Author Topic: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?  (Read 1731 times)

Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« on: August 01, 2018, 01:16:58 pm »
BBC video clip:   https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/entertainment-arts-45011397/renowned-film-director-wim-wenders-hits-out-at-phone-photography

It's been a talking point for ages, but what think ye?

An interesting one for me because I mainly use my mobile phone camera these days, which I thought I wouldn't do.   My equipment journey has been from decent 35mm SLR, to 'enthusiast compact', bypassing the dSLR.   Having moved to a mobile with a decent camera last year, which takes images that don't disappoint on every level like my previous phone, I find it's often a case of the best camera is the one you have with you, and particularly on the bike this is a phone.  My 9yro 'enthusiast compact' has partly been sidelined, due to a major piece of dust on the sensor, and taking the camera apart would be a real mission.  I don't think that my desire to take a good image has lessened at all since mainly using a phone, albeit the jpg output being somewhat lower in quality.  The HDR function seems pretty decent on some phones these days, and can be very handy.
"an inordinate fondness for beetles"

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2018, 01:26:59 pm »
For me phone cameras are the epitome of "f/8 and be there".  That's no bad thing.  People take pictures of things they wouldn't have dreamed of doing in the days of film, and it doesn't stop artists using photography to create lovingly crafted images.

It's probably true that for most people, photography is now more about communication than creating a record.  I think we already have a word for that: television (or perhaps distascopy, if you want to be Philip Pullman about it).

It's all good.  Apart from portrait-format video, which should die in a fire.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Tim Hall

  • I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2018, 03:02:44 pm »
It's all good.  Apart from portrait-format video, which should die in a fire.
This woman, she speaks much sense.
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hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2018, 03:26:58 pm »
I find it's often a case of the best camera is the one you have with you, and particularly on the bike this is a phone.

I think phone cameras allow folk to grab images in circs no other image would arise.

I don't think this threatens the production of any other well-crafted images.

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2018, 04:14:07 pm »
To be frank I think Win Wenders speaks nonsense.

I see more good/great/superb images now than I ever did in the days of film/polaroid.

The direct equivalent of the Smartphone was the 110 camera, a camera designed for mums and grans to take 24 shitty photos of shitty things in shitty quality.

He extols the virtue of prints but since when was a 6x4 print from boots better than a HD image shown on my phone or PC screen?  "Real" photographers are still printing large format prints as they ever did.

Photography has rarely been about truth any more than painting has.  Photographs have always been manipulated, to create a truth as the photographer saw it.

Mister Wenders is more than welcome to come and sift through the cardboard boxes of my Mum's photos from the 1970s if he likes.  I think, of all the hundreds of photos she took, about none of them were not shit.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2018, 04:22:23 pm »
Most high end phone cameras (eg iPhone or Samsung S7 and above) are now much better than point and and shoot digital cameras were five years ago. The photos coming out of Mrs Pcolbecks S7 are better than you would get most of the time with a 35mm camera. So they are fixed F stop, that never stopped things like the Olympus XA taking great pictures.
I have an OMD 10 and that can produce pictures that are much better than a camera phone. The apposite word in that last sentence is "can". Often the OMD 10 produces worst pictures as I have knocked some setting off (auto-focus is due for a reprogramming to another button), its human error that makes the OMD take bad pictures but with a camera phone all those options are gone and so its more reliable.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

nicknack

  • Fledgling Swampy
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2018, 04:34:44 pm »
Any mobiles do a decent telephoto?

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LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2018, 05:28:21 pm »
Any mobiles do a decent telephoto?

You can buy clip-on lenses and I think there are a couple of dual-lens camera phones out there.

I think a 2nd, >50mm equivalent, would be very nice to have because wide-angle lenses make for poor portraits, and portraits are a big part of what Smartphones are used for. 
2 lenses allow for very clever s/w simulation of shallow-depth of field.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2018, 05:36:02 pm »
Has anyone listened to what he says. His principle complaint is that no-one looks at the photos, and they aren't printed.

The problem is the hit-rate of captured images to those retained. He's a fan of Polaroid, which is the epitome of the tangible result. Each picture costs a lot, and requires perfect exposure. That effect cascades down through transparencies, and then prints.

There's a similar cascade through various digital capture techniques, at the bottom there's phoneytography; as he was asking for a name for it.

He's wrong about no-one seeing the pics though, the real attraction is that the camera is attached to an upload device

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2018, 05:36:40 pm »
Photography has rarely been about truth any more than painting has.  Photographs have always been manipulated, to create a truth as the photographer saw it.

I'll dispute that.  Photography has been used as a scientific tool since not long after it was invented.  Whether as a convenient way of recording things that would otherwise involve a lot of tedious manual work, as a teaching tool or as a means of expanding the human senses, the idea of accurately (if not realistically) recording and presenting an objective image is alive and well.  As anyone who's ever needed the services of a radiology department knows, sometimes you aren't interested in what it looks like, you just want an image you can measure something from.  Photography has far more scope for that than painting ever did.

It's been a while since I had to arse about with shutter speed to record a realistic image of an oscilloscope trace on film.  On the flip-side, I'll regularly grab a smartphone and take some shitty snaps as a way of recording how something goes back together, where in the days of film we would have used hand-drawn sketches and diagrams.  While modern tech has given us better alternatives to photography for recording some things, it's made photography practical for recording others.

I could argue that an awful lot of people's crappy smartphone images of their children are closer in intended principle to capturing an image of an electrophoresis gel than they are to creating medium-format works of art.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2018, 05:42:01 pm »
Has anyone listened to what he says. His principle complaint is that no-one looks at the photos, and they aren't printed.

[...]

He's wrong about no-one seeing the pics though, the real attraction is that the camera is attached to an upload device

Quite.  It's silly.  A selfie shat all over InstaTwitFace gets looked at far more than a slide in a shoebox under the bed ever did.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2018, 05:49:08 pm »
Photography has rarely been about truth any more than painting has.  Photographs have always been manipulated, to create a truth as the photographer saw it.

I'll dispute that.  Photography has been used as a scientific tool since not long after it was invented.  Whether as a convenient way of recording things that would otherwise involve a lot of tedious manual work, as a teaching tool or as a means of expanding the human senses, the idea of accurately (if not realistically) recording and presenting an objective image is alive and well.  As anyone who's ever needed the services of a radiology department knows, sometimes you aren't interested in what it looks like, you just want an image you can measure something from.  Photography has far more scope for that than painting ever did.

It's been a while since I had to arse about with shutter speed to record a realistic image of an oscilloscope trace on film.  On the flip-side, I'll regularly grab a smartphone and take some shitty snaps as a way of recording how something goes back together, where in the days of film we would have used hand-drawn sketches and diagrams.  While modern tech has given us better alternatives to photography for recording some things, it's made photography practical for recording others.

I'll argue that an awful lot of people's crappy smartphone images of their children are closer in intended principle to capturing an image of an electrophoresis gel than they are to medium-format works of art.

I did say "rarely".  Scientific uses must count as rare compared to the amount of none scientific use I see going on in Costa Coffee..etc.  I think Wim was referring to the "art" side of things though, I certainly was.

Also EVERY jpeg image has been manipulated and is, at the very least, an interpretation of reality as determined by the software developers at the camera factory.
Example.  Canon has decided to make skin tones reddish while Fuji thinks a less red hue is an appropriate interpretation.

That's why it irks me when people ask me if I Photoshopped my photo, as if it's in some way cheating. 
They are unaware of the "shopping" that takes place in the milliseconds before they view their Smartphone image.

Photos must be interpreted at some point because no camera can accurately capture what you saw.

Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2018, 05:53:43 pm »
Obviously Photoshop is cheating, just like using a camera is cheating.  Or, to pick an example from another domain, riding a bike is cheating.

We're humans.  Cheating is what we *do*.

Bring it on.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2018, 06:00:37 pm »
And film was just as manipulative of the image. Kodachrome anyone? The 60s and 70s didn't really have a lovely warm glow look like that at all.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2018, 06:12:02 pm »
No, they were B&W  ;D
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2018, 06:19:14 pm »
As if our eyes and brains don't manipulate reality anyway.  My vision's got a greeny-blue cast to everything, on account of a sensor fault.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2018, 06:34:52 pm »
One of my eyes is slightly warmer than the other.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2018, 06:38:11 pm »
So they are fixed F stop, that never stopped things like the Olympus XA taking great pictures.

The XA had variable f-stops f2.8 to f22
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2018, 06:38:47 pm »
To be frank I think Win Wenders speaks nonsense.
<snip>.
Mister Wenders is more than welcome to come and sift through the cardboard boxes of my Mum's photos from the 1970s if he likes.  I think, of all the hundreds of photos she took, about none of them were not shit.
I suspect this is what is at the heart of his argument - it's the well rehearsed premise that a lot of pictures are being made now, that future generations will not be able to see due to changing technology.
When analogue images were 'always' printed we amassed heaps of them which we were loath to throw away - certainly in the families I knew. What we have now are masses of digital images that slowly disappear in the fog of vanishing cloud storage, incompatible formats and corrupt files.
Since my obsession with analogue photography began recently, I've taken hundreds of photos, but I've only printed maybe 12. The negatives are in the bottom drawer (along with some CDs) - will my great grandchildren be bothered to look at those negatives? I very much doubt it. So it's not a "digital bad / analogue good" argument he's making, it's about the longevity or permanency of the image and I'm not sure that Polaroid is the right format to make that argument with. (The analogue/digital argument in photography is a train that long since left the station, and there's no point in the debate any more)
We had a couple of generations where a selected parts of daily life were recorded for future generations (us) to pore over as photographic images. In historical terms this has been a luxury; we didn't have this type of record for, say. life in the 16th Century, we may not have it by the middle of the 21st Century - things change. The printed photographic record of the lives of the last couple of generations was carefully, if accidentally, curated to show just a snapshot (!) of life, not the whole spectrum of life-as-it-is-lived that the smartphone is currently recording.
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

MikeFromLFE

  • Previously known as Millimole
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2018, 06:45:56 pm »
The direct equivalent of the Smartphone was the 110 camera, a camera designed for mums and grans to take 24 shitty photos of shitty things in shitty quality.
I've several 110 cameras in my collection none of them have produced a not-shitty image - you are doing the smartphone a grave injustice.
(caveat - I've still not tried the Pentax 110 SLR)
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2018, 08:03:09 pm »
Quote from: Linus Torvalds
Only wimps use tape backup. REAL men just upload their important stuff on ftp and let the rest of the world mirror it.

Applied to photography, if you want an image to really last, you need to persuade people to publish it.  Write a book, turn it into an internet meme, knit it into your offspring's DNA, hell, get it on the cover of Ariveé.  All will improve its chances of not disappearing compared to the average person's archive of film or JPEG.

There's merit in beaming a copy into outer space along the same trajectory as the missing episodes of Doctor Who, on the basis that's the first signal people are going to go looking for if faster-than-light travel ever becomes a practical possibility.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2018, 08:13:06 pm »
Wenders is promoting an exhibition of his Polaroids. Film directors used to take a lot before the arrival of digital video cameras.

I was early into digital, in 2001. My first smart media card was 4mb, and an 8mb card was £60 or so. The batteries didn't last long, so it had an optical viewfinder. There was about enough power to review enough shots to get about 36 decent photos. So it turned the average snapper into a competent amateur.

By 2003, I was up to 6 megapixels, interpolated. I used a 1 Gb compact flash card, and was tending more to movies. You had to make the film in the camera to a large extent, so it was a bit like 8mm you could review.

These days I use a camera with a bit-rate of 50 mb/s, and 128Gb of card gives about 10 hours of footage. Editing then becomes a work of sculpture, hacking away the surplus material, rather than building up a picture from the scant images you have.

So I'd say that it's the combination of memory and codecs that characterise all digital photography. I think it does make it hard to compose a photo-essay. A good photographer should only take the shots they need.

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2018, 08:13:11 pm »
.
 (caveat - I've still not tried the Pentax 110 SLR)

I have.  My Wife had one.  It produced well-exposed shitty images.

The thing which amazes me the most is that the sensor in my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is (rounding up) 6mm x 4.5mm (27mm.sq) using a lens not much larger than a pin-hole camera.

110 film was 17mm x 13mm (221 mm.sq) or 8x the surface area. (or the same as Micro four thirds!!!!!).
Nothing really shows how far we've come, technically, than the disparity between a 110 film image and a Micro four thirds image.

Anyway, back on topic.  My Phone's camera now means I tend to leave a £499 "professional compact" at home.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.  I could have done a better job with my DSLR but not in the 10 seconds it took to take this photo with my phone.  It would have taken much effort in Photoshop to do this with my camera.

Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

LEE

  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2018, 08:16:25 pm »
These days I use a camera with a bit-rate of 50 mb/s and 128Gb of card gives about 10 hours of footage. Editing then becomes a work of sculpture, hacking away the surplus material, rather than building up a picture from the scant images you have.

Taking vast amounts of unnecessary footage, or still images, is entirely optional, an option that was never available to the amateur until recently.

In that respect the title of the thread could read  -"Mobile phones democratising photography?"
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.

nicknack

  • Fledgling Swampy
Re: Mobile phone cameras killing photography?
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2018, 08:19:14 pm »
I've several 110 cameras in my collection none of them have produced a not-shitty image - you are doing the smartphone a grave injustice.
(caveat - I've still not tried the Pentax 110 SLR)
The Pentax did its best with a crap format. 13x17mm film area and a cassette that made it difficult to get the film perfectly flat. Most 110 cameras were terrible, the Pentax being a notable exception. I had a Minolta that didn't do a bad job too.
They weren't as bad as disc though.
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