Camera or Phone?

The mobile phone (or cellphone for those on the other side of the Atlantic) is increasingly becoming mis-named. Very few people make phone calls with them these days. One of the features that increasingly improves is the camera. These are now fairly good quality and the latest models even save in raw format.

Having missed taking pictures of lovely autumn colours I saw when driving through mid-Wales and across England I decided that I should get out and take some before all the leaves fell off. I decided that I would see how the phone camera performed.

Armed only with my Nexus5x – not the highest spec phone around but one that suits my needs and budget – I set off on a longish walk on what started as a slightly sunny day – this turned to a brightish but rather cloudy day, only for the sun to return as I got home.

I used the Open Camera App, set to take pictures in raw format. This means that you end up with a jpg and dng file for each shot – make sure you have plenty of space as each shot will result in over 30mb of files being created.

Well, first problem using the phone is that you can’t always see what you are taking properly when daylight is reflecting off the screen. This is where having the viewfinder on a DSLR is an advantage although something that the new generation of mirrorless cameras seems to be coping OK with.

The lack of separate buttons to adjust the brightness meant that I often ended up with slightly overexposed pictures and the even cloud cover at times made for some uninspiring skies, however on the occasions that I got control of the controls (and managed not to accidently change the settings by poking the screen with my podgy fingers), some good shots were to be had. On return home I quickly imported the dng files into my PC and the Lightroom catalog and started playing. I was quite pleased with the results despite the white skies.

So, in conclusion, I found it slower and slightly more awkward to take pictures with the phone, but it was a lot lighter and I didn’t need to carry a heavy camera and lens with me on my walk. There was a time when I got paranoid that I was about to drop it in the river  – a strap would be handy! Next time I go for a walk I will take the DSLR but I will travel light and not take an unnecessary selection of lenses and other paraphernalia – I once found that I’d been carrying over 9kg of equipment round with me at an event!

… and maybe I shall invest in some of the clip on lenses that are available for phones. All the picture taking does use up the phone battery even quicker, so it is also advisable to invest in an additional battery pack. Yes, it is a little extra weight but means that you will still have the means to communicate with home at the end of the day, plus, if you keep your bus ticket on your phone, you will be able to get home 😉

Bute Park Cardiff
Bute Park Cardiff
Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle back entrance
River Taff at Blackweir
River Taff – looking up river at blackweir
Llandaff war memorial
Llandaff war memorial