Mobile Photography Hot Tips: How to Dump that DSLR for a Smartphone Camera?

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Smartphones. They are everywhere. And you can even shoot pictures for microstock agencies right from your mobile! The phenomenal technology that goes into smartphones has made it the go to device for all your pictures moments.

However, for DSLR and DCC camera users, the transition might be a little more disturbing to adapt to as the smartphone camera operates more like a neutered digital compact camera. Many have even heard of the virtues of Smarphone photography that mirrors the capability and even exceeds traditional compact cameras with the use of an app. Here are some tips to transition smoothly from DSLR to Smartphone shooting.

Why no buttons for manual controls?

Android smartphones actually do have manual controls but it comes via a mobile app, you can do this via a playstore app but don’t expect it to be at the same level as a DCC or DSLR. You might be able to choose a variable shutter speed for those action shots with it but much of what it does is still very hardware dependent. For example, shooting at the highest or lowest shutter speed depends on your smartphone camera’s capability. Some devices offer only 1/15 sec of exposure while others can do 1 second. It’s not perfect for low light but tell me, how often do you even shoot in low light unless you were born a vampire and love hanging out only at night?

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Next beef is….few, if any would be insane enough to shoot fast action sports with a mobile device but for slower exposures, it should be possible, except that the sensor can’t possibly hold up to that found on a DSLR. But in daylight, who gives a damn? Even in some low light situations, the HDR+ mode on some smarpthones such as the Nexus 6 uses computational algorithms to get better exposure so turning to manual controls is starting to sound pretty dated.

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Selfie Sticks can be used with Camera Remote

10341774-1Every wondered what to do with your Android Watch…besides telling time? Well you can use that with your Selfie sticked Android device for a better view. Yes, there is an App for Android wear that lets you pair your Android watch to your Andriod Smartphone for use on a selfie stick. Now, we all know that selfie sticks are made for selfies but do you know that you can also use it to aim from a higher angle? Trying doing that with you DSLR!

For this trick, you need to have Android wear paired as a controller and display screen for your mobile device. Once you get the angle you want which you can view on your watch, just hit the shutter button on your Android Watch app and you have your picture.

DNG files from your Android

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DNG support is available for devices running Android Lollipop however to use it, you need to have an app. One of the problems is that DNG support was included in an API which was not widely used by device manufacturers for fear that it would stuff up your SD card or internal storage for photos. Think about it. If you have a 16 megapixel camera, a DNG file could be as much as 16MB…so unless you want it, you have to get an app for it.

DNG is far more versatile for now. Google Photos allows you to upload directly to the Cloud as long as it is below 16MB in file size…for free.

No Aperture settings so there is No Bokeh?

This is true. The majority of smartphones do not have aperture controls. So if you suddenly went manual, to obtain Bokeh blurs, you’d be disappointed. But that’s not to say it is impossible. Devices running Android Lollipop 5.0 have access to Google’s Camera App that gives you Bokeh effects.

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Bokeh as rendered on Google Camera App

GPS lets you record metadata into Photos

Mid to high end DSLRs from Nikon, Sony and Canon have built in GPS capability for location tracking but for smartphones, this comes ready built and available with a flick of a switch. For Android devices, you only need to switch this on in your settings menu for GPS to track and embed the location meta data for all your images.

367659129_3e288b81f2There is no need to buy a third party device like the Sony thingy you see here. Geo location can also be enabled with the help of an app on your smartphone should you happen to use a dated DSLR—GPS metadata has to be paired with a desktop app to sync the data. Yes, there is an app for that but these days, why bother when you can shoot directly from your smart mobile device?

Digital Zooming =  Cropping your Photo

These days, who needs a bigger optical zoom when you have the ability to crop an image for composition sake? Imagine this for a moment. The new Galaxy Note 5 has a 16 megapixel sensor, which gives you TWICE the image of that from an iPhone 6 which has 8 megapixels, so even if you crop your Galaxy Note 5 image in half, you still have a 8 megapixel picture! Cropping your photo is like telephoto zooming except that the more you zoom in, the resulting image would be smaller.

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So if you have a Sony Xperia or Panasonic CM1 with a 20 megapixel sensor as your picture canvas, why bother with a telephoto lens? This image capture logic was put to good use with Nokia’s 1020 and 808 smartphones which has 40 megapixel cameras.

Sell what you Shoot instantly!

Say you have a great picture moment and what to sell it online as oppose to attracting Facebook envy when you put it up for all to see, well you can do it directly with apps such as EyeEm, 500ppx, Clashshot, etc, etc. Your device could earn you decent beer money if you are up and about as the Microstock business has all but decimated the stock image library business.

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People want to buy cheap photos, and not pay royalties and where possible, thereby putting professional photographers out of business. There is no business like the stock image business if you want to tip your toes into these waters so why keep those great photo moments when you can sell them with an app.

Postproduction work can be done on your Smartphone

With a DSLR, you have to lug around a computer to do any serious post production enhancements or for that matter, use a tablet computer. But all this don’t make cents when you are not shooting for money. Those casual photos can be easily edited on the fly with a free app like Snapseed on iOS or Android and posted online. When you travel, the extra space you save in baggage handling would be a God send without that Notebook computer!

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Original JPG image from compact digital camera

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Captured on a Digital camera and later edited on AfterFocus Pro and Snapseed.

Why Casual Shooters are Dumping their DSLRs

Casual shooters, you belong to a different class of picture creators. You don’t shoot professionally as quitting your day job just to become a photographer is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. So why not shoot on the side and sell what you have when there is a market for it? It’s like being a home gardener, when you have more than you need, why not sell those to earn some extra cash?

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First, thinking that you can earn a decent income just by doing what you enjoy doing is a dangerous sport. Those who do are the handful who have built a pool of savings to do what they please in the world so going out to just shoot beautiful pictures is more of a hobby.

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Captured and edited entirely on Android Smartphone

People like Tom Anderson formerly of Myspace and Trey Ratcliff of stuckincustoms.com are exceptions rather than the rule. To make money from photography, you’d need to built up your own fan base and in the process go on lectures and speaking engagements. Selling prints and licensing isn’t a big deal if your name isn’t out there for the world to notice. There rest of the professionals you see in this world who call themselves photographers are an old breed of craftsmen, they make or stage photos for commercial benefit.

Mobile photography frees ourselves from the traditional constraints of photography while allowing ourselves to indulge in our past time whenever and wherever we want.

However there is no curing the gear envy that people have from holding a large camera. If you want to shoot pictures with a hefty DSLR, it better be for professional reasons. Casual shooters who have far less demand on digital imaging would do no wrong to dump that DSLR in this day and age because carrying one can be a real bitch.

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How to buy a Future Proof Android device

The guys at Apple magazine recently put a Samsung Galaxy S4 on its cover. For an independent magazine to do such a thing is tantamount to a sellout. Don’t matter if you are going to bash the device, it is never a good idea to put an Android product on an Apple Magazine, and here’s why.

It’s a hard look at future proofing your device, giving you the liberty to do more and have more fun. Apple iOS lost it. The innovation has come to a dead-end and you can safely predict the hardware spec on the next iPad or iPhone without gazing into a crystal ball. Apple has become very predictable in its choice of upgrades and you’d fall asleep once Tim Cook takes the stage. Apple Magazine could well be the next Android magazine if no new devices are coming out of Apple anytime soon.

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Tips for Choosing your Next Android

Smart Phones or Tablets? The choices are aplenty, but how do you buy one so that you won’t be out of date within 18 months? We all want a device for doing something we love and Android has it all, but how do you make sure you have a device that will last you the distance? With new models coming out every quarter, it becomes very difficult to choose one that will do the job without being outdated. Here is a list of things to watch out for.

1. Quad Core Processor

Forget the dual core, you need at least four cores to run things smoothly. The Octo-core processors will eventually make its debut within the next 12 months so you need a head start with a quad-core device. By early 2014, Octo-cores will be standard fare.

2. 2GB RAM minimum

This is the actual RAM on board the device. Forget the 1GB RAM devices, those are out of date. You need more RAM because true multi-tasking is just not possible without it. 3GB or more would be ideal if you can afford to get your paws on that one. By end 2o13, 2GB will be outdated. Going into 2014-15, you need to have at least 4GB of RAM to stomach future apps. Coz apps are getting bigger and they need more room to move around. Custom Launchers too like Chameleon need lots of free RAM to look slick. Bane or Bonus, custom launchers are here to stay. Many don’t work well now because of a lack of free RAM space.

3. More Internal Storage Please

Given the size of these apps, you need more internal storage. The 8GB and 16GB devices are passe, you need more coz there are more apps now on Google Play than ever. To future proof your purchase, you need 32GB of internal storage in 2013. Double that to 64GB in 2014-2015. There is also the issue of bloatware, which of course will reside in internal storage when you boot up. Bloatware on carrier branded devices could cost you a few hundred MB of RAM space.

4. Expandable Card Slot is a MUST

Got a cool device but no slot for additional external storage? Then you are screwed! The humble microSD card is getting cheaper and coming in at 64GB, you would be a fool not to have one. The external storage card can be very useful if you happen to consume media like crazy.  Got a load of MP3? Some movie files in MKV? Bring it on. You store all your files here. For some Camera Apps, you can specify a directory within your SD storage where it will save all the files. The card slot is your ticket to mass media consumption. You need this to put your music or your porn regardless of what turns you on.

5. Eight megapixel is Enough

You don’t need a 13 or 12 megapixel camera, just 8 will be enough. The reason is simple. The bigger the megapixel, the larger the file will be. No point shooting something to share when you only need 5 megapixel at most. So 8 megapixel will be just fine for everything else. What’s more, you can’t possibly rely on that tiny BI sensor to deliver pro quality images for print. It is a different beast you need to capture those photos. However for a social media whore, dang….8 megapixel make me look good! Don’t be fooled into thinking about those 16 megapixel shooters— which will be standard fare in 2014. Stay safe, shoot with 8 megapixels my friend.

6. Get a Great Color Display

I was deeply disappointed with the Galaxy Note 10.1 as the display was pretty poor. I am also pretty disappointed with the Galaxy Note 8 display too. You gotta know that a good display makes it all the more pleasing to use and trust me on this one. I find myself using my Galaxy Tab 7.7 more than my Asus TF300 just because the display is so pleasing to look at. There are many to choose from FHD OLED, Super AMOLED, Retina Display, TFT, Super LCD3, etc. Which one suits you best? Well it’s really up to you. A better screen is a joy to behold.

The Last Word

I don’t believe that a gadget you buy will last you forever. Every 12 months or so, a new gadget arrives but there are some which cost more that offers some future proofing. For example, the Galaxy S4, with 32GB internal storage and 2GB RAM can last you into the end of 2015. But a 16GB version will be very restrictive and chances are you’ll ante up to a new device by end 2014.

Apple products fortunately are made to last longer because of its poor hardware upgrades. If you have an iOS device, chances are you can use it for a good 18 months before the hardware becomes restrictive. Today, we see iPads with 128GB of storage. Tomorrow, we can expect to see 32GB iPhones as standard. Rumors of a cheap iPhone does not make sense. If you have poor hardware, people will compare that with Android devices and choose something from HTC  or Asus. A cheaper iPhone already exist in the form of the overpriced iPhone 4s and 4. If you need a second phone, the iPhone 4 fits the bill. If Apple offers an even cheaper iPhone, it’s one that would look more like the 3GS—gutted to fit a new processor and limited 16GB RAM.

The second biggest market for the iPhone is China, but the China Appstore is one that doesn’t make any money for Apple because of the rampant fraud that goes on with Appstore credits used to buy online media and apps. It just doesn’t make sense to make a cheaper iPhone for just that market.