With more and more of the general public using smartphones to capture their daily life events, just how far can these devices replace conventional compact digital cameras? This page will examines some of the images possible with just a smartphone.

Iphone X Sample Images

 

I recently upgraded my iPhone 8 plus to the iPhone X because of the fact that this new device has dual optically stabilised lenses.

I found the normal x 1 lens on the iPhone 8, which had stabilisation, was a great benefit for video so the fact that the x2 lens was also stabilised was a big bonus to me.

Image quality is excellent. Colours may be a bit vibrant but they can be tamed in post editing if needed.

Here a re a few images taken with the iPhone X just to show how far smartphones have really developed.

Click for larger images.

 

 

Bluetooth Remote Shutter Release

 

For images without camera shake and smoother starts and stops for video recording it is preferable to use some form of remote shutter release on the camera. Some phones allow the use of the call button, or the volume buttons on the headset to fire the shutter or are implemented through a simple bluetooth push button. The pushbutton acts as a one key keyboard in effect sending the right command to the phone or app to release the shutter.

I found this neat device on Amazon which has a circular, removable, clamp which allows you to fit it to a number of handle options.

Here you can see the button mounted on my handle that I use to hold my phone in a camera grip. With a simple thumb press I can start and stop video recording or take a picture/

Review of the OlloClip Core Lens Kit for iPhone7/7plus-8/8plus

The 29mm EFL lens of the 7/8 series iPhone may be too large in some situations where a wider field of view is necessary.

Olloclip do a range of lenses and phone adaptors to enable wide angle, fish eye effect and macro shooting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the retail packaging for the kit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside of the presentation box

 

 

 

 

 

The actual Olloclip components. The two frames one for 7/8 and the other the 7Plus/8Plus

 

The two lenses and the blank plugs if only using one lens.

Firstly the Olloclip Core lens set consists of three parts: the clip, the lenses and a stand.

The clip fits onto the iPhone body (versions for the iPhone 7/8 and 7 Plus/ 8 Plus are included), and two lenses click into place in a cavity in this clip, holding them in place in front of the phone cameras

.One neat trick here is that you can use both the front and back cameras, because the clip can hold one lens on either side of the camera body, over both the front and back cameras. The clip is reversible, too.

The Core Lens Set includes a fish-eye lens and a super-wide lens, both of which increase the viewing angle of the iPhone camera.

The fish-eye lens offers a clean, sharp fish-eye view that covers about 175 degrees.

If you unscrew the front of the fish-eye lens, it becomes a macro lens, offering a 15x magnification on the standard iPhone camera. This combination of camera and macro lens can focus on objects that are between 1 and 2 centimetres (about 0.4 to 0.8 inches) away from the front of the lens, so it can get very close to an object and capture a lot of detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken with the super wide angle lens in front of the rear facin9 29mm EFL lens.

Camera held parallel to wall to prevent converging verticals but some barrel distortion is still evident

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image taken with the fish eye lens attached to the rear 29mm EFL lens. Note my fingers at the extreme right of the image circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

x15 magnification using the fish eye lens with the front element removed

Well we probably know that lenses have to be placed on the lens axis to be most efficient and provide least distortion. Getting this clip to sit exactly on the axis was a bit of a hot and miss affair.

The clip is so tight on the cameras that if you have a glass screen protector fitted which is over 0.5mm thick it is unlikely that you will get the clip to for or when you are sliding this into place you will crack the screen protector at the top slot.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a view of the lens with the front element removed - making it into the macro lens. No alignment marks makes it tricky to get the lens centred over the prime 29mm EFL lens.

The clip is of a hard plastic nature and the two lenses are fixed into the frame on two mounts which pivot in the frame - thus allowing them at align perfectly flat with the front and rear screens. I found it really difficult to get the clip down over the lens area without some fear of it scratching the diamond glass lens cover or the iPhone screen or back glass panel (on the iPhone 8 Plus). One pin is spring loaded and should be placed to the outside edge of the mount - if you fit it the other way round you will need a fine piece of rod (like a toothpick) to be able to reach the pin through the longer side of the clip - A very bad design point here.

 

There is absolutely no way to use the clip without the camera being removed from any protective case that you might have fitted.

So in summary the optical quality may be OK for Instagram/Facebook type images where image quality isn't necessarily the key important factor. For me the image quality loss, the very fiddly nature of fitting the clip and lenses to the clip itself renders the complete kit virtually useless and I will be returning the clip for refund.

iPhone 7/8 and iPhone 7/8 Plus New File Formats

Apple have implemented two new file formats for images and video clips recorded with these cameras, High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF) and High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) are powerful new standards-based technologies for storing and delivering images and audio visual media.

The formats of HEIF and HEVC were developed by MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group), similar to JPEG that developed the JPG format.

Right now there is no way to export a .heic file from the Mac OS Photos app for photos that were uploaded to iCloud from the iOS 11 devices (only standard image formats are offered).

These use HEVC which cuts file size to roughly 50 % with no loss of detail. Standard encoding uses 16x16 macroblock techniques where HEVC can use up to 64x64 resulting in much better edge definition.

Follows on to H.264 and delivers significant compression improvement over H.264.

                              iOS                      macOS
Hardware Decode  A9 Chip              6th Generation Intel Core
Software Decode   All iOS Devices    All Macs

 

When the iPhone is connected to a Windows device the resulting file appears as a JPEG file and this is automatically encoded if the "automatic" feature is set in the Photos app settings.

Currently there is no Windows support for the .heif file type but a new add-in for Windows will allow the opening of the HEIF files.

CopyTrans HEIC for Windows 
Once you have installed the add in for windows explorer the HEIC files will show up if you BROWSE the DCIM folder of the USB connected iPhone if you have selected the Keep Originals in the iPhone Settings, Photos menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the windows explore "view" of the files stored on the iPhone 7. Notice images a .JPG and movies are .MOV type

 

 

 

 

If you have set "Keep Originals" in the setting menu for Photos then the files will appear as .HEIF files and their thumbnail once the Copytrans HEIC add-in has been installed.

 

 

Depending upon which app you use to capture the image you may see the new .heif extension or jpg

Using the Apple camera app gives .heif and apps like messenger use the jpg format.

Programs which import the .heif and convert to a 16bit TIFF image that I have tested are

Photoshop CC2018, DXO Optics Pro9, Affinity Photo 1.6.6

The new format gives 50% smaller file sizes and 16 bit colour but currently Apple do not furnish any of the IOS devices with the facility to WRITE/SAVE to the file type from any of their applications.

HEIF has an added benefit too. It can store groups of images as a single file. This is especially handy for things like burst photos or keeping an edited image and the original in the same file. It's also a natural fit for Live Photos (including the new Live Photo options debuting in iOS 11), which act as one photo in your library, even though they contain multitudes.

iPhone 7 Plus sample images

 

A few sample images from the iPhone 7 Plus  12M image sensor F1.8, fixed aperture and 12M F2.8 fixed aperture

iPhone 6S images

 

Some sample images from the iPhone 6S with the 12M I-sight camera. Most images have been acquired using ISO 25-50 at f2.2

Sony Xperia Z3 Sample Images

Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3
Sony Xperia Z3

A Gallery Of Images from the Sony Xperia Z3