The Apertura Wishlist – 1 Inch Sensor Smartphone

1inchsensor

At this time within the smartphone sphere, the camera is king. The pace of development is rapid and the number of lenses is a technological arms race. The variety of focal lengths allows the manufacturers to work around the limitations of a fixed focal length in a small body. Just recently we have seen Huawei add a wide angle lens to its Mate 20 Pro, whilst Apple used their second lens for a somewhat telephoto focal length. As a means to an end, dual, triple and soon to be quad camera arrays make sense. However, the sensors remain minuscule and although to their credit, IQ could be better still if the sensor grew in place of multiple lenses. I have cameras of multiple sizes, from full frame digital, to APS-C, 1:2/3rd of an inch et al. My everyday camera happens to have a 1″ sensor type, giving it an advantage over the usual size for compact cameras. The more light that can meet the sensor, the easier it is for the camera processor – an area where phones have really hit their groove in recent years.

So, what if a mobile firm decided to use this existing advantage to its advantage and paired one, larger lens opening with a 1″ sensor? Given the space required for three lenses and their processor, I can’t imagine the footprint would be significantly larger, especially with the size of current flagship phones. Given their work with Leica, I’d love for the inevitable Huawei P30 Plus to take a bold step and offer this set-up. A real giant leap in pushing mobile photography – which I genuinely enjoy – and one achieved with photography in mind. Sure, I’d miss the dedicated monochrome sensor, but it appears they have removed this in lieu of the wide angle already on the aforementioned Mate Pro. Using a larger lens and a sensor better equipped to gather light would provide enough comfort, however.

 

Cheers, Matt.

16:9 – The Widescreen Appreciation Post

South Devon Railway

Aspect ratios. Not a thrilling subject in themselves, but fairly important as a consideration when taking photos. We’re used to the 3 to 2 ratio of DSLRs, or 4:3 as can be found on compact cameras and Micro 4/3s. Instagram initially only offered a square ratio for posts, which would have been a consideration that made sense within the realms of the app, but they relented and offered a scalable space from anywhere between 1:1, 3:2 and 16:9. The latter is an interesting one, especially useful for emphasising the scale of your scene, or otherwise aiming for the cinematic look. Films are almost exclusively widescreen now; of course, this has little baring on stills photography, but it does mean the widescreen ratio is chosen less often.

As a photographer, it is one I like to use, in the same way I use 1:1 sometimes. By changing the aspect ratio, you are having to alter your composition and this is a good thing. By adjusting how you look at a scene, you are aware of what fits within the image, what detracts also. Photography is very much an art form that thrives within constraints. Where a painter can move something to enhance a scene, with a photograph, you can only capture what is in front of you. Sure, you can remove it in post, but there’s a joy in getting as much correct at the moment you press the shutter. It is why I like prime lenses, because you can only get what is directly in front of you in the scene. When I switch to the 16:9 ratio, I have to look to see that the top and bottom of the frame are exact. When using 1:1 you have to keep all sides in mind. It’s just another way to enhance the thought process behind taking a photo.

I’ve set my Sony RX100iii to 16:9 now, just another way to set individual cameras to individual purposes. The photo at the top of South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh is one of the first I took in this way. Shot in RAW and processed in Photoshop Camera RAW, the scene offers a broad look at the trains in the yard. I shoot RAW with this camera because I find the Sony colour science to be appalling, certainly having bought into Fuji and coming from Canon and Nikon DSLRs, but that is a whole can of worms for another time.  Back to the image, I like that with this aspect ratio, there’s little sky to detract from the subject and the first carriage is very much in the foreground, but it also leads into the image; as do the rails, too. If I’d taken it in 3:2 ratio, then you’d have sky to contend with and the dynamic range would alter. For this scene, 16:9 suits it well. As a shooting choice, it definitely has its place and Instagram now displays it properly, to boot.

Cheers, Matt.

 

The Apertura Wishlist – Cameras I wish existed (Part 1)

Canon M

There have been many cameras throughout the modern era, from mainstream hits, to obscure, fascinating oddities. Something I love is obscure and fascinating things, so naturally they pique my interest. One of my favourites – and one I’d love to own – is the Canon EF-M. Before this became the acronym for their mirrorless lens mount, it was used on an export-only, manual version of the EOS 1000 35mm SLR. Without an LCD screen or typical mode selector dial, this was a manually operated, manually focused SLR from a company who had made a concerted effort to embrace auto focus with their EOS line. The wiki article here will fill in more detail for you if you’re unfamiliar with this particular Canon.

Since discovering the EF-M, I’ve often wished Canon would engineer a modern, digital equivalent. Leica can create monochrome, display-free bodies almost at will and given their following, surely Canon could stand to do the same thing too. If nothing else, it would be an alternative for purely stills shooters who don’t necessarily need the 4K, mic-input trappings of a 5D Mark IV; however, they would very much benefit from DIGIC 7 and some of the better lenses out there, all of which have a manual setting.

By removing some of the features, it could also lower the price. This I feel is an important consideration. I’d always buy just enough camera you need, so I could spend more on lenses. With a £1000 full frame, manual DSLR, you could spend the extra £1000+ an EOS 5D model would cost on more lenses, of which Canon has the most varied line-up of all. A niche product that would still drive their lens business? Sounds fairly low risk, but potentially headline grabbing work, eh Canon?

Whilst I appreciate it is not a camera for every photographer out there, that’s fine – they are already very well catered for. Sure, you could just shoot everything manually on your DSLR, which I often do, but the change in handling, to include some of that Fuji tactility could make it a really sweet product. As can be seen in my mock-up (pardon the Photoshop, it’s been some years since I last dabbled) there are two selector dials. On the right you have ISO, with a Drive and WB button familiar to the EOS range. On the left, your shutter speed dial with a range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds and Bulb mode.  The  right-hand jog wheel that normally functions to alter shutter speed is now the Exposure Compensation. Otherwise, no bells or whistles. My perfect Canon digital camera.

 

Thanks for reading, cheers. Matt.