This was originally posted as Early Access at my Patreon account.
Feb. 12, 2018 – I am finding that the differences between the photos that my camera phone, the Lumia 950, and the new Olympus micro 4/3rds Pen E-PL8 mirrorless camera are both evident and very subtle.
As my previous post states, I had hoped to replace a camera phone photo practice with a very small mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. The transition is coming along in fits and starts.
The immediate difference between the two example photos taken yesterday while on a hike to Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is the way that the cameras handle color. The Lumia 950 is rather famous for its yellow-tinted take on the world and the Olympus Pen E-PL8 for its lack of neon saturation.
My eyes have become so used to the vivid to neon saturation that most camera phones produce that the subtler colors and tones of the Olympus Pen appear almost desaturated (top photo) until I look at the Pen’s photo carefully – wherein a world of beautiful tones opens up – esp. at the dusty horizon.
In the Lumia 950 photo (directly above), the sky, plants and rocks are much more cheerful in color and the horizon is just a few volcanic cones peeping up from the dusty, windy day.
For what the Lumia photo lacks in contrast and strong shadows, it makes up for in bright color. For what the Pen photo lacks in saturated color, it more than makes up for in mood, contrast, contour edges, and shadows.
What do you think?
Due to the good to great reaction and feedback from my SMWLA Master Class in Mobile Photography, the Q&A Session at the AT&T store later, and answering questions at the various meet & greets that evening, I realized, also with a good poke from Sam Sabri, that I should add a Mobile Photo Tips section to my blog.
Thus, I will be a few times a week doing a small one tip per blog post with instructions, ideas, thoughts, images, and possibly a video or two to illustrate the concept.
I have already started a list of mobile photo tips and if you have questions or would like me to explain how to do something with the camera part of your mobile device, please ask in the Disqus comments below!
I will do my best to cover tips that will work on (almost) any camera phone, so that you can feel empowered to take great photos regardless of your device!
Nokia Lumia 925 photo on the left/top and the Nokia 808 PureView on the right/bottom, roll over image for camera phone name and click on it for larger version.
Wed 07.03.13 – The world famed Clinton Jeff is currently visiting between mobile tech events in the US and a slew of UPS / DHL packages have arrived this past week bearing mobile phones for review in Unleash the Phones. CJ kindly handed me a Nokia Lumia 925 to take photos with after he completed his review.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is a lovely little machine: it is light, well made, and the photos have been quite nice so far. Even though it does not have my photo / dog walking required leash/wrist strap hole, it is light and flat enough to stuff in my pocket. I have been reluctant to bring it out due to the lack of wrist strap in a few situations over the last few days.
Now, I could have done a comparison between my Nokia Lumia 920 and the trial 925, but why? I rarely take the Lumia 920 out on photo walks, as it is too big for my hands, it is heavy and there is not place to secure a wrist strap to it. Yes, I did buy a case with a strap for the Lumia 920, but it makes the mobile even bigger, bulkier, and heavier and then both get left at home.
Instead, I decided to test if the Nokia Lumia 925 is good enough to be acceptable against my primary camera phone the best mobile photo bad ass currently on the planet – the Nokia 808 PureView, aka my Precious. The Nokia 808 is small enough to comfortably fit in my hand, there is a wrist strap / leash hole on the bottom and with the strap – I am never afraid I am going to drop it when leaning over something dangerous to phones or have the dogs knock it out of my hand if they are being boisterous. Not to mention that the 808 PureView’s photos are great.
This post is the first in a series over the next couple of days. As the first, I give you two above comparison photos taken from the same spot of local fallen flowers floating in the gutter during daylight, photo on the above left/top taken with the Nokia Lumia 925 and the photo on the bottom of the two photos taken with the Nokia 808 PureView, both camera phones set to ‘close-up’.
I have imported both originals into Lightroom, added metadata, and then exported as 1200 pixel width photos, uploaded here and am using Senchia.io Src to resize for mobile, if necessary. Neither has been massaged in any other way.
The big difference that I can see is that the saturation on the Nokia Lumia 925 is high and the Nokia 808 PureView is truer to natural / real color.
Wherein I, @msjen, and Richard Sheridan, @sheridan01, have a good natured mobile photography showdown on the best photo app for your mobile over at Nokia Connects…
Should you or shouldn’t you use a photo | editing app on your camera phone? Richard and I discuss | write about this over at The Nokia App Photo Editing Showdown at Nokia Connects.
Go read it, put in your two or ten cents in the comments.
My two favorite Nokia 7610 camera phone photos from 2004, click on them to go to the original post.
Thurs 12.09.10 – Today is the 6th anniversary of my having a camera phone in my hands and using the phone’s camera and internet connectivity to send photos to this blog & Flickr as well as using Nokia’s Lifeblog (r.i.p.) to mobile blog photos and text to this blog and others.
This six years has been the most consistently creative six years of my life, as taking photos daily with an internet connected camera that is always on you has honed my eye, sharpened my senses, made me *really* look & observe even in the most mundane moments, and has inspired many other areas of my life both my creative and other parts of my life.
Since SXSW 2003 when I heard Adam Greenfield & Joi Ito talk about how camera phone photography and mobile blogging was taking off in Japan, I yearned for my own camera phone. In July of 2004, Erika and I went to the “Sent” exhibition at The Standard that Xeni Jardin & SixSpace Gallery curated. My desire for a camera phone increased, as I hated that my computer’s hard drive had become a cemetery for photos never posted to the web, I just wanted to shoot and send.
On Dec. 9th, 2004, when I picked up the Nokia 7610 and drove to AT&T to re-up my contract with a fancy new, shiny unlimited data plan and then started taking photos and moblogging them, a whole new world opened up to me. A world of mobile photography, mobile creativity, and community that I am very glad to have participated in the last six years.
I would like to thank (then) Nokia’s Charlie Schick and (then) Creative Intelligence’s Kristen Bennett for taking a chance on me for the Lifeblog Wasabi four month project from Dec 2004 to March 2005. I am grateful that Nokia has continued a six year run of excellence in producing the best camera phones, here is to another six!
To celebrate my 6th Anniversary of camera phone photography & blogging, aka Moblogging, I will be posting my fave photos from each of the six years over the next week, starting with my two favorites from 2004 above.
Celebrate along with me: take a photo or two or three or more with your camera phone and post them to your blog. To life & creativity!
Fri 08.27.10 – At Tuttle Club LA today, I found myself in possession of a Nokia E73 (trial phone), my Nokia N86, and a Nokia N97 of which I was testing out Foursquare via Gravity (works) and Gowalla mobile (doesn’t work).
When I first sat down at our table, I loved the contrast between Toorak Coffee’s interior orange walls and the green shirts that Geoff and Al were wearing, so I pulled out the first camera phone, the E73, in my bag and took a photo. Then I pulled out the N97 to check in to Foursquare and the like and took the same photo (mostly) from the same angle (mostly). Out came the Nokia N86 8 MP to take the final photo.
When Matt and I looked at the phones’ screens, the N86 rendered the best photo where the colors looked as they actually were, the E73 the second best, and on the N97’s screen the photo looked washed out. But now that I have them transferred to my computer, resized to 800×600, and posted to this blog, the N86 and the N97 look better but the real color was somewhere between the two with the N97 being a bit washed out and the N86 being a bit dark/saturated, and the E73’s photo is a bit blurred and the color a bit light/bright.
The interior of Toorak is a good challenge for a point and shoot camera or a camera phone as the ceilings are high with big halogen/fluorescent lights and orange paneled walls with dark wood furniture. It is a gorgeous interior visually but a bit stressful for a camera, then add on Geoff & Al’s shirts…. A comparison waiting to happen.
What do you think?
Recently I found myself thinking about camera phone apps, more specifically about Hipstamatic and do folks really use it past the week they bought it out of the App Store?
Amongst the photographers and designers I know and follow on Flickr, I will occasionally see a photo that looks like it was Hipstamatic-d but not often, which makes me to wonder if it is due to the fact that Hipstamatic does not make a back up of the original photo before it is processed or if folks just aren’t interested in Lomo like mobile camera phone photos.
My curiosity continued to wander and I started to wonder really how many camera phone apps people were using past the first week of buying them. Furthermore, what iPhone and Android camera phone apps were people buying and using with any regularity. Do folks like the ‘toy camera’ apps or were they using camera apps with other functionality?
The Camera phone app world has quite exploded on the iPhone and Android is catching up, but when I searched the Ovi Store there were very few camera phone apps for Symbian devices and those that were there were more geared to an East Asian J-Pop photo booth cute overload on neon aesthetic than the Graham Parson-esque Silver Like circa 1972 via a yellow daisy filled green meadow in misty sunlight aesthetic of Hipstamatic.
There was one Symbian app, Joyeye, that promised Lomo style photos, but it did not work on my Nokia N86 and I did not try to download a version for the N97. It may be that it is only for touchscreen Symbian devices or it may be that the Ovi Store seems dead set on thinking my N86 is an N97.
Two weeks ago to satisfy my curiosity, I conducted a very small survey on Twitter by asking:
msjen: iPhone folk, what is your favorite camera or photo app & why?
To follow up on last week’s post, 2,045 Days with a Camera Phone, I would like to write a bit more on why I have loved camera phone photography and mobile blogging so much in the last 5.5 years and that can be summed up in one word: constraints.
The old adage in design, photography, and many other arts is that it is not unlimited creative freedom that sparks the best in a designer or artist, but it is limits and constraints that the artist or designer has to push at, be challenged by, and get around that create great art and design or at least cause the artist in question to grow in their craft.
It has been very easy the last 8-10 years to hone one’s craft with a DSLR camera almost to the point where too many photographers get obsessed with megapixels, lenses, and processing in Photoshop than the actual act of taking the photo becomes secondary or farther down the line.
By choosing to shoot more than 90% of my photos of the last half decade with a small camera phone and then choosing to send them directly from the phone to the internet with no stops at Photoshop, means that I purposefully chose to constrain myself to a small camera that in many cases had less megapixels and less of a lens & digital sensor system than the contemporary point & shoots, not even considering what the comparable time period of DSLRs could do.
But the magic of setting the self-imposed discipline of the constraints of a camera phone plus no or very little post-phone processing seriously, meant that I had to really hone my eye, my composition, my observation of the scene, and then just shoot and shoot and shoot. I have shot a lot of bad photos in the last 5+ years, but I have also shot a lot of good to wonderful photos with my camera phones.
And it is the discipline of the constraints of a camera phone that make the great photos all the more sweeter than when I shoot a good photo with a Nikon film SLR or DSLR.
All of that being said, I have some to quite a bit of trepidation about the next generation of camera phones, particularly the Nokia N8, as it really is better than the point & shoots out on the market right now. The photos from its big 12 megapixel digital sensor & Zeiss lens are extraordinarily good.
After 5.5 years of pushing, working around, thinking, changing the angle, doing whatever I could to capture the vision in my head with a camera phone, to have a camera phone that will be not just good enough, but great… …that is why I said in the last article that I started to think seriously about film rangefinders or purchasing a high end Nikon. My thoughts were – if the Nokia N8 is so spectacular then I won’t have much in the way of constraints, then whole rubric for why I have shot with camera phones since 2004 will be over.
Yes, as I said in 2,045 Days with a Camera Phone, the Nokia N8 is the arrival of the maturity of camera phones as a photographing instrument and the pioneering era is mostly over, particularly if one was shooting with camera phones from the perspective of constraints or enjoying the toy quality of some camera phone’s imagery.
But I am not going to run away. Why? Because I trust Damian. I trust Mr. Dinning’s vision that he has had the last 6 years to push the technology of camera phones to meet that of the highest quality levels. He and I had several interesting conversations over meals at the big adventure in May that gave me an insight to his desire to make the Nokia Nseries line of cameras cross from good to great. Damian and his team have not failed me in the Nokia N86 or any other Nseries camera phones that I have taken photos with since 2004.
So, I will let go of my imposed constraints and walk into a new era and see how good camera phones can really get for the photographer who wants a camera on one at all times, with the N8 I will just have to find a few new challenges to set for myself.
Here’s to the future.