Editorial: Smartphone Photography

If one would be able to count the number of photo snapshots taken and shared daily by all types of cameras, smart-phones likely exceed all other types by magnitudes. After all, they have the advantage that millions are in the hands or pockets of humans that are ready, willing, and eager to snap-way. And, they do it with vigor and publish them on worldwide via social-media with ease.

Meanwhile, serious photographers, professional and/or hobbyists invest millions of dollars in top-end camera and photographic accessories. Always seeking to better the image quality and improve their yield of artwork to be more worthy to enlarge, display, and/or publish. Clearly, image quality is proportional the size of the photo-sensor and glass optics.

The smart-phone’s built-in camera technology and editing-archiving-sharing software has improved to where it begins to encroach into the realm of top-end camera photography, both stills and video.   Likewise, top-end camera technology has improved its own technology and even incorporated built-in image sharing capability that encroaches into the smart-phone’s realm.   High-end cameras with integrated fast zoom lens optics have been reduced in size and made easier to handle.

At this stage, the realm of the smart-phone’s camera will unlikely suppress the high-end camera realm, and visa versa. Here’s what I conclude:

Most people can live their life entirely with only the smart-phone camera. Home movies and sharable family snapshots will prevail.   Professional photographers will always be around for wall-worthy and commercial work. Movie making and the evolving virtual-imagery will likely remain a novelty in any smart-phone evolution but otherwise left to high-end equipment.   I suspect, however, the number of photographic “hobbyists” willing to invest in high-end photographic tools will be reduced. It’s a matter of diminishing returns; the price and learning investment in high-end photography is substantial in order to out perform what smart-phones are beginning to do.

In my case, the rate and number of my photos taken and archived has increased substantially. But, the numbers of photos taken with my top end photo equipment has been almost negligible in comparison.

I look less and less to upgrade my DSLR bodies and less in buying new optics. I bring the big gear out for purposeful cases, formal photoshoots, architectural commercial situations, etc.

I find that many smart-phone images can be tweaked and made into a terrific piece of art, some even wall-worthy. Built-n features like HDR, panoramic, selective-focus, photographic filters, special effects are easy to invoke and use. The latest smart-phones sometimes include OIS, fast optics, offer RAW, manual modes, even dual lens.  These photographer features will usually satisfy many hobbyists.   Sharing and printing can be done wirelessly and the free “Apps” can provide Photoshop-like editing and enhancing on images.  A hobbyist quick snapshot can be turned into a piece of art.

I am well aware that no matter how smart-phone camera technology advances, it cannot match the potential image and artistic capability of the large sensor/big glass photographic equipment when manned by experienced artisans.   Photographic equipment is a mere toolset of artists and craftsmen. The more sophisticated, flexible, and assorted the toolset, the better the artist can perform. A smart-phone is just another item to be added to an artist’s visionary toolset. Alone, a smart-phone is inadequate, for example: lacking a large glass-optic, “bokeh” is limited.

While smart-phone cameras have been a good addition to a photographer’s toolset, it has exposed a new issue. Just like most everyone, I now take so many photos that managing the collection has emerged as the single major drawback of smart-phone cameras. Similarly, all my friends and families have shared so many photos via social media like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. Hobbyist like to share their images with other hobbyists and now, it’s difficult to separate hobbyists from the masses for snapshot jockeys.

All in all, I am happy to be a smart-phone camera junkie and photography hobbyist..




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