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Monday, 02 April 2018


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I wonder if this will come to pass. Phones are reaching a point where they are not being slavishly bought with each new iteration. As we all know, this has been bugging the camera market for a few years. Thom Hogan goes on at length about Canikon's yearly iterations that add virtually nothing. When the doldrums truly hit the smartphone market and people want a better camera, maybe they will turn once more to a......camera.

I agree that the screen makes it easier to visualize the image (screen reflections permitting) and being an old 4x5 photographer I attribute my preference to years of composing on the ground glass. OTOH I find it hard to take my phone (a MOTO Play 2) seriously as a camera. It does have zoom via the 'pinch' technique but I am used to deciding on the shutter speed, aperture, etc. for expressive control and the phone doesn't let me make those choices. Plus the FL is so incredibly short that a shallow DOF is virtually impossible. I use it if I have forgotten to bring a 'real' camera and for note taking (easier than typing stuff on the tiny keyboard) but I see no way that it will ever replace my real cameras for serious photography and I question whether photography can remain 'serious' if some future generation eliminates real cameras from image making.

FWIW you can pinch zoom the picture on the screen to intermediate crops and as long as it's not past the "2x" zoom level do you not get into the realm of the hated "digital cropping" mode. I think the camera does some kind of semi-intelligent synthesis with the dual images that it's capturing to get you a full resolution shot at the in-between field of view.

Of course this assumes you can see the image on the screen to get the crop you want or that you are in the mood to do such a continuous adjustment at all.

I have also been known (gasp!) to crop iPhone pictures in post. Which works pretty well actually. Esp. if you are after squares.

Your iPhone thoughts remind be of that adage which is attributed to Th. Paine, I think, “what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: tis' dearness only that gives everything its value…" And self-driving cars might take the fun out of "shiftin"?

From the perspective of a photographer who once purchased, as his first accessory lens for the Asahi Pentax H2 (which replaced an Agfa Karat 36) I was using, an 83mm (yes, 83mm) f1.9 Pre-set Takumar that seemed like everything I could possibly hope for in a medium telephoto lens, I must admit that the grip with shutter release that Terry Burnes' described seemed pretty cool and I'll probably get one. Also, in this era of photography, as the owner of a Leica M9-based, CCD sensor Monochrom, used nearly every day, I have to admit that it will probably seem like a curiosity in a few years--probably already does to some folks. I love the files that it produces, but that phone is always with me and has already replaced my wristwatch, if not the MM, but some day...

AND there are some nify iPhone apps (such as 645pro) that produce TIFF files and allow programmable BRACKETTING. Send the resulting files into one of several HDR programs and you get results that are quite respectable.

I think I remember someone saying one camera. one lens. one year. But I may be wrong ;-)

Apple and Samsung will win because of interface design. The phone makers need to make simple, no-learningcurve-needed devices for consumers. CaNiSony mainly make cameras for gearhead-fanboys who will put-up with any inconvenience–just look at camera menus if you don't believe me.

I can see a heads-up display coming in the near future ...

I have now read enough of smartphone capabilities to have a modicum of curiosity in trying them as a camera. My problem is that I don't actually have even a basic cell phone. Nor do I want one. But I am a pretty keen photographer. So now have we reached the point when I need to consider buying an iPhone for its imaging capabilities? Maybe I can turn off the phone bits.

Here's an idea both progressive and transgressive -- start shooting video with that little phone.

Put together a 30 second or 60 second video. Apple will automagically generate a rough cut under "memories" at the bottom of the Moments screen.

That will seem quaint someday. For a 12 year old it seems quaint today.

You said a fail is not having a focal length between the two lenses in the camera. This is one reason I think a phone like the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is a great idea. The Galaxy gives you a real zoom lens. Granted the maximum apertures through the zoom range are not large, but I could live with that. You also get optical image stabilization which will help a little with the smaller aperture.

This close to what would be ideal for me. A camera with a phone added.

Welcome back Mike. Glad you're better.

... I KNOW!

Birkett Mills: I'd love to see that giant griddle pan in use.

In a way, you're fortunate in where the birthmark located itself. The owner of a framing shop my wife and I use has a birthmark across the right side of his face. It affected his vision. Just recently, he had his eye removed, an artificial eye inserted into the empty socket, and a hand-painted iris/pupil overlay to match his good eye installed.

I'm happy to see you back. After all, how can one be The Online Photographer offline?

[Re being lucky, yes I know. Most people who have one do have it on their face. And some people have flesh that is distorted as well as disfigured. I saw one young man--made to be a checkout clerk at a Wal-mart, definitely not a healthy job for him--whose birthmark reached up to his mouth, and his lip and face were badly distended. The anguish of thinking a girl will never like you when you are young with that kind of condition is what causes the suicides. However in this area there is a man with a birthmark over the lower half of his face including his lips and apparently he is happily married.

I really feared for the life of the young man at the Wal-mart. He seemed extremely dejected, couldn't even bring himself to make small talk. --Mike]

I was fortunate to share with Goldie Hawn a great natural heart shaped birthmark, and we both touched them.. But I regress......lest we forgot we are Photographers and not image makers, we do not substutete the real thing with digital music, fake news, self drive cars, and synthetic sex dolls, we just make great photographs......the real and authentic deal.

Get back to your 8x10 roots (or root, since you only took one shot), and get the Hoodman Drone Aviator Hood for your iPhone:

I sometimes shoot holding my iPhone with a pistol grip and the hood on - it's bit bulky, but the hand grip and hood make it really easy to see the screen and do whatever tapping I need to do. The grip also steadies the iPhone more than gripping it with my fingers.

I've had the same problem with bright light and the iPhone. I have the screen set for black and white - that seems to help. That’s in Settings: General: Accessibility: Display Accommodations: Color Filters: Grayscale. Any camera app used will still take color photos.

Forget taking photos, forget making phone calls, We now carry a computer in our pocket that is more powerful than IBM's best, and no IT people required. You turn it on and it just works.

This year I'm buying several iDevices. And like most of the population no ILC. Cameras have been "good enough" for years. With Moore's Law still speeding along, that mini-computer you call a phone, will keep improving–not just iterating.

It is also interesting that several traditional camera companies, e.g. Leica and Zeiss, are partners in the camera development for smartphones: both for camera and sensors (Sony).

I just returned from a trip to China, where I shot 300 of my 1100 photos on the IPhone SE. There were two reasons for this: the battery on my Canon M2 would die too soon in the day, and I could smack the iPhone up to the window of the bus or train or boat and shoot without catching reflections.


You have hit upon two things that resonated for me.

1. I, too, "see" better with the flat screen on the back of the camera . . . but I find it works equally well with an electronic viewfinder (but not so with the through-the-lens optical view of a DSLR's pentaprism). Somehow, the "flattening" of the scene as seen on the LCD or EVF helps me.

2. There are certain angles in bright sunlight in which it is flat impossible to an LCD on the back of a camera (or phone) unless it is shielded or shaded in some way. I bought a rugged camera for use while kayaking. On the very first outing, I found I had put the camera on full wide, point in the general direction of the subject, pray, and click. I've written to Olympus tech support and begged them to make a rugged camera with some sort of viewfinder. A rudimentary optical tunnel viewfinder, even one of those wire framing devices they used to have on speed graphic press cameras, would be better than shooting blind. Here endeth the rant.

When you consider what you get in an iPhone ( or any modern phone camera), it’s pretty hard to consider your example a “Fail”.
Is there any camera anywhere that is universally good in every situation?
Every camera needs to some degree to be chosen for the job (s) we need it to do.
I have an iPhone X which it think has quite amazing capabilities, still however I view it as more or less an amazing ‘note taker,/ snapshooter, /handy-camcorder. Which I still find to be a marvel.
But we still always need to consider what we intend to do with the results when we choose it or some other camera.
The fault lies Not in our Cameras, but in ourselves ;-))

I'd really like to like cell phone cameras. Two things get in my way.

One is that I have benign essential tremor, so my hands shake. It's very difficult for me to hold a cell phone steady, even in good light. Ditto for viewfinderless cameras.

Two is the complete and total lack of ergonomic design in cell phones. They're not even that easy to use as phones, much less as cameras. Rectangular boxes with rounded corners, the better to drop them with, you see. Buttons on the edges and sometimes on the back so it's tough hold it without accidentally pushing one of them. And as someone else said before, pushing a virtual shutter button on the screen is the direction most likely to increase camera shake.

What I want: Flip-up viewing hood, just like camera makers figured out a hundred years ago. Rotating lens module (or even a mirror) so that look-down viewing is possible (long live the TLR). Those things would make body bracing possible. Yes, I do still like my Rollei, and I know I'm not the only one who does.

I doubt the contention that cell phone makers even employ camera engineers. How would any sane camera designer allow such a human-unfriendly design to be released for manufacture?

And then, there is that wonderful little photo book by Andre Kertesz, "Birds." Lots of pigeons in that one.

I have to pay attention and be disciplined to compose well through a DSLR viewfinder. I have a tendency to look *through* it at the subject(s). So I see the trees, the people, the cars, the buildings, whatever. What I want to see is a two dimensional rectangular image. When I started playing around with my first couple digicams, I realized that seeing the 2d image on the LCD provided that abstraction easily. Around that same time, I also bought an angle finder for doing macro work and discovered that it gave me a similar level of abstraction. Whether it's because I was seeing something that wasn't directly in front of me or something about the image in the finder, it made it intuitively obvious that I was looking at an image. I'll have to play around with this some more - I wonder if it's because I was seeing an obviously bounded rectangle where I'm hard pressed to see out to all of the edges and corners of some viewfinders with my eyeglasses.
Anyway, now the problem with LCDs is that I have to hold them too far away to see them clearly. (I'm way overdue for an updated eyeglass prescription).
None of that makes my iPhone a particularly enjoyable camera, though.

As much as I love having a camera with me all the time, the one thing I hate about camera phones is how the screen turns to black when the thinnest ray of sunlight reaches them.

Most of the time I just hold a ‘black brick’ roughly in the direction I want and hope for the best.

I was thinking about this and I attribute the rise in competent, and sometimes excellent, photos made by non-enthusiasts to mobile phone cameras, the IPhone specifically. BUT .. the the vast majority look the same in aesthetic terms, and are boring.

The issue I see is that the controls necessary to modify the image “capture” (I don’t like that term) in real time are so inaccessible as to be irrelevant. What makes a photographer are precisely those controls and the choices they enable. Post-processing is not irrelevant, but being able to control the moment of exposure is essential.

All this talk about smartphones leads m3 to report an interesting observation I made on Easter. I was at my daughters house for the holiday. My daughter started to take a picture of her young son holding his even younger cousin with her phone. After one quick shot she dashed into the other room and grabbed her Rebel and returned to shoot several more shots. I guess we shouldn’t give up to quickly on the young folks.

Couldn't you have just held up a magnifying glass in front of the iPhone's 28mm-e lens, to get the composition you needed?

I thank Bruce McL for the tip about setting grayscale on the iPhone.

Birkett Mills... their Puritan Buckwheat Pancake Mix makes the best pancakes & waffles!

Interesting that some smartphones have true monochrome sensors which can record as such. I think these are Chinese brand with Leica branded lenses. Leica monochrom for the masses (kinda).

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