Monday, August 23, 2021

What I don't like about photographing with a cell phone

 At dinner last night I wanted to take a photograph typically done using a cell phone. I wanted to capture the label on a really nice bottle of wine. There were candles burning on the table and soft, overhead incandescent lighting -- perfect moody warm lighting for the scene. My first reaction was to pull out my Samsung phone and quickly snap a close-up shot of the bottle label, but the resulting photo totally lacked the ambiance of the scene. The phone camera totally destroyed the mood of the scene. Firstly, it over-corrected the colors of the warm lighting. Secondly, its wide-angle lens killed the soft bokeh of the background by bringing the surrounding area into focus. 

Wide-angle lenses are a necessity on cell phone cameras due to the tiny sensor size of their cameras. Some phones can actually to a fake soft-focus to compensate for this, but it never looks as good as the real thing.

The above photo was the result of the cell phone image. It totally lacked any of the ambiances of the real scene with colors insipidly over-corrected and an in-focus background driving attention away from the main subject, the label on the bottle of wine.

Fortunately, I was having dinner at home and could quickly go and pick one of my Nikon Z cameras with a 50mm lens on it. I left the lens aperture wide open to throw the background out of focus. I left the light completely uncorrected, which preserved the nice warm glow and highlights from the candles resulting in a moody image of the scene as I saw it.

Cell phone cameras definitely have a place in the world of photography. There are times when the detriments I mentioned above of color correction and overly extensive depth-of-field are exactly the features you need for a faithful rendering of a scene. But, when capturing mood is paramount, I prefer the advantages of a larger sensor and none of the built-in factory software compensations for a perceived false interpretation of the scene.

Both of these shots were quick grabs with no post-processing. After all, I wanted to keep it quick so I could get back to the real matter at hand, which was the enjoyment of a fabulous dinner my wife and I had prepared for ourselves.

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