Camera basics

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To perform basic camera actions like capturing a photo or video using the device's default camera application, you do not need to integrate with a Camera library. Instead, use an Intent.

Take a photo with a camera app

Android delegates actions to other applications by invoking an Intent. This process involves three pieces: the Intent itself, a call to start the external Activity, and some code to handle the image data when focus returns to your activity.

Here's a function that invokes an Intent to capture a photo.

Kotlin

val REQUEST_IMAGE_CAPTURE = 1
 
private fun dispatchTakePictureIntent() {
    val takePictureIntent = Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE)
    try {
        startActivityForResult(takePictureIntent, REQUEST_IMAGE_CAPTURE)
    } catch (e: ActivityNotFoundException) {
        // display error state to the user
    }
}

Java

static final int REQUEST_IMAGE_CAPTURE = 1;
 
private void dispatchTakePictureIntent() {
    Intent takePictureIntent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE);
    try {
        startActivityForResult(takePictureIntent, REQUEST_IMAGE_CAPTURE);
    } catch (ActivityNotFoundException e) {
        // display error state to the user
    }
}

Record a video with a camera app

You can also invoke an Intent to capture a video.

Kotlin

val REQUEST_VIDEO_CAPTURE = 1
 
private fun dispatchTakeVideoIntent() {
    Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE).also { takeVideoIntent ->
        takeVideoIntent.resolveActivity(packageManager)?.also {
            startActivityForResult(takeVideoIntent, REQUEST_VIDEO_CAPTURE)
        } ?: run {
          //display error state to the user
        }
    }
}

Java

static final int REQUEST_VIDEO_CAPTURE = 1;
 
private void dispatchTakeVideoIntent() {
    Intent takeVideoIntent = new Intent(MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE);
    if (takeVideoIntent.resolveActivity(getPackageManager()) != null) {
        startActivityForResult(takeVideoIntent, REQUEST_VIDEO_CAPTURE);
    }
    else {
      //display error state to the user
    }
}

The startActivityForResult() method is protected by a condition that calls resolveActivity(), which returns the first activity component that can handle the Intent. Perform this check to ensure that you are invoking an Intent that won't crash your app.

Additional Resources

For basic camera actions, use an Intent. Otherwise, we recommend using the Camera2 and CameraX libraries for anything more complex than basic image or video capture.