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Tuesday, 10 March 2015


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My first calculator was also rather large, but I don't remember what I paid for it.

Uhh... what's a phone book?

Mike, some camera apps let you take a picture upon release of your finger from the screen - a great way to minimize iPhone camera shake when you're trying to time a critical moment.

The built-in app no longer allows this (but shoots an impressive burst when you keep your finger on the shutter).

A couple of points:

First, your phone camera's properties can change by using a different camera app. I have one app set up for casual shooting and one for more careful work. I know I *could* change the settings back and forth in one app, but having the two apps ready to go is more convenient for me.

Second, I agree with your predictions, but they will get people stirred up. I'm old enough to remember the film vs. digital wars in the photography forums, and now we have phone vs. dedicated camera forum wars.

Actually, I'm old enough to be on the side of the film guys in the film vs. digital wars, but I came to computers early (early 1970's) and photography late (mid 1980's). Currently I love dedicated cameras, and I even enjoy my time spent in Lightroom. I have to remind myself not to "act like a film guy" towards people who prefer iPhones.


If you get keen on iphotography then one of these might come in handy -



Does this mean we've moved from photographic art to a world filled with Mike Selfies? :-)

[Just jabbing. Tools are simply tools, right? How we get there doesn't matter. That we get there does.]

Never mind high school for middle aged types.

A mere 24 years ago I bought a 1 gb hard drive for something like $1100.00.
You cannot buy a hard drive that small now, but if you can swallow an extra 499gb you can get the drive for $45.
(There are esoteric circumstances where bigger is not better, most people won't see them.)

The first real scientific calculator was the HP 35. It came out in 1972, cost $395.00, and sold way faster than HP could make it at first. Your brother's unit was undoubtedly a later product.

One doesn't have to speculate too much about the future when the immediate past shows how wildly different the state of equipment is compared to what photographers think.

Case in point: "What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2014?" ( http://bit.ly/1HwKos9 )

The past is over and so is the present.

I am a digital native, but tend to try different ways around a medium, thus gaining perspective on things. I am a Phone + Film shooter (the m43 kit lens broke down and no budget for a new prime)

When I first got a camera at 9 in 2004, I loved how that device kept snippets of life.
It was a crappy 5MP P&S which is outclassed by the iphone threefold (it beats my 2007 panasonic P&S too).
If I sent it to myself back, together with a couple of tips on life experience, then I'd have lots of fun and a much more thoroughly documented childhood-teenage.

In a couple of years I went from not using a cellphone to having a top class model and fully using its audio and video capabilities.

The multimodule array is quite a plausible option given that the manufacturers have stagnated around the 1/3"-1/2.3" sensor format for 3 generations and counting (2.5 years in human time, 12 for dogs?). Bigger means thicker, which is a no-no in the industry.

Larger sensors are nice, and with the PDAF as in the 6, it seems no problem.
But with computational imaging (that black magick voodoo that makes the tiny sensor shine decently) and a push in hardware using the array, I'd say that the possibilities are quite deep.

Fun fact is that a 1/3" sensor is very approximately the same size as a Super 8 frame. A format coming full circle?

You are forgiven for any mistakes. Getting around completely can be quite difficult with the pletora of features there are.
Sometimes I do stupid mistakes or wonder why something is going the way I didn't want to.

Just a few moments ago I used FB's Messenger in-app photo taking for a message and it came weird (tight, cropped to a 2:1 ratio). Turns out that the image should be taken with the phone in vertical orientation.
None better than a Foolproof measure fooling a non-fool!

The device dictates the use sometimes, agreed. Vertical videos for example.

Your prediction for multi-sensor arrays is technically feasible today. There is an analogy in astronomy, where multiple sensors, either at the same location or at very distant locations are "stitched" together to create a single image, whose characteristics could only be matched by some humongous, beyond cost limits, single array. The question is whether there is a market for a consumer array that will be profitable to the maker. Technically probably the biggest question would be where the sensors are located, to achieve whatever image characteristic is desired. At the moment I don't see the demand for this. Some marketing genius will need to create the need, and then the system will come.

Hey Mike, congrats on the new iPhone!

May I suggest a camera app? I've been using 645PRO, which gives you control over just about everything, including shutter speed and aperture, and also will write lossless TIFF files that play extremely well with desktop post software.

I love using it.

Like Adobe's computational photography that you wrote about ages ago? http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/adobe-shows-off-3d-camera-tech/

In reply to the featured comment by Andre:

It's trendy to beat up on the down & out camera manufacturers. Apple is promoting photography with good photos; why aren't the camera companies ? Well, the photos shown on that recent Apple site are good ... but they're not that good. Meanwhile, Nikon has this "I am generation" campaign going featuring people who've been given D810s to photograph their stories, and have you ever seen a camera release that didn't feature excellent photography ? Been to the Fuji X website to see galleries by their X photographers ? The Sony Artisans of Imaging ? Canon or Nikon's Ambassadors ? What about the Sony World Photography Awards ? It's a hell of a lot easier to find excellent photographs taken by real cameras and sponsored by real camera makers than it is by smart phones. It's just not in your face every moment of every day.

So, yeah, there's a page on Apple's website showing that they're tolerable for certain types of photographs and it's making the rounds, because everybody likes to brag about their phones. But take a look around and you'll find the camera manufacturers doing plenty to promote photography.

As an aside, I was reassured recently, amidst all this "common wisdom" that says that young people don't care about cameras, by this video on petapixel showing young kids taking (foolish/dangerous) risks to explore abandoned places in New York City. Climbing on bridges, getting arrested, going into old buildings and subway tunnels. And lugging those dinosaur DSLRs along with them.

Phones are amazing pieces of technology. As cameras, they're remarkable for their social/sharing features. They're not remarkable when it comes to taking good pictures, and people who care about good pictures figure that out pretty quickly. The traditional manufacturers don't have a clue about the things that make phones so amazingly convenient and fund. But they still know a thing or two about helping us make good pictures.

And to somewhat extend your computational photography anecdote further (and, frankly, into areas about which I'm grossly unqualified to delve deeply), imagine, instead of a set of lenses in one camera from which that computational photograph originates, a network of individual and independent cameras from which similar, geo-synchronous images are instantly combined from the creative commons to synthesize what was once, quaintly, created by that lytro experiment.

And here I am, lusting over a Deardorff 4x5 View Camera.

Whenever you write 'Retina', I think Kodak.

In the meantime you have posted a disclaimer stating you haven't become an "iPhoneographer." Rest assured, Mike - some of us never thought so. 'Honi soit qui mal y pense.' We know it would take 'dementia senilis' settling several decades earlier to make you think the iPhone can substitute for a good camera - let alone take such assumption seriously.
Your sanity is in no question. The iPhone will never do the things a proper camera will, nor will it ever attain the latter's standards of image quality. It can be great for casual photography, but it stops right there. The appearance of high image quality is an illusion, though a fastidiously thought-out one: the processor is actually doing 90% of the job to attain such standards. the rest is 3% on the optics and 7% on apps that manipulate the picture's look to make it look like whatever you want it to look. The word 'fake' springs to mind.
I can see why people get so fond of the iPhone, though: first, it is an extremely desirable object that instantly generates pride in ownership. You pick one and immediately feel it's a high quality item. Plus it's nice to look at, what with that polished metal and impeccably rounded corners that make it look intemporal. The appreciation for its aesthetics varies from 'beautiful' to 'drooling over'. Feel and touch it, and it will immediately conquer you: you won't sleep until you buy one.
And it's an extremely capable mini-computer that can free you from the burden of carrying a laptop or notebook. Add to it the fact that it consolidated a cult status from 2007 to these days, and that it is a Mac for all purposes. Its standards are so high that the competition can only follow by resorting to industrial espionage.
If you take all these factors into consideration, it's easy to see why people wax lyrical over it, and its qualities as a camera. It is a competent camera, capable of good image quality, but that's in the context of the bracket it occupies. All comparisons with prosumer and pro cameras are just manifestations of delirium induced by, on one hand, people taking the massive levels of inboard processing as proof of high image quality, and, on the other, the cult status this smartphone has reached. (I even remember reading a comment in which its author claimed the iPhone 5 would be Henri Cartier-Bresson's camera if he were alive and shooting at that time; if that's not fervor-induced delirium, I don't know what 'delirium' is anymore. Or 'fervor'.)
Your reputation is intact, Mike. Fear not.

All is forgiven...the confusion that exists everywhere regarding the purchase and use of new mobile/cell phones is quite over whelming.
BTW where is LuLu in the phtographs? All we see is the new entry to the family (well sort of new).

And any recent photographs of the hopefully emerging field behind the house?

Strangely, calculator in my days (1976) is small already. Still have good memory of a national calculator with its LED. It is smaller than an ipad mini and a small book thick. I cannot recall exactly but I cannot afford more than US$80 at that time. Hence, ...

For that kind of old thing, my main job in 1990s as a mainframe system programmer (and a PC hobbyist!) is more revealing. I still remember paying US$15m+ for an IBM mainframe which has less cpu power and hard disk than a simulation of mainframe under a virtual machine of windows in my mac air. Of course it is rack side for one just disk drive. Not to mention it only shocked to me that it use only 16 MB memory ... for running an application supporting 1,000 of people. Those were the days.

I wrote a lengthy reply yesterday, but just to further counter the notion that only smart phone makers care about photography, a few links:

Very impressive, that iPhone ...

I still like my real buttons and dials and keys though. The coolest Apple devices I have used are the black/transparent Mac Pro Mouse (wired, one button), and the original iPod.

As for predictions of the future, it's a sad prognosis for me: "Keyboard ... how quaint." -- Scotty, Star Trek IV

Hey Mike,
Congratulations on the 6+. My old eyes want one.
FYI you can also use the earphones as a wired remote shutter release. Just press the volume controls. What is nice about this is no vibration. If used with a mini tripod or phone propped up, it also helps with focus, especially close ups.
Or maybe just for the ultimate selfie;-p
Hope this helps, Greg

Bill Tyler wrote:
The first real scientific calculator was the HP 35. It came out in 1972, cost $395.00, and sold way faster than HP could make it at first. Your brother's unit was undoubtedly a later product.
By the way, put that year and number into the Minneapolis Fed's CPI calculator and it would cost $2264 in today's dollars. Oh, yes, a semester of in-state undergraduate tuition at my university that year was just under $300.

So ... those of us who could not afford that holy grail of calculators would camp out in the Chemistry Building library and use the Wang computers. Remember those? I had forgotten until last year, when I attended an alumni recognition dinner at the university I now work at. One honoree told the crowd that she fibbed about her major so she could sneak into the building that housed the Wang computers!

I couldn't get Gavin's link to the Expose Smart light to work, so I dug around and found this one:


Also, the 645 PRO Mk III app looks promising, but some of the most recent reviews note that the latest version makes the phone very hot and drains the battery. Sounds like a bug. I'm going to keep an eye on the app and try it when they address that.


Mike, I saw a friend trigger an iPhoto by saying "shoot". She said it could be programmed to use different phrases.

Roger B, the owner of a new Fuji Xt-1 bought at B&H via TOP. (Still reading the 540 page third party owners manual.)

regarding price. As pointed out many plans do have the cost of the phone included in the monthly service charge. Although true that's kind of a "so-what!" If one has that plan anyway then the new phone does indeed cost them $199 as that's the incremental cost for an upgrade. Also, one's old phone is usually marketable for more than the upgrade cost...so in that sense the new phone is free.

Responding to Dennis, I think what the camera manufacturers do is preach to the choir: they are not reaching out beyond their base (who will buy almost every new thing they make) to get new people in. None of them place the actual photos front-and-center and lead with that. It's usually some kind of technical bell or whistle.

The Nikon I Am campaign does reach out, but compared to the scope of Apple's campaign, it is fairly minor.

I've found the major manufacturers' samples to be variable. As expressive creative statements, they are in the same ballpark as the Apple photos, and often worse. Yes, I'm leaving out image quality, but go to an Apple store and look at these pictures blown up to 6+ feet across on a limited-gamut backlit transparency, as they did for their artists' series before this current one, and you won't find much to complain about.

Which major camera manufacturer will put huge photos in their customers' faces when they walk into their local camera store? I think the answer is none.

And for examples of bad pictures from Canikon: just from recent memory because I was interested in these two products, the Nikon 300/4 PF lens and Canon 5DS releases were accompanied by entirely uninspiring pictures, which weren't even provided at a high enough resolution for the viewer to appreciate the value propositions of those products.

About the worst thing I can say about the Apple photos, as photographs, is that there are some number of distracting edge intrusions on the frame edges, which is a typical beginner issue. The quality of light in many of them is excellent, and probably because the phone doesn't like low-light. But constraints are always a great catalyst for creativity.

I also have to say that I am shocked at how many people claim that the iPhone cannot produce a good picture. If you believe that, you need to spend more time taking and thinking about photos, and more money on photo classes and books than new equipment.

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