Sorry! Failed to capture image", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			}
		}
	}
android launching camera application

Displaying Captured Image

As we used inbuilt camera app to capture the picture we won’t get the image in onActivityResult() method. In this case data parameter will be always null. We have to use fileUri to get the file path and display the image

8. onActivityResult() we use CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE to check whether response came from Image Capture activity or Video Capture acivity. Call previewCapturedImage() in onActivityResult after doing this check.

/*
	 * Display image from a path to ImageView
	 */
	private void previewCapturedImage() {
		try {
			// hide video preview
			videoPreview.setVisibility(View.GONE);

			imgPreview.setVisibility(View.VISIBLE);

			// bimatp factory
			BitmapFactory.Options options = new BitmapFactory.Options();

			// downsizing image as it throws OutOfMemory Exception for larger
			// images
			options.inSampleSize = 8;

			final Bitmap bitmap = BitmapFactory.decodeFile(fileUri.getPath(),
					options);

			imgPreview.setImageBitmap(bitmap);
		} catch (NullPointerException e) {
			e.printStackTrace();
		}
	}
android camera taking a picture

Recording a Video

9. Launching camera to record video is same as capturing image. But instead of MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE we use MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE.

Here we also define video quality using MediaStore.EXTRA_VIDEO_QUALITY flag. Keeping this value as 1 records video at high quality with higher file size and keeping 0 records the video at lower quality and lower file size.

Call following function on record video button click event

	 /*
	 * Recording video
	 */
	private void recordVideo() {
		Intent intent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE);

		fileUri = getOutputMediaFileUri(MEDIA_TYPE_VIDEO);

		// set video quality
		// 1- for high quality video
		intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_VIDEO_QUALITY, 1);

		intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_OUTPUT, fileUri);

		// start the video capture Intent
		startActivityForResult(intent, CAMERA_CAPTURE_VIDEO_REQUEST_CODE);
	}

And in onActivityResult() method check the success of recording.

/**
	 * Receiving activity result method will be called after closing the camera
	 * */
	@Override
	protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data) {
		// if the result is capturing Image
		if (requestCode == CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE) {
			// code to check capture image response
		} else if (requestCode == CAMERA_CAPTURE_VIDEO_REQUEST_CODE) {
			if (resultCode == RESULT_OK) {
				// video successfully recorded
				// preview the recorded video
				previewVideo();
			} else if (resultCode == RESULT_CANCELED) {
				// user cancelled recording
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"User cancelled video recording", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			} else {
				// failed to record video
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"Sorry! Failed to record video", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			}
		}
	}

Previewing Recorded Video

10. Following function will play recorded video in VideoView. Call this method in onActivityResult method after checking RESULT_OK for camera response

/*
	 * Previewing recorded video
	 */
	private void previewVideo() {
		try {
			// hide image preview
			imgPreview.setVisibility(View.GONE);

			videoPreview.setVisibility(View.VISIBLE);
			videoPreview.setVideoPath(fileUri.getPath());
			// start playing
			videoPreview.start();
		} catch (Exception e) {
			e.printStackTrace();
		}
	}

Avoiding NullPointerException after taking camera picture

11. It is known issue that everybody faces a NullPointerException while working with inbuilt camera application. When we launch the camera it actually restarts our activity which causes fileUri to be null. So when we use fileUri to display captured image or recorded video, we will get NullPointerException.

So in order to fix it we have to use onSaveInstanceState() and onRestoreInstanceState() to retain fileUri value. Add following code in MainActivity.java

	/**
	 * Here we store the file url as it will be null after returning from camera
	 * app
	 */
	@Override
	protected void onSaveInstanceState(Bundle outState) {
		super.onSaveInstanceState(outState);

		// save file url in bundle as it will be null on scren orientation
		// changes
		outState.putParcelable("file_uri", fileUri);
	}

	/*
	 * Here we restore the fileUri again
	 */
	@Override
	protected void onRestoreInstanceState(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
		super.onRestoreInstanceState(savedInstanceState);

		// get the file url
		fileUri = savedInstanceState.getParcelable("file_uri");
	}

Helper Methods

12. Add following methods in your main activity class. These methods helps in creating and getting files from SD card.

	 /**
	 * Creating file uri to store image/video
	 */
	public Uri getOutputMediaFileUri(int type) {
		return Uri.fromFile(getOutputMediaFile(type));
	}

	/*
	 * returning image / video
	 */
	private static File getOutputMediaFile(int type) {

		// External sdcard location
		File mediaStorageDir = new File(
				Environment
						.getExternalStoragePublicDirectory(Environment.DIRECTORY_PICTURES),
				IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME);

		// Create the storage directory if it does not exist
		if (!mediaStorageDir.exists()) {
			if (!mediaStorageDir.mkdirs()) {
				Log.d(IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME, "Oops! Failed create "
						+ IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME + " directory");
				return null;
			}
		}

		// Create a media file name
		String timeStamp = new SimpleDateFormat("yyyyMMdd_HHmmss",
				Locale.getDefault()).format(new Date());
		File mediaFile;
		if (type == MEDIA_TYPE_IMAGE) {
			mediaFile = new File(mediaStorageDir.getPath() + File.separator
					+ "IMG_" + timeStamp + ".jpg");
		} else if (type == MEDIA_TYPE_VIDEO) {
			mediaFile = new File(mediaStorageDir.getPath() + File.separator
					+ "VID_" + timeStamp + ".mp4");
		} else {
			return null;
		}

		return mediaFile;
	}

It is advisable to use a real device and test the application.

Final Code

Here is the complete code of MainActivity.java

package info.androidhive.androidcameraapi;

import java.io.File;
import java.text.SimpleDateFormat;
import java.util.Date;
import java.util.Locale;

import android.app.Activity;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.content.pm.PackageManager;
import android.graphics.Bitmap;
import android.graphics.BitmapFactory;
import android.net.Uri;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.os.Environment;
import android.provider.MediaStore;
import android.util.Log;
import android.view.View;
import android.widget.Button;
import android.widget.ImageView;
import android.widget.Toast;
import android.widget.VideoView;

public class MainActivity extends Activity {

	// Activity request codes
	private static final int CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE = 100;
	private static final int CAMERA_CAPTURE_VIDEO_REQUEST_CODE = 200;
	public static final int MEDIA_TYPE_IMAGE = 1;
	public static final int MEDIA_TYPE_VIDEO = 2;

	// directory name to store captured images and videos
	private static final String IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME = "Hello Camera";

	private Uri fileUri; // file url to store image/video

	private ImageView imgPreview;
	private VideoView videoPreview;
	private Button btnCapturePicture, btnRecordVideo;

	@Override
	protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
		super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
		setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);

		imgPreview = (ImageView) findViewById(R.id.imgPreview);
		videoPreview = (VideoView) findViewById(R.id.videoPreview);
		btnCapturePicture = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btnCapturePicture);
		btnRecordVideo = (Button) findViewById(R.id.btnRecordVideo);

		/**
		 * Capture image button click event
		 */
		btnCapturePicture.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {

			@Override
			public void onClick(View v) {
				// capture picture
				captureImage();
			}
		});

		/**
		 * Record video button click event
		 */
		btnRecordVideo.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {

			@Override
			public void onClick(View v) {
				// record video
				recordVideo();
			}
		});

		// Checking camera availability
		if (!isDeviceSupportCamera()) {
			Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
					"Sorry! Your device doesn't support camera",
					Toast.LENGTH_LONG).show();
			// will close the app if the device does't have camera
			finish();
		}
	}

	/**
	 * Checking device has camera hardware or not
	 * */
	private boolean isDeviceSupportCamera() {
		if (getApplicationContext().getPackageManager().hasSystemFeature(
				PackageManager.FEATURE_CAMERA)) {
			// this device has a camera
			return true;
		} else {
			// no camera on this device
			return false;
		}
	}

	/**
	 * Capturing Camera Image will lauch camera app requrest image capture
	 */
	private void captureImage() {
		Intent intent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE);

		fileUri = getOutputMediaFileUri(MEDIA_TYPE_IMAGE);

		intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_OUTPUT, fileUri);

		// start the image capture Intent
		startActivityForResult(intent, CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE);
	}

	/**
	 * Here we store the file url as it will be null after returning from camera
	 * app
	 */
	@Override
	protected void onSaveInstanceState(Bundle outState) {
		super.onSaveInstanceState(outState);

		// save file url in bundle as it will be null on scren orientation
		// changes
		outState.putParcelable("file_uri", fileUri);
	}

	@Override
	protected void onRestoreInstanceState(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
		super.onRestoreInstanceState(savedInstanceState);

		// get the file url
		fileUri = savedInstanceState.getParcelable("file_uri");
	}

	/**
	 * Recording video
	 */
	private void recordVideo() {
		Intent intent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE);

		fileUri = getOutputMediaFileUri(MEDIA_TYPE_VIDEO);

		// set video quality
		intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_VIDEO_QUALITY, 1);

		intent.putExtra(MediaStore.EXTRA_OUTPUT, fileUri); // set the image file
															// name

		// start the video capture Intent
		startActivityForResult(intent, CAMERA_CAPTURE_VIDEO_REQUEST_CODE);
	}

	/**
	 * Receiving activity result method will be called after closing the camera
	 * */
	@Override
	protected void onActivityResult(int requestCode, int resultCode, Intent data) {
		// if the result is capturing Image
		if (requestCode == CAMERA_CAPTURE_IMAGE_REQUEST_CODE) {
			if (resultCode == RESULT_OK) {
				// successfully captured the image
				// display it in image view
				previewCapturedImage();
			} else if (resultCode == RESULT_CANCELED) {
				// user cancelled Image capture
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"User cancelled image capture", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			} else {
				// failed to capture image
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"Sorry! Failed to capture image", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			}
		} else if (requestCode == CAMERA_CAPTURE_VIDEO_REQUEST_CODE) {
			if (resultCode == RESULT_OK) {
				// video successfully recorded
				// preview the recorded video
				previewVideo();
			} else if (resultCode == RESULT_CANCELED) {
				// user cancelled recording
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"User cancelled video recording", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			} else {
				// failed to record video
				Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(),
						"Sorry! Failed to record video", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT)
						.show();
			}
		}
	}

	/**
	 * Display image from a path to ImageView
	 */
	private void previewCapturedImage() {
		try {
			// hide video preview
			videoPreview.setVisibility(View.GONE);

			imgPreview.setVisibility(View.VISIBLE);

			// bimatp factory
			BitmapFactory.Options options = new BitmapFactory.Options();

			// downsizing image as it throws OutOfMemory Exception for larger
			// images
			options.inSampleSize = 8;

			final Bitmap bitmap = BitmapFactory.decodeFile(fileUri.getPath(),
					options);

			imgPreview.setImageBitmap(bitmap);
		} catch (NullPointerException e) {
			e.printStackTrace();
		}
	}

	/**
	 * Previewing recorded video
	 */
	private void previewVideo() {
		try {
			// hide image preview
			imgPreview.setVisibility(View.GONE);

			videoPreview.setVisibility(View.VISIBLE);
			videoPreview.setVideoPath(fileUri.getPath());
			// start playing
			videoPreview.start();
		} catch (Exception e) {
			e.printStackTrace();
		}
	}
	
	/**
	 * ------------ Helper Methods ---------------------- 
	 * */

	/**
	 * Creating file uri to store image/video
	 */
	public Uri getOutputMediaFileUri(int type) {
		return Uri.fromFile(getOutputMediaFile(type));
	}

	/**
	 * returning image / video
	 */
	private static File getOutputMediaFile(int type) {

		// External sdcard location
		File mediaStorageDir = new File(
				Environment
						.getExternalStoragePublicDirectory(Environment.DIRECTORY_PICTURES),
				IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME);

		// Create the storage directory if it does not exist
		if (!mediaStorageDir.exists()) {
			if (!mediaStorageDir.mkdirs()) {
				Log.d(IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME, "Oops! Failed create "
						+ IMAGE_DIRECTORY_NAME + " directory");
				return null;
			}
		}

		// Create a media file name
		String timeStamp = new SimpleDateFormat("yyyyMMdd_HHmmss",
				Locale.getDefault()).format(new Date());
		File mediaFile;
		if (type == MEDIA_TYPE_IMAGE) {
			mediaFile = new File(mediaStorageDir.getPath() + File.separator
					+ "IMG_" + timeStamp + ".jpg");
		} else if (type == MEDIA_TYPE_VIDEO) {
			mediaFile = new File(mediaStorageDir.getPath() + File.separator
					+ "VID_" + timeStamp + ".mp4");
		} else {
			return null;
		}

		return mediaFile;
	}
}
Ravi is hardcore Android programmer and Android programming has been his passion since he compiled his first hello-world program. Solving real problems of Android developers through tutorials has always been interesting part for him.