Spending multiple weeks at home isn’t necessarily boring when spring sits right outside the window.
Everyone’s life has taken an unexpected turn without exception. Either one is staying safe at home and doing their best to avoid spreading or contracting the Covid-19 virus or else they are on the front lines of fighting this terrible disease. No one’s life is the same as it was two weeks ago. Businesses and services we took for granted are either closed or in such high demand that one has to carefully schedule when and what they buy. City streets are practically deserted at the height of what used to be rush hour. Kids are home from school. Anxiety levels are high.
We knew the virus was coming, let’s be honest about that. What we didn’t necessarily anticipate, because we weren’t listening, was the severe impact it would have on everyone’s lives. I expected to stay home because I knew I would be high-risk. What I didn’t expect was for everyone to have to stay home, completely eliminating income for everyone. Since I wasn’t expecting that loss of income, I went ahead and purchased the Samsung G20 Ultra cell phone. Why? 108 Megapixels.
Pay attention, this is the part where I have to eat crow. Again. When it comes to digital photography, I have, more often than I care to admit, been wrong as to what could be possible. I never expected digital DSLR cameras to overtake film. I never expected pedestrians to overwhelm the digital camera market. And I never expected phone cameras to have any value beyond being the digital equivalent of Polaroids, minus the character. I strongly derided the first instances I saw of someone attempting to turn iPhone-based photographs as art (and rightly so at the time). The speed with which this technology has leapfrogged everything else has been astonishing. So, I knew when Samsung announced that their new phone was going to have a 108-megapixel camera that now was the time to tread into that water.
What’s important to realize is that the phone has multiple cameras and the default rear camera is “only” 36 megapixels, which is still more powerful, in terms of megapixels, than my default DSLR. For those quick, spur-of-the-moment shots that just happen and don’t require set up, that camera still produces a pretty sharp image. There are a lot of features there that I’ve not had a chance to test yet, so I’ll refrain from making opinions yet, but the video from that camera works wonderfully. I’m taking nominations for on-phone editing software if anyone has had a good experience with something.
The 108-megapixel camera is not designed to be used on every shot, nor should it. These are shots one wants to plan, at least a little, consider the light, and frame with utmost care. Optimally, one has some manner of stabilization to help because the camera is super-sensitive to motion and shake. Again, I’m open to suggestions there, especially for outdoor shots. I’m going to assume a tabletop tripod would work for indoor photos, which is something to explore later.
The photos below were taken on either side of a thunderstorm Saturday afternoon. As a result, we’re working with cool, heavily diffused light. However, even in the place where it shouldn’t have yielded a decent picture at all, in the middle of an evergreen bush, the camera did well. There are a couple of caveats worth noting. The limited 1.8 to 2.4 aperture makes for an extremely shallow depth of field on tight shots. The effect works on photos where there are more than three feet between you and the subject but not so well up close. Also, be aware that controls over focus, ISO, and white balance only are available in Pro mode which doesn’t work with the 108-megapixel camera. You’re limited to the onboard AI which is pretty good in some situations but, again in the evergreen bush, proved frustrating. On the plus side, when taking the pictures of the kids, it was able to drop the ISO all the way down to 32, making for remarkably sharp photography as long as the shutter speed isn’t too fast. Let’s take a look at the pictures, shall we?
Yes, I needed to bump the shot from the pine bush quite a bit. I rendered the two pictures of the kids in black and white via my normal process simply because I’ve not done black and white in a while. The others required some tonal and color correction, but rare is the image that doesn’t.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered but since it seems that I’m not going anywhere any time soon I should have plenty of time to address them. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.