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Thread: The direction of photography

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    The direction of photography

    It has been pointed out before, by better photographers than myself, and although I've agreed in principle, I've never been sure. But tonight, when going out for dinner, I decided to leave the GH3 in the hotel safe and see what I could make of the Nokia 808, doing some night photography at the streets of Saigon.

    The results are shocking. Shockingly good. I can take photos in lower light than I could with the Fuji S3 that started me off on the digital path some 8 years ago. With a device that I paid less than $300 for (last year's model) and that includes a telephone and a computer in addition to the camera at a weight of around 150g.

    The 808 has already been superseded by the 1020 of course, which features IS and RAW (beginning of next year). Who knows what will be available next year and the year after, but apart from professional photographers and a few hardcore enthusiasts, I doubt many will carry dedicated cameras anymore 10 years from now.

    The scene below was much darker in reality than what the photo depicts. Still, I believe it will print beautifully in A3 format. Not bad for a photo taken with a




    Nokia 808 @ f/2.4, ISO 400 and 1/11s


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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: The direction of photography

    So, I did a little experiment with a "failed" photo taken at a seafood restaurant yesterday. The photo is taken at full resolution, 33.6 MP, with flash, f/2.4 and ISO 125. Here is what the photo looked like out of the phone:



    First, I attempted a quick edit in-phone, less than 2 minutes. This is the first time ever I try this.



    Then, I edited and cropped the photo (which was around 4 MP after cropping) in PS. I spent around 2 minutes here as well:



    The cropped file will probably print with good quality on A4, and when I return home, I will see what result I can get at A3 format. What is very clear is that this result is more than acceptable for the vast majority of the population. And this is a phone that was launched in 2012. In a couple of years, image quality, user interface and editing possibilities will have improved further. Interesting times, but I don't think I'll invest in the p&s camera industry.
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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: The direction of photography

    When I was 5 years old, I did not take photos (and I don't think our family had a telephone yet). When I was 15, I had a camera, and my photos sucked. This photo is taken by a 5 year old girl with my Nokia, a revenge for all the photos I have taken of her probably
    I can always claim that she's an unusually talented young woman, but technology clearly plays a major part here. Unless she becomes a professional photographer or a passionate photo enthusiast and gear-head (I do try to teach her how to handle the OM-2 ), I doubt that she, and most of those who are her age today, will ever takes photos with anything but a handheld computer/communication device. They always carry them anyway and the image quality is good enough.

    Things I sell: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/epixx?language=en
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    Re: The direction of photography

    I agree. I'd be interested to read your opinion of how your prints turn out, Jorgen.

    It won't be all that long before shooting an SLR will be seen as requiring unusual effort to "get the shot," much like large format cameras.

    To me, the failure of current phone cameras is the interface. The photos themselves are often fine, with my finger grease on the lens adding flare that pleasantly resembles an uncoated lens but with a deep field. Yet when I hold the thing, I'm always inadvertently touching some control that makes it change focus or run to another menu or... something.

    I'd love to be able to buy a little grip, with a shutter button and maybe a dial for program shift (shutter/ISO, as the aperture is fixed), that lets me handle it as I'm used to. I can see the phone becoming the center of an GXR-like system with additional lenses (either optical or like Sony's QX), grips, flashes, etc.--where none are necessary to take a picture but rather help the user get what they want.

    That said, I bet most teens today would look at my cameras and think that the interface is an unworkable kludge based on century-old technology, not to mention that printing photos makes it horribly inconvenient to share via the internet. C'est la vie. Regardless, more photographers of any stripe is nothing but good in my mind.

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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: The direction of photography

    IMO the current smartphones are jack of many trades and master of none.
    I think there will always be room for a "proper" camera for a job.

    I think we humans have been adding tools to our toolkits over the millenniums and while phone cameras will be the tool of choice many, some will still want a regular camera. Artists have paint but some still use charcoal.

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    Re: The direction of photography

    The direction of photography?

    That is a tough call…

    Will

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: The direction of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    IMO the current smartphones are jack of many trades and master of none.
    I think there will always be room for a "proper" camera for a job.

    I think we humans have been adding tools to our toolkits over the millenniums and while phone cameras will be the tool of choice many, some will still want a regular camera. Artists have paint but some still use charcoal.
    Professionals and enthusiasts will still buy "proper" cameras in the foreseeable future, or at least, I choose to believe that for the time being. I used to believe that others would buy cameras too, but when I see how children master smartphones and tablets, I realise that there's no need. While the smartphone might be a master of no trade, it's clearly a better tool than any dedicated tool for the tasks it performs than what I had access to some 40 years ago. That includes my first camera, my first computers, most of my almanacs, calculators, notepads etc. I still hate mine, and there are times when I seriously believe that these bedeviled little devices are part of a conspiracy towards humanity. But that belief doesn't help much when every kid, even in many third world countries, have one and will never know of other devices for photography, video, computing and communication.

    Maybe photography is the wrong word. This is part of some kind of visual communication that didn't even exist only ten years ago.
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 11th December 2013 at 02:54.

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    Re: The direction of photography

    Forgetting specific criteria of image quality ... noise, sharpness, tonal differentiation, etc ... a good cell phone camera "sees" differently compared to larger format cameras. Mostly, it has to do with the format size.

    I make photos with my iPhone 4S all the time and they often shock me with the image quality they can display. But the iPhone doesn't see the way I want a camera to see most of the time, and if I only make photos with it I regret not having one of my larger format cameras with me as well.

    It's time we can mostly dispense with the "this is better than that" stuff of image quality in a way. I mean, until I'm at the boundaries of their performance, most of the time it is hard to see a technically significant image quality differences between current APS-C, cell phone, FourThirds, FF and MFD formats in the hands of a skilled photographer/renderer for an 8x10 print or an iPad sized JPEG.

    What is significant to me at this point is format size, as that establishes the FoV-DoF coupling, and lens rendering qualities. These are the attributes that contribute to how a camera sees.

    Cell phones can do very well at some things, just like subminiature film cameras, Polaroids, etc. They have their own aesthetic born of the tiny sensor, very tiny lenses, and implicit heavy image processing; I can enjoy that. But it doesn't replace larger format camera aesthetics.

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