• Matthew Brooks

My Camera Vs My Phone

If you read one of my previous blogs called How good are phone cameras? I spoke about how good cameras on phones actually are these days. I also said at the end that I was going to put my Samsung S8+ up against my Sony A7Rii camera. Both one of the best at taking phones for their class at the time that they were released. They both came out at about the same time so it is a fair enough comparison. At the rate that tech progresses these days, even though both are only around 2 years old there are now better things out there. The rear camera on the Samsung S8+ has a 12MP 'dual pixel' 1/2.55" sensor with a lens roughly a 24mm F1.7. My Sony A7Rii is a 42mp full frame sensor and I am using my Samyang 35mm f1.4 lens as that is the closest focal length lens I own.

I'm going to show a variety of pictures which will be taken as close to one another as possible.

The first image is taken of some mini cacti and succulents for a close up shot. None of these shots will be world beating shots they are just for the purposes of this blog. Can you tell which is the phone and which is the camera? Do you see more details in one of the shots than the other?

What if in the below picture I zoom in, maybe that will help. They are in the same order. Surely now you can see one of them is sharper and more defined.

Ill help you again by zooming in even further below. Same order still. So at this level I think it is probably pretty clear which the phone is and which the camera is. The camera is number 2. But when looking back over the images of the cacti were you surprised at how close it was. Or are you unfazed and you think the images are worlds away in terms of quality with one another.

Ok the next image is a portrait. Maybe the texture of skin and a face will be different from one device to the next. Let's see. Here we have a portrait of Jo with a simple grey background to avoid any other distractions. The lighting is exactly the same in both and the pose is a neutral expression and easy to replicate for both.

I got Jo to sit for a basic portrait shot. No frills, just a LED panel to camera left and a smile. Here is the first look at the two photos side by side. There is a clear colour variance between the two. Can you see many more differences which have already convinced you which is which?

Let's take some of the blank space out of the equation and zoom in to just the face. Here I think that the colour becomes more apparent. Also I think one is showing more detail than the other. This is probably easier than the cacti example already but what do you think. One last zoom maybe.

Now Jo probably won't appreciate me zooming into this scale but again the super cropped photo really does show the difference between the two files. The camera is again the photo labeled number 2. The close up here shows the amount of detail that is in the files coming from the Sony camera. Also the skin tones are a bit of a killer from the phone. The areas in light are more yellow and turn very magenta as it falls into the shadows. I think here given that i'm a portrait photographer I was always going to be really critical of any faults I saw and biased towards my camera slightly.

Ok so one last comparison. Lets try a landscape of Burry Port Lighthouse. One of my favourite landscapes I've taken was from roughly this spot.

There isn't that much discernible difference here other than colour variance.

Crop in and I think that the definition is looking easier to tell when you really look but quick glance and you wouldn't really notice.

Tight crop shows again which is better. 1 is still crisp, 2 is looking a bit of a blur. So yes this time 1 is the camera.

I already know from doing numerous portraits and landscapes with my Sony A7Rii how amazing it is at capturing details. You can zoom in so much closer than these super close ups and see every line and pore in a face. The phone image, when you zoom in to the same level, creates a weird mosaic effect more so than just being lower resolution due to the "dual pixel" technology. Each large "pixel" is made up of an 8x8 grid of actual pixels. So while "dual pixel" may apparently benefit the images when viewing them as they are suppose to be viewed, when pixel peeping it creates some weird results.

But let's be honest no one is going to be pixel peeping the files like this. Looking back at all the the full sized side by sides other than some weird colours in certain pictures from the phone the files look pretty good. It is all down to what you are viewing the images on.

If you are looking at them on a mobile phone on Instagram or Facebook the majority of people are not going to notice a discernible amount of difference between a newer phone image and one taken with a camera. Even this blog article, I am fully aware that I am able to see bigger differences between the phone and camera images when looking at the actual files on my computer screen than the differences in the pictures when uploaded to the blog. The images get compressed and most people may be reading this on mobile phones or tablets.

So the point here is, if you only have a phone, use it. Learn how to take a picture, not how to use a camera. Cameras can be bewildering to use properly to anybody who has never used a camera. However everyone knows a good picture when they see one. Noone looks at an image and immediately states "that was taken using camera brand x/y/z". People like an image because of how it makes them feel or what they see within that image. So learn that first. Then if you want to upgrade because your taking photography more seriously then get a camera. If you buy a camera without knowing how to take a good image you will be left with equally bad images from the camera and a lot less money in your pocket wondering "why are my images still not looking aesthetically pleasing?".

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and see you again soon.

#Learning #closeup #portraiture #landscapes #debate #equipment

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