Author Topic: Cells getting decent shots  (Read 6513 times)

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David K. Smith

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2017, 07:39:56 PM »
+3
But for anything serious photographically, a DSLR or mirrorless camera both with interchangeable lenses and things like powerful flashes, battery packs and durability...have it all over phone cameras.

Quite true, but I do believe DSLRs are becoming less and less useful for model railroad photography. They're fine if you want to spend an afternoon capturing the next magazine cover. But for the sheer flexibility of shooting from almost anywhere, cell phones and compact cameras "have it all over" DSLRs, and the power of these cameras is increasing every day as the technology matures. Besides, I'd wager that using a big DSLR, and all of the baggage that comes with it, is beyond the skill or budget of the vast majority of modelers. So touting it as the be-all end-all of photography is missing the larger picture (pun intended).

I've spent more than a few years of quality time with DSLRs, including the venerable Canon EOS 5D Mark III (with over a dozen of Canon's finest lenses), plus I've worked with Helicon Focus, so I know how powerful they are. That said, having sold all of that gear, I don't miss it one bit. I know it's not an award-winner, but this simple quickie shot I randomly selected from my archives would have been totally impossible to capture with a DSLR, and increasingly I find that the most interesting images are inaccessible from the aisle, more often than not.



Anyway, there are scads of award-winning photos out there taken with cell phones. Ultimately, it's not the hardware that makes for the best photos--it's the person that's using it.
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robert3985

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2017, 01:10:04 AM »
-1
Quite true, but I do believe DSLRs are becoming less and less useful for model railroad photography. They're fine if you want to spend an afternoon capturing the next magazine cover. But for the sheer flexibility of shooting from almost anywhere, cell phones and compact cameras "have it all over" DSLRs, and the power of these cameras is increasing every day as the technology matures. Besides, I'd wager that using a big DSLR, and all of the baggage that comes with it, is beyond the skill or budget of the vast majority of modelers. So touting it as the be-all end-all of photography is missing the larger picture (pun intended).

I've spent more than a few years of quality time with DSLRs, including the venerable Canon EOS 5D Mark III (with over a dozen of Canon's finest lenses), plus I've worked with Helicon Focus, so I know how powerful they are. That said, having sold all of that gear, I don't miss it one bit. I know it's not an award-winner, but this simple quickie shot I randomly selected from my archives would have been totally impossible to capture with a DSLR, and increasingly I find that the most interesting images are inaccessible from the aisle, more often than not.






Anyway, there are scads of award-winning photos out there taken with cell phones. Ultimately, it's not the hardware that makes for the best photos--it's the person that's using it.

DKS, I agree that small cameras and the sheer "I have it in my pocket all the time" availability of the cell-phone camera make it the go-to camera of most people.  No argument.  I also agree that the technology is advancing, and I am quite pleased with some of the photos I get out of my Samsung Galaxy S5 with its nifty "selective focus" feature, and also that I can really get down on the subject pretty easily most of the time, in positions and locations that are virtually impossible with larger cameras.

I consider my cell phone camera to be a versatile tool in my photographic toolbox.  However, I also consider my larger DSLR's to be much more than equally versatile tools for my other photographic needs, both for model railroad photography and for other photographic requirements.  I am happy that I don't have to be without either.

As to if DSLR's and their attendant accessories (if a person wants them, or needs them) being beyond the pocketbook or skill level of most people...that's not part of the equation.  We're talking about the capability of the equipment, not the capabilities of humans, although there's always the "auto" setting on DSLR's!  :D  I'll contend that most people don't even know how to use their cell phone's camera anywhere near its full capability either.  It's not the fault of the equipment, it's just that most people are happy with point and shoot capabilities and quality.  The price of used entry-level DSLR's with the kit zoom lens is several hundred dollars less than the cost of a new cell phone.   My Samsung GS5, brand new, was over 800 bucks several years ago...without any accessories.  I sold my old Nikon D40 with the kit lens, one other Nikkor zoom lens, a Nikon flash, filters, two cases, a remote...all the original boxes and literature, and other accessories for $700...which was the going price for that good quality, used, but entry-level equipment.

Photo (1) - The D40 Outfit I Sold for $700:


As to your randomly picked photographic sample...although I like its overall effect, from a technical photographic standpoint, it's a mess...particularly because of its distortion and fuzziness as well as a relatively narrow band of what's in focus.  Of course, if you wanted distortion, fuzziness and a limited DOF (photography is art after all), then, congratulations.

The good points are the very good detailing you're justifiably famous for (subject matter) and, its composition...enabled because of the small size of the camera that took it, and your artistic eye.

If cell phone cameras were blessed with manual exposure controls, quality real zoom lenses, a built-in adjustable steadying feature to securely position the camera in odd locations, a remote shutter release and completely manual focusing...or even a focus-stacking feature (such as the new Nikon D850) that would take however many photos you want between selected near and far focus points that could be combined later with the software of your choice...AND...a wireless remote touch screen to view what the camera's sensor was seeing and control the camera, and lastly...get rid of the shutter lag!...now THAT would be great!

Maybe we'll see something like this in the near future as several recent DSLR's seem to be including focus-stacking features as part of what they think their customers want. If so, I'll be one of the first to get that particular cell phone!

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

   
« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 03:22:24 AM by robert3985 »

Chris333

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #32 on: September 22, 2017, 01:29:54 AM »
0
My Samsung GS5 was $200 on e-bay  :lol: Had it for 2 years now.

Funny thing was before that I had a GS2 that I had bought for $195, used it for a year and then sold it for $215. Was to someone out of the country, but they were happy with it. I rooted it, but that is free to do.

Sometimes it is a toss up between my phone and camera for photos.

David K. Smith

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2017, 09:06:17 AM »
0
We're talking about the capability of the equipment, not the capabilities of humans.

Correct. But in particular, we're talking about cell phone cameras, not DSLRs...

I've found that my cell camera will get places no other 'normal' camera will. With some apps I have to change the photos, I've managed to get some halfway-decent photos with it. Just curious if others are trying similar things?

We all know there's no comparison between a cell phone and a half-ton of high-end gear teathered to a computer with high-end software. So, why the reminder?
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Scottl

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #34 on: September 22, 2017, 09:22:42 AM »
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I bought a $3 cell phone flexible tripod from ebay last year and together with the camera timer, has transformed the quality of shots I can take in tight places. 

Mark W

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #35 on: September 22, 2017, 11:38:41 AM »
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I'll contend that most people don't even know how to use their cell phone's camera anywhere near its full capability either.

Or if you do, you struggle with the fact that for some ridiculous reason, they design cell phone camera software to 'reset to defaults' each time you launch the app.   :RUEffinKiddingMe:

So when the setting sunlight shines through the window perfectly and you don't have time to set up a DSLR, you fire off a few shots with the 16 megapixel cell phone.  Everything looks great on that small screen.
But once you open it up on your desktop, you find this gobbely mess and realize the 'smart' phone decided to default your resolution to 4mp and sharpness to a billion, because Instagram or some BS.   :x :x
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dougnelson

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #36 on: September 22, 2017, 11:58:49 AM »
+3
...and since no cell phone camera that I know of will allow the user to select focus points, select manual aperture and shutter speed, shooting a series of photos to be combined in Photoshop or HF is impossible with them.  Here, the DSLR is clearly dominant and way beyond the capabilities of any phone camera.

I have to disagree with that statement. For stacked focus (I use Helicon Focus) it is very easy with IPhone (6 in my case) to create a stack of photos with different focal points. It is simply done by touching the screen to select the focal point for each exposure. The photo below was created with several exposures and processed with HF.

Not disparaging "real" cameras in any way.  Up until recently I would have completely agreed with you. But I have been astounded what is possible now with cell phone cameras. Or should I say mobile cameras with accessory cell phones.  As for "serious photography", I have two large magazine articles that will be published very soon shot exclusively with my iPhone.  Also, see my YouTube channel of HD videos shot and edited entirely on iPhone.

Several iPhone 6 images processed with Helicon Focus:

peteski

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #37 on: September 22, 2017, 12:44:08 PM »
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Several iPhone 6 images processed with Helicon Focus:


Doug, since you were focus stacking why you chose to leave the background blurry?  The focused part looks very life-like, but the blurred background screams "N-scale model photo".  If the background was also in focus it would make the photo look much more life-like.  Why? because if a similar photo was taking of the real train, the camera would have captured the background in focus too. A regular (50mm) lens in an SLR at the distance needed to focus on the train (close to infinity focus) would have had the background in the lense's DOF.  Especially if smaller f-stop was used.
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dougnelson

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #38 on: September 22, 2017, 05:23:43 PM »
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In this case, I chose to leave the background out of focus because I was featuring the foreground model.

peteski

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #39 on: September 22, 2017, 06:25:41 PM »
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In this case, I chose to leave the background out of focus because I was featuring the foreground model.

Well, if done for artistic reasons then I take back my critique.  :D
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skytop35

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #40 on: September 23, 2017, 01:14:25 PM »
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Doug, love that photo and your modeling. Had to try that with my iPhone and HF. Worked like a charm and may be using this more in the future. Thanks !

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GaryHinshaw

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #41 on: September 24, 2017, 04:31:21 AM »
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For stacked focus (I use Helicon Focus) it is very easy with IPhone (6 in my case) to create a stack of photos with different focal points. It is simply done by touching the screen to select the focal point for each exposure.

Thanks for the tip Doug.  As it turns out, I just entered the modern age and got an iPhone last week, and indeed this technique works very easily.  Here is a quick & dirty example that took only a few minutes to set up & process.  I took 7 exposures at different depth while I held the camera with my hand (no tripod) and selected different exposure points.  The first shot is one of the raw images, the last is the Helicon-stacked image:





Mind you, my layout is a mess compared to the others in this thread!  All the temporary scenic elements, printer artifacts, etc. are clearly exposed!  :facepalm:  The image still has some clarity & colour issues, but hey, I chose this example because the depth of this scene is about 16', and it was so easy to get a quick & dirty capture.  Thanks again.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 05:08:03 AM by GaryHinshaw »

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2017, 05:34:31 AM »
+2
Here's a better example drawn from the same raw images:



In this case, I removed the first image, which was over-exposed along the back wall.  Helicon was not dealing with variable exposure time very well, so this example has fewer saturation issues.  It is also a bit more aggressively cropped.

robert3985

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #43 on: September 24, 2017, 07:03:54 PM »
0
Yup, HF doesn't like gross changes in exposure.  I'm quite surprised Gary @GaryHinshaw that you can hand-hold your phone in one position steadily enough and long enough to get six exposures that HF will accept.  Do you touch the screen to take the photos too?  When I'm shooting model railroad shots using "selective focus" on my Samsung, I have the voice activated shutter on...so I just have to say "shoot" and it takes the photos.  Does the iPhone have that too?  Speaking "shoot" helps a lot over touching the screen for getting rid of motion-blur in my shots.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 03:21:45 AM by robert3985 »

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Cells getting decent shots
« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2017, 08:33:31 PM »
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Hi Bob.  Yes, this is all done by tapping - first to pick a focal point, then to click the shutter.  Both actions accept a light touch, but a touch nonetheless.  I too am quite surprised how forgiving Helicon is!