#866. How to combine the best and worst of cameras and smartphones

By philberphoto | Opinion

Jun 03
A7 RII + ZM 35 f:1.4

Like the photography world at large, DearSusan has been roiled by the tsunami that is the use of smartphones in lieu of “real cameras”. Pros and cons butting heads and trading blows. Let me tell you, it was/is ugly!

A7 RII + Loxia 25

Basically, I sat clearly in the camp of the users of real cameras. Smartphones just weren’t “good enough” for yours truly. Exceptions of course in the highly capable hands of Pascal J. and, more recently, of Adrian T. So, when I arrived in the wonderful un-destination of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and snapped away with my brand new iPhone Xr, just because I could and the scene looked to good to miss, and the image looked very good image on the screen, I started to waver.

A7R II + Loxia 25

Over a few days, as I made my way out early to shoot in dawn light before starting on my work schedule, I replicated a few of my camera shots with my iPhone, so that I could instantly share them with Pascal, Dallas, or others. Had I gone over to the Dark Side?

Later that week, I was afforded the opportunity of a dark scene shoot, usually (one of) the bane(s) of smartphones. And once again, the Apple did much better than camera makers would have liked. Because I had “good enough” pics to share instantly, the lust/urge to process my “real camera” pics became much less….

A7R II + ZM 35 f:1.4

Until….. I availed myself of a function of the Sony, and turned the tables on the Apple.

The Sony can send pictures over to a smarphone via Wi-Fi, and that can be shared just as a smartphone picture would be shared. Suddenly I could tease/pester/harass Pascal and/or Dallas just as effectively and quasi-instantly without having to give up my camera.

A7R II + Loxia 25

The way to do it is simple on the Sony, and I am sure that other modern cameras offer variations on the same functionnality.

There is a free app called Imaging Edge Mobile. I open the app in the phone, and turn wi-fi to “on” . I select the picture I want to share in the camera, dive into the menu to connect to wi-fi, and -Ka-Boom!- it transfers, and the image is ready for sharing into whatever you want. The first time requires telling the phone which wi-fi network to connect to, and inputting the password. So far, it works every time.

A7R II + Loxia 25

So now I can transfer images from my camera. They have the same limitations as from my iPhone: no PP, no cropping etc…, unless you consider the limited tools offered by the smartphones to be real PP, which I don’t.

A7R II + LOxia 25

Let’s just say that, since I started doing that, I haven’t used my phone camera any more. You can look at it two ways. On the plus side, I have extended my camera use to on-the-spot sharing of SOOC images which is great, and takes a lot of wind out of smartphone images’ sails.

On the minus side, in a search to replicate the simplicity of using a phone camera, I end up combining the functions and complexities of 2 devices. And that is true as well.

A7R II + ZM 35 f:1.4

Anyone doing the same, or have I gone totally insane?


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  • pascaljappy says:

    The words “Sony”, “app”, “sharing” in a same sentence with no swearing, self-mutilation or vein-popping fury … the times, they are a changin. And the for the good of all. Thanks for sharing the good news and the lovely pics 🙂

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Philippe, on ne discute ni des goûts, ni des couleurs. That way, EVERYONE is happy – and that’s all that matters.

    Are you telling us that all of those photos were taken in Saint-Jean? I am puzzled by the first one, it looks a little out of place for a fishing village. By the time I scrolled down to the car, I was half expecting Maigret to step out onto the footpath.

    And the photos just get better and better as I look at them. What was it that you were trying to tell us? – I couldn’t concentrate on the text, the photos were too interesting. Sorry – I’ll try harder next time. 🙂

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    For my Canon M5, there is the app “Camera Connect” for Android or Iphone, with a similar and just as simple procedure. It can also control the camera remotely.
    – – –

    Well, except for the one-lens-photographer, the dark side of “real” (ahem..) cameras is the weight and volume of even a small set of lenses, unless you go for a superzoom or a pocket zoom camera – and then you approach the dark side of phone cameras…

    Phone cameras begin to have additional longer lenses – but with even smaller sensors – and show the first acceptably looking examples of simulated short DOF but will always have a dark side with low light.

    And close-ups, and especially macro, are so much easier to manage with smaller sensors.

    As we say in Sweden: Wherever you turn – your butt is behind you.
    – – –

    What I wish for is a “DXO Two”, a wide-angle and a short tele 1″ sensor camera in one housing with an EVF and a couple of touch panel strips to set exposure values and manual focus (perhaps with an additional camera module for macro) – it would still be shirt pocketable.
    – – –

    I do like your photos, especially #1 (the vignette) and #3!
    And it’s a lovely car.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      LOL – I love this site – great photography, great commentary, and great senses [plural] of humour!

      Kristian, it was a lovely theory – I bought separate camera bags for different sets of gear. The only one it works for is the stuff I take on overseas trips, and the only reason that works is because the rest of the stuff is at home and I’m on the other side of the planet.

      My baby point and shoot – the Nikon 9700 – has its own bag and the only accessories are a spare card and a spare battery, so that one works.

      Next up is the Canon PowerShot, and that works too, on the same principle, but with a larger bag (and a detachable ELV).

      But the HF and FF – I’m afraid every time I take one or other out, I have to make a selection of the lenses and other gear I want to take with me. And there’s no way to duck that.

      Oh – cellphones. Well you wouldn’t like what mine is capable of – I think it dates from 2010, I can’t be certain. No – don’t think so – I’ll those things to the stampeding tourists who use them as a lead weight on the end of a broom stick, to whack people over the head with. And stick with “real cameras”. It’s cheaper than buying a new iPhone every year! And you can use the photos they take to make prints, instead of your photos being confined in a kind of electronic asylum for dysfunctional photographers, until they all vanish into cyber space when someone’s cloud storage system implodes.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Aye Jean Pierre,
        and as I use to say, every camera bag is the wrong size… , 😉 .

        Cell phones :
        I’ve not yet found one (Android for me) that I like as a phone that also has an OK camera.

        Pocket camera :
        After my XF1 I found nothing I like, so I make do with a DXO One (plus a used Iphone 5 to control it), really good enough but with a wrong (for me) focal length – hence my “DXO Two” wish above.

        Btw., with the tiny DXO underwater housing it’s an all-weather camera (then controlled by WiFi) and it *does* remember the focus distance, ideal for zone focusing!

        Camera bags :
        After I added a few lenses to the Canon M (after the demise of the XF1) I tried one (on sale) bag after the other. The Peak Design Sling 5L finally hooked me for its discreet appearence (larger inside than outside) with no rain or snow entry point and being very quick to open (yes I know, zippers break sooner or later).

        So then (now with Canon M5) I let *the bag define* which (several) lenses I could take along!

        Until (tired of cat-eyed APS-C zoom tele out of focus highlights) I added the new Canon 70-300mm IS II – which allowed only two lenses more. (I’m the kind who likes to be able to catch whatever surprises me, but I doubt I’ll get used to handholding that weight and size.)

        So, enter a one size larger similar bag (Think Tank TurnStyle 10).

        As I said, every camera bag is the wrong size… , 😉 .
        [ Sigh… ?, oh NO! ]

  • Excellent photo’s Philippe and article. I’m so jealous of you and you’re Sony. I tried Nikon’s Snapbridge to transfer photos from camera to iPhone I gave up after 15 minutes in frustration!!!

  • Michael Demeyer says:

    SOP with the Leica M10 for me. And I find the iPhone version of Lightroom to be quite functional within the limits of the iPhone screen size. (Of course, that assumes you use LR.

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