This week’s newsletter is slightly is shorter. You see, my first grandchild was born a few days ago, so my focus and time has been somewhat redirected 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
One of the most notable contributions to the media world of photography this week was made by Tony Northrup in his video about smartphone photography. I’ve written about this many times before, and it’s nice to feel less alone 🙂
Digital camera manufacturers missed the digitalization (gravy) boat focusing exclusively on digitization (ie creating expensive hand-held scanners with zero useful features) and on a race to quantitative specification that’s so pointless it makes reality TV feel like a deep dive into Einstein’s threen mind.
What would you prefer, a camera that can’t be stolen, produces files that are stitched into a pano while you sleep – without you asking – as above, stabilizes your shots almost to any exposure length (making you the human tripop you’ve always dreamed of being), backs up everything (also while you sleep), speeds up PP, … or one that has a bit more pixels and frames per second? Dunno about you, but the market has very obviously chosen. And that’s bad news, because sooner or later, there will be nothing left but phones to take pics with.
Have you been sorely tempted by the Hasselblad 907 and its ability to shoot on film and on digital backs? This might be an amusing althernative 🙂
Back to phones. They’re great and most of the talented young creators are using them (or film). Here’s the thing, though. If I’m so bullish about smarpthone, why am I not using one myself? Well, actually I am: here’s Egypt (largely) shot with a smartphone. But not a lot. Let’s put aside the fact that my battered relic doesn’t match today’s best, in terms of image quality, let alone that of my beloved X1D, and that the lens is harder to keep clean than a politician’s mind. Here are two more important reasons.
First, user experience. To me, the experience of making – crafting – a photograph, is more important than the photograph itself. With the right camera, I thoroughly enjoy the process of making images. It is not that far from a Zen experience. With the wrong camera (and I’ve been plenty vocal about the mind-bendingly poor ergonomics of some of my previous cameras), the process is akin to the eons of Samsāra you go through before you see the light 😉
Our tastes differ when it comes to grips, viewfinders, button layout … but it’s easy to spot a well designed camera and a bad ones. Phones are somewhere in the middle. By relegating the operations to an app, they can rely on the extremely well charted waters of UX to create something efficient, unobtrusive and convenient. But I’ve yet to meet one that feels involving and brings a smile to your face. Phones are still more about getting a shot than crafting it.
Secondly, there’s Post Processing. I’ll wager that 99% of photographers with real cameras have no clue what post processing actually entails. You only need to scan the PP software / application market, much of it sooooo wrong it could cause the ergonomics team in some camera manufacturers envious heartburn, to realise that.
I love post processing my photographs. Most people don’t. And phones do it for you. With a phone, you delegate the PP to someone else. And that’s fine, and much better than doing it reluctantly and poorly yourself. But if you enjoy PP, phone file quality and phone apps still don’t quite match the potential and – again – experience, of a more traditional digital workflow.
But here’s a challenge to myself. As soon as I get a more recent phone, I’ll take a trip somewhere and will photograph exclusively with the phone for all of the trip. Cold turkey?
Never miss a post
Like what you are reading? Subscribe below and receive all posts in your inbox as they are published. Join the conversation with thousands of other creative photographers.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.