Doogee Mix 2 SmartPhone
Smartphones are not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about photography. I do a lot of my work with a Nikon P900 camera (the one with the gob-smacking zoom that does great moon close-ups).
However, I’m sure I’m not alone in that I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with large cameras, I love the quality – I hate lugging them around when on holiday in a hot country. Now it just so happens that I’ve taken the latter to a new level in that my wife and I have, for the last couple of years spent the entire summer (6 months) in Spain and trust me there were not many warmer places in 2017 for most of the time. When we’re off to the lake and the mountains I much prefer something I can keep in my pocket to having to carefully carry a large camera.
Of course there are many things a large camera can do that smaller cameras and phones can’t. By the nature of phones, the lens is small, so it does not let as much light in, which means low-light photos tend to be inferior. You can’t put a decent zoom lens on a phone (yet, but trust me, some very different lenses are in the pipeline which could eventually change all that) and so on.
But for a few years now from iPhone through Samsung and some Chinese cameras, I’ve found that with a little technical help I can get “good enough” photos from mobiles – especially as most of my photos end up being displayed on a computer one way or another and often end up on Facebook and/or other social media. I have little interest in producing huge prints!
And so we come to late 2017 – the new models of phones coming out open up all sorts of possibilities and here I will discuss one of them – my new Doogee Mix 2. This is NOT one of the frankly drastically over-priced models from Apple or Samsung but a very reasonably priced modern Chinese phone.
I’ll give you some basis specs – the ones of relevance to photography. The unit has FOUR cameras – two on the front, two on the back. The front pair are 16Mpx and 13Mpx respectively and one is wide-angle, one is for selfies. On the back, the main camera is 16Mpx and the second camera appears to be used for focussing. The camera software offers options for low depth of field which is very effective even if not “real” in the sense that this is a software trick.
The above is a general purpose video I put together for to talk about the phone, not from a photographic perspective – but the company’s own adverts do a good job of that.
HDR is a favourite feature of mine (and before anyone groans, yes I know some people DRAMATICALLY overdo the HDR feature on phones and cameras – but then owning a phone or camera does not necessarily mean you have good taste!!)
The HDR on this phone is fairly subtle. Picture quality is good but not stunning, images are sharp and the camera is very responsive. The front cameras offer two views depending which is used and also double up to do face recognition which works well.
In the photo below which are utterly unprocessed, you’ll see the BLUR option in use – concentrating on a local object while putting the background out of focus.
And then we have HDR – now bearing in mind it is the middle of winter here in the UK and the weather is MISERABLE – there’s no way I’m getting exciting photos even with some processing – but again – here with no alteration whatsoever…
The non-HDR version
The HDR version
Detail in the dark areas is preserved without the photo looking TOO artificial. Of course, normally I would be straightening this image, increasing the saturation a little and perhaps improving the dark colours just a little so there was black SOMEWHERE in the photo but I thought you’d rather see them un-touched.
Now of course – I like bright, cinema-width, colourful photos much to the disgust of many purists so I tend to put a little time into making photos look more like I WISH they were as against what I actually start off with (especially in winter – UK winters are not the best for photography) – so to the left you see a slightly modified version of the lower image – again all done in the Doogee phone using the Snapseed App and selective editing which I’ve talked about elsewhere. All of that, of course is very much down to personal taste (or lack of it).
As for movies, like most mobile phones the automatic settings are not ideal but I’ve had lots of luck with the Cinema FV-5 app (I also use the Camera FV-5 app) as you can turn off auto-focus, auto-exposure and auto-colour balance, essential tools for any attempt to make a “decent quality” video with a phone.
This coming summer when we return to Spain, no doubt I’ll be taking many stills and videos with this and the sports camera I showed elsewhere and I’ll endeavour to put some interesting stuff in here. I hope you found this useful.