Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Smartphone photography

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All the photos in this blog entry were shot using my LG G2 phone. Many of them have been edited using the app VSCO. This shot was taken in Bakery88 in Dali, Yunnan.

Lately, I’ve taken to using my smartphone as my photographic device. At the moment, I’m in Yunnan and have been traveling around the province. The photo you see in the below post, in the previous blog entry, was shot using my phone, edited on my phone, and uploaded onto this blog with my phone.

For work I still rely on my trusty Canon S120. The camera is what I use on journalism assignments. But for everything else, my phone replaces it. Much of this has to do with the fact my phone is always on me.

But even while traveling in Yunnan, where my camera is readily available in my rucksack, I’ve left it in there, in the hostel locker, while I’ve traipsed around, phone in pocket ready to be fished out.

Why a smartphone is better than a digital camera as a travel camera

  1. Convenience
  • It’s always on. A normal camera needs to be switched on every time, the lens protruding out of its shell which it needs to intrude every time it’s turned off, to be put back into a pocket. A phone is always on and ready.
  • It’s easier to carry one device instead of two.
  • The larger screen of most phones makes easier composing pictures and the experience of doing so more vivid (most phone screens being HD, bright, and saturated). Touchscreens make the composition experience instant and tactile.IMG_20151102_182207

2. Quality

  • Smartphone photos — as viewed on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat — as viewed on a mobile phone screen or laptop — are almost indistinguishable from normal camera photos. And, I’d argue, the difference in quality is basically irrelevant. A picture viewed on a screen is primarily about the image and the information it conveys, rather than about the photograph. What this means is the difference between seeing an image flash on a screen, and holding and investigating a printed photograph in your hands.
  • Many camera phones optimize for sharpness and saturation, producing photos that lose detail compared to normal cameras, but which look good on the phone screen or on social media.
  • I don’t know what secret sauce my LG G2 phone uses but the photos it produces have a quite lovely colour rendition. Its photos lean on the cool and blue colour palette (think Fuji film rather than Kodak film) and produces JPEGs with a beautiful retro-lite aesthetic.


3. Sharing

  • It’s not just about taking photos is it? It’s about sharing and showing them. A smartphone is better than a camera because my phone allows me to publish my photos. To friends, to family, to the world.
  • You can download easy to use, powerful photo-editing apps. Editing photos on a phone is fun and a joy to see, compared to the painstaking process on a computer.
  • The smartphone is a media production machine; a camera and a computer bolted into one, allowing creation on the fly in a package that lets you instantaneously take photos and edit them before publishing to a global audience.

Can my Canon S120 do that? 20151120_154129

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

November 23, 2015 at 7:27 am

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