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Saturday, 29 September 2018


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Yeah, I'm caught in a consumer brain-bind with my iPhone. I would like to upgrade from my fairly old 6 for a number of reasons, especially since it would allow me to shoot raw and shoot from the Lightroom CC camera app, having the files then show up on my main computer in Lightroom, ready to use. That's pretty neat. But I replaced the battery in my old phone recently, and with that, plus iOS 12, it's running very well, and I don't have the normal sloth-like end-of-cycle performance to justify the new phone. A problem I should not spend time writing about on the internet, it is so insignificant.

... 5 trillion operations per second ...

Moore's Law marches on, and on and on.

Ah, the wonder of technology that compensates for the physics of tiny optics and area challenged sensors.

Article on a phone.
More than 5000 words, according to my word processor.

[Seems like an article on a camera, to me, Gerard.... --Mike]

Sooner or later, your phone will also have a "decisive moment" mode. When switched on, the camera's AI engine will detect when everything within vision is perfectly arranged to produce a perfect, once-in-a-time arrangement of pleasing aesthetic effect, and will shot itself. Ah, the joys of technology!

"... competing equivalents of Apple's Neural Engine are beginning to make their way into competitors' products even now."

This sounds a lot like the Pixel Visual Core dedicated image-processing chip that has been in Pixel phones for almost a year -- and the amazing smart-HDR photos it takes. I'm not sure how the Apple version differs, but this isn't new for Android.

Next years will be even better! I have the 7 plus and am still enjoying the pics, some of which I have printed large on my epson p800 with good results so I’m fighting gas on the phone front and the camera front. However 2019 could be an expensive year.

Yesterday I finally decided to replace my ancient flip-phone.
After lusting after the iPhone XS MAX ($1100+) after much researching on the Internet I ended up with the iPhone 8+ ($700+).
As I age, I need the bigger size.

[I like the bigger size too...mine is a 7+. I often read books on the phone, probably the thing I use it for the most. For some reason I find the 7+ easier to carry than my previous phone, the 4s, because it's thinner and seems less heavy (even though it probably isn't, I don't know). --Mike]

Google has smart HDR and portrait modes for a couple of their phone generations already. All with just a single lens/sensor. This has morphed onto non Google phones for several years as well. Apple just now started to catch up.

There's a reason why people prefer Google's camera to most phones, some even rated last year's Pixel 2 better than the new Apple phones.

[What I was attempting to say in the post is that both are good, it doesn't matter which you choose, I'm only writing about Apple because it's what I use. If I used Google I'd write about that. --Mike]

I have little to no interest with doing photography with an iPhone, or any other camera system that takes me out of the equation as one of the key factors in determing the quality of the photograph. This is analagous to taking a metro or train to a destination as opposed to skillfully riding a motorcycle down a beautiful piece of road. The latter is by far the more interesting and rewarding journey.

As for Phil Schiller, he lost virtually all credibility with me when he claimed it "took courage" to take out the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. What a crock. Yes, I know there's a Lighting to 3.5mm headphone dongle (another dongle from Dongle Hell), but its been documented to degrade sound fidelity. And, it's one more thing to lose or leave at home. And Bluetooth doesn't deliver audiophile quality audio, either.

I listen to 24/192 KHz music files wiith my Etymotics or Westones using the wonderful Onkyo HF app, which lets the iPhone pass these high- resolution audio files out of the headphone jack. Unlike iTunes, which limits output to 16/48, and, sorry, but the headphone adapter and Bluetooth just doesn't cut it.

One parting thought: these phones are just too d*mn big. I'm with Marcus Brownlee, who, when asked he wanted wanted to see most from the smartphone manufacturers was, "Small. I'd like to see small phones come back."

Just having returned from an epic trip to Iceland, which the main purpose was photography I can verify there are significant differences in sensor size and quality. I used m4/3, APSC and full frame and yes all three captured some excellent images but each step up in sensor size did provide more raw headroom for image recovery under difficult lighting conditions. Under ideal lighting conditions all three proved worthy of image capture but when lighting gets difficult full frame shines in post processing. I would imagine the same holds true for iPhone images, under great light sure they can capture great shots but what happens when you need the extra shadow recovery, contrast, vibrance, fill light enhancements ?

Apple's approach IS the future for Most photography. It is why they killed Aperture. I have an iPhone x , what it is able to do is very impressive. Future Phones will only get better.
Just imagine a dedicated Apple camera with all that A.I and processing power with say a 1" or m4/3 sensor. If I were a camera company I would worry about that.
Personally I use the iPhone for snapshots, memos, and short videos of my Grandson (at which it excels)
I can't imagine it being my only camera.
But my Daughter and Son in law are leaving today for London, Paris and Rome for 20 days. I offered them every camera I have, even a tiny G7x, they said, We have our phones.
I can't even wrap my head around that, but I suspect it is the future.

Apple is the largest cell phone maker because they don't permit anyone else to use their operating system. Android holds 54% of the market but the phones are from a variety of makers. My cell phone is a Moto Play Z2 and it has a camera that has an HDR mode which I can control, set to auto or turn off. It works fine but the reality is I use my phone as a camera only occasionally. I didn't buy it for the camera. Being somewhat serious photographer (60 years and counting) I like to use actual cameras that allow me to exercise more control than any cell phone camera does. If I did choose to use my phone as a serious photography tool the Moto Play is modular and I can get a Hasselblad module that attaches magnetically and turns the phone into a real camera with real zoom but as I say, I have a real camera, several of them in fact. I give Apple points for hype though.

All great, but I wish people (in marketing and on blogs) would stop using the term 'AI' and 'Neural' to describe adaptive algorithms.

Unless their idea of intelligent life is bacterial, this is not even close to the definition of AI, as given by the Turing test.

In terms of sophistication, it's not even close to Siri. Speech recognition is tough.

They're point-and-shoots. They're good for snapshots. Most of us aren't here because of a deep interest in snapshots. Get used to it. At one time, I bet there were pro photographers boasting that they could make a living with a Kodak APS cameras. It's funny that people don't think they can live with one-inch sensors like the terrific Sony RX100 because the resolution isn't good enough, so they yearn for a Fuji medium format, but they're entranced by cameras with sensors the size of my little fingernail. I know, I know, different cameras for different uses, but if not displayed on an iPhone, iPhone images suck. Really. Put one on your Mac retina screen and *then* tell me how wonderful they are. And that's low-res, compared to prints.

The iPhone 4 got me into photography... the strange errors from that lens/camera module and the early days of Instagram and Hipstamatic were magical, and I daresay they led to my conversion to film. I was wildly unimpressed with the camera on the 5, 7, and SE, and the new camera is the only thing to interest me about the new iPhone. I balk at the price and don't need a new phone/pocket computer, but that camera is calling to me. That said, I'm absolutely certain that the $1000 would be better spent on books, film, and chemicals, and I know I wouldn't use the camera enough times to get the cost down much below $1/shot before I upgraded again. So I'm going to give it a pass, I think, and only upgrade when this SE becomes completely unusable.

I also use my phone for "visual note-taking" and sometimes get results that don't need any explanation. That picture being good enough.

Phil Schiller's job title pretty much says it all: Philip Schiller is Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing reporting to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Compelling images can be taken on just about ANY type of camera, including an iPhone. The all new Neural Engine and Depth Sliders probably work wonders and no doubt that some of these photos are great "right out of...Camera". With a tap on an "adjustment style" like, say "Bokeh" or "Mocha", even greater images can be produced. But I still struggle seeing my phone's display in daylight and I don't get a lot of touch/feel when it comes to that decisive moment. The latest rumor among the Apple fanboys is that the upcoming new iPhone model will be called "ABC" and will make coffee..."ABC" will stand for: "All About Coffee". They will team up with Starbucks where next to their charging stations they will now have a coffee refill hook-up. The heat from the battery will keep it warm for up to 4 hours. Tim Cook and Phil Schiller really know how to generate great images along with a buzzzzz.

While I do not know what computing features newer phones have that my old Samsung S5 does not have, my phone does all I need in that regard. So when it comes time to upgrade (likely a broken phone) the camera will be the most important feature for decision making behind cost. I hope that future phone has a zoom lens and bigger sensor even if the phone is bigger. I see these slim phones with thick protectors that wipe out the slimmer and I think a bigger phone for the camera isn't so daft.

I hate using my phone for photography, except for snapping notices or documents for future reference.

I can't see the screen properly without changing my glasses, or in sunny conditions.

The ergonomics are extremely awkward - I usually start with the phone the wrong way round, and the shutter button(s) always seems to be in the wrong place in relation to my fingers and thumbs.

Since I keep my phone in my trouser pocket, the larger the phone (and the better the screen), the more likely it is to get broken. Phones are not naturally bendy.

Airline cabin baggage allowances. I've just come back to the UK from a holiday in Europe on which I wasn't able to take my main camera system because of the cabin baggage allowance of 5 kgs on the return flight. That had to include toiletries, nightclothes from the last night, the day before's clothes, etc - main (hold) bags had to be put out the evening before. And because it was a charter flight, booked by the holiday company, there's very limited opportunity to purchase extra capacity. So I took a secondary camera system (APS-C) with a not-so-good zoom lens. which I didn't enjoy using. Of course, I also had my iPhone with me and in the end used that for many shots. I see myself doing so more and more.

Anybody else notice that survivorship bias is rarely ever hinted at when discussing cameras (or anything else, come to think of it)? Meaningful conclusions should only be drawn when we consider what's missing from a dataset: "...these pics from camera/lens/system xxx are fabulous!". Yes, but what about all the potential pics that were missed?

John Camp gets it right.

A while ago I decided to make a series of snaps using my cellphone. This consisted mostly of the distressed paint on the hulls of boats up on the hard at my local marina. The first thought that hit me was just how difficult it was: I could hardly see the image on the damned screen in sunlight, and there is lots of sunlight in the Med. Sometimes, I was shooting totally blind.

To cut a long story short, I liked the theme and set up a gallery for it on my website. As luck would have it, during a stroll through the marina a yacht skipper I know asked me if I would like to make a blow-up of one of the shots for decoration on the Fairline he managed. My heart sank. I explaind about size and how things look different in reality compared with how they look on a small screen.

So, I lost a sale and the chance of more, because the yachting world has a tightly-knit grapevine.

That led to the ultimate removal of that gallery and the oath that a snap should never be made using anything that could later compromise the photographer: me!

Since then, the cellphone has proved useful buying replacement taps to match others in the toilet.

Confusing: Here it is more and more about cool (new) stuff. Whether goin?

The problem with the iPhone/WhateverPhone and A.I. is that these work towards a rendering which is set by the makers of the camera. It will frequently get it wrong for expressive photography. I am also finding that the processing in my most recent iPhone makes for images which are overly massaged am pretty horrible at pixel level in anything other than totally optimal conditions.

All that said, I’m just about to drop off two framed prints for an exhibition. Of four images submitted, on a similar theme, one was taken with a DSLR & Zeiss lens, one with a mirrorless & kit zoom but the two selected were iPhone 8+ images which had better content.

I am never happy with what I am doing when pixel peeping - but looking at the original file of the XS shot taken in low light, it is terrible. I almost prefer the photo from the X, which despite having more jagg-buzz effect at least hasn't turned the faces of the three men into plastic dough.

The portrait in good light on the XS is another thing - although for that particular shot I am not completely convinced that the shot from the X didn't simply catch more lens flare from the position of the light behind the subject. Or it could be a bit of grease on the lens - anything.

Help using your phone as a camera

Picked up one of thes at Photokina. Not too clunky but beats touching the 'touch' screen inadvetantly


Phil Schiller has too narrow a view. Apple leads the world in other artistic endeavors too.

An artist friend has an ipad which he uses to create artwork. The ipad algorithms can simulate brushstrokes and there are filters in the menu that can turn a picture instantly into a watercolor! He can even display the results on his 65" TV screen (though the colors suffer some).

After all these years, he has set aside his brushes and palettes saying they are no longer state-of-the-art. I can see that brushes and canvas will soon be obsolete due to this amazing technology.

If you want to argue with photo people on the Internet tell them that an iPhone camera is perfectly fine for "most" uses ...

I don't think there really is an objective answer here. Everyone has their own idea of what "fine" and "most" means.

My personal feelings about this are well known to people on this forum. I think the phone cameras are fine. 😃

But I'll make the statement a bit more quantitatively. If you were happy with the "image quality", whatever that is, of a DSLR in the early to mid 2000s (I'm talking Nikon D70 to D200 range here) then ergonomics aside you should be fairly happy with what you get out of a modern cell phone camera. I've taken pictures with my iPhone in the nearly dark that compare pretty well with the noise-filled mess that the early Nikon sensors put out. On the other hand, in not bad light I have 12x18 inch prints made from a D70, shot at ISO 800 (really on the edge for that time) that look ... for lack of a better way to say it ... just fine.

Lately I've also had a lot of my old B&W (mostly 35mm, a bit of 120) film scanned at reasonable resolutions. I can't say the scans really hold up that well against modern pixel peeping standards ... certainly no better than the phone JPEGs.

YMMV, and all that. This is just my experience. I think calling the phone cameras "just for snapshots" is selling them short. I think that when well used they are a legitimate photographic tool. Whether you want to learn to use that tool is up to you.

Footnote: The reason the iPhone (or Pixel or Samsung) is (or will be) all the camera most people need is that (I think) most people don't print and are posting photos on social media or web albums such as Google Photos or Flickr or what not. And well, even if you print at a reasonable size the iPhone camera is not shabby at all (depending on the image of course).

This discussion reminds me of Mike's idea to have a combo of a small sensor camera and large sensor camera and the iPhone combined with Full Frame (DSLR or Mirrorless) would seem to work well in that regard. The question keeps coming up as the phone cameras get so good: how often would the FF camera be left at home?

In any case, I'd like to see Nikon produce a Z-Mount APS-C camera that is compact and uses compact APS-C primes and zooms. I really like my D750 quite a lot, but I'm feeling that if I move to Z-Mount and a mirrorless camera body that I'd like it to be as compact as possible, and I know from experience I'd be happy with the APS-C sensor for my hobbyist type photography. Unfortunately, I think Nikon will go the other direction and make D5 and D500 style mirrorless cameras before any kind of compact DX version. The market seems geared upward.

Long story short, my iPhone camera goes with me everywhere, while my D750 not so much. (That's on me, but still).

I have wondered over the last three years what would happen if Apple bought Fujifilm (market cap today 19.8 billion USD; arguendo vs Japanese restrictions on foreign ownership) and integrated its CPU and image processing software into the XT-n. Or licensed the rights to produce and modify that design and brought out its own version.

Outside the USA or without carrier support, prices for the iPhone can and do get comical. the announced price of an iPhone xs max 64gb here (₹99,000) i can get pretty much any recent aps-c camera with a kit lens and have enough left over to buy a phone that can do everything else the iPhone does.

Not to change subject but go look at new fx from Zeiss will blow ur mind..has Lightroom 512g internal no df card all sorts communications Scary!

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