How do you feel about the future of photography?

Kiwi Paul

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There's been a lot of talk recently about cellphones replacing cameras, especially now computational photography is getting more sophisticated.
Computational photography can do things that previously had to be done in camera.
For example say you take a photo with your f1.2 lens to get a very shallow DOF, then your mate takes the same photo with an f4 lens and uses computational processing to simulate f1.2. Lets suppose in this example the computational bit is so good you can't really tell the difference.
Do you think this makes photography less appealing for the enthusiast, as you use to have the equipment and skills to produce a certain effect etc but now anyone can achieve it with a keystroke more or less.
Does this seem like "cheating", does it matter how the final image is produced as long as it looks good?

Of course nothing will stand in the way of technology so things will keep progressing that's just a fact so no point in being aggrieved about it, but I can't help feeling a little bit disappointed what was once the realm of enthusiasts and pro's is now in the hands of any Joe Blogs.
 

WNG

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There's been a lot of talk recently about cellphones replacing cameras, especially now computational photography is getting more sophisticated.
Computational photography can do things that previously had to be done in camera.
For example say you take a photo with your f1.2 lens to get a very shallow DOF, then your mate takes the same photo with an f4 lens and uses computational processing to simulate f1.2. Lets suppose in this example the computational bit is so good you can't really tell the difference.
Do you think this makes photography less appealing for the enthusiast, as you use to have the equipment and skills to produce a certain effect etc but now anyone can achieve it with a keystroke more or less.
Does this seem like "cheating", does it matter how the final image is produced as long as it looks good?

Of course nothing will stand in the way of technology so things will keep progressing that's just a fact so no point in being aggrieved about it, but I can't help feeling a little bit disappointed what was once the realm of enthusiasts and pro's is now in the hands of any Joe Blogs.
Such offerings and capabilities will be appealing to some, and not to others.
Has microwave ovens cause people to end preparing meals the traditional methods of cooking? No.
Have automatic transmissions replaced manual gearboxes for everyone? Not for the avid enthusiasts. (Perhaps EVs will eventually bring about the demise of the manual transmission for us gearheads.)

Computational photography can't replace the light gathering properties of a f/1.0-1.4 lens in light challenged scenes. If you have movement and the shutter speeds must be high, a smartphone can't reproduce such results, even with stacking.
If you've seen the results of the bokeh from these latest phones, you'll see they have a long way to go before it looks correct.
 
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pellicle

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Firstly, to answer the question in the title:



Computational photography can do things that previously had to be done in camera.
its not there yet, but for sure ... one day

For example say you take a photo with your f1.2 lens to get a very shallow DOF, then your mate takes the same photo with an f4 lens and uses computational processing to simulate f1.2. Lets suppose in this example the computational bit is so good you can't really tell the difference.
Do you think this makes photography less appealing for the enthusiast
how can it? (unless by enthusiast you mean someone who dribbles about gear but seldom takes pictures anyone gets excited about)



as you use to have the equipment and skills to produce a certain effect etc but now anyone can achieve it with a keystroke more or less.
well I wonder how much time you've invested in your skills? For myself I can say its been an ongoing learning process since I started developing film in 1975 (I was a kid). Since then I've progressed from an old Agfa 35mm camera through to 4x5 sheet and learned quite a lot about contact printing and alternative process.

Then I learned (in parallel) about scanning and what we once called "the light room" (later stolen as a term by a software company and its meaning cleansed and retasked)

Then I learned about the various software systems (such as photoshop, raw processing .... too many to list.

I guess that what I'm saying is that as technology moves on one needs to update skills and accept that old skills may be of less value and accept that loss.

Does this seem like "cheating"
no more than me hiring a bobcat to drill some holes for the foundation of my shed rather than digging it myself with a shovel ... in 38C heat ...

does it matter how the final image is produced as long as it looks good?
as you may have guessed, my answer is no.

what was once the realm of enthusiasts and pro's is now in the hands of any Joe Blogs.
smacks a little of the sort of superiority which (say) medicos have when they say "trust me I'm a doctor". The reality is that composition and creativity are what its all about.

Have you ever read the century old discussion that photography is robbing "talented painters" of art?

a 4x5 I developed in my bathroom in BTZS tubes when I lived in Finland 10 years back

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I think it'll be a long time before phones offer this
 
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bdbits

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There are pluses and minuses as with any technology. I do not believe computationally-induced effects will completely replace optical, just as I don't think movies will be completely computer generated and not require actors or filming. At least not in my lifetime.

I think camera makers - including Sony - have generally missed opportunities by ignoring the possibilities of integrating modern technology into cameras. Part of the appeal of smartphones-as-cameras is the simplicity of dealing with the image after it has been captured. Snap your pic, maybe apply a small edit (or ubiquitous filters) and off to some sharing platform it goes. If they were to offer say some limited processing and _easy_ uploading to popular services, it would go a long way to making it more appealing to consumers. And stop requiring a smartphone, that just complicates everything. Sony should have created an open app store instead of the closed system they had, but that ship has unfortunately sailed.
 

Tipton

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I can take pretty good photos with my cellphone because of my understanding of composition, except when I need shallow depth of field or I want to print large.

I almost never use my phone to take photos. Not even for the stuff I post to social media.
 

serhan

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I guess eventually we will have digital lens simulations like the film simulations we have:)

Canon is feeling the blues already...
Canon CEO thinks the digital camera market will shrink further the next two years until we finally hit the bottom - mirrorlessrumors

"Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai released some interesting info in a recent interview with Nikkei:
1) Canon will shift the camera business’s focus to corporate customers
2) The market for digital cameras could shrink to about half in the next two years.

3) Our company cameras have declined at around 10% a year (sales volume) in the past few years (combined with single lens reflex and mirrorless) The world market for interchangeable lens cameras is around 10 million, but decreased
4) The mirrorless product is growing, but it is a replacement with a single lens reflex, it is not adding to the market as a whole “
5) People usually shoot with smartphones.The digital camera market will keep falling for about 2 years, but professional and high amateur (advanced) amateurs use about 5 to 6 million units. Finally there it will hit the bottom."
 

davect01

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1- Yes, cell phones keep getting better and better and I always have mine with me with the added advantage of instant sharing. The entry-level camera market will continue to diminish. Almost no one has point and shoots anymore. We have a couple lying around that have not been touched in years now.

There will always be a place for a higher end camera. Zooming, Macro, etc, etc will always be better on real cameras.

2- Good photography is still a skill. Regardless of what you are using to shoot, the principles of photography will set you apart. I have seen DSLR owners who create images that look like they are from a cell phone and I have seen cell phone owners who create quite compelling images.
 

TonyTurley

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A cell phone will never replace a proper camera for me, no matter how advanced they may be. I enjoy the act of composing an image and working out the exposure I want for myself. I'd say forums like this exist because there a lot of other people out there of a similar mind set.
 

WoodWorks

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A cell phone will never replace a proper camera for me, no matter how advanced they may be. I enjoy the act of composing an image and working out the exposure I want for myself.
:hmmm: I enjoy the act of composing and working out the exposure I want with my cell phone just the same as I do with my Sony gear. There are plenty of photo apps that allow me to adjust ISO, exposure, focal point, white balance, etc. before I click the shutter. Where phone cameras still fall short is in detail and noise. But I suspect that it won't be long before even those shortcomings are eliminated.
 

Petrochemist

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A cell phone will never replace a proper camera for me, no matter how advanced they may be. I enjoy the act of composing an image and working out the exposure I want for myself. I'd say forums like this exist because there a lot of other people out there of a similar mind set.
Very definitely.
Indeed changing lenses is another bit I find necessary to keep photography interesting.
When first switching to Digital in the very late 1990's I went with point & shoot cameras. It wasn't long before I pretty much stopped taking photos! Since getting a DSLR (back in 2010) photography has become my major use of free time.

If all camera manufacturers decided to stop tomorrow & give over the market to phones, I'd probably still be using my existing kit until old age removes all mobility from me. (probably still buy more vintage lenses etc too)
 
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chalkdust

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Wait. I can take a picture with my phone?? When did that start? (Obviously I have little of worth to add to this discussion, except:) I think it is a very good question for each artist to ask and answer for himself and herself. Ultimately it is all about expression of vision.
 

bdbits

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You can pry my camera/lenses from my cold, dead hands. Might need to check the bag, too.
 

pellicle

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In case it wasn't obvious from my earlier reply while I embrace the changes that are occuring I feel its impossible for any computational photographic system with a small sensor (or indeed any sensor) has yet enabled photography to replace rather than simply supplement film and the creative potentials of old film cameras.

In the above image the DoF control afforded by 4x5 sheet allowed me to do things with focus that would be impossible with any smaller format, further this was enabled by the simplicity of having the lens unconnected to the film. I feel (having used LF for around 20 years) that this single issue is totally lost on photographers who may have interchangeable lenses (gosh) but those lenses are rigidly attached at 90deg to the focal plan in the vast majority of cases.

Then glance at the outlines of the sun and the way it shone the clouds ... with any digital that would be a blob of overexposed area containing no details. Indeed I'd argue that the lack of actual control in (if I may say) all modern cameras (lets leave the few TS and LensBaby's out of this) paves the way for people to think that there is no difference between a creative camera (now somehow called "Pro" as if being a "working girl" makes you a master of anything) and a snapshot camera aside from merely megapixels.

So I argue we have already lost so much, perhaps in reality more creative potential than we have gained.

Here's another one which might be able to be done on a modern camera if you had simply a tilt shift lens.
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Nezu Jinja - Tokyo - 2000 (when I lived in Bunkyoku)

For those who love fiddling with lens changes, I encourage you to try 4x5, so you can also fiddle with front and back standards, full tilt, swivel and swings and then struggle with your sheet film holders and dark slides.

Then go home and process that, making no mistakes at all in case that one or two exposures you made which were "perfect" were not destroyed by your failure in the darkroom.

However if digital (or even Phones) ever gets me to be able to compose and control the viewer as I did in the above I'll happily embrace it ;-)
 
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WoodWorks

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You may want to believe that a film camera can give you more dynamic range than a digital camera, @pellicle. But the truth is that even 4x5 film can't match the dynamic range of the sensors in some modern FF digital cameras. This article is now almost 5 years old, but even then, film had already lost that battle.

Now, I agree that phone camera sensors have a ways to go yet in that regard. But the latest iOS and Android phones have built-in HDR capacity that can take multiple exposures in an instant, and which yield surprisingly well-exposed images in difficult lighting conditions. And with advances in technology, the gap will certainly only decrease.

I'm also an old fart who started with film — a Kodak Brownie passed down to me by my older brother. But I enjoy shooting with my phone, and it's almost always with me. It has two separate cameras built-in, with two separate focal length lenses. And I can augment these focal lengths with a couple of high-quality lenses (that live in a tiny pouch that fits in my pocket) that attach to my phone with a quarter twist mount. So I'm covered for equivalent fields of view from fish-eye to 52mm, with 12MP-size results.

Yes, my A7RII spanks the phone hard when I compare images taken at the same time. And when I really care about getting the best possible image, I am of course not going to use my phone. But the fact is that I have taken many photos with my phone that delight me, even from a technical stand point. No, I'm not going to go out and shoot BIF with my phone. But I have little doubt that Ansel Adams would have had a blast shooting with a phone, had he the opportunity to do so. And like me, he probably would have scratched his head at the aversion some of us have to using modern tools when they suit the job at hand.
 

fractal

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First shot with the a6000 + sigma 16mm @ f/3.2 ISO 400. Shot in RAW, edited in LR next day.

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Next shot - Google Pixel 2 using "Night Sight" (multiple exposures blending automatically). f/1.8 ISO 68 (?) Unedited - available to share in 3 seconds.

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Both handheld.
 

fractal

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Info on Google's "night sight". I've been astonished how well it works - blowing the doors of the Iphone's similar function. But we all know in 1-2 years all the top phone cameras will have it or something similar. I no longer bring my "real" camera for inside events or casual family gathering I want to document.

Google’s Night Sight for Pixel phones will amaze you

 

pellicle

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Hi

your reply seems somewhat "passionate" ... I'm sorry if I upset you.

You may want to believe that a film camera can give you more dynamic range than a digital camera...
actually I simply evaluate evidence. Two Undergraduate degrees and a Masters have taught me that the truth lies in:

Nullius in verba (Latin for "on the word of no one" or "take nobody's word for it") is the motto of the Royal Society.

Its interesting that you sidestep the main thrust of my above post (which was focal plane control) and zero in on one point which was the old "film vs digital" ... something which I have in my mind settled by simply using both (with Digital being 99% of the volume of my images but yet being about 80% of the printers).

Interestingly the article you cite for "proof" that Digital has a higher dynamic range than Film has a title:
Film vs. Digital: A Comparison of the Advantages and Disadvantages

I note an absence of discussion in that about the advantages of film. Reading that you can see that there is no actual demonstration of how digital is superior in capturing higher dynamic range only references to other sources. Indeed Roger (whom I've communicated with back in the 2000's as he too is a 4x5 shooter) makes a few caveats in his points and a detail that they gloss over with the careful wording of:

Independent testing of dynamic range on film cameras, such as the tests conducted by Roger N. Clark, showed that high-end digital cameras in 2005 began to show “huge dynamic range compared to [scans of] either print or slide film”.​

and there in lies the rub ... scans of ... the scanner operator is paramount in this. For instance on a blog post of mine (here) I have this image which demonstrates the difference between approaches to scanning:
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You will note that aside from just asserting something I've submitted a photograph demonstrating something (and didn't even really expect that to open up a debate on the subject).

I think its well understood that when it come to "shoulder" that while Negative Black and White film is highly non linear (which of course sensors are exactly linear in recording) and able to gracefully record super highlights that are beyond the grasp of digital as yet, although Panasonic is developing a sensor which will likely triumph (see here).

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I've also used the Fuji Super CCD which sadly got lost because folks were focused on Megapixels not DR and my experience with that sensor (which had a similar strategy) was it was stellar. It was no wonder that in its day it was loved by wedding photographers.

Now, I agree that phone camera sensors have a ways to go yet in that regard. But the latest iOS and Android phones have built-in HDR capacity that can take multiple exposures in
you seem to have ignored that I in my first post defeneded phones and defended the notion of technology having advanced and continuing to advance ... and like I said "one day". I like you use an Android phone and its fair to say that it now represents (by volume) probably 70% or more of my photographs, sometimes good ones (although that depends on personal taste. From my phone:

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My point was to know ones tools and to use what you can and get what you can out of them. As I said in my first post, I'm not gloomy about the future of photography, I embrace it. But I do so in as best as full knowledge as I can and continue testing my gear as I get new stuff.

Indeed I'm of the view that my new (to me) A7 (mk1) has an amazing dynamic range, and approaches what one could get with Colour Negative. If I still had my Nikon LS4000 film scanner I'd probably go out and test that. But sadly I sold it when moving a while back.

Ultimately right now, the A7 is my best camera (but by no means my only one), my 4x5 remains in packing because I've just not simply had time to set up a dark room (for film processing) here in my new home.

I don't ask you to "believe me" (nullius in verba right) I just ask that, if you have a view, you can furnish something to support it. For instance a shot with the sun, with some whispy clouds AND the foreground all in the same exposure as I did above.
 
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JonathanF2

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I'm not worried about computational photography, it's all about glass and that's one area no amount of software can emulate.
 

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