Archive for 'Photography'

Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?

Posted on 06. Apr, 2014 by .

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Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?

instagram brandon 1024x425 Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?

All photos taken with a smartphone by Brandon Hoover.

 

This is question I’ve been often asked and see discussed online each time a new phone is released. New features are often labeled as revolutionary, or game-changing therefore supposedly eliminating the need to carry another camera. There are few ways to think about these statements and factors to consider when seeking an answer to this question. Note, this post is very much written for the masses and does not include each and every variable in the mix. We could get far more technical with this discussion, but at this stage it’s about the big picture.

Sensors

Screenshot 2013 11 02 14.26.59 Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?Sensors in smartphones, for the most part, are absolutely minuscule in comparison to DSLRs and are quite a bit smaller than most point and shoot cameras. There are some physics involved in this discussion but generally the larger the surface area of the sensor, the more capable it will be at resolving detail and creating less noise in low light conditions. Granted, technology has rapidly improved the ability to maintain decent image quality in challenging environments. There’s speculation that the first iPhone sensors were creating images so poor in terms of resolution and noise that this gave rise to apps that could utilize filters such as Instagram and Hipstamatic in order mask the faults, much in the way that Lomo cameras became an artistic fetish with random light leaks and unpredictable additions to the final image. So while technology marches on, there’s only so much that can be accomplished with tiny sensors and software. This is an area that may and should see further improvement and may continue to close the gap.

Lenses

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Brandon Hoover

This is what I view to be one of the most limiting factors for current smartphones. The lack of an optical zoom has created a whole generation of sub-par images captured by people digital zooming in on a scene. Take a look around the audience at any event and you’ll still see this pinch/zoom happening. It’s not the user’s fault; it’s been something proudly stamped on the sides of cameras for years, aka “100x digital zoom”, etc. Consumers, unaware of the differences, enable digital zoom and greatly degrade the final image quality – to the point that prints from these images would look quite horrendous. The counterpoint to this is that in reality how many people are actually printing photos from smartphones? The vast majority are posting them online in reduced resolution and calling it a day.

As a lover of prime lenses (lenses that don’t zoom), there is absolutely a time and place to slow down and creatively constrict yourself to one focal length (which is what every iPhone is essentially). But the average person generally isn’t treating their phone in this manner and therefore is using digital zoom.

This is what I view as the next step in smartphone photography; the advent of optical zoom and improved lenses. This will be a challenge as it requires additional physical space or attachments of some sort, much in the way third party companies have tackled this need in a less than elegant manner. A company like Apple won’t resort to an unrefined solution, so it’ll be interesting to see how they approach this design.

 

Sharing

IMG 0212 20100424 Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?

Brandon Hoover

One massively important benefit that smartphone cameras have over most traditional cameras is the ability to immediately and easily share memories captured. This point can’t be stressed enough. This is a huge limitation to most cameras. Sure there are workarounds and some companies have tried to create solutions, but there is simply no comparison to the sake of ease one experiences when snapping a pic and uploading it directly to social media within seconds. This, for many people, drives them to use their smartphone instead of another option despite the other disadvantages. Quite often I’ll see people carrying DSLRs still taking photos with their phones – for this very reason. Camera manufacturers should find methods of embracing the desire to share. Building wifi or apps into the camera isn’t enough. We need a very simple and straightforward method of quickly getting photos from our cameras to the cloud. There will come a time when many consumers will abandon point and shoot cameras for this very reason – as smartphone technology catches up, there will be little reason to consider bringing a compact camera. Declining sales in this area have already begun and the landslide will only continue.

 

Editing

snapseed logo 150x150 Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?

I personally find the process of throwing on some good music with a steaming cup of coffee and editing photos in Lightroom or Photoshop to be supremely relaxing. But I freely admit I’m absolutely an oddity in the minority. For most people, this would sap any desire they had to share their memories. Once an event passes, it’s exponentially more difficulty to work up the time to go back and edit pics from the time. I’m sure this is even more true for the under 35 crew; Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook are avenues for quick sharing and harvesting of likes and comments. Tying in with the previous section on sharing, the ability to quickly edit and share in a spontaneous manner is critical for many people. Beam your DSLR pics to your tablet or smartphone, edit quickly and share. Yes, to an extent this can be currently done, but it’s not a mainstream workflow and hasn’t been a priority for companies.

vscocam 150x150 Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?With apps such as Snapseed, VSCO, etc, there’s something fun and almost tangible about touching the photos you’re editing on your phone or tablet. For many, this is likely to be far more approachable than the intimidation presented by professional editing software.

 

Wrap up

chimera 1024x682 Can smartphones now replace a “real” camera?

Brandon Hoover

This all comes down to the often repeated statement that the best camera is the one that’s with you. When film cameras were king, far less people had a camera with them all the time. There’s no doubt that being able to capture and share memories on the fly is highly desirable; and for many this trumps any of the geeky points discussed above regarding image quality. This is a huge advantage for smartphones, and weighs in heavily to this discussion.

I can see no foreseeable future in which I personally will give up taking a traditional camera with a bag of lenses with me to travel destinations or while striving to create photos to hang in a gallery. There’s simply no current substitute for the quality offered by a full frame sensor with fast glass, or  a mirror-less camera with a decent lens. But I’m admittedly outside of the norm. And for most people, there’s equally no substitute for sharing that special moment with your closest 400 friends in seconds and ultimately that may be what determines the answer to the initial question.

Yes. Current phones can now replace a ‘real’ camera, not because of image quality or sensor technology, but because of the shift in society that has transformed what it means to capture and share a moment in time.

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My photos on 500px and Flickr

Mostly phone pics shared on Instagram

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Cold Mountain Temple

Posted on 16. Jan, 2014 by .

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20130402 IMG 2299 Edit 540x368 Cold Mountain Temple

Suzhou, Shanghai, China

 

Cold Mountain Temple

Suzhou, China

 

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Breathing Room

Posted on 08. Sep, 2013 by .

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20130331 IMG 1334 Edit 540x697 Breathing Room

This photo actually hit #3 on Flickr Explore.

Shanghai, China

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Photo exhibition of my work

Posted on 07. Jun, 2013 by .

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A new photo gallery is opening in Manila featuring the works of four Philippine based artists. I’m very appreciative that the jury committee has chosen my work to be included with the other artists’. The very talented Nicholai Go is the owner of the gallery and has graciously developed the event. The details are listed below:

 

Indulge yourself in culture and meet the exhibited photographers of our first show: Philippines. Please join us for the gallery opening of Bar Dolci Photo Gallery. Let’s celebrate the birth of a new standard in Philippine photography.

Featuring the photographs of:

Cecilia Forbes
Rennell Salumbre
Brandon Hoover
Jojo Mamangun

Date: June 7, 2013 (Friday)
Time: 6pm – 11pm

Location:

2nd Floor, Bar Dolci,
F133 Forbeswood Heights
Frobestown Road cor. Burgos Circle
Bonifacio Global City
Manila, Philippines 1637

bardolci 540x763 Photo exhibition of my work

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Shanghai on foot: Photographing Shanghai

Posted on 09. Apr, 2013 by .

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I just returned from 10 fantastic days in Shanghai, China. The primary purpose of the visit was for an educational conference, but I decided to stay another few days thereafter to photograph as much of Shanghai as I could. I ended up basically walking for 12-14 hours a day with 30lbs of gear strapped to my back. Way to travel light!?

A few locations I managed to get to: Suzhou, Pudong, French Concession, the Bund, Nanjing Rd, Xintiandi, People’s Square, and the rest maybe you guys can recognize.

I took around 40GB worth of photos with my Canon 6D and Fuji X-E1. Love those cameras! I’ll be posting photos from the trip in upcoming posts. I really wish I had another week to cover even more of the city, as I found that the more I explored, the more I wanted to see. I definitely need to return again in the near future. More to come soon.

More frequent photo updates may be seen via my other accounts:

500px.com/javajive

Flickr.com/photos/javajive

Google+

Smugmug (for purchasing prints)

8626910552 b26d2a4e5d Shanghai on foot: Photographing Shanghai

8627886884 49c453b391 Shanghai on foot: Photographing Shanghai

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Dreams of Thailand

Posted on 05. Mar, 2013 by .

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20120403 IMG 3367 Edit 540x691 Dreams of Thailand

 

My beautiful wife in Koh Samed, Thailand.

Canon 5D Mk II | Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 L USM

 

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Dreams of Thailand

Posted on 05. Mar, 2013 by .

1

20120403 IMG 3367 Edit 540x691 Dreams of Thailand

 

My beautiful wife in Koh Samed, Thailand.

Canon 5D Mk II | Canon EF 135mm f/2.0 L USM

 

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The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Posted on 16. Jan, 2013 by .

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20120222 IMG 2324 540x439 The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

Mumbai, India

“The hotel has hosted notable guests such as The Beatles, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bill Clinton, Jacques Chirac, The King & Queen of Norway, The Duke & Duchess of Kent, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, Roger Moore, Joan Collins, Mick Jagger, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Deep Purple, Michael Palin, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Oprah Winfrey, as well as professional cricket teams on tour.” (Wikipedia)

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