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Monday, 25 July 2022


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My wife just bought a toy "girl's camera" (because of the color, I guess), a working digital P&S designed to be clamped onto the handlebars of a tricycle, and which came with a waterproof case to take underwater pictures, because she wanted to see what the fish and the frogs see in our little pond. It's about the size of a small orange. IQ reminds me of a Diana camera. (She has one of those too, from long ago).

Just fun things to do, rather than being deathly serious about "the art." In fact, the art starts with these less than sharp images.

It’s good to see more actual* photos (of any kind from any camera) at The Online Photographer, Mike! Keep ‘em comin’.

(* As distinct from camera product marketing photos.)

[Glad you like it, but there have been three iPhone photos on the blog in just the past week. To the point that I asked people to let me know if they're getting sick of them. How many more do you want?

There's an old cliché about people only writing articles for photo magazines as a ploy to get their photos published. I never intended this blog to do that. --Mike]

Glad Bully Hill is still in the top rotation.
Last month my niece married a young man from the neighborhood (your neighborhood they now live in D.C.), who worked at Bully Hill while in high school. I sent them a link to your photo and they were quite taken by the image to the extent of “WOW”.
One entry down, I totally agree with your choice of just right camera. My current top dog is an Olympus OM-D 1.2 with the 12-100 lens, not exactly the same but close. The combination is hefty but potent, I have a long history with Olympus and worked my way up there from several XA cameras through OM-1, OM-2s, OM-4, E-520, E-620, EP-2, OM-D 10.1, OM-D 10.2, OM-D 10.3, OM-D 5.2 and now the OM-D 1.2.
About the 12-100 lens compared to the 12-40, a bigger heavier warmer longer lens.
The warmer part surprised me more than the fact that I might be generally interested in photographing beyond the reach of the 12-40.
I am also a painter and photograph as I paint (camera set up on tripod pointed at painting to document the growth of the image).
My studio is almost completely artificial light, which I prefer because it is constant in color (pretty much but I do set a new one touch WB every few days), and have the C1 set to that color balance and exposure with 12 second timer, C2 is at to the same value except with high res mode.
Before purchasing the 12-100, I used either the 12-40 or the 30 macro to photograph and they gave me the same colors. The first day I tried 12-100 the colors were more saturated, nice in general work but a surprise to me as it went against my previous practice.
I like the color of the 12-100 in the wild but I prefer the rendition of my paintings with the cooler 12-40, as I can always tweak the color of the painting in post, but less so the atmosphere of the room.

Just one photographer’s story.

I'm more than fine with the occasional snapshots, but with some minimal expectation of quality.

While you are understandably enamoured with the output of your new iPhone, the included photo is not great from a compositional or technical standpoint. To me, the digital zoom comes across as like a bad watercolor filter and should be avoided. There are clearly limits, and I think you found them.

I know your personal standards are much higher. When in doubt, check in with Mike 'The Photo Critic' Johnston.

Congratulations on the amazing quarter million comment milestone! Now on to the next quarter million.

I agree with Ken Tanaka, more photos (with explanations about *why* the photos are included) is a Good Thing. This also includes photos submitted to accompany Comments, if they extend/enhance the ideas from Mike's Posts.

I doubt this is possible, but it would be fascinating if the blogging software could interrogate the metadata from the images on the blog, to explore which cameras have been used to illustrate the entries.

It's quite a body of work, this extended conversation over 14+ years between Mike and his readers (and readers with each other), congrats.

I'm happy with iPhone images, but not so keen on those where the digital zoom is used (let alone "at its limits". In fact, it's rather interesting that you've been using the iPhone camera in this way; these are not the type of shots it is good at! This rather shows up the limitations of the smaller sensor. If you were using a conventional digital camera with a resolution of, say, 24Mp or more, you'd get a better eventual outcome even with (say) a 50mm (equiv) lens on it (or even a 35mm equiv) - there's more data that would be left after cropping.

In my exploration of iPhone photography I've had to education myself to not use the digital zoom so with my 12 Pro, 54mm-equivalent images are the limit. That's a shock to someone who was often at the long end of his 24-105 standard zoom.

In a mash up of prior comments, Yes, I've always thought your posts should include more of your own photos. No, I don't need a lot more iPhone photos, if they are like this one.

If random meant a random selection of the photos that worked, yes. If it means compositionally compromised photos like this, with the branch intruding, don't need 'em. Ditto IQ challenged, like this one.

As to technical quality, a story that seems very likely true:
Some very clever, competent folks at Apple were given a task. Make iPhone photos look as good as possible, maybe better - on iPhone screens*. They succeeded.

The problem is that in doing so, they made them really crappy at larger sizes or cropped. For those of us who care, they started offering Raw, .DNG output as well, on the Pro models, starting whth the iPhone X

I've commented before, July 18, 2021 and September 20, 2021, with examples, about how iPhone Raw files may be processed to be far superior to their JPEG/HEIC files. With your iPhone 13 Pro, you no longer need an app such as Halide to use Raw files, although it gives greater control and has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve.

In Apple's Camera app, there's a button, upper right, for switching between regular and Raw. I don't recall if it's there by defaut. If not, Settings=>Camera=>Apple ProRAW needs to be turned on.

Here's a sample that features simple colors and clearly delineated shapes. The iPhone JPEG works well.

At the pixel level, the JPEG still looks pretty good.

The DNG does retain thread level detail missing in the JPEG.

At the other end of a subject spectrum is a highly complex subject with lots of fine detail and subtle hues.

The JPEG of the whole subject isn't obviously great, with some smearing obvious.

The DNG is better, but still not great.

At the pixel, level, the JPEG is pretty awful, except as an abstract.

At the pixel, level, the DNG is better, but still struggles with detail and color transitions. This is, I think, the limit of the small sensor.

Just for comparison, an OM-1 shot, from a different day:

To make these test shots, I found this nifty, little 'phone mount with BT remote release. It even fits A-S style QR receivers.
Sunpak Smartphone Mount & Bluetooth Remote:

* And billboards. \;~)>

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