12 steps back: Why your phone is NOT a camera ~By Tom Upton, Photography Addict
I’m Tom, I am a cameraholic…
1) Teeny tiny “lens”. Teeny tiny sensor. Weensy entrance pupil. To perform in low light this thing must borrow heavily from the sensor’s firmware programming for ISO leveraging. Auto ISO is a form of photographic payday loan-sharking. See Step Four.
2) Lens is exposed to pocket dust and icky-finger-dirt and we ignore this, because, by now in 2017, we are used to crappy digital images, as we groove in the euphoria of instant sRGB gratification.
3) Lens location. Soo convenient for the engineers, soo annoying for consumers. Finger photo bomb anyone? We are used to lenses being in the center of proper cameras, off center is just numbskullian at best. While trying to protect the phone from certain peril, we cover the so called lens. This feature also enables Step Five. It is a gateway flaw for enabling klutzophilia addiction syndromes.
4) Auto ISO. Sensor size. Two Steps on ONE! The sensoretre is about 1/4 inch square (see Creature Feature photo for scale). Pause. Indoors and at night this leads to blurry and noisy photos. The minute you walk out of a good bright light situation, into a darker one, your iPhone will jack up your ISO, retard (yes, I used the R word! –Appropriately in this case) your exposure window and poo all over your image file. The visually illiterate do not seem to mind; Auto ISO high noise is the new opiate of the masses. Shameful abdication of clarity, acuity and detail.
5) Ergonomic Nightmare. Rather difficult (and I am being kind here) to shoot with one hand and not drop it. Hold, compose, focus, adjust exposure slider, and just try to shoot… Screen replacement anyone? See Step Three.
6) Permanently fixed aperture of F/2.2. Where do I start on this photo optical mishegoss? The Holy Trinity of Photography, ISO, APERTURE, and SHUTTER is cruelly maimed here by presumptive hardware know-it-alls. With no aperture choice your depth of field options go away, forever. Camera virtuosity licks clean the plates of point-n-shoot comfort food.
7) Variable, unpredictable shutter speeds. More engineer inspired “Parent Mode” and More Trouble. That’s right. “Right here in River City!” The “smart” phone determines the exposure time, you do not; the minute you walk out of good bright light situation, your iPhone will use longer exposure times. The inherent problem here is less light = slower shutter speeds = blurry photographs. Very blurry photographs. All the time. Ad infinitum. You’re but an innocent bystander, while the Devil of Photography (unintentional blur) ravages your images. Mercy Mercy Mercy.
8) Hokus Focus. Trying to focus a camera that is predisposed to shoot slow blurry images is an uphill battle. Fortunately it is one of the few controls we have that may compensate for wholesale Depth of Field capitulation by the Apple Brainiac Genii. Smart phone focus is gnarly and capricious. Tap the screen for the yellow box, and wait…and wait…for it to hunt and lock, and change the exposure! With diligence and patience one can prevail over this Damn-Foolproof engineering. Yes, BTW that is what they think of their customers.
9) Exposure override. Touchy, touchy touchy! Perhaps in an uncharacteristic occurrence of consumer compassion, one of the engineers, (probably a woman), felt it would be helpful to give the user a way to brighten or darken the image prior to shooting. Thank God. Thing is, you need to be fast. Get the yellow box, tap the sun icon, and slide to adjust. But hurry the f up, you have 2 seconds, or you start over. Back to square yellow. Again… Oh, and did I mention, try not to drop the phone? Oh, one more thing…GOOD LUCK if you are wearing Shades! 😤
10) Too much confluence. It is phone, it is a music player, it is a human tracking device, it is your news source, your crumbs out of the forest, your pacifier, romantic partner, tool of eternal indulgence and heroin for boredom. With the rambling shutter and aperture, you do not have a camera, you have a vacuum cleaner for your cluttered moments in a chronically distracted life.
In 12 steps programs I never really got to Step Twelve. God issues, Sharing Issues, and Popsych issues. I am a mindfulness guy and believe a proper camera will support a much better flow toward deliberately excellent photographs. Finally this all suggests that the iPhone and its ilk will help separate out the real motivated photographers who will commit to DSLR/M cameras as instruments and hopefully find their way to PhotoTrainer World Headquarters in Palo Alto where you will be able to discover the Zen of Photography. ~Namaste
Note: All photos for this blog were made with the Apple iPhone 6s, because it was so darned convenient…the 7 is on order. 😬