• Matthew Brooks

How good are phone cameras?


Cameras in phones year on year are getting better and better. At the moment every new phone that comes out claims to have THE best camera in their phone. Now the trend is to have more than 1 lens in the camera. Plenty of companies have been releasing phone with 2 lenses, but Samsung have stepped it up a gear by adding 4 lenses to the back of the new A9.

There is a camera called the LIGHT L16 which I blogged about a while back, read my blog I Have Seen The Light. It is a camera with 16 lenses in it. I predicted at the time the camera itself wouldn't be a hit, but it would be a stepping stone for the future. It seems like this has come true. Photographers on YouTube that I have seen who bought it found it interesting but frustrating and eventually put it down again for their traditional Mirrorless or DSLR cameras.

Adding more lenses helps with depth mapping which is used in Portrait Mode, so when the phone needs to work out what areas to blur when creating the blurred background. The out of focus areas are called Bokeh, but this fake and computational or faux bokeh is known as Fauxkeh. Honestly, I HATE it. I love Bokeh but hate Fauxkeh. This computational stuff just isn't there yet and with every new upgrade from each phone manufacturer they say the algorithms have been improved to work out what to blur but it still looks fake. So I am ignoring Fauxkeh and any computational photography as a plus point for phones. However having more lenses at different focal lengths does definitely cut down on the need for digital zoom which essentially crops into the photo, which is why the image starts to look bad when you zoom in. With many different lenses at different focal lengths you could actually zoom in optically by using either one of the longer lenses or the wider lenses.

How feasible is it to use a normal picture by a smartphone for professional work?

Well it has already been done. In TIME magazine an article called "Firsts" was shot with an iPhone. The images if i'm honest look like they were shot with a phone camera as well. The image quality just isn't there to be printed to a full page of a magazine and viewed up close.

Also the November 2018 issue of GQ magazine had its cover story about Ryan Gosling shot with the new Google Pixel 3. It is kind of a marketing ploy to put out there that pictures taken on a phone are in a massive magazine. But honestly, I would not be able to tell they were taken with a phone. They are really good photos. Check them out here www.gq.com

OK so don't now go out thinking you will be featured in GQ magazine with your next shot of some random person. These were taken by big name photographers in the fashion industry of even more big name celebs.

Pros don't use their phones though?

Yup they do. In fact there are a number of people these days who have become pro specifically from their phone taken Instagram accounts. Also quite a few street photographers use their phones as they are so discreet. You can pretend to be doing something on your phone while actually you are photographing. There are plenty of professional photographers who use their phones to capture things of interest when perhaps they don't have their usual camera with them and just out and about walking or specifically use them for their Instagram accounts.

It just depends on the viewing platform of the picture. If a picture taken on a phone and viewed on a phone screen via Instagram which uses pretty small file sizes anyway it doesn't matter so much what it is taken on. There are many more important things that make a great photo that should be considered. Check out the IPPA Awards page for all the best and award winning photo and photographers who specialise in iphoneography.

I myself used my phone on my latest shoot for my Halloween stuff. Did I intend on using it...no. Did I HAVE to use it because I forgot to put an SD card in my camera...yes, if I didn't want all the planning and travelling to be a total waste of time. You know what, I am thrilled at the photos that got. I knew that the editing would be grungy and dark so absolute top quality images didn't matter so much. I could have just left and not had anything to show for all the hard work put in before that point but my phone completely saved me. Check out those photos in my Halloween 2018 blog.

So if you have nothing else just use your phone. Learn composition, use of colour, perspective and be creative. When you want to buy a camera and delve further, do it. But you will already have a head start. Your camera on each phone you own will only keep getting better and better.

In the next edition of phone cameras I will be putting my phone (Samsung S8 Plus) up against my my pro grade Sony A7Rii camera. Taking like for like images to really see the difference between the two. I know my camera will win but how close will it be?

#reveiw #equipment #Learning #photography

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Hendy, Carmarthenshire

photographymb87@yahoo.com