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Sunday, 24 March 2019


I have only very briefly experimented with shooting RAW on my Google Pixel 2. I thought it would be a great option to allow for better output in difficult conditions. But then I discovered that the RAW file looks awful. The photos from the Google camera app are consistently amazing, especially in situations that I'd expect it to fail. The automatic hdr processing (and whatever else it is intelligently doing) is really fantastic. The new "night sight" mode takes it to another level. I really don't see how I could do any better. There's very little control, but it hardly seems to need it. Of course, I miss the fun of full camera control and many other aspects of using a "real" camera (e.g., an optical viewfinder), but I can't argue with the results!

Why not just use the Mobile Lightroom CC (or whatever its current name is) app? It lets you shoot raw files, make adjustments on the phone or on your computer and even sends your photos to your computer for you?

Sorry to sound pedantic, but it’s warp & weft, not woof. It’s a fabric thing.

["Woof" is an acceptable alternative for "weft" more often used in the US. "The essential foundation or base of any structure or organization; from weaving, in which the warp—the threads that run lengthwise—and the woof—the threads that run across—make up the fabric: 'The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are the warp and woof of the American nation'" (dictionary.com). But thanks for keeping an eye out for me Chuck! --Mike]

I feel so out of touch. I bought a 2nd hand iPhone 5 two years ago and have taken 2 pics with it, both for documentary reasons. I keep it turned off most of the time because of pointless battery drainage, which means that when I need it, every 2-3 months or so, the battery is dead and I can't use the phone. Am I an outlier?

I think phones have become viable photographic tools and great work can be done with them. I just don't enjoy it. I use my phone only as a sketchpad. Any photo I take with it, I am willing to loose. I don't really like how the pictures get backed up and I haven't made it a habit to import them into Lightroom, which is my organizational software. When I do happen to take a photograph I want to keep, I Email the file to myself at its original size. I have too many great cameras and lenses and too little time to bother organizing snaps of the parking deck level I parked on or a product in a store I took a snap of. I leave the iPhone photography to all of my friends that aren't obsessed with beautifully engineered film and digital cameras.

"(Wish I had taken those six precious pictures with the Halide app? I guess.)"
Even with the ability to shoot raw, his is the kind of wan enthusiasm that smartphone cameras inspire.

I look at Marco's problem a little differently, one of the secondary benefits of the iPhone is that it solved the age old problem of
"Oh, I wish I had a Camera" , now we always do. But it also has underscored the reality that pictures are everywhere and we never know when a great picture, or an Alien spacecraft will show up.
That , in my opinion is a good thing.
Jay Maisel says "Always carry a camera, it's hard to take pictures without one" and he does. Henry Wessel has his same old Leica with a Canon lens with him All the time.
When they say Camera, they mean one with which you are satisfied.
If pictures are important to you, carry a camera.

It may not be practical or possible for all of us to do that with our preferred camera, but even there there are 'Tweener' cameras that are far better than phones and are also pocketable.

So the iPhone hasn't created that problem, it is responsible for proving to each of us that the pictures are there.

Now, each of us has to decide How important pictures are to us, and what is a practical balance between carrying a camera we deem to be of adequate quality along with our phone, and when a phone is the only choice. Implicit in that is the acceptance of some 'missed' pictures.
We also miss pictures while we sleep, or at places we don't go to---no one gets them all.
With fine cameras getting ever smaller, it would seem easier than ever to have a completely adequate camera with us.
The iPhone, it seems to me has done more to get people to focus on this issue than ever before. It has provided personal evidence that the pictures we see as important occur all the time, and thanks to smart phones we live in an era where everyone carries a camera so carrying a 'little better one' needs no explanation.

Each time you Get a picture with your phone that you wish was taken with a different camera, is a gentle push toward carrying a better camera. We should be grateful.

I used to carry a Ricoh GR with me at all times so that I'd have "real" camera in case I saw a photograph that I just had to make. I stopped carrying it, and eventually sold it. Next, I bought a phone that supposedly had an outstanding camera. And it did, for a phone. But even though I always have it with me, I stopped making photos with it too (except for family moments and a record of where I parked the car, of course!)

I haven't become disenchanted with photography, but I no longer see any point to making the sort of random pictures that I used to make as I went about my life. This is obviously a very personal viewpoint, but I just don't see the point of that kind of photography anymore.

I've gone completely over to the "deliberate side". If I'm carrying a camera these days, it's because I'm after a specific photograph, typically as part of a group of photographs. The only role* the smartphone camera plays is "scouting" -- taking visual notes, and making pictures as "sketches" of the one I actually want to make later. From this perspective, just about any phone camera is fine, and I can happily ignore all the advances in smartphone cameras.

* Of course all of this relates to serious work! The smartphone is brilliant for casual "life" photography -- family snapshots, etc.

From this perspective,

*By the way, how long before "camera" means "camera phone" …

Remember when they were called cell phones?

There are two B&W camera apps for phones that I have liked: Hypocam and Lenka. You may find one or both very appealing. It's great to have the image preview on the screen be in B&W while shooting. They are both free.

My phone is a Pixel so I don't need to use RAW. The OOP jpegs have always been amazingly good.

Enjoy phone photography. I think it can be great fun.

Hi Michael (Perini), all great points. Just in case you hadn’t heard...Henry Wessel could very likely still have his old Leica with him, but he died last September. I thought you’d want to know this.

Kind Regards,

Most often when I shoot with my iPhone, I use it to take panoramas. Is there a RAW option for the phone that shoots panoramas?

The Lightroom app doesn't do panoramas :(

I found it curious, going back about 25 years, when my wife set aside her Nikon F2, and bought one of those tiny Olympus clamshell cameras. She carried it everywhere, something she couldn't/wouldn't do with the Nikon. Still 35mm roll film (sensor).

My Lumix LX7 kinda serves the same purpose, though not as conveniently. Shopping for a Samsung S10 to fill the gap.

Hey, it ain't camera! Thom Hoan said: "...in the past 10 years I believe I've improved by two stops. Not the camera. Not the lens. Me." https://bit.ly/2HR573g Thom has it right!

Mikw said: " ...you never know when you're going to see a picture." The main places I see a picture is in my mind, or the art directors mind. Then I create the photo.

Ad-Am hobbyist love the process, many pros love cashing the clients check, the process not so much. Me, I'ma check-casher. When shooting I use my mind to set custom functions, while the phone uses AI to set it's parameters. Use bounce fill from white walls if outside, or white show-card inside. I don't need no stinkin' raw. 'cause SOOP jpgs can be as good as SOOC jpgs.

Having trouble seeing the phone screen? Get a hat and use the brim for shade. I use a straw life guard hat https://amzn.to/2OoLtfW or get a cap with an extra long visor https://amzn.to/2HFbkzJ

Thank you Ned Bunnell, for the Darkroom app tip.

BTW for the younger cohort phone does indeed now mean camera.

How out of touch is it to make phone calls with a phone, and take pictures with a camera? I'm prepared to ignore answers to this query.

Yes, but now that the high end phones are bicameral, how long until they can legislate for us?

I feel very liberated now, especially, but realize I've been moving this way for a long time.

So, I have 5 basic and independent devices I use to create photographs: a 645Z, an upgraded K1 (I call the K1U2), an older Ricoh WGR I got for fishing snaps, before I had a smartphone, A Theta V, soon to be a Theta Z1, and my Samsung Note 9.

Because the 645Z is the camera it is, I always have a plan for its use. I use the K1 professionally for run and gun during installations, documenting construction or conservation issues. I use it for events as well, and was using it for UWA before I got the proper lens for the Z. In the main I have a plan for its use. Occasionally I will have it available when I know I need its abilities, especially for low light or high contrast situations, and UWA for interiors.

The fishing camera is just that, and I got it probably 10 years ago.

The Theta is specialized use, mainly professional. Won't go into that here, but it's easy to bring along, and the new Z1 will be even easier to use.

That leaves the phone. Anything I would "snap" is done with the phone. It's my opportunistic capture device, and it's a good one, save for its wretched ergonomics, shared with all phones.

So:liberated. I almost never wish I had one of my other, better, "real" cameras with me because that's not how I shoot with them. I've got my mind wrapped around things in a good way. And because I was previously using a field camera or a 6x9 for my "real" photography, it seems I've prepared myself unconsciously for this state of affairs.

I have tried to learn "how can I get a useful shot of this scene with the camera I have on me."

My iPhone is always on me, but it has the kinds of limitations you show so well in this post. As a 42-year film-camera collector I frequently have some other camera on me, maybe a point-and-shoot or a box camera or even my Nikon F2 with my delightful 35/2.8 AI Nikkor.

What's the best I can get with that camera? I then try to get it. The more my skill grows, the more often I get it right.

Robert Roaldi asked, "Am I an outlier?"

No. You have a smartphone! My ancient mobile (or cell) phone hasn't seen the light of day in over ten years. Barely ever used it, before that time. Teeny mono display, and no built-in camera back then. A Nokia 3310. Perhaps a classic now.

The number of times I've seen something stationary, only had my Leica with me, and wished I'd had my linhof on a tripod...

On the last post I linked to a video that featured a photographer that sang the praises of the new iPhone. The problem is they showed no prints made from iPhone images.

The featured comment by Ned Bunnell states he made some "pretty nice" prints at 8x10. What exactly is pretty nice? Does this mean he was pushing it to get that 8x10 print?

I need a camera that will allow me to make much larger prints.

The print is the end for me and not facebook, instagram, and even flickr.

Looks like we are headed for an onslaught of Smart Phone 'External Hard Drives' to store all the captured raw files along with a 'Supplemental Monitor' to make editing easier. Before we know it, the New Mobile Phone Photo Office Machine will fit inside a camera bag!

Smartphones!!?! I just bought another vintage 4X5. I'd be way better off buying apps, which don't need new bellows or ground glass. Apps just can't provide the same "feeling," though. Is there an app so you feel like you're focusing on ground glass when you take a snapshot?

Remind me again..., how big does Michael Kenna print images from his Hasselblads?

IMHO, the longstanding paradigm in photography isn't about what camera you use. It's the emotional impact of the images you capture and how you present them to the viewer! Website galleries underwhelm me no matter how compelling the imagery. I feel they lack something tangible, something you can stand in front of and simply drink the image into your thoughts.

I have made 27x40 inch prints from a Fuji MX2700 (2.3 MP camera) taken as far back as 1999 that really impressed people. Nobody said "it's not sharp". They said, "Wow, what a great photo!"

Just sayin... current smartphone technology technically exceeds any 35mm film cameras or early digicams I had available to me in the 1990s. We need some perspective on what makes a compelling viewing experience in photography, and I don't believe it is pixel count or computational photography (stitching, focus stacking, HDR, AI sharpening, etc.) methodologies. It's about offering the viewer a unique insight... a road less traveled, an image that viewers would have been hard pressed to find and see on their own.

Unrelated to any of the above, but may be interesting to some,

I've used Picture Window Pro, developed by Jonathan Sachs, for going on 20 years. I like it because it (somewhat) emulates darkroom techniques. I don't know if it runs on Mac. A while ago, I guess because it wasn't making money, the developer opened it to "pay as you wish" downloads. There is now a new vrsion, a beta. Here's the text of the email I received today:
"With a lot of help and patience from those who helped test the many alpha versions, Picture Window Pro 8 is now stable enough to use for regular image editing and there is a more or less complete set of documentation including a detailed help file, a tutorial, and a number of reference manual chapters. The current version is available via the Downloads page. If you encounter problems, please report them via the forum or email supoport@dl-c.com.

Picture Window Pro 8 is a complete rewrite of the now discontinued Picture Window Pro 7. It features non-destructive image editing via a novel interface based on an image tree. It also fully supports large, high resolution monitors and can be used in a dual-monitor configuration to increase the available screen real estate. Other new features are too numerous to mention. Version 8 may use considerably more memory than version 7, so it may not be appropriate for older computers with limited RAM.

Unlike previous versions of Picture Window, version 8 is free for personal or commercial use, but please do not redistribute the program yourself. To help offset ongoing costs of development and maintaining the web site, I have added a PayPal Donate button to the Downloads page. The suggested donation is $25, but feel free to donate whatever amount you like.

The latest discontinued version of Picture Window 7.20 is still available from the Downloads page -- it is free and does not require a serial number to run"

see: http://www.dl-c.com/Downloads.html

Halide is a necessity with the iPhone XS, which over exposes if you shoot raw ( you can’t see it in the preview). To compensate they did some exposure trickery that mostly favors the highlights in auto. Works very well. Then I just use Lightroom on the phone, which surprisingly I enjoy, and like magic it syncs them to my computer as well. Detail is good, color a little weak compared to larger sensors.

I carry a Minox 35 GT in my left shirt pocket, loaded with Kodak 400TX (as Tri-X is now called). My right pocket is for my iPhone SE. The Minox is thicker, but an inch shorter in the long direction than this smallest of the current iPhones.

So I leave the house without any worries.

In my experience, nobody pays attention when I’m taking a picture with my iPhone. Not so when I’m using my “real” camera. I’ve been hassled, threatened, pushed around, almost arrested and permanently barred from places where everyone is using their camera phones? And my “real” camera is a small dslr with a 40mm pancake lens. It’s just not fun to be afraid someone is going to take offense and call the cops. I’ve been thinking alot lately about how to put some distance between me and my camera. “No officer, it’s not my drone”? Haha.

Convenient. Easy. Accessible. Quick. Reliable. Consistent. Quality.

From camera obscura, to dauggeretype, to wet plate, to tintype, to dry plate, to sheet film, to roll film, to high speed ASA, to f/1.0 Lens, to Sony digital, to dSLR, to SmartPhone, to...

Each generation has held their own as the zenith, and denigrated the following iterations as falling short. Disregarding this generational put down, the newer creators have sallied forth. Perhaps not perfectly, but pushed onwards nonetheless.

Myself. I am reinvigorating my work through the anachronistic view camera. Why? I’m not really sure, other than it is compelling to me. I honestly believe that is ALL that matters.

But perhaps I can use my dark cloth to shade my iPhone out in bright daylight.

My problem with my iPhone 7 plus is neither the focal lengths available, nor the sensor size, nor the IQ. Within its limitations, it takes wonderful photos (I use the lightroom app to shoot RAW). But I just cannot adjust my technique to work without an eye level viewfinder, and hence, use my phone as the portable computer it is for almost everything except photography.

For post processing in your iPhone there’s nothing to beat “Leonardo”. If you’re used to Photoshop and appreciate layers etc. this is the one to have.

In my own experience, to second Scott K’s comment, raw is not necessarily the best choice of file format for contemporary iPhone images. This is especially true for the dual-camera models.

I always find it interesting when the people I follow sync up on topics. Over the weekend Hugh Brownstone posted an excellent video on smartphone photography. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GKHvaPyb_Y

Maybe I'm odd, but I never worry about this "which camera?" question.

I don't even worry about it enough to bother shooting RAW on the phone although this is partly because some of the fancier smart HDR stuff that the iPhone does is only in the JPEG engine (I think).

If I get some picture on my phone because it's all I had with me then that's what was meant to happen ...

This mentality extends to when I'm actually carrying my "real" cameras ... you try not to see things that require equipment that you don't have. I typically don't carry long lenses with me ... so what I see tends to fit into the FOV of the lenses that I do have. Unless I grabbed the long lens on some given day, then I see long lens pictures.

It's the same when you make a decision to take pictures with the phone. There are things that will work and things that won't. The things that will work will work well enough that you should not worry about the real camera. The things that won't were not meant to be.

I have two camera apps on my iPhone, and both are good albeit different. But both are also nearly as complex as a full fledge, enthusiast, interchangeable lens camera. And irritatingly, neither has a panorama mode. So for quick pictures it’s the default Camera app (after all, simplicity is the point of a pocket camera.)

Dave Stewart said "You have a smartphone! My ancient mobile (or cell) phone hasn't seen the light of day in over ten years."

I think I have both you and Robert Roaldi beat: I got rid of my ancient (brick style) cell phone about 8 or 9 years ago, and haven't owned a cell phone since. Once in a blue moon - maybe every couple of years or so - it might come in handy to have a cell phone, but so far I've managed just fine. My wife probably wishes I had one more than I do. I do have several cameras, though so far none has learned to make a call.

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