Saturday, 2 March 2013


Crikey by craigand
Crikey, a photo by craigand on Flickr.
iPhone photos ahoy! Another one! This time just because the light was so amazingly perfect that I had to take a picture of *something*. I wanted to see how the iPhone camera would handle the branches and tiny twigs with this type of light on them. Turns out, pretty darn well. Almost but not quite as well as, I would say, a 2002 era APS-C digital sensor. Which is damned impressive, considering that the entire camera is a 6mm cube that fits inside a mobile phone.

100% crop of the twig detail

It's very noisy though. 100% crop shows just how noisy this sensor is, even being back-lit and shooting at ISO 50. It's the sort of noise level that, given the good light, I would expect to see at about ISO 400 on an older sensor, and ISO 1600 on a modern APS-C SLR.

100% crop of the noisy sky

Keep off the track

Keep off the track by craigand
Keep off the track, a photo by craigand on Flickr.
I've been playing with a new iOS camera app (yes, another one) called ThirtySix. It's a strange thing; you can only take black and white pictures, and you have to use up a whole virtual "roll" of 36 exposures before you can see any of them. The processing done is a basic high contrast b&w and is applied automatically with no option to change it.

The idea is to make iOS photographers thoughtful about their photographs. No "keep shooting until you get the right one", no "shoot 100 and pick the best", no "fix a crap photo with Instagram filters". There is no exposure to worry about, no colour, only the light and the framing. Slow down, frame, consider, reframe, add light? move? duck? climb? and finally shoot. Of course you have your "gut feel" for when something didn't quite work out so you can reshoot, but you won't find out until (potentially much) later.

It's an interesting idea. One I can get on board with, to a point. It's something I sometimes try to do with my "proper" cameras; turn off auto-preview, force myself not to chimp, don't look until I get home. It's a good exercise to do.

Digital photography, and the magic of raw shooting and fancy post-processing tools, have made the possibility of "rescuing" a photo, or making it into something else (ostensibly artistic) through adding filters (aside: this is just a word that means "processing presets". It is not related to actual filters that fit on your lens. Peeve) and other gimmicks.

Practice, either using ThirtySix, turning off autopreview, or, you know, actually shooting film, helps you learn to shoot less pictures that need "rescuing" in the first place. And seeing as "the best camera is the one that's with you", and my iPhone is with me all the time, ThirtySix seems like a really good idea.

Although it's terrible if all you want to do is shoot a picture and upload it to Facebook.

Incidentally, this picture is the only one I actually liked out of my first few tries. It's alright, I suppose. Although the limitations of the technology are apparent if you pixel peep - the posterisation is almost laughable.

See? It's like an old VGA computer game graphic. Still, you with 8 million pixels to play with you wouldn't actually notice this at normal viewing sizes. Just don't go printing 15x10 posters.

Read about ThirtySix here: