Posted on Dec 22nd, 2020
An open topic debate
During this week I had an interesting debate with a very dear photographer friend of mine. David, this is his name, in a certain sense reproached me for my enthusiasm in pushing smartphone photography with such vigor.
For him I am sending the wrong message, namely that photography is becoming way too simple, that everyone can do it with these devices without great technical difficulties. Furthermore, according to him, there is still an abyss of qualitative difference that leads him not to take this new medium into consideration.
My reaction was to give him an observation and a comparison.
I suggest you to give a look at all the “learning and inspirational” articles I wrote: you can find contents about Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One Pro, photographic techniques and culture:
One of the first real compact camera
In 1914, Oskar Barnack created the first prototype of what would become the Leica rangefinder. Many professional photographers of the time saw that medium as a toy because the very small format of the frame did not allow absolutely the same quality as a large format camera.
Yet that machine opened the doors to photojournalism, to spontaneous stories in the streets, to documentation in areas of war where the photographer with his photographic medium had to be as hidden as possible.
Leica thus created a new standard, 35mm which is still the term we use today when we talk about “full frame” cameras.
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Smartphone photography: a different aesthetic
So what do I mean by my observation? That smartphone photography does not replace the camera. It stands close to. It allows us to take our everyday life with ease. With too much ease? It may be, but we also remember how disposable cameras, which practically did everything themselves, exist from the Kodak N.1 of 1888 (one of the next topics of discussion!)
Surely what we can say is that the smartphone aesthetics are different from that of cameras: the algorithms that automatically work the images return us many times flat images in contrast, very bright, with all the lights well balanced and very saturated colors. It is an aesthetic that manufacturers adopt to make buyers like the photographs taken.
And this is where we can make a difference! Now all smartphones, from Android to Apple can shoot in RAW format. The recent introduction of Apple ProRAW has given a jolt that in my opinion will bring significant benefits for everyone from now on, even for the Android shooters.
The possibility of being able to work with a file and being able to give a different aesthetic, according to your tastes, is what can make smartphone photography even more elevated.
On the one hand, immediacy of the smartphone devices, on the other, personal interpretation of color, contrast, shades, etc.
Start to experiment with the raw file
If you have never used the raw shooting format I suggest you start right away.
On the Android devices you will most likely already find an option in the App of your main camera, otherwise you can use the Lightroom App, which contains a camera that records in Raw format. For this feature, you do not need to activate a subscription, you can use the free version of the App (you just need to register to activate an Adobe free account).
On the Apple side, if you have one of the latest iPhone 12 Pro, you can immediately use the brand new Apple ProRAW format, otherwise, also in this case as for Android, I recommend the Lightroom App or the Halide Camera App (mind that Halide Camera is a subscription App, but it deserve for the extra controls it gives to you).
Which program to use for raw editing on smartphone?
Although there are many applications that allow you to edit raw files, I feel at the moment to suggest the use of Adobe Lightroom.
The reasons are many and I summarize them here: it is a universal app that you can find on Android, iOS, Mac and Windows. You can even use it via the web browser! It has a nice clean interface that I think is quite easy to learn.
It also offers many basic (free) and advanced (but paid for with the subscription) controls.
It is also the most used photo development app in the world and it is therefore easy to find a lot of information material about it online!
In any case, if you are a beginner with Lightroom and you don’t know how to use the development tools, I’m working to help you in this post production process! I’m about to release a series of Presets and actions for Lightroom that allow development of RAW file shot with Smartphone in an easy and fast way!