CAMERA CLUB: Mobile phones put in the picture

Half of all browsing and internet shopping happens on mobile phone. This change to mobile technology makes traditional computers redundant for many purposes.

Stand-alone cameras are also dethroned with 90% of photos shot using mobiles.

Smartphone photography is usually quite different from most images shot with interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs). “Different” implies neither better nor worse. As phone cameras get more

sophisticated, people are discovering they can create pleasing photographic art with their mobiles.

Although, this branch of photography is still dominated by portraits of pouting, plastic-skinned people, there is a superb potential to produce other types images using a phone. Landscapes, street photography, macro and abstracts are all viable using mobiles. Furthermore, phone cameras are now approved for taking UK passport photos.

It is also possible to manage our ILCs using our mobiles. Many cameras connect to phones wirelessly.

One can control the exposure, as well as upload and process jpeg images using any one of a myriad of phone apps. Sharing the images to social media and saving them to the cloud becomes instantly possible too.

Some free apps allow developing and processing images created in the phones. Pixlr, Snapseed are popular examples. On1 has just released a free mobile app that can also link with the On1 installed on your computer, making it much easier to share images to Instagram and other social media. You can read about that by typing this into your web browser’s address bar: Lightroom also has similar functionality.

There are, of course, branches of photography that are not yet feasible with mobiles. For example, sports and wildlife require telephoto lenses. The tiny sensors in phones mean that dynamic range, colour gamut and low light performance will never equal contemporary ILCs. You can’t defy the laws of physics!

Other shortcomings exist too. Dealing with multiple large raw files is not practical on a phone. Also, the small sized phone screens lack the precision for accurately developing an image compared with a computer. I even find the laptop, on which I am writing this article, too small and lacking in definition for processing images. I use the desktop computer I designed and built for my photographic work with twin calibrated screens.

Most professional photographers have been told, “You must have a good camera,” by someone who likes their images. Lay people do not recognise the planning, experience and effort go into creating an image. I am sure the misbelief that you just need a good camera led to the historic boom in camera sales. Hundreds of thousands of people saw great photographic art and wanted to create the same. Consequently, they bought expensive cameras.

In this era of instant self-gratification, they expected great results on every press of the shutter. But, inevitably, they found they did not know how to use their camera and were unable to recreate those terrific shots. Consequently, there are now hundreds of thousands of advanced cameras sitting in cupboards, remaining virtually untouched.

I wonder where technology will take us next with photography. The ongoing drop in camera sales suggests that most photographers are satisfied with the cameras they have now and do not need to upgrade. Cameras have also reached a level of sophistication where they do almost everything the photographer needs. The one thing I would really like in a camera would be the addition of a SIM card so I can directly upload raw files to my cloud service as I shoot them. Perhaps the next evolutionary step is for cameras to have mobile phones integrated into them and not the other way around.