2018-11-09

Other photographers forget an extra SD card or battery...

Me? I forget my camera. Sure, it was just a quick walk in the local area, so no big deal. Still, when I'd set up my tripod at the nice spot I'd just found, where a low sun was lighting up the landscape in amazing saturated colors, and looked into my bag that contained my lenses but no camera, I felt like the dumbest photographer on the planet. The camera must still be sitting at home on the dining table where I had put it down after checking the SD card and battery...

Well, there was nothing to do other than to fold up my tripod and zip my backpack. And to grab my trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 8 cell phone whose camera is more than adequate for situations like this. I decided to take the opportunity to test the pro-settings of the camera that allow you to shoot in RAW and control the camera manually, much like you would with a DSLR. I've never really bothered doing that since I usually have a much better RAW camera on me.

So here is the scene that lay before me. How pretty is that?! While the sharpness of the image is certainly nowhere near what I can achieve with my Sony A7II, at first glance you really can't tell that this is a cell phone image.

One of the things that you can do with Note 8's RAW camera - or Pro camera as it's called - is to control the basic settings that you know so well from your DSLR camera, such as exposure, aperture, and ISO. That's a huge advantage. Most daylight images - and even images such as these that were taken close to sunset - will have parts or all of the sky blown out if you rely on the phone's automatic settings. In these pictures I was able to optimize the exposure to the sky and then brighten the bottom part of the image in post-processing, just like I do with my regular camera.

The few times I previously have used the Pro-mode of the phone camera, I have let all the settings be up to the phone. That's not recommendable. Especially in low light surroundings. Then the phone will put the ISO to a ridiculous level that completely drowns your image in noise. For these images I set ISO to 400. I didn't touch the aperture setting. Apparently that means the phone sets it to a whopping f/1.7, which resulted in shutter speed times at no less than 1/1000 seconds.

So while I'm generally very happy with the result, if you compared them with similar images taken with my Sony on a tripod, it would be an uneven fight. Even in post-processing, it seemed like the phone's RAW format wasn't quite as generous as that of my Sony when it came to revealing details in the shadows and letting itself be molded the way I wanted it.

But again, I simply can't complain. The image quality along with the beautiful light that descended on the area on this particular evening, make these photos rank among my favorites of the season.

Below are a few more examples from an afternoon that started with me wanting to hit myself with my own tripod for forgetting my camera, but ended as a pleasant surprise and some really nice images.


It is the strangest things you come across on a Sunday afternoon off-road walk, but this industrial freezer... thing... or whatever it is, made for a perfect subject. I'm always a sucker for the clash between nature and abandoned, human-made atrocities like this.
It was the dead, white branches at the bottom that attracted my attention, but the rest of the trees offer a very pleasing composition.
The clouds were beautiful and the landscape exquisite. I actually didn't think this would be a very interesting photo when I took it, but it turned out really well.
Perhaps my favorite image of the day. I love the downtrodden grass path.
We don't have mountain backdrops or roaring rivers, but we have flat rural landscapes and open skies, and sometimes that's all you need.

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