Friday, 30 July 2021

New phone camera vs. Nikon D3500

The downside of travel on a motorbike with a camera is it must either be around your neck, where it can be a nuisance - banging into fuel tank every now and then - or tucked away in the rucksack. My Nikon D3500 is not a heavy camera, but its presence around my neck is not welcome while out riding. My Nikon Coolpix A is smaller and lighter, but it lacks telephoto capability. It's great for landscapes and architecture but little more. So my new Samsung Galaxy S20FE looked like a promising answer - not least because it has three lens built in, wide, ultra-wide and telephoto. On Wednesday, I left the Nikons on the działka and set off for a ride. 

To my huge disappointment, only one photo I took actually registered on the phone's memory! I assumed that, just as on my Huawei P9 Lite, the simple act of touching the white button centrally located on the bottom panel under the image would capture it. The Galaxy S20 vibrates - there's the impression of the image coming into focus - but it turns out that this isn't enough. You need to ensure that the tiny icon to the left of the white button is filled with a thumbnail of the image. Only then do you know you've got your snap. Which means pressing the white button twice after an unlock.

So the following day I went out for another ride, having taken some test photos the previous evening. It's not all that intuitive! This time, I took the Nikon in the rucksack as a back-up.

Below: where the orchards end and the forest begins; my evening walk, Jakubowizna. Still not convinced by the blueness of the blue in this image taken on the Galaxy S20FE, on this walk I left the Nikon at home to test the universal suitability of the smartphone and its camera. Taken with the ultrawide lens, the equivalent of 13.5mm on a 35mm camera. Given that the number of pixels is half of that in the Nikon, and that the sensor is much smaller, it stands to reason that the image won't be nearly as good if blown up to 30" x 20". However, as an image on a blog page - it will do more than adequately.

Now for a shot using the telephoto lens (below). This is the equivalent of 76mm on a 35mm camera, so a very mild telephoto, more of a portrait focal length. There are also digital (rather than optical) zoom possibilities, but because of potential camera shake it makes more sense to crop the image in Photoshop rather than to zoom in digitally. This is the farm track leading up from Grobice towards Adamów Rososki.

Let's look then side by side, how the camera and the phone compare. Below: not identical shots, but you get the picture. On the left, the Nikon D3500 with lens set at 27mm (35mm equiv.), with polarising filter. To the right, the Galaxy S20FE image taken with its ultrawide lens (13.5mm in 35mm equiv.), and taken from closer in. The .RAW image was processed in Photoshop Camera Raw, something you can't do when shooting .jpg-only shots on the Galaxy S20FE. Yes, you can use Photoshop - but compared to Camera Raw, Photoshop lacks the fine control when it comes to extracting the most detail from highlight and shadow areas, as well as colour balance and saturation. In the final analysis, the better image is the one that most accurately matches what the photographer saw and felt at the time - the one that better reflects the qualia experience of the moment. In this case, for me, it's the Nikon image, left.

Below: the other great plus for the Nikon is the ability to use filters. The circular polarising filter is an essential part of my photographic style, bringing out a Kodachrome-like crystalline blue from the skies. For me, this is an integral part of my sublime aesthetic.

Opożdżew, Nevada. I do like it when local wags play around with the road signs this way. Incidentally, the shot above was the reverse of this one, the one I stopped for. Also taken on the Nikon.

On the plus side - the Galaxy S20's size and universality mean that if I'm ever forced to leave the camera, for whatever reason, I will be always able to get a reasonable shot for the archives, even though it's not as perfect as my soul would like it. The pictures are qualitatively better than the snaps taken on my old Huawei P9 Lite for one main reason - three integral lenses rather than just the one, even if the process of shooting is more complicated.

This time three years ago:
Karczunkowska viaduct takes shape

This time four years ago:
My father's return to Warsaw, 2017

This time five years ago:
My father's first visit to Warsaw in 40 years

This time six years ago:
What's worse - unemployment, or a badly-paid job?

This time seven years ago:
A return to Liverpool

This time nine years ago:
Too good to last (anyone remember OLT Express airline?)

This time ten years ago:
Poland's Baltic coast as a holiday destination

This time 12 years ago:
The Warsaw they fought and died for?

This time 14 years ago:
Floods, rainbows and hope


Neighbour said...


With all respect to your Photo Mastery, these are NOT photos. They are just SNAPSHOTS. Where do you want to rush with a mobile phone “camera”? Are you chasing rabbits? Or swallows above your head? Forget it, stick to the knitting you do so well with your good old (5-7 years old SLR is “old”?!) Nikon puszka and słoik attached, not a fake lensy-thingy on the back of your phone. A mobile phone is a mobile phone, a camera and a lens attached is a tool to SEE the light an the frame.

Stay. safe and healthy,

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Neighbour

From the top: snapshot, snapshot, photo/photo, photo, snapshot.

If it ain't .RAW, it ain't worthy of the term 'photograph'.

Neighbour said...