Fuji’s long awaited X-Pro2 finally emerged just a few days ago, while Sony are imminently expected to make a slew of new announcements, including a new mirrorless camera(s).
So, what’s not to like?
Not much really. I’ve certainly got my eye on an X-Pro2 and I’m sure there are tens of thousands of other photographers doubtless equally eagerly awaiting this week’s news – whatever it turns out to be.
I can only speak for me, but my Fuji experience has been so good that suddenly I own an X100T, an X-Pro1 and three (16mm, 35mm and 90mm) lenses. The arrival of an X-Pro2 will probably see me use my large store of Nikon equipment even less than I do now.
That’s quite a lot of investment and I wouldn’t be writing this post if DS-regular Leonard Norwitz hadn’t sent Pascal and I “a not half bad iPhone pan”.
He’s right. It isn’t bad. With it’s 12mp sensor and hi tech lens, it can deliver fantastic results. Even 4k video. With a user base generally more interested in the here and now, the phone camera pushes boundaries in almost every direction, compromising only in resolution to deliver sparkling screen-based images. Even printing is OK, providing you don’t plan on anything much bigger than postcard.
It’s brilliant. Just what today’s on-screen, must have it now society yearns and even changes brands for.
As a photographer, I’ve watched John Paul Caponigro shoot with his phone and several other luminaries use theirs for scouting locations and as a visual notebook. Following their example, I’ve done likewise. And yes, JPC did use those images commercially, but most are content to have memories and ideas in their pocket, instead of reliance on an increasingly unreliable, age-dulled memory.
It’s an idea I use quite a lot, especially when an important scene, or multiple facts are to be remembered. That was until Leonard’s mail arrived this morning.
The fact is that it won’t be long before the carry around cameras we use so much today will be supplanted by a phone cam, designed to add the image quality we’ve come to demand of our Fujis, Leicas and Sonys, all in much the same package we already have in our pockets,
I could live with a fixed focal length lens – somewhere between (equivalent field of view) 28mm and 35mm – and without digital zoom technology. And, as it’s probably fair to anticipate the current 12mp sensor to approach 16mp soon – that’s plenty, as many M43 and other small cameras like the Fuji have amply demonstrated.
The software is probably pretty much already in place. Between Apple’s Photos and a raft of similar products, including a hobbled version of Lightroom, most of the utility you regard as important in the now, is available.
What else do I want?
Mainly, I want a form factor that is less finger-problem-inducing than the flat, rounded edge puck we have today. I know it’s a great shape for a phone and reading device, but it’s the pits for photography. Holding it around the edges is awkward, the touch screen is invariably at an uncomfortable angle for tapping the controls, all of which have tiny buttons and are way too easy to miss and get video or worse, HDR instead of a single vanilla-plain shot.
When I do finally get the shot I want lined up, it often takes several seconds to work out why I’ve got a big black blob in one corner. It’s one of those damned fingers again, this time over the lens. Hopefully, my nicely lined up masterpiece hasn’t got bored and wandered off by the time my poor retirement age brain has worked out the problem.
On the iPhone, there’s also LivePhoto, which constantly takes disposable images such that when you do trip the shutter, there’s already 1.5s in the buffer before you shoot. The 1.5s that’s added after your shot completes the image and delivers some interesting semi-video memories.
But, I don’t want that and while it’s easy to switch it off, it’s just as easy to switch it back on again by mistake.
I want RAW images. I know they take up storage space, but my iPhone has 128Gb of RAM. For me, that’s usually plenty for a brace of Nikons and a week in the Scottish Highlands, or several days at Angkor Wat. Giving us RAW will be a wrangle though, as most of the phone’s camera magic seems to get baked-in by the software. The JPG that results is optimised in almost every way, except the ways us photogs might want.
So, will this all happen? I doubt it. The annual carry everywhere camera market is probably not worth much more than a few hours of iPhone sales. Unless you can add the kind of real functionality we want without much additional capital expenditure in design and manufacture, the chances are slim.
So, how about going the other route; a carry around camera with a phone in it? There have been a couple of attempts at incorporating the Android OS into a camera already and the very fact that I’m having to scratch my head for the name of the manufacturer who thought that one up speaks volumes for it’s success – or lack thereof.
I’ll confess to middle age and being the butt of some harsh jibes about my odd ways, but somehow, I just can’t imagine talking with a next gen Sony against my ear.
No. The coming phones will deliver more and better image quality and perhaps, more edit-ability for the photo wonks like us that demand post production in our work. For the countless other billions of phone photographers, they’re already quite happy with the IQ they get and will likely only become more delirious with what’s coming down the ‘pike.
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