Social picture sharing and camera companies

WT21

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warning -- long post

The process of social sharing on a Panasonic G85
I have been thinking a lot about social picture sharing. So I decided to try it on my G85. If anyone knows better than me, please let me know if I'm doing this wrong.

I took pictures of my teenagers while we were traveling. During a break at a cafe, I decided to send the pics to each of them, as we were comparing and sharing pics from our phones. Because I shot in RAW, here's the workflow:

  1. Put my phone down and get out my camera and turn it on
  2. Find the pic in playback
  3. Go into the playback menu and enter RAW processing (page 1 of 5 in the menus)
  4. Make adjustments as needed (in this case, lightening the shadows)
  5. Press the wifi button
  6. Get into camera and launch the Panasonic app (if you are on a different wifi, then you have to select the cameras wifi -- in this case I was in a public cafe on 3G, and because I had connected to my camera previously, it just grabbed that wifi)
  7. go into app and find the pic I want and transfer to phone
  8. Crop in phone (there is no crop in the G85 RAW processing)
  9. Share pics to kids (and spouse)
After reading about this Zeiss (Video: Zeiss shows hands-on footage of its ZX1 camera with Lightroom integration) with LR CC built in and a big touch screen, something occurred to me.

Smart Phones threaten cameras
It is often said that cell phones have gutted the compact camera market (clearly) and a number of folks say "m43 is next" but I don't think so. That is, it's not just m43. It's not at all about sensor size or high ISO. I think camera phones -- especially more and more with portrait modes and the incoming triple-lens combo (Huawei P20 Pro hands-on: 3x zoom lens leaves the competition behind) -- threaten to gut all cameras (or nearly all cameras). It's not at all about sensor size, it's about use case, and I think social sharing is THE ONE use case that camera makers are missing.

Distinctives of stand-alone cameras
First -- what can cameras do for a typical consumer, that cell phones can't (this is not a comprehensive list, and there are certainly niche cases that cameras do a lot better -- macro for instance).
  • Image quality (specifically: sharp, noise free, low artifacts, good color)
  • Telephoto
  • Superwide
  • Blurred backgrounds
  • C-AF
All of these items, to some extent, phone companies are furiously pouring in R&D dollars to improve, and they have a LOT more R&D dollars to spend than Camera makers have, because the upside market is a lot bigger. Make no mistake, if a phone maker can eliminate your need for a camera, then the money you would have spent on a camera + phone can be put just into your phone, allowing them to charge more (this is more history than forward looking, as this has already happened).

There are still some areas that a camera does a lot better than a phone that a phone isn't really close to touching, and that's mostly pictures in dim lighting, telephoto and C-AF in telephoto. Oh, and also IQ that can withstand large printing.

But what does a phone do better than a camera?
  • Social sharing
And has been seen, social sharing trumps almost everything else.

Recent Experience with Social shooting
I was at a party recently, and brought my G85 + PL15, but ended up taking no pictures. Why? For a couple of reasons:
  • I just felt like a dinosaur. Literally NO ONE else had a camera. Everyone else was using cell phones.
  • People would take pictures, and then instantly send them to their friend(s). My option was to take a picture and then "get back to you" later and, in my experience, no one cares about them later. For instance, a group of friends might want a group shot they all see/share right there together. Not each individually getting a picture that they see back in their homes, by themselves, the next day.
I ended up not using my camera (and used my phone instead) because I could share the pictures I took. Could I take better pics with my PL15? Sure. But I wouldn't be able to share them in a timely manner, and prove it (if someone could see the pic they took with their phone and my pic that I just sent them, that would justify me pulling out this archaic camera body).

So, what's my point here?
If I was a camera manufacturer, I would for SURE be working on better social sharing, which would include:
  1. A better phone app experience. The Panasonic app has way too much crammed in there, including remote control, time lapse, etc. Often, I had to force close the Panasonic app and relaunch it just to get back to the download screen because I got stuck on remote control of the camera. They should make a social/edit app just for sharing, and leave out everything else (that is, put remote camera control, time-lapse and other things into it's own app).
  2. Better editing -- one of the powers of a camera is raw shooting, so I can recover my shadows, highlights, adjust color, etc. I would like to send the RAW to my phone and develop it there OR I would like a larger screen like the Zeiss so I can edit it more easily on my camera AND/OR can I at least get in-camera crop control? btw - the G85 touch screen controls for editing are great. It's just the LCD is too small to be workable.
  3. Add cell capabilities -- even my old Amazon Kindle (version 2) has 3G capabilities for data download. You can add an iPad to Verizon for something like $10/month (+data use). I'd do that, if there was a way to upload pictures from my camera directly to a service of my choice, where I could edit or pull down to my phone.
  4. Better battery life -- all this stuff will further eat batteries. Yes, I want a small camera, but you need more juice to support social sharing.
I think better social sharing functions could really enable us enthusiasts to better show off what we can do with a real camera, if they could give us easier social sharing.

Am I missing the mark here? Is there a better way to do social sharing already? Would love to hear what others are doing, or are you, too, finding you just use your phone instead, because it's a lot easier to share images with others?

edit -- I'm not trying to start a "doom and gloom" thread. I'm not predicting the demise of anything. I'm not trying to forecast market segments. I'm a) calling out a missing feature on most cameras, and b) I'm asking if anyone has found an easier way to social share pics from cameras.
 
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Mike Wingate

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Well this modern digital stuff is still faster than when using film. The trouble with technology is that it gives us more options, some useful, some not so.
 

Christop82

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I've found that when I'm in a situation like you described that I basically only take candid photos and leave the selfy shots to the smartphones. There are also times when I didn't use the camera I had brought for similar reasons.
I try to view it as a hobby that I enjoy regardless of the fact that a phone image may be just as good, or better in some cases.
 

RichDesmond

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I think you're exactly right, better integration of social media sharing is essential if cameras are going to continue to exist as anything more than a very tiny niche market.
And I say that as someone who has NO social media accounts. :)
 

archaeopteryx

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Am I missing the mark here?
As you've pointed out, no one cares about the images later. So it might be important to articulate the value proposition for using a separate and comparatively large rig to produce higher quality in an image which will typically be viewed briefly and casually on a phone screen.
 
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One change you might want to try in that workflow....

Get the RAW over to your smartphone to do the editing; bigger screen, better interface, more powerful processor, and much more choice when it comes the type of editing you can do.

What you really want is the ability to have the pics constantly syncing to your phone as you take them. Biggest issue there is the impact on battery life for both devices.
 

WT21

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One change you might want to try in that workflow....

Get the RAW over to your smartphone to do the editing; bigger screen, better interface, more powerful processor, and much more choice when it comes the type of editing you can do.

What you really want is the ability to have the pics constantly syncing to your phone as you take them. Biggest issue there is the impact on battery life for both devices.

The panasonic app won't transfer the RAW :( has to be jpg. But I agree with your sentiment!
 
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The panasonic app won't transfer the RAW :( has to be jpg. But I agree with your sentiment!

Perhaps this thread should be shared with some Panasonic Ambassadors. It's the kind of thing the Pro level Ambassadors probably don't consider important, but the masses certainly might.
 

DanS

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warning -- long post

The process of social sharing on a Panasonic G85
I have been thinking a lot about social picture sharing. So I decided to try it on my G85. If anyone knows better than me, please let me know if I'm doing this wrong.

I took pictures of my teenagers while we were traveling. During a break at a cafe, I decided to send the pics to each of them, as we were comparing and sharing pics from our phones. Because I shot in RAW, here's the workflow:

  1. Put my phone down and get out my camera and turn it on
  2. Find the pic in playback
  3. Go into the playback menu and enter RAW processing (page 1 of 5 in the menus)
  4. Make adjustments as needed (in this case, lightening the shadows)
  5. Press the wifi button
  6. Get into camera and launch the Panasonic app (if you are on a different wifi, then you have to select the cameras wifi -- in this case I was in a public cafe on 3G, and because I had connected to my camera previously, it just grabbed that wifi)
  7. go into app and find the pic I want and transfer to phone
  8. Crop in phone (there is no crop in the G85 RAW processing)
  9. Share pics to kids (and spouse)
It won't work with raw files, but if you shoot raw and jpeg, you can have your camera sync the jpegs to your phone while you're shooting them.You can set what size file gets synced over, to save time and space as 16mp and 20mp images aren't really needed for social sharing. You can then edit the images with whatever software is on your phone.
 
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WT21

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if you shoot raw and jpeg, you can have your camera sync the jpegs to your phone while you're shooting them.You can set what size file gets synced over

Are you suggesting this is available on the G85 + Panasonic app, or are you just talking about that the technology is available generally?
 

John M Flores

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I share when on assignment. I shoot RAW + JPEG and transfer the JPGs via the (yes, it’s flaky) Panasonic app to my phone where I Snapseed and share.

In social situations where I am “competingl with phones, I’ll do things they can’t do, i.e., low light, long focal lengths, etc...

But most importantly, I try to be a better photographer and get shots that lesser photographers with who-cares-what-they-are-using can’t imagine or capture.
 

WT21

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But most importantly, I try to be a better photographer and get shots that lesser photographers with who-cares-what-they-are-using can’t imagine or capture.

Good reminder John. I was trying to use my m43 gear more consciously this holiday month, but you are right -- get a better pic, and the equipment is not as important.
 
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If I'm shooting in social situation with my camera, I'm shooting JPG...so I would build a JPG profile in camera, shoot RAW+jpg and then just share out the JPG files - process the RAW later if need be.

Honestly, I think too much import is put to having selfies and images a split second after something happens at my sister in laws, husbands, brothers, work cookout.

Also - stop caring about what others think and do what it is you love. Taking image gets you an end result (image) but for me and I'm sure a lot of us, the process of capturing something worth while is worth having an actual camera. Not to mention that half way through the party or event, most people who are using camera phone are looking for an outlet or have a travel battery to plug their phone into. Dedicated cameras have less of that to worry about.

I do agree that it would be nice to have some more immediate way of getting an image or 2 off the camera. Nikon's Snapbridge is not as horrible now as it used to be. It does however, still chew through both the camera and the phone battery so in that way it is still a downer...but when connected, you can pull images very quickly.
 
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DanS

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I shoot RAW + JPEG and transfer the JPGs via the (yes, it’s flaky) Panasonic app to my phone where I Snapseed and share.

I'm not so sure its the app that's flaky as much as it is the mobile devises OS. every time android updates Bluetooth with my car goes to hell. for example with one version Pandora can communicate what song/band is playing and how far through the song it is, and with another you get nothing more than the actual song playing. I've seen similar ridiculousness with the image app.
 

WT21

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Tests have shown color gamuts and contrast of their displays to be all over the place, even within various samples of the same model...



Hopefully, some of this is of help.

Great info. Thanks.

I agree on color, etc. but I have a pretty good feel for contrast, and I just want to be able to life shadows, lower highlights or adjust overall exposure in stops. That would be helpful (i.e. lift shadows one stop) before turning into jpg.

Mostly I want to text the images to folks because a) it's easier to share with a group if they all are looking at their own screens than crowded around one and b) people want to keep these pictures, not just see them on FB or Flickr (at least in my circles). When I take phone cam images, I get a lot of "send me that one" and what they mean is text it to me right now. I'd like a quicker workflow from my camera to do that.

Some good info in this thread so far.
 

John M Flores

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Hi! I am not sure about the validity of editing raw images in camera or on a phone. Tests have shown color gamuts and contrast of their displays to be all over the place, even within various samples of the same model. So it is a bit of working in the dark even if it were possible. I think I would be more confident with the camera's jpegs with possibly some tweaked picture profiles.

So... for jpegs I find the workflow in Lumix cameras to be pretty reasonable. You can upload to the phone, or if you have access to a WAP, directly to Flckr, Google, or YouTube. It would be nice for Panasonic to expand their WAP support though. I am a ComCast Xfinity customer, and Xfinity AP's are almost always nearby, but for the life of me I have never been able to figure out how to connect with one. If they could support that I wouldn't have to mess with my phone nearly as much.

It would also be nice to have the camera be able to use the phones internet connection to upload directly to Flckr or YouTube... but you can sync the image directory to Google Photos or iCloud and have the phone upload those as soon as they are written to the device. This is the workflow I use most often (sharing the files from Google Photos). Google gives me anything from a url to share images/albums to anyone, or user based permissions.

Now I don't do Twitter or FB (yeech), but IIRC there is a Lumix Club web service for Twitter. I have no idea how (well) it works, but if you want to post to Twitter it may be worth checking it out.

Hopefully, some of this is of help.

I prefer editing on a phone because of app support (like Snapseed) and larger, higher resolution screens.
 

WT21

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Lumix cameras give you a tremendous amount of control here. I assign Shadow/Hilights to the top dials via a function button, and adjust before the shot. You'll always have the raw to fall back on later. While I mostly use this for run and gun video I don't want to edit/grade, it could easily apply to jpegs. I also mod my picture profiles to fit various conditions and can bring them up fast via another function button or Q menu.


Once the picts are on the phone (and you can set up the Image app to transfer while you shoot), you can text from the Image app (or any gallery type app).


But even my 6 inch phone (which I rarely carry) pales in detail compared with looking through the G85/G9 viewfinders. So my point is use the camera's adjustments to get the look you want before the shot. It is one of the major advantages of mirrorless.

Granted it does not give you the hindsight of RAW plus post, but if your looking to quicken the workflow, I think you'll be surprised how much you can tailor the final output before the shot, given all the in camera adjustments Lumix cameras provide.

Hmmm...This sounds like a lot of WF adjustments, including re-assigning how all my buttons are setup on my G85 and becoming a jpg shooter. I get what you are saying, but not sure I'm ready to commit to reworking everything. I can just keep using my iPhone for these kinds of pics. My point being -- the camera companies could make it easier. If they don't want to, then they miss a use-case, and the use of the phone continues.
 
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djtaylor7

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The leaked pictures of the E-M1X had what looked suspiciously like a "Share" symbol, so perhaps Olympus are listening. They introduced Bluetooth on the E-PL9, which must be a better connection method for image sharing, as it can be always on.
 

DanS

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the camera companies could make it easier. If they don't want to, then they miss a use-case, and the use of the phone continues.

Its a catch 22 for them though because people keep demanding smaller and cheaper. adding more connectivity options will drive up cost. Right now almost all cameras are using low power low throughput and thus cheap tech. The size of the camera would have to increase as well, as more capable tech is larger, generates more heat, and sucks more power.
 
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