So Much Choice, So Little Time

Friend smoking a cigarette outside a local cafe in Southern Spain

Another summer if almost upon us here in Southern Spain. I say almost – it was 37c here mid-week, back down to under 30c yesterday and today thanks to a little cloud cover.

Needless to say I’ve been out and about with the phone/camera – and over at my tech blog, you can if you’re interested, read about my new favourite tool, the Hohem M6 SI Smartphone Gimbal. I won’t labour the point as I gave this wonderful AI-assisted device lots of coverage here.

That’s not all that’s been happening from a photography perspective here at Bedrock however. First, the realisation dawned on me that no mattter what, much as I love them, current-day smartphone camera lenses are no-where NEAR as good as, say, a decent SLR for ONE good reason. Even my near-top-of-the-range Samsung S22 ULTRA with it’s 3* and 10* optical zoom lenses has it’s limits – I’d not quite twigged until I started playing with the gimbal but these are FIXED ZOOM – i.e. 0.6, 1.0, 3.0 and 10.0 – everything else is just interpolation (I’ll not even mention the 100* digital zoom as it is not worth a light).

On the OTHER hand, Samsung just released a shedload of updates to the S22 Ultra phone and among them are better astro-photography features. I’ve also been having a play with spot colours and mono photography – the phone lets me make in seconds what used to involve a round-trip to the PC. The photo you see here on the right was taken in portrait mode on the S22 and that foreground/backgound separation in this photo of a pal of mine, was done utterly effortlessly sitting outside a crowded cafe. How it knows what is supposed to be foreground is still something of a mystery to me.

Friend smoking a cigarette outside a local cafe in Southern Spain

Technically, after taking the photo, a dialog popped up asking me to change the background effect. I have a choice of BLUR, high-key mono, low-key mono and several others (I’m working backwards here to show you, so obviously the phone has kept the data from the original image without me being aware of it) including backdrop. Until recently to achieve that effect in preparation for background replacement, I had to carefully mask what I call the foreground then add that into a new image consisting initually of only the mask colour layer.

And now, all of that is history. Let’s have a look at the colour mask version below. I must stress I’m creating these two alternatives in seconds on my PC, merely by pressing the “change backdrop effect” button on my phone and waiting seconds for Windows Link to reflect the change on my PC ready for pasting into the blog – how VERY different to only a few days ago.

Friend smoking a cigarette outside a local cafe in Southern Spain

So now, Apple users can remove any smirk from their faces because history-based thoughts that the world of Android+PC is lagging behind IOS+MAC have just been vanquished. Of course this has been underway for years now but improvements have often been too subtle at any moment to notice – not any more. I don’t have the time or room here to go through all the recent improvements both at the PC and Android ends, particularly with Samsung – and others have beaten me to it anyway – next time you’re thinking of a phone upgrade, simply keep an open mind.

About the only thing I would say for anyone wanting to start making videos and working on “clever” photography on a Smartphone is this… I bought the 256GB Ultra 22 as against the “cheaper” model with 128GB… it never occurred to me that I could ever use up 256GB of storage but given phones like this which retain FAR more than basic photo and video information, whatever storage you THINK you’re going to need, go for two to four times that amount if you can.

As for the Samsung S-pen, I really struggled to find a use for it until I started trying to edit video -(literally) on the road as against in my office – it makes a BIG difference – but I digress 🙂

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