a3 April 2015

My take on smartphone photography

My take on smartphone photography

Up to now I wasn't great fan of smartphone photography (in fact I avoided it as much as I could) as I was pretty sure the results would be of poor quality, blurry, with low dynamic range, noisy. And with my previous phone they definitely were. But this might change as I recently discovered that my Samsung S5 has quite a capable camera. Apart from using my mighty DSLR, in Thailand I took a looot of smartphone photos. A few of them left me really impressed by what those modern smartphones can do. Dynamic range is quite good, sharpness is very good and colours rendition is very natural. Even in low-light it worked quite well most of the time. There is quite a lot of noise but I still found the photos perfectly acceptable. The only thing I miss on Samsung S5 are manual exposure controls as the only setting I can change is ISO and exposure bias. I cannot set exposure time nor aperture to what I want. RAWs would be nice too but I can live without them (and they would eat phone's memory pretty quickly I guess).

All that is really impressive. I recently read an article on PetaPixel which seems to explain why smartphone cameras are that good nowadays - it seems that 92% of phone users take photos with their smartphones and 36% find quality of camera to be key to decision of buying a phone! So many phone users actually think of their smartphones as cameras. For many it is probably the only camera they have.

I will start to think that way too probably because I don't carry my DSLR camera with me all the time, but I do carry my phone so it's good to know I have powerful camera in my pocket whenever I need it.

Here's a little example. Below panorama was shot and stacked on my smartphone. It isn't perfect but still looks quite nice. And it was created pretty much automatically. In Lightroom I just increased vibrance and contrast a little bit as I found the results a little bit too flat for my liking.
Railay Beach at Sunset

Daily photo - Railay beach at Sunset

When I had been initially planning my Thailand trip a few months ago I intended to spent whole 2 weeks in one place - on Railay peninsula in Krabi province - which is photographer's paradise. But then I read that this place is becoming really boring after more than 2 - 3 days, that there is nothing you can do while being there. And I trusted those opinions and altered my plan (not that I regret as I visited another fantastic place). Lesson learnt: don't believe in opinions of non-photographers.

Generally speaking this place is amazing and even after 8 days there I could find something new to do. I did a lot of swimming, some kayaking, I went on a few trips to nearby islands and spent some time trying local cuisine. If I would had stayed longer I would probably give rock climbing a try (BTW if you're climbing there are a few nice vantage points on Railay peninsula from which you could take some amazing photos). And yeah, this place is just amazing for landscape photography as you could already see from some of my other posts like this or this. Sunsets look really beautiful when you have such amazing cliffs in a foreground (or background depending how you compose your shots).

Here's another photo from Railay, taken during sunset. The place was rather busy at that day so there are a few people in the frame but anyway :)
Railay Beach at Sunset
And finally EXIF info for this image:
Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review)
Lens: Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 20 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/8 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1.0 EV
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.7, Photoshop CC 2014, Topaz Clarity, Topaz Detail

Where was this photo taken:

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