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Thread: The grainy mobile phone pic thread

  1. #1
    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    The grainy mobile phone pic thread

    Doesn't anybody use a real camera anymore?
    Will a mobile phone ever take decent pictures in low light?
    Someday will we all look back on these grainy photos in shame?
    In ten years, will my daughter shake her head when she sees them and make a wise crack about old people?
    If a phone comes along that takes good pictures in low light, will we get nostalgic and make them grainy on purpose?
    Will I have to make up smartass comments like, "You were too young to remember, but things were just blurrier back then."?


    Anyway, here I am with my band last Saturday. Anybody got some cool mobile pics?

    --Garrett--

  2. #2
    don't want to be a member
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    I hate using the camera on my iPhone, not cos of the low quality but cos it's too much messing about, As much as possible I use my 8mp digital camera.

    FWIW any camera above 8mp is a waste cos the average human eye will not pick up that high a definition

  3. #3
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    In 1992 or so I was in high school and was a computer nerd, back before that was okay. The 1st digital pic I had taken of me was in black and white on an old original Macintosh that looked like this:



    I had to hold my pose for two or three minutes while the camera slowly, line by line, scanned my face.

    We've come a long way. My new phone (Galaxy S3) has an 8MP camera on it. It's taking really good pictures. But yes, low light pics still suck and I can't figure out why digital cameras haven't figured out how to take really good non-grainy low light pics.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    But yes, low light pics still suck and I can't figure out why digital cameras haven't figured out how to take really good non-grainy low light pics.
    Because whether it's analog or digital, it's still about the lenses.

    Good low-light photography requires a lens with an f-stop below f2 so that more light can be admitted with sharpness. Such lenses are expensive.
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  5. #5
    That Video Guy crgtr's Avatar
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    Here's 3 I took with the ole iPhoney:

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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I win.

  7. #7
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Because whether it's analog or digital, it's still about the lenses.

    Good low-light photography requires a lens with an f-stop below f2 so that more light can be admitted with sharpness. Such lenses are expensive.
    It all clicked just now. Thanks!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member MOBirds's Avatar
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    Mobile phones will likely always take lousy pictures in low or bright light due how cameras work. The standard approach of all cameras is to average the light metered by them to 18% grey. An SLR/DSLR camera has a manual mode that a photographer can use to override that algorithm and "overexpose" in low light, or "underexpose" in bright light to get closer to what your eyes see. Without a manual mode, you're stuck with the camera's algorithm and it will suck in certain situations where that algorithm can't process enough light to meter correctly. The same issue happens with high contrast situations, such as taking pictures in a shaded area on a bright sunny day. The camera averages the two and you end up with either underexposed shade or overexposed unshaded. Mobile phones, due to their multi-purposeness, tend to be more of the jack of all trades/master of none. I've used some that even stink at phone quality.

    To the post above re: lenses - lens is just half of the equation. The shutter speed is the other half. So stopping a lens down to f2 will be matched by an increase in shutter speed - to maintain that 18% grey. It may help, but ideally you need to override that algorithm and adjust both values to get the best exposure. To take really good pictures, you need a DSLR and the at least the basic knowledge of how to use manual mode effectively.
    Last edited by MOBirds; 03-26-2013 at 01:21 PM. Reason: Expanded & added clarity
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    chief Shawn@PRS's Avatar
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    I find my iphone takes decent pics if the light is good. The pictures are lousy if the subject is back-lit in any way though.

  10. #10
    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    Les is correct, but it is all subjective to a certain degree. The subject of the photo is often as important as the photographer's skill and equipment:

    Beautiful in an impressionistic way:


    Fugly, despite the $5000 camera body and $3000 200mm f2.8 lens:








  11. #11
    A♥ hoards guitars ♥A rugerpc's Avatar
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    It's not the equipment, it's the dude or dudette pressing the button.

    A few years back one of the big photo mags gave some professional photographers disposable cameras and sent them forth. The images they returned without any special developing or digital processing were stunning.

    The moral of the story is - if you know the limitations of your equipment and you take the time and actions needed to compensate, you can still get fantastic results. Some of the pros compensated for the small lenses and fixed shutter speeds bu positioning their subjects and backgrounds, cropped by getting closer or farther away, and just plain waited for the right light.

    The tiny lenses in most phones are the equal or better of the cameras being used by the majority of hobbyists in the 80s. Have you really looked at the camera on you phone? Most have multiple lenses made from glass who's optical quality surpasses many point and shoot cameras available today.

    Once the operator is eliminated as a variable, then low light shooting IS all about f stop. As the f stop rating for a lens goes down, both sharpness and price go up.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post



    I win.
    Haha! I seriously laughed out loud at that. It is kind of artistic. I'm sure there are talented folks out there using the graininess in an artful way.

    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    It's not the equipment, it's the dude or dudette pressing the button.

    A few years back one of the big photo mags gave some professional photographers disposable cameras and sent them forth. The images they returned without any special developing or digital processing were stunning.

    The moral of the story is - if you know the limitations of your equipment and you take the time and actions needed to compensate, you can still get fantastic results. Some of the pros compensated for the small lenses and fixed shutter speeds bu positioning their subjects and backgrounds, cropped by getting closer or farther away, and just plain waited for the right light.

    The tiny lenses in most phones are the equal or better of the cameras being used by the majority of hobbyists in the 80s. Have you really looked at the camera on you phone? Most have multiple lenses made from glass who's optical quality surpasses many point and shoot cameras available today.

    Once the operator is eliminated as a variable, then low light shooting IS all about f stop. As the f stop rating for a lens goes down, both sharpness and price go up.
    Man, that's truth right there. My wife is a good photographer and a couple of her best pics were taken with a disposable film camera. The best pics I've taken were when she was telling me what to do!
    --Garrett--

  13. #13
    Pincher of Harmonics Blackbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrenJ1973 View Post
    FWIW any camera above 8mp is a waste cos the average human eye will not pick up that high a definition
    Not a waste if the user intends on actually printing the images, especially larger size prints or canvases. If you need to do a lot of cropping or editing for the prints, you want the extra pixels at your disposal. But if all you're doing is taking pics and viewing them on a screen, then 8mp is plenty.
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  14. #14
    A♥ hoards guitars ♥A rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrenJ1973 View Post
    FWIW any camera above 8mp is a waste cos the average human eye will not pick up that high a definition
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    Not a waste if the user intends on actually printing the images, especially larger size prints or canvases. If you need to do a lot of cropping or editing for the prints, you want the extra pixels at your disposal. But if all you're doing is taking pics and viewing them on a screen, then 8mp is plenty.
    I was going to mention that too. My Canon's native resolution is 5184 x 3456 pixels (17 mp). Most people say that prints should be made at 300 dpi. so that gives me a max print size of 17.28 x 11.52 inches without any loss of detail or sharpness. But...



    From the chart above, you can see that viewing distance matters for prints. If I am optimizing for a viewing distance of 18 inches or more (reasonable for a wall hung picture), I can print at 27.14 x 18.09 inches. If I hang the pic over a piece of furniture like a dresser or a side table and can get my guests out to 24" or farther for viewing, I can enlarge to 36.25 x 24.16 inches. And I DO like large prints.

    All those extra pixels give you flexibility. You almost can't have too many dots...

    If you only ever look at pics on your computer screen, then the threshold is the resolution of that screen. I have a 22" monitor at the moment with a resolution of 1680 x 1050. To display a picture at native resolution without any loss, I only need a 1.7 mp image.

    So, there are no rules for how many is two few and how many is too much. Like everything else, it depends upon what you intend to do with it.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 03-26-2013 at 05:12 PM.
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance, but he's soooo missingpieces over them now!
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    Senior Member MOBirds's Avatar
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    In all the posts, the graininess issue wasn't really fully answered.

    I mentioned prior the balance of aperture (f/stop) and shutter speed. The third variable is the ISO setting. The three are considered the 3 sides of the exposure triangle. Exposure = Aperture + Shutter Speed + ISO. All three are adjusted in auto modes to achieve that 18% grey value. So in low light, if the camera doesn't have a large enough aperture (low f/stop #) or long enough stable shutter speed (longer will causing blurring without tripod or the like), it will bump up the ISO to compensate. Low numbered ISO - 50, 100, 200 are going to have finer granularity the smaller the number. Higher ISO - 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400 are going to be more and more grainy the higher the number. This is why you get grainy pictures in low light, the camera can't open up aperture any further, and it won't allow a longer shutter speed to protect from blur, so it ups the ISO and produces OP results.

    This is what I was speaking to re: a real SLR camera. I can set the ISO to 100, the aperture to f/12 and use an 8 second shutter in low light to get a solid shot of a stationary object. With a band playing, and moving around, that log exposure time won't work without the members ghosting as they move. So I have to reduce the shutter speed to 1/200 second or better and stop down my aperture to below f/4, I may also need to bump up ISO to 400 or 800 but that will increase graininess a bit. With a real camera I can adjust all these things and force an underexposure to better capture lighted band members. Phones and other simple cameras will always auto-adjust, so you're stuck with whatever they can best due within their limitations.

    The other issue that is commonly experienced is the color balance due to temperature of lighting. That's an entirely different topic, so I'll just leave that one alone.

    Sorry I didn't get to post this last night... I was off to my photography class.
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    A♥ hoards guitars ♥A rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOBirds View Post
    The other issue that is commonly experienced is the color balance due to temperature of lighting. That's an entirely different topic, so I'll just leave that one alone.
    In my studio - I'm very old school when it comes to lights. I use photo floods and a transformer to get all the way up to 6400K. It's bright and hot, but the models don't blink like they do with strobes.
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance, but he's soooo missingpieces over them now!
    Lexicon ísɹǝqɯǝɯ uɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ oןןǝɥ

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    Junior Member -ST-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -ST- View Post
    Now THAT is what all grainy cell phone photos should look like (content-wise)! Beautiful.

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    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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