Pictures taken with a smartphone

I might be about to buy a new compact camera: I have a venerable but ageing Panasonic Lumix – an item seemingly so bombproof it will probably outlive me. But, like many things of a certain age, its performance is limited and – powered, as it is, by AA batteries – prone to running out of steam just when you might need it. It strikes me that, apart from the battery-powered bit, I could just as easily be describing bits of my anatomy here.

Because of a preference for binoculars slung around my neck, as opposed to a camera, I’m often caught napping when an opportunity – particularly for a wildlife shot – presents itself. The Panasonic dates back to long before the days of superzoom compacts, and the bridge camera, which I also sometimes carry, is invariably in the rucksack. Birds and other animals will rarely sit patiently while you take off a pack, retrieve a camera, zoom, focus, generally faff… Although, strangely, it seems they will often hang around until you’re nearly ready before making off.

So, a pocket-sized camera seems like the answer. My son has a fairly recent Panasonic compact, with a 30X zoom, and gets some very good results; although he has to keep it very steady when shooting at anything over 20X.

In the interim, I’ve been trying to take the occasional shot with a camera phone, just by way of experimentation and in the knowledge that the camera on the phone I have is generally described as “disappointing” by reviewers. Some of the results are below and I was surprised at how atmospheric some of them seemed to have turned out. However – atmospheric or otherwise – the one thing they all have in common is that the colours and lighting bear little resemblance to what they were actually like on the day.

The pictures below, mostly give the impression of gathering gloom and fading light: in fact they were all taken at just gone 1 pm on a fairly bright winter’s day, with broken cloud and sunshine. Even the lightest of them – the bottom one – significantly understates how light it was in reality. The camera might not lie, but it can be pretty economical with the truth…   dsc_0043  dsc_0041  dsc_0038  dsc_0036

All pictures were taken from the eastern side of Kinver Edge, Staffordshire, looking          roughly due east. The higher ground in the distance is the Clent Hills, Worcestershire.

The phone is (according to the box) a Sony Xperia M4 Aqua and the camera sensor is 13 megapixels – more pixels than the one on my too-heavy-to-take-on-a-walk Sony DSLR, although that doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger sensor, apparently. It’s produced some quite nice pictures – just not quite the ones I thought I was taking.


4 thoughts on “Pictures taken with a smartphone

  1. I am using a Panasonic TZ60 which is quite satisfactory. The 20 x zoom is useful, more often only with small adjustments to improve framing, thus reducing cropping later on. At full zoom results, handheld, are mixed, but can be quite dramatic.

    I have a waist pouch on my trouser belt with a Velcro fastening. The camera is always at the ready and easily accessible. I have tried using my iPhone camera but just find it difficult to get comfortable with. There was a fair debate about all that on my blog a while ago – others seem to have switched to using the phone camera exclusively, but not me.

    I do run all my photos through Photoshop making adjustments when necessary for light and dark which can make a big difference, reducing highlights, or lightening underexposed photos.


  2. Thanks, Conrad. I can usually manage to keep the compact accessible – either in a trouser cargo pocket or one in a jacket (it will even squeeze into the pockets on the waist strap of my rucksack). That’s why I’m thinking an upgraded compact might be the answer.

    My problem with using the camera on the phone is that I’m still so inept with a touchscreen: even basic dialling and texting is hit or miss for me, particularly as I don’t have access to my reading glasses when I’m out walking. I’m just more comfortable with a conventional camera layout and pressing that big shutter button on the top.


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