Are mobile phone images good enough to print yet?

Neil M

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Feb 22, 2016
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Hi all,

I am in the market for a new phone and I love my photography. I currently use micro43 gear which I love and have no intention of giving up but like many I suspect, I would love to have a camera I literally take everywhere and that provides me with enough quality that should I want to print an image every now and again I will be able to without the worry of it turning into a mushy mess.

I have seen reviews and comments about the Huawei Mate 20 pro and their triple lens configuration and largish 1/1.7inch sensor claiming that the image quality is much higher and I assume might be the equivalent of cameras like the Panasonic LX7 from a few years ago?!

I have considered the LX10/15 but given the sensor is even smaller than micro43 and closer to the phone I am wondering if the phone with all its built in software and connectivity will be the better buy especially as it would allow quicker editing and posting of images if needed.

My question is are the images coming out of these new phones good enough to print and frame on the wall? Does anyone here use this phone along side their micro43 gear and happily use both? How large have you printed any images from this phone?

Thanks for your time.
 

wjiang

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They have been good enough for quite a while - in good light. My aged Galaxy S5 takes good enough images in good light that I have no problems printing to A4 size.
Where the newer cameras in phones do better is in lower light conditions.

I would personally not buy a small sensor compact camera any more, unless you need a zoom lens - mobile phones well and truly took over that space when it comes to wider focal lengths.
 

Neil M

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Feb 22, 2016
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They have been good enough for quite a while - in good light. My aged Galaxy S5 takes good enough images in good light that I have no problems printing to A4 size.
Where the newer cameras in phones do better is in lower light conditions.

I would personally not buy a small sensor compact camera any more, unless you need a zoom lens - mobile phones well and truly took over that space when it comes to wider focal lengths.
Thank you wjiang very helpful and much appreciated. I think I have just struggled to get my head around the idea that images coming from phones could be that good and virtually removes the need to opt for something like an RX100 or LX10/15. Interesting times... Many thanks
 

D7k1

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Make sure the one you get can shoot DNG. My Edge S7 prints a great 8 x 10 or 11 x 14. I used to carry a second camera when I was out birding, but for "environmental shots" the Edge does "good enough". There is a "cell phone" image thread somewhere here and it shows a lot of nice images.
 

MadMarco

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Just to add to this, I agree with Wjiang that it's all about the light available. I've got an LG G5 phone which is probably better than average, but not top end like a Pixel 3 for instance. In good light it takes nice photos, indoor under artificial lighting they don't stand up to pixel peeping very well and I suspect they wouldn't print well. My RX100 M3 on the other hand is an amazing piece of kit and I wouldn't be without it.

LG G5 daylight ISO50
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LG G5 indoors ISO1650
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Sony RX100 M3 ISO1600
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Mack

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There is a woman who produced 12 Time magazine cover shots with her iPhone. Seems she retired her big DSLR gear for a cellphone and still getting cover-shot jobs from her Instagram photos.

How One Photographer Shot 12 TIME Covers On Her iPhone

Annie Leibovitz was using an iPhone for some shoots until Google got her to switch to the Pixel 3.

Google got legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz to switch from iPhone to Pixel

Times changing. Maybe Olympus is right to stay with the birders and motorsports for now.
 
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demiro

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Thank you wjiang very helpful and much appreciated. I think I have just struggled to get my head around the idea that images coming from phones could be that good and virtually removes the need to opt for something like an RX100 or LX10/15. Interesting times... Many thanks
I don't think the RX100 falls in to the "replaced by phone" category just yet. A 1" sensor still provides a real advantage imo, though I say that without having used any top-of-the-line phone cams.
 

Neil M

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Feb 22, 2016
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I don't think the RX100 falls in to the "replaced by phone" category just yet. A 1" sensor still provides a real advantage imo, though I say that without having used any top-of-the-line phone cams.
Thanks Demiro, that's where I was I think until very recently but the more images I see taken with the mate 20 pro plus the sheer convenience of having the phone with me all the time and the on board editing options that can be done using LR mobile and the ease of then posting any images makes it hard to justify an additional camera like the rx100 or lx10. Sure I don't disagree if you zoomed in 150% or so you could make a really good case for more dynamic range, more detail retained etc from the 1 inch sensor but I think personally I will give it a try and see how it goes..
 

Martin11er

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I have, somewhat reluctantly, reached the conclusion that my current phone (Samsung Galaxy Note 8) is indeed good enough to replace my Sony RX100V, even though the latter has quite a bit more potential when it comes to image quality. When all is said and done I value convenience more in this case. If a want even better image quality, any of my Olympus cameras will easily deliver that. But for me it is not worth it to carry both phone and compact one inch camera. I do find it harder to feel inspired when shooting with the phone though. But that could change in time. And yes, phone images taken under sufficient light conditions print really well at normal sizes.
 
D

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I've been printing cell phone images since my Motorola Droid X2 days. Admittedly the size has been only 4x6 or 5x7 max back then...but you can go bigger and have now. I started taking the cellphone cameras seriously when I got the Google Nexus 6P. Since then it has only gotten better.

Actually, right now, I've got 2 prints from my Yashica Y35 (which has a cell phone sized sensor in it) on my cubicle wall at 5x5. Right next to m43 PEN-F images and Nikon Df images. No one can tell the difference.
 

ac12

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The only issue that I have with phones is the battery.
If it is your only camera, and you shoot a LOT, and often send them to your social media sites, you could drain the phone battery . . . in the middle of the day. I saw that happen on my last vacation.
Unlike the old phones and compact cameras, you cannot just swap in a new battery and keep going. You either stop shooting, or you leash to a USB power pack to keep the phone live for the rest of the day.
 

demiro

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Thanks Demiro, that's where I was I think until very recently but the more images I see taken with the mate 20 pro plus the sheer convenience of having the phone with me all the time and the on board editing options that can be done using LR mobile and the ease of then posting any images makes it hard to justify an additional camera like the rx100 or lx10. Sure I don't disagree if you zoomed in 150% or so you could make a really good case for more dynamic range, more detail retained etc from the 1 inch sensor but I think personally I will give it a try and see how it goes..
Neil, I will be very curious to hear how this goes for you. The on board editing is a great point. I'm not a hardcore PP guy. I find myself way more likely to tweak images on my phone, either immediately when I take them or when I have downtime throughout the day, vs sitting down for an editing session on my laptop.
 

Neil M

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Neil, I will be very curious to hear how this goes for you. The on board editing is a great point. I'm not a hardcore PP guy. I find myself way more likely to tweak images on my phone, either immediately when I take them or when I have downtime throughout the day, vs sitting down for an editing session on my laptop.
Demiro, just came across this info and video.. quite remarkable in my humble opinion..

See how an iphone XS compares to a professional camera for landscape photography - Arising Images

 

Tywais

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It can be frustrating when your phone seems to be on par with ones expensive kit. From my LG G2 phone which is several generations old and 13Mp sensor. But again, lighting must be good as it deteriorates rapidly when getting dark.

I've been considering upgrading my phone for one with more high tech camera but every time someone oohs and ahhs when I show them a photo I don't see the point. lol This could easily print A4 and larger. Even the bokeh is good.
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exakta

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The movie Unsane released in 2018 was shot entirely with an iPhone. OK, I'm sure a lot of peripheral accesories were used, but still it was all done on that tiny sensor and filled up movie screens.


I've also seen plenty of arty shot Apple street adverts over the years. I would suspect many used peripherals and expert PP but they looked spectacular.
 
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Last year on a Mediterranean trip a chap I got into conversation with noted that I had “an eye for photography.”

After I finished laughing... mostly because he thought I had an eye for my hobby, but also i chuckled inwardly because this was coming from a guy who was shooting with an iPhone only.

We got to conversing over the remainder of the trip and the short of it was... he was a professional photographer who normally shoots medium format but had decided he wasn’t going to be burdened with any weight on this trip and was going mobile only. When I heard that I stopped chuckling inside at his previous ‘my eye’ comment... (hey, maybe there was hope for me after all)... especially after he showed me a few shots he had taken at Lake Bled, and shots both inside and outside buildings elsewhere on the trip. Now this was a guy with an “eye!”

So, I suspect next trip I will be toting something a little more modern than my iPhone 4 as my pocket camera! :cautious:

There are also apps available that can take your photos and blow them up, using algorithms to ensure pixelation is kept to a minimum. Alien Skin’s BlowUp has very good reviews. AS usually has 30 day trials for their software, at least they do for my fav, Exposure4.5. Might be worth a try.
 
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