I think one reason to consider a cell phone as a useful photographic tool is its immediate answer to the circumstances, it’s already in your pocket and it’s already turned on. It has just a focal length and everything is on focus so you have just to point and shoot. In these days even there are sensor/lenses modules to add to the smartphone. In this moment I wouldn’t buy a compact camera besides my cameras with bigger sensors, instead I would prefer a simple and portable smartphone and perhaps one of those modules. Of course I say it from the perspective of an amateur, I don’t want to be carrying kilos of equipment, I want to enjoy the places I go instead of be worried about tripods, flashes, specialized backpacks, etcetera.
The first photograph was made with a cheap camera from a generic cell phone with 2 megapixels in the Incan ruins of Chucuito. The stones are from the Imperial Period under the blue sky of the early afternoon. It has all kind of defects: noise in daylight, chromatic aberrations, corner softness (or dirty lens?) and I guess a lot of other details. But speaking in terms of composition it’s perfectly what I wanted.
In my landscape photography I want that everything is in focus, in portrait too. I’ve noted that my (female) friends are the ones that love portraits with bokeh, I guess because they’re educated with fashion photography of models in fields of medium format bokeh. A cell phone has everything in focus, with my other cameras I’ve to try to find the infinite focus and I’m still struggling with the function of stacking photos in enfuse.
IT’S ABOUT COMPOSITION:
I think that when a man and a woman are in the intimate moment of sex doesn’t mind if they have fifty years of studies, a degree in mechatronic, or one is legally poor, those titles are not going to go to the bed: they are nothing more and nothing less that a naked man and a naked woman. The same way when someone takes a photograph the important is not the camera but the mind behind it. Certainly anyone can press the shutter of any camera but the question is why it deserves to be pressed. I’ve seen a lot of people to take with their cell phones or DSLR cameras in mode of taking several frames per second to static subjects as if they were taking sport action… For that reason I don’t give so much importance to technical reviews, they are true but the technical needs for amateurs are covered since years ago.
IT’S ABOUT TIMING:
When you use a cell phone there is a time to turn it on, access the camera app and fire it. Usually, and now much less, it has a lag, so you have to anticipate. I fired the camera one second before for the child were exactly in that position in the photograph. That’s important because that make you think before to photograph. You are not an addition to the camera that serves to press its shutter button but you are a human with intentions and ideas, the camera is your tool, and if you know it it’s your faithful tool.
IT’S ABOUT POSITION:
I’ve reading about cameras whose lens can give to an scene a tridimensional effect. I think that could be right with zeiss or fujinon lenses. But also is true that getting a 3D effect is more about the perfect positioning of the camera, the height related to the ground, the verticality of the lines. To the aribalo I choose to frame it using an isometric view, naturally in photography it’s always a perspective but I tried to reduce the effect to a mathematical aspect.
IT’S ABOUT INFINITE FOCUS:
Even with a compact camera the macro function would be blurred the background. In this case I had to compose with the background as an important part of the photography, there was no opportunity to hide it with bokeh, so I had to take it in consideration for the composition. In this case to balance the intense color and to divide the rectangle in a square with the flower and the bee in its axis.
IT’S ABOUT LIMITED DYNAMIC RANGE:
A common camera phone has a very limited dynamic range. It could be counteracted with a graduated filter but I think that going against the idea of a tool that has to be immediate. You have to choose between to save the highlights or the shadows, there is no intermediate points. And that’s not a defect if one use it to compose an image.
IT’S ABOUT TO PREPARE IDEAS:
A picture taken with a cell phone camera can be replicated with a different camera if someone wants more details or work better an idea that could work with a camera with a bigger sensor. Just you have to take in account the focal length of the phone (usually 35mm or wider) and the position. The first image is with the cell phone, the next is with a Sony R1 (aps-c sensor), I think I prefer the first:
Here is another one. I couldn’t replicate what I captured with the cell phone:
So I believe that this photos, this sketches, hasn’t worth just because it could (or couldn’t depending of the skill) prepare the ideas for cameras with bigger sensors but they itself can produce nice sketches with esthetical value.