Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Mobile reassessment

dudler

Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Mobile reassessment

22 Feb 2021 10:42AM   Views : 415 Unique : 267

11864_1613990561.jpg

A good while back, I wrote an article about using a mobile for serious photography. At the time, I was using a cheap Vodafone device that had cost well under £100. During the last year, Iíve upgraded to an iPhone, and it seems worth having a quick reassessment of my views.

Iíd concluded that mobiles are good for traditional personal pictures Ė the sort of thing that youíd have used a basic consumer camera to take: bright light, generally good conditions, and no particular emphasis on creative photographic techniques. A fixed wideangle lens, and the lens wide open is a combination that works pretty well for many subjects, but it really lets you down in low light, or if you need a long lens, or if you want to try differential focus. And, weirdly, theyíre good for closeups.

With my basic but very competent iPhone, what changes? It has a better camera in it, and copes with more difficult conditions, but without spending more money Ė a lot more, for a far bigger and less-pocketable tech chunk Ė Iím stuck with one wideangle lens. Completely unsuited for portraits, Iím sorry to tell all the selfie-takers. And thereís a continuing difficulty with framing and holding the thing steady at armís length.

Really, while itís sometimes useful to be able to take a record shot and send it through the ether at once, Iím not fussed, and I will continue to carry a proper camera all the timeÖ
But I note that there are some people who are really rocking it with occasional shots. Iíll cite three Ė whatriveristhis, woollybill, and dark_lord. They post mobile images regularly Ė far more so than I do, and have a knack of matching the strengths of the medium to their images. Search the galleries on their names, or on Mobile MondayÖ

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Comments

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
22 Feb 2021 10:43AM
It's not my lockdown haircut that's making me grumpy. It's trying to hold a hefty rectangle of technology steady and point it where I want it...
Acancarter Avatar
22 Feb 2021 11:09AM
Hi John, interesting blog and something we keep discussing at Northampton camera Club. Right now, I never take out my iPhone for serious photography, but the rise of 'computational photography' is inexorable...with so many of the 'skills' we use being given the AI treatment and enhanced... I was taken by the adverts for https://alice.camera which sort of tries to combine the phone with a 'real' camera... no viewfinder, and not yet full 'compositional automation' or 'GPS guided POV' but very serious stuff... so 'when' is the question... what will we be shooting with in 5 years or 10 years time? film? - because everything else gets too easy?
cooky Avatar
cooky Plus
19 7 11 United Kingdom
22 Feb 2021 11:31AM
I am far, far from being an expert - no really, not being sycophantic but this does interest me. We are of an age when film was the thing and no 'real' photographer would look at digital! Oops...what happened there then!

To be perfectly honest, I don't care if the image that pleases me, speaks to me, moves me is taken on a mobile or an all singing, all dancing, my lens is bigger than your lens camera!

I am just so happy that people, especially young ones, are engaging with the world as they see it, recording it and sharing it.

Technology means we can all have the tools to become experts, what matters is the human element, same with everything.

Anybody can wield a big hammer but as an engineer will tell you, it's knowing where to hit the sweet spot that matters!

Kath
James124 Avatar
James124 Plus
8 82 59 Portugal
22 Feb 2021 11:33AM
Until recently I used my iPhone 6s as my always to hand camera. It has produced some excellent images , examples here and here. There may be an overlap as I've not been very consistent with keywords.
I now use a Canon G5X, bulkier but takes raw files and has full manual control .
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
22 Feb 2021 12:15PM
Andy - there's an increasing divergence between social photographers, who want a record, and benefit from maximum automation, and people who want to put a mark on the picture to single it out as their own. For the latter, old tech is never too old!

Kath - I agree (mostly), and I love the way that my children leave a trace of their lives on the web, sharing with all their friends and family at once, not after the event with fifteen envelopes of enprints! And it is the end result that counts.

But the tech doesn't make us experts - if you contrast the lousy image at the top with this self-portrait from four years ago, I hope you'll agree that there is still something going for knowing how to focus a completely manual lens. There's no substitute for the precision that a real camera offers!

James - while I haven't looked in enormous detail, those images suggest that what you want to shoot falls within the parameters of 'suitable for a wide lens and in decent light', which is great. Some time, I must give a current-generation compact camera a go: my experience has been disappointing, but it's several years since I really tried...
cooky Avatar
cooky Plus
19 7 11 United Kingdom
22 Feb 2021 12:43PM
Hi again. Just to clarify as I may have missed the point - age thing! Think we are agreeing, in essence! We may have the tools but it is knowing how to use them properly and having that 'eye for an image' that makes the difference.

Given that your image is 4 years ago and taken with a lovely lens and you're looking down, not at the daft 'selfie' angle all us over 60s use...I would have to agree! I am factoring in depreciation for wear and tear!

Then again I did say...
"Anybody can wield a big hammer but as an engineer will tell you, it's knowing where to hit the sweet spot that matters!"

You were and are the 'human element'!

Love a Monday discussion!

Thanks
KathWink

James124 Avatar
James124 Plus
8 82 59 Portugal
22 Feb 2021 3:08PM
James - while I haven't looked in enormous detail, those images suggest that what you want to shoot falls within the parameters of 'suitable for a wide lens and in decent light', which is great. Some time, I must give a current-generation compact camera a go: my experience has been disappointing, but it's several years since I really tried...

Agreed , but I was never afraid to take shots in the rain or non-ideal conditions, never afraid to try the "impossible" even if it means a lot of post processing. I'm often surprised at what a smartphone can do, or what can be pulled out of the original image. It's certainly worth giving the latest generation smartphones a try, but they cost more than my G5X did!.
James
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
23 Feb 2021 7:36AM
Kath - yes indeed, we're agreeing!

James - I was horrified that my iPhone cost over £400: that's money to buy a decent lens. I won't be going further upmarket as long as I can carry a proper camera everywhere (and yes, I really do that). As to the latest generation of compacts, 'a try' is likely all it will be: several successive purchases have proved more trouble than asset. It was almost a relief in 2006 when a £100 Fuji bridge camera was stolen on holiday...
Jestertheclown Avatar
Jestertheclown 14 8.8k 255 England
23 Feb 2021 10:46PM

Quote:I can carry a proper camera everywhere (and yes, I really do that).


Same here.
In fact, I've been doing so for much of my life.
Those that know me accept it as normal. Everyone else thinks I'm mad . . .
cooky Avatar
cooky Plus
19 7 11 United Kingdom
23 Feb 2021 11:59PM
Don't worry, we don't! Think you're mad that is...
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
24 Feb 2021 7:21AM
There are some very weird people around, of course...
pink Avatar
pink Plus
20 7.4k 11 England
25 Feb 2021 7:55AM
I, like many use my phone to take images when I don't have a 'proper' camera with me, as photography is my main hobby I enjoy the experience of crafting an image in camera, phones don't offer that experience for me. I find using my DSLR an immersive experience, one that I enjoy doing very much, the end result is not always what I wanted but I keep on trying anyway.
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