Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Can phone camera photo quality is same as those from bigger cameras?

2018/05/02

With nearly everyone on the planet now shooting with phone cameras and standalone camera sales falling gradually, there is question everyone is asking whether proper camera takes better photos!

 

The, short answer(s)

In bright daylight and in outdoor, a good phone camera takes nearly as good photos as more expensive proper camera (with some caveats).

In low light (e.g. night) and some challenging situations (e.g. sports, wildlife etc.), a proper camera takes much better photos than phone cameras.

IQ

Now lets us delve into the details.

Phone cameras have tiny sensors. Sensors are analogous to films in flim cameras (if you can still remember them) which actually receive the light and capture the images. Thumb rule is that, bigger the sensor, better the light gathering capability and better the image quality. However, besides sensors, the lenses play a big role too. A better lens gathers better light without any distortion which makes images sharper. A larger lens with larger opening (known as aperture in photographic terms) will gather more light which would result in better photo – especially at low light.

 

Different cameras have different sensor sizes. This is shown in following table.

Sensor type Sensor area (sq. mm.)
Full frame/ 35-mm equivalent

High end DSLR/mirrorless cameras

Nikon FX, Canon D, Sony A7

860
APS-C (Advanced Photo System – Crop)
Most entry level DSLR cameras like Nikon DX, Canon EF, Fujifilm X, Sony A6
368
Micro Four Third (MFT or M43)

Panasonic Lumix, Olympus PEN/OM-D

225
1 inch

Sony RX, Panasonic FZ etc.

116
appx 1/2.5 inch
Many compact and phone cameras
incl. Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy etc.
25

Note: Often same manufacturers have cameras with different sensor sizes. So, always check the spec sheet before buying a camera.

 

As you can gather, a phone camera typically has sensor size (area) which is 10-15 times smaller than sensors in typical DSLR (APS-C) cameras! Thus, a phone camera will gather that much less light compared to an APS-C sensor size camera.

 

Now, considering larger cameras have bigger lenses, field of view i.e. how much you can capture in your frame, is also larger. With a phone camera you may find struggling to fit all of your friends in a group photo but with a proper camera and wide angle lens, you can easily push your friends back (optically – no physically) to get the shot. Phone cameras are useless for wild life (unless it is stuffed animal). Larger cameras with telephone lens can bring animals closer (optically) to you for the great shots. This is indicated by the crop factor in above table.

 

For normal travel photos, phone cameras are find in 80-90% of the cases. People usually visit famous landmarks in daylight where phone cameras do good enough jobs.

 

If you view your photos in iPad size screen, you may not see the difference between phone camera and proper camera photo quality. But if you view in large screen HD TV screen (e.g. 50 inch and above) you are likely to see the difference. Phone camera photos are likely to demonstrate visible grains.

 

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Are prime lenses over hyped?

2018/05/01
In case you are not aware, a prime lens is a fixed focus lens i.e. not a zoom lens.
Your phone camera is a prime lens. If your phone has 2 lenses then each of those are prime lenses.
Many older film cameras and some modern digital cameras come with a fixed prime lens.
Photographic world is mad about prime lens and often you will be crucified if you speak against prime lens and in favour of zoom lens :o)
But in this post, I shall explain why prime lens is not for everyone.
The prime lens is adored by photographers because of its simplified optical construction (compared to a zoom lens) resuting in better image quality i.e. more sharpness etc.
That claim is true – prime lens does produce better image over most zoom lenses. They also have larger aperture like F/2.8 or even F/1.4 (but not always). Larger aperture allows you to take better shots in low light.
Purists also claim that a prime lens will make you a better photographer as you have to move around for best composition/framing.
Then everyone should only shoot using prime lenses – right?
Well, not always – especially if you are an amateur photographer and use your camera for shooting travel photography with family.
  • Loss of flexibility – A zoom lens provides flexibility. Most of the time zoom lens come with your camera (kit lens) and is good enough for general/travel photography. It allows you to successfully frame a wide architectureal shots and also a portrait when needed – without changing lense. Most kit zoom lenses are 18-55 (in APS-C cameras) or 27-70 (in full frame) which offers both wide and medium telephoto ends. A zoom lens is way more versatile.
  • Price – While some prime lenses are cheaper they often cost more than kit lenses. So buying a prime lens (unless you have specific use in mind) purely based on internet forum advice, is an unnecessary expense.
  • Image Quality – Yes, prime lenses take better shots than kit lenses. But not to that extent as purists in internet forums make you believe. If you view photos side by side (prime vs zoom) with 100% blown up in large computer/TV screen, you would most likely see some difference. But for most folks who views photo no larger than iPad or 50-60 inch TV screens or prints at most A4 sizes, such image quality improvement would be visible. Purists often compare by shooting charts and brick walls where defficiency of zoom lens is more visible. But in real life, such quality difference is hardly noticable – especially where what you shoot is more important than little bit of extra sharpness.
  • Confusion – With a zoom lens, on an instant you can choose your focal lenth by rotating lens dial. But with prime lens you will have following confusion:
    • Which focal length (of prime lens) to buy? Should it be 16 mm, 23 mm, 35 mm or 85 mm?
    • Purists will advise you to buy all of those for different situations.
    • You will end of spending a lot of money to buy all those.
    • You will carry lot of weight by lugging all those lenses on your shoulder bag during holidays.
    • You will end up missing scenes and getting dust in sensors while changing lenses in outdoors.
    • You will end up wasting time on internet forums to analzye whether sharpness is as it should be in your photos.
    • By doing all the above, you will shoot fewer photos and enjoy less during holidays (OK – not for everyone but for most).
  • Variation – If you shoot all your holiday photos with same focal length (assuming you carry only one lens) then your shots could become boring to look at. Now this is somewhat contentious. Many people do shoot amazing photos with their fixed lens smartphones. A good photographer can produce masterpieces with any camera. But an average photographer will do better with zoom lens. Also, often you can’t physically zoom with your feet (as purists often advice) due to structural constraints. Again, purists will argue to that this should force you to shoot creatively. But for most people, bringing back memories of family standing in front of whole Taj Mahal is propbably more important than shooting only one minerate (depending on your fixed focal length) with one kid outside the frame! You can simulate same creativity by locking your zoom lens into specific focal length and by behaving as if you are shooting with prime. If you get frustrated and feel the urge to rotate the zoom lens for desire focal length, then prime lens is not for your. Purists will mock you by saying lazy if you don’t move around for getting best angle, but I think there is nothing wrong in being lazy.
  • Fast lens can be counter productive – You can get some amazing background blur (bokeh) using large aperture like F/1.8 but it will also turn your depth of field very narrow! You can shoot candle light portrait using that aperture but to keep your kids as well as Eiffel Tower on background in focus, you need to shoot using smaller aperture (e.g. F/8 etc.) where prime lens has not much advantage over a zoom lens on same aperture.
I understand I shall be frowned upon by purists but this is my opinion based on experience.

How come bridge cameras can offer so much zoom?

2013/04/05

Nowadays many compact cameras can offer 25x-30x zoom. But having similar kind of zoom is not possible in DSLR cameras where it is mostly limited to around 11x-15x.

The reason why compact/bridge cameras can offer this (at a reasonable price) is these cameras have much smaller sensors compared to DSLR cameras. Thus, these cameras need much smaller lenses to cover that sensor. If you notice lens specification of these cameras they are usually at 4-100 mm range. While in DSLR, these are 18-200 mm range. Since DSLRs have much bigger sensors, they need massive lenses to offer long zoom range. This makes the lenses heavy and expensive.

So even though you can get away with very long zoom in smaller cameras, the image quality will be much inferior compared to DSLR’s APS-C or full frame sensors.

Image

Why DSLR cameras take better pictures?

2013/01/27

We know that usually DSLR cameras take much better pictures than compact cameras. But why?

This is due to 3 main factors. Firstly DSLR cameras have much bigger sensor. Typically these are APS-C or full frame size. Compact cameras have much smaller sensors which capture less details. Secondly, DSLR cameras usually have much better quality lenses. Thirdly, DSLR cameras offer lots of manual adjustments which allows photographers to have much better exposure and composition.

There are some bridge cameras which use APS-C size sensors. If these cameras use good quality lenses, then theoretically images taken by these cameras will be comparable to those taken by DSLRs.