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Decisions, decisions....wait for a camera update or buy a phone?


pierces
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Sony hates me. Maybe they don't actually hate me, but they have little regard for my personal finances.

 

They just got done hitting me with the A1 super-camera when the rumor mill started dangling specs for the A7IV later this year. Now, in a brazen attempt to decimate my tech budget, they announced the Xperia 1 III phone. The camera specs read like an Alpha mirrorless camera or maybe a high-end Cybershot rather than a phone and include things like real-time tracking AF, real-time Eye-AF, a 12MP three camera array featuring 16mm-f/2.2, 24mm-f/1.7 and 70-105mm -f/2.3-2.8 (optical zoom) lenses and 20 frame/sec burst rate that combines 4 exposures for each frame to reduce noise. It has a bunch of audio wizardry that doesn't really affect me but what it does have is dual-sim card tech that may make it compatible with our Google Fi service. 

 

At this time, without pricing being available, I intend to wait for the A7IV announcement before I decide whether to upgrade phone or camera (or both 😮) and will probably wait for the Pixel 6 specs to come out this fall to see what their return to flagship phones will bring.

 

It seems odd to consider spending $1000(ish) for a phone but I used to carry a $400 phone and a $500 compact camera which when combined, wouldn't hold a candle to this package. Times change. Tech changes nearly as fast.

 

A cornucopia of choice! It's a great time to be a photographer!

 

Link: Xperia 1 III | Android Smartphone | 4K HDR OLED 120Hz Display | Sony US

 

Dave  

Edited by pierces
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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't see any cellphone rendering tremendous photos compared to even a P&S camera. I know they take photos good enough for whatever social media someone wants to post to, but none of them will be good enough for prints of a decent size. Simply put, then sensor is just too small to start with and much of the detail is software driven.

 

But I get you with the cost of new camera bodies. It is part of the reason I just jumped from Sony. The cost of lenses is far too high and the cameras are insanely priced as well. The only good thing is that they hold up value. I just sold my a6400 after a little more than a year for $50 more than I paid for it.

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22 hours ago, BoozinCroozin said:

I don't see any cellphone rendering tremendous photos compared to even a P&S camera. I know they take photos good enough for whatever social media someone wants to post to, but none of them will be good enough for prints of a decent size. Simply put, then sensor is just too small to start with and much of the detail is software driven.

But I get you with the cost of new camera bodies. It is part of the reason I just jumped from Sony. The cost of lenses is far too high and the cameras are insanely priced as well. The only good thing is that they hold up value. I just sold my a6400 after a little more than a year for $50 more than I paid for it.

 

Sort of how I viewed phones until I picked up a Nokia Icon Windows phone a few years ago. Its main selling point was the camera and it was honestly good enough to delay and finally cancel my next purchase of a daily-carry compact camera. Since then I have moved to the Pixel phones and the magic they perform with the remarkable 12MP Sony sensors and computational processing is a game-changer. I rarely print anymore but have a couple of 16x20s from images captured on a phone and nobody has yet jumped back and said, "Ewwwww...phone picture!" 🙂 They also look great for my current display preference which is 4K slide shows and screensaver sets on my TV and computer screen. I still love my camera and carry it often, but I always have my phone with me. 

 

As for the cost of bodies and lenses, the pro-level lenses have always been pricey and it's not really any worse now if you adjust for inflation and the quality has never been better. Even the lower-tier lenses are so much better than their ancestors that the prices are actually reasonable. The bodies are another matter (except for the pro stuff which has always been pricey). Since the phones have all but killed the sub-$800 market, $1500-$2000 is now the new normal for high-end APS-C or entry level full-frame. What is missing from the comparison is that the good APS-C cameras and the "entry-level" full-frame units are as far beyond their predecessors of a decade ago in terms of capabilities and performance as an iPhone 12 or new top-end Samsung is when compared to a smartphone from the same period. I'm not pleased with shelling out a couple of thousand dollars for a new camera body but the pain is softened a little by considering what it is that I am paying for. SO, yes the body prices are high, but at least you get what you pay for.

 

Same with a phone. I haven't replaced my laptop as an alternate to my desktop for ten years or so since virtually all the functions I need when not at my desk are available on increasingly capable phones. Stuff a kick-butt camera into my phone and the $750-$1000 price tag can be rationalized (grudgingly) against the cost of a laptop, phone and compact camera. I'm not someone who always needs the newest shiny thing as soon as it hits the store and I will use tech like my A6300 for years after its replacements have been available if it still does what I want it to. Then again, if something pops up that is so far ahead of what I have that it will allow me to do something (that I want to do) that my current device can't, it will get my attention (within reason, as illustrated by my new Lotto-winner camera that I don't own, the Alpha1).

 

After buying gas this weekend and looking at beef and plywood prices, I have a much softer reaction to the price of photography equipment!

 

 

Dave

Edited by pierces
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I get you. I am not a pixel peeper and don't edit photos too often. However, I can tell an insane difference between a picture from a phone and a picture from a camera, even P&S cameras. A phone is great for all the social media and online stuff. Anything printed, I can tell the difference almost immediately.

 

You are 100% correct though. Most people will not care or even notice it. That tends to your statement about just using a phone for all your pictures. It works to an extent and for a majority it won't matter. 

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1 hour ago, BoozinCroozin said:

I get you. I am not a pixel peeper and don't edit photos too often. However, I can tell an insane difference between a picture from a phone and a picture from a camera, even P&S cameras. A phone is great for all the social media and online stuff. Anything printed, I can tell the difference almost immediately.

 

It truly depends on the phone and to some extent, the photographer. A good friend has a fairly good Motorola with a 16MP camera and the difference in quality between it and My Pixel4 is much like what you describe above. Within the limits of the lens and light availability, the Pixel produces images with quality superior to any of the fairly advanced P&S cameras I have owned. Same with the latest Samsung flagships or iPhones. Not all phone cameras are created equal, which is why I have a good one and no longer use a compact camera. The photographer factor is twofold. Knowing how to use the phone (or any camera) with respect to its strengths and weaknesses and properly composing a picture to take advantage of the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses still holds true. As I said, I love to use the "real" camera because the possibilities afforded by good lenses and the incredibly forgiving ISO range of the A7III allows for shots the phone just isn't suited for or even capable of. Phone tech, however, has evolved to the point that I no longer feel like I was lazy and scrimping on quality by not bringing along the "real camera" when I'm out and about and instead using the phone within its known limits.

 

A7III 1/64s at 105mm - well beyond the limits of my phone.

1396870548_2021-04TheWatcher.thumb.jpg.f5a99f0647fd377b89c41f10e64a82bc.jpg

 

Oh, crap...a Santa convention. Pixel 4 at 24mm equivalent.

201663643_2020-46FirstThingsFirst.thumb.jpg.4e351a2cb06a388fd4dc6befa198c22e.jpg

 

Smoked Bourbon. Pixel 4 1/15s - f/1.7 - ISO 1642

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200916172632796_COVER.thumb.jpg.41f61543de09b7aa59df0c4774df07d5.jpg

 

Anybody's guess...hazy beach city.

728559763_2020-4725DegreesWestofSummer.thumb.jpg.b9db3c4e90a56085d7cf69ed465933a2.jpg

 

Slick plane in a fairly dim garage.

1324700258_2020-32RunoftheMill.thumb.jpg.5d1b838b3bd93b4c0fabc3799488a9fa.jpg

 

Needless to say, the compression and reduction inflicted by the forum is no picture's friend but at 1:1 on my 4k monitor, the source of any of these photos can't be easily identified and all would print up to 16x20 without worry. 24x36...worry might increase a bit.

 

Dave

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Starting to look like a $1200 phone.

 

I hope one of the new features makes it able to photograph tomorrow's winning lottery numbers today.

 

It will now have to be spectacular. To be fair, it already sounds spectacular. So, spectacular-er?

 

New Sony APS-C camera due in a couple of weeks. A7IV maybe later this year. Pixel 6, October-ish.

 

'Twill be an interesting year.

 

 

Dave

 

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  • 1 month later...

Now Google hates me...

 

Rumors, both confirmed and unconfirmed are pointing to Google's return to putting out a flagship phone later this year. The Pixel 6 Pro looks like it will feature a three camera solution with a long optical zoom. Tack on their fantastical AI processing and it may just be time for me to upgrade. 

 

The debate as to whether a phone can take the place of a "real" camera will continue much like the RAW vs. JPEG war of words has long after there isn't really any objective difference in the results. My current phone already outperforms any P&S I have ever owned except for zoom range. Since my shooting tends towards the wide end for day to day snaps or on a walkabout, the phone is a great solution for me.

 

Would I take my phone to shoot the grandkids at a hockey game or doing a figure skating routine? No. Would it be my primary camera in Alaska? No. Do I take my A7III out to dinner to snap food and family? Also no. That's why I have always said that the best all-around camera for every situation is two or even three cameras!

 

Happy shooting! With, whatever....

 

 

Dave

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/2/2021 at 2:37 PM, Tahitianbigkahuna said:

Never been hired to shoot a wedding because I have the best cell phone 😉

I use 4 different manufactures of cameras during a wedding  ... not one of them is my cell phone.

 

 

I have to admit, I've never used my phone when shooting a wedding, but I also never carry my cameras to Home Depot when picking up some lumber (see the Santa Army above). A modern phone is more than capable of capturing a quality image of something that catches my eye when I'm not armed with the "real" camera. I can't even imagine how many impromptu moments didn't get made into revisitable memories before I had a decent camera in my phone. 

 

Dockside margarita flight in Cozumel. No tour, travelling light.

image.thumb.png.53d2dbf3873c7e75b17131adb3072aab.png

 

Nap time is over!

image.thumb.png.3fee883c6b392e9a05ed5834ebca02c5.png

 

A phone will never replace my cameras but I will always base my future phone purchases on it having a great camera.

 

Dave 

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Solid leak on Pixel 6, phone specs. No hint of pricing but if the leaked specs are right, it looks like cheap is unlikely and the Pro version will likely be up there with the Xperia. As mentioned before, the price is offset a bit by combining the functions of a advanced compact camera, tablet and even a laptop for some applications into a smartphone-sized package, but still...

 

Pixel 6:

• 6.4-inch Samsung-made AMOLED screen
• 8GB RAM
• 128GB/256GB storage
• 8MP front cam
• 50MP (primary) and 12MP (ultra-wide) rear cams
• 4,614 mAh battery


Pixel 6 Pro:

• 6.71-inch LG-made pOLED screen
• 12GB RAM
• 128GB/256GB/512GB storage
• 12MP front cam
• 50MP (primary), 48MP (telephoto), and a 12MP (ultra-wide) rear cams
• 5,000 mAh battery


Both will have a custom Google chipset with support for Wi-Fi 6e and 5G connectivity.

 

It will be at least a couple of months before an official announcement, so I'll keep putting my change into the Mason jar and hope Sony doesn't release an A7IV that can make phone calls.

 

 

Dave

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  • 3 months later...

Well, it's here.

 

Watching the Pixel 6 intro from Google as my phone updates to Android 12. The phone isn't as good as rumored...it may actually be better. With the Pro version, Google is truly a producing a flagship phone with a three-camera module combined with new computational photography functions that look suspiciously like actual magic was used. The detailed explanation of the way their new Tensor system chip was designed and implemented was very impressive. Real-time voice and text messaging translation too.

 

Also, $300 cheaper than the industry predicted. 

 

Now I get to wait two days to see if I need an A74 as well. 

 

Damn (or not) you Google!

Damn (or not) you Sony!

 

Dave

 

 

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So, I did it. 

 

My wife's original Pixel XL (formerly mine) stopped getting updates last year and has started doing random reboots with the battery seldom lasting through the day. Not wanting a grumpy wife with a failing phone was yet another reason to pull the trigger and order the new phone. She will inherit My 4 XL since it is still free from issues and she isn't really a super-user of advanced features. (Maybe I can get her to start taking pictures of her own?) Anyway, I ended up with a black 128G 6 Pro via the Google store since the 256G model was sold out while I was still spamming the buy button and Amazon had stock for about 5 minutes before all that was left were the $1800 units from the inevitable scalpers.

 

They really did a good job on this one. I was on the fence until the specs started seriously leaking about a month ago. More leaks and when I watched the presentation this morning, it cemented the deal. Even the features page is compelling. (Pixel 6 Pro, the most advanced Pixel Camera ever - Google Store). I hate to sound like a salesman, but I really enjoy great tech and like to share fun discoveries. 

 

I know a lot of you use FruitPhones and good on you for it. The v13 is pretty amazing, but is not for me (allergic to Apples). The top end of models in the phone world is a lot like the camera world...it's almost impossible to buy a bad one.

 

I'll post my impressions and a few photos when I get it next week.

 

 

Dave

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Hubby and I upgraded our phones today. I walked out with a Samsung Note20. Just have to learn how to use it. Hubby was going to get one too, but with his poor vision, he opted for the S21 and a Chromebook. Sprint in converting to TMobile and offered us $800 for trade ins, making his phone free and mine cheap. I can't wait to play with the camera because I'm sure it's much better than the Sony Alpha 37 that I can't upgrade unless I find a used body somewhere.

 

Since we only upgrade every few years, we always get sticker shock. He looked at the foldable Samsung, but the $1799 price tag didn't appeal.

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Well, that was quick. Amazon is sold out of the 6 Pro as did the Google store. My hour-long SPAM attack on the buy button last week seems to have paid off since I'm looking at the new slab of glass that I just finished setting up. (Transfer and setup was follow-the-bouncing-ball easy!) Now for the ordeal of entering all the app passwords and enabling the biometrics on each of them. At least I only have to do that every couple of years or so.

 

First impression of the camera is...impressive. I will post more when I get out and about but for now, here is a series taken from a fixed point of view at each of the four optical zoom settings (you can pinch and spread to zoom seamlessly, but there are "buttons" for the 4 base settings): 

 

12MP Ultra-wide - f/2.2 - 14mm equivalent

50MP Wide - f/1.85 - 24mm equivalent

48MP TeleZoom - f/3.5 -  70mm-105mm equivalent

 

Ultra-wide

PXL_20211026_214931513.thumb.jpg.8a6739f2ed927f004c294bd226112b88.jpg

 

Wide

PXL_20211026_214935249.thumb.jpg.c87cdc40b1d19ab9b666cb39cc70697a.jpg

 

70mm-ish

PXL_20211026_214938230.thumb.jpg.799c89c0e5887a7de13f6b2e4945c053.jpg

 

105mm-ish

PXL_20211026_214941329.thumb.jpg.4dd9ed8d24c8a2f570f91de0494e2f8f.jpg

 

And just for grins, here's the view pinched out to the 20x max tele digital zoom. (I missed tapping on the eye and focused on the back frill - rookie error.)

PXL_20211026_222129129.thumb.jpg.22a67b30bbe73052340eaa2404f421b5.jpg

 

EDIT: I couldn't stand it and went out to re-shoot the max zoom:

PXL_20211026_224433799.thumb.jpg.2b2e450e73833ab58aff4748efb47490.jpg

 

 

As for the rest of the whiz-bang features like portrait, motion and the improved night mode, I need to do some serious play-study to see how they perform. I also want to try the tap-to delete for unwanted objects in the revamped editor. 

 

Such fun!

 

 

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by pierces
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A few shots from the week. So far, I'm pretty impressed. 

 

The light was much worse that it looks. Vignette added in phone editor.

185804867_Halloween2021-010637307.thumb.jpg.b549c9eb9051fa78ffefda42c8ff6ec0.jpg

 

The light was nearly non-existent. Ultra-wide 1/7s handheld in Night Mode

1554133264_Halloween2021-015538338-4.thumb.jpg.4b373aea9129ae9303912eef283ab830.jpg

 

The magic eraser isn't as smooth or powerful as the content aware eraser in Photoshop, but for that occasional intrusion into your images, it works quickly and easily

image.thumb.png.e3d134cfa46ed72648f13ef638997943.png

 

Bood balance considering the lighting, or lack thereof. This is a pasted copy which doesn't do justice to the detail in the original. 1/5 sec handheld is nobody's friend.

image.thumb.png.42bc984b25b6b2034144b84d823429fc.png

 

Dave

 

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  • 1 month later...

I have been waffling over this decision for a while and I finally came to a conclusion...

 

I will not be taking a "real" camera on our upcoming 4-day getaway. The fact that we have been to the ports in the itinerary several times and don't expect to even get off the ship was a big factor. With this in mind, I decided to put some faith in the new phone and see what I can do with it as my primary camera. This won't be a farewell to traditional travel photography, but more of a nod to the remarkable advancement in the cameras available in today's high-end phones. 

 

Not what you would call a grand experiment, but it should prove interesting. 

 

Dave

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In 2019, I went on a week-long land trip to Italy including stops in Venice, Florence, and Rome.  I decided to only use my cellphone to take pictures.  The pictures were great.  However, I realized that for me, I didn't enjoy the experience as well as trips shooting with my DSLR/mirrorless camera.

 

This is fully a personal opinion, but for me, there is something about composing my shots looking through the view finder.  Shooting with my phone didn't give me the same feeling of being immersed in the scene.  

 

The plus side was certainly it was easier to slip my phone in my pocket as to slinging my camera over my neck/shoulder.  But I didn't enjoy the process of photography nearly as much.

 

My two cents...

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4 hours ago, JanR said:

In 2019, I went on a week-long land trip to Italy including stops in Venice, Florence, and Rome.  I decided to only use my cellphone to take pictures.  The pictures were great.  However, I realized that for me, I didn't enjoy the experience as well as trips shooting with my DSLR/mirrorless camera.

 

This is fully a personal opinion, but for me, there is something about composing my shots looking through the view finder.  Shooting with my phone didn't give me the same feeling of being immersed in the scene.  

 

The plus side was certainly it was easier to slip my phone in my pocket as to slinging my camera over my neck/shoulder.  But I didn't enjoy the process of photography nearly as much.

 

My two cents...

 

I have a hunch that will be part of my final assessment as well. The new phone takes fantastic photos but close side by side examination still favors the camera (though not a strongly as a few years ago). Beyond that, I also like the experience of using a camera. Composing is a big part of the process and the viewfinder delivers a more "personal" feeling to it. Plus, cameras are just cool!

 

Maybe I'm doing this for the same reason that I still occasionally use a hand saw and plane when working with wood...just to prove to myself that it's me and not the really cool tool that delivers the result. 🙂

 

thanks for the 2¢!

 

 

Dave

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Well, that was less painful than expected. I did have a couple of bad moments when people walked by carrying "real" cameras, but I was able to take a deep breath and stop the shaking.

 

Seriously, it wasn't bad. It was a short 4-day literally to nowhere as we didn't leave the boat either in Catalina or Ensenada. I did some wandering and took some ship shots of the places that have changed during the last drydock and the semi-sunsets presented by a generally cloudy sky. The 18mm-105mm optical range is pretty amazing and the AI's ability to assemble low-light shots out of several images is semi-magical. The resulting images would make good 8x10s and are very good for web display but as expected, the tech to make a tiny phone sensor equal to a full-frame or even a good APS-C camera just isn't there. Having said that, I was very pleased with the fact that some pixel peeping was needed to make that distinction. Since phone images are primarily meant to be displayed on phones and other online devices, I would say that in most travel photography situations, A high-end phone (Expecially the Pixel 6 Pro) is a remarkable tool for capturing travel memories. Versatile, compact and is much better than a camera if you want to call someone. 😉 

 

On our next trip to somewhere with an interesting itinerary, I will be returning to life as a camera-carrying photo nerd but if we start ticking off a few of these local 4-day drive-and-sail getaways, I may just go phone-only again. 

 

Next year's Antarctica trip? Really? You have to ask? 🙂

 

Photos here:

2021-12 Navigator (pptphoto.com)

 

565855688_Navigator2021-12-169.thumb.jpg.089a7449f59da8074103c0b31d752e5c.jpg

 

Dave

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