A post for the photo-nerds amongst us.

So, I have just taken delivery of my shiny new iPhone 12 Pro Max and run a few test shots off.  Downsizing from a big Nikon FX DSLR to a phone camera is a massive move which will require a change in mindset. 

I am now forcing myself to limit expectations over the lack of control that is inherent in a phone camera. No control over depth of field is my biggest niggle, the phone has a naturally shallow DoF but not shallow enough to be useful so, most of the time it is just plain annoying and very unprofessional looking. Despite image stabalisation the shutter speed is often still too slow due to the automatic ISO taking over. The images are heavily processed by the camera and sharp edges are over enhanced to produce a rather too obvious pseudo-sharpening effect. The Portrait mode also produces a pseudo-DoF effect that is a very poor substitute for aperture control, and it shows. I have to bare in mind that these things are to make taking pictures easy for people who just want a point and shoot and are not really interested in the finer points that would concern a professional.

On the plus side, as it effectively brackets three exposures per image and automatically sandwiches them, it has an exceptionally wide exposure latitude. The new HEIF file format can be edited non-destructively in Lightroom on Mac and PC but can not be opened (yet) in Photoshop on the PC – wtf! The compression in areas of the images which the algorithm considers to be of little importance is awful and looks like painting by numbers when enlarged. The JPG compression is not much better. Both formats are no where near professional standards. Given the choice I would rather have the option of a larger file size and a higher quality plus an unadulterated RAW format. The iPhone now has a telephoto lens (not sure why people call it a zoom lens), woohooo! It’s really equivalent to a 65mm FX lens but it does address one of the most annoying issues with phone cameras in general being too wide an angle. Despite the over compression, the images are just about good enough to produce an almost decent print and possibly good enough for projection use.

I think I can get used to most of the foibles as my documentary style does not rely on ‘stylistic interpretation’ or the ability to produce the spectacular. My interest lies in story telling and for that, what you take not how take it is most important.

Watch this space for pictures…

P.S. just read a post by a beta tester, the new version of IOS (10.3) might be able to save in RAW format on the iPhone Pro Max. That might give me a fighting chance against the tyranny of automatic file size reduction and over-ambitious image ‘enhancement’!