Cell Phone Photography

Over the weekend, I shot a series of images for Possitive Negative magazine with a variety of cell phones. I tested the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, Motorola Droid Ultra, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The article was discussing how cell phones can be used in professional photographic settings. For this I did a series of portraits, close-ups of the body and this weekend I will shoot still lives for it. 

Here is what I have noticed about the image quality:

All of these cell phones need help producing better color. For this project I shot on four brightly colored backdrops: red, blue, green and yellow. The best color was on the red backdrop for all cell phones and the worst was green. The colors all seem very desaturated and light toned. 

I also noticed that color consistency was an issue, especially with the iPhone 6. This is an example of three shots taken right after each other with the same focus point.

These are all off-takes from this series, not images used for the actual project, but this is how you can see the color has shifted. The lighting remained the same but the images went from being extremely warm toned to cool toned. I'm not sure why this happened but in each image I was focusing on the models face. This information is extremely disappointing for me to see as I would have expected that the iPhone 6 would have made adjustments for this as it is top of the line.

I also noticed that the iPhone 6 oversharpens its images. The following image is zoomed into 100% to show you what the image looks like.

As you can see all of the marks on her forehead are extremely prominent. The area around her lips seems very pixelate

The aspect ratio is different depending on the phone: 

iPhone 6 - 1334 x 750  - 8MP

iPhone 6 - 1334 x 750  - 8MP

iPhone 5c  - 640 x 1136  - 8MP

iPhone 5c  - 640 x 1136  - 8MP

iPhone 4s - 640 x 960  - 8MP

iPhone 4s - 640 x 960  - 8MP

Motorola Droid Ultra - 720 x 1280 - 10 MP

Motorola Droid Ultra - 720 x 1280 - 10 MP

Samsung Galaxy S6 - 1440 x 2560 - 16 MP

Samsung Galaxy S6 - 1440 x 2560 - 16 MP

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - 1440 x 2560 -   16 MP

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - 1440 x 2560 -   16 MP

As you can see from the examples above, the droid phones tend to have longer image files than the iPhone images. I cannot say that this is true for all phones but fo the images in this study it does prove to be true. 

In addition, you can see that the Motorola Droid Ultra had issues with the color white. The womans pants are over exposed and cannot be repaired by retouching them. (The above image has had some editing but any further and the pants become grey).

The cell phones also have varying degrees of distortion, usually in the top and the bottom of the image. This proved to be quite annoying to correct as lightroom does not have lens corrections for android phones. It does have correction software for Apple products, but it didn't seem to fully correct the image. Some manual adjustments were still necessary.

 

On a brighter note, I was pleased with the quality of Samsung Galaxy S6, which produces a 16 MP image. This is the hightest quality of the cell phones that I tested. Currently, there is a cell phone, the Nokia Lumia 1020, which produces 42 MP images (this is better than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and most cameras on the market). This cell phone obviously isn't as good as the 42 MP image but in terms of the cell phones I worked with it held up very nicely. I was quite pleased at the quality, although I was expecting the iPhone to produce equally as good quality since advertisements and billaboards are made with this cell phone. However, this was not what I found. The Samsung Galaxy S6 produced very nice images - they were clear and crisp.

 

Future of this project:

This week I am working on retouching the images from this shoot so I can let you know how well these images can be altered. All of the images are jpg files so I do fear that there will not be a lot of wiggle room, but I will see what I can accomplish. 

I will also be printing the images and working with a designer to put he spread together for the magazine. I will let you all see it when it is complete.