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    iPhone X(S)(R)(MAX)
    #1
    Rockin the Boat
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    Computational image acquisition is marching apace. Both stills and video. I hate to say it, but unless dedicated cameras catch up with this new techology, they'll start falling behind. Thoughts?


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    I don't think it will fall behind because it lacks those kinds of algorithms/AI/Computational etc. Why? Because in photography and video for professional use there is a bigger emphasis on "pure/clean" images rather than half-assed compromises, and the work flow usually requires some handiwork anyways like removing blemishes, dirt, etc... That said some of the pro-cameras have built in HDR-stacking, pixel shift, but I think most people still do those things manually if the plan is to get "the best picture".

    There are several cameras that have had stuff like pixel shift, HDR from RED's by mixing the 1/48th shutter picture with a quick 1/1000th etc... None of them have been game changers, but mostly been of the sorts: "I can only get reliable and good results if these very specific variables are OK" (usually scenes with limited movement, i.e. still life).

    Phones on the other hand are much more for pictures that needs to be uploaded right away, i.e. no time or space to edit and fine tune.

    Might be different for newspapers that need good pictures fast, but then the pro-cameras have plenty of DR around 12-14 stops, I don't know what normal phones have, but I would guess 10-11-ish without AIs, so they could benefit from a boost on 2-3 stops...

    Also, MARKETING, there is no longer much sense in saying this phone has 20mp when others have 40mp, etc. So what is then the next selling point, low light and HDR since HDR is the new 3D. Everybody is getting HDR TVs, then everybody wants something to create HDR with...
    Last edited by High1ander; 09-12-2018 at 05:52 PM.


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    Senior Member Thomas Smet's Avatar
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    The day technology overtakes raw talent and professionalism is the day I hope I'm six feet under.


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    Yeah, that's been the general consensus since cellphone cameras started getting serious. BUT. At some point, the tech becomes so advanced that the only thing left to differentiate is the talent of the operator. In the same way that despite the m4/3 chips being much smaller than FF, they are at this point sophisticated enough technically that the advantage of it being FF has really diminished on purely technical grounds for the human eye (i.e. not pointless pixel peeping). And that's the issue - at some point, the tech becomes so sophisticated that you really DON'T need a big dedicated camera to shoot most commercial stuff, whether stills or even video. We're not there yet, but note how folks like Soderbergh already shot features on relatively primitive phones like the iPhone 7. What happens when the cellphone cameras become much, *much* better? There comes a point where there is a cross-over effect. So far at least, the old guard camera makers are at a disadvantage vs. tech giants like Apple when it comes to sophisticated data processing. There really is a danger that one day your Alexa becomes irrelevant - what do the camera manufacturers do then? Canon and Sony will survive because they have other businesses, but what of Nikon, Olympus and the more pure play guys? Btw. speaking of stills, I thought it was a pretty neat trick in the latest iPhones where you can take a photo AFTER it was taken and easily adjust depth of field afterwards with just a simple slider... baby steps, but Arriflex, Nikon, Panasonic etc. should be worried, IMHO. Maybe not today, but perhaps not too long from now. Who knows, I guess we'll see! Exciting times, at least for the end user!


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    It will definitely take over if dedicated cameras don't get it together.

    It's getting rough in multiple spaces. The EVA1 isn't 100% than the GH5S, and the line given is they are separate departments. All props to the crew and I really like my EVA1 and my GH5/GH5s but the affect of CPU and software in undeniable. Watching the iPhone XS presentation today, I thought the same thing.

    Those who say it will never take it have no imagination for how quickly things are progressing. Half baked today, perhaps. In 5 years, not so much.

    However, if higher end cameras can start incorporating these software smarts and high end CPUs as options they will always be able to stay ahead... enough to really matter for many people though is another question entirely.


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    At this point the way something is lit plays a huge role in the separation of high and low end. Cameras already look fantastic in some scenarios where lights aren't added by a production but the natural look is still only appropriate part of the time. Painting with light and creating whatever look is called for is still a huge physical limitation that computers (at this point) can't compete with. Physical as in the actual instruments themselves, as well as crew members to set up the lights and accomplish other tasks on set.

    I think once any or several lighting situations can be simulated in a believable way is the real day people are in trouble.


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    Senior Member Samuel H's Avatar
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    I don't think they'll surpass, but they're definitely closing the gap, and very fast. At a recent meetup a friend of mine was using a $200 Huawei phone and the pictures she sent us, with computational depth blur, looked stunning. The reasons for regular people to get a big-sensor camera are getting thinner and thinner every year.

    But craft will keep pros alive. Because yes, lighting and staging and framing and camera motion all make a difference.


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    Let's keep in mind what the subject is - it's camera capabilities and how do cellphones stack up against pro equipment. It is not about how amateur OPERATORS stack up against pro operators. Yes of course the pros will light better and have better visual ideas and better lighting equipment etc. - but that has nothing to do with the equipment. We are discussing specifically the camera capabilities - it's not like pro lighting can only be utilized with pro cameras. You can use pro operators and pro lighting and so on with BOTH cellphone cams and traditional pro cams - after all, Soderberg used pro folks with the iPhone 7.

    All I'm saying is that the day may come where when folks are discussing image acquisition, the DP may not have a strong preference for an Alexa or Sony dedicated video cam, and the cellphone camera might even have an advantage due to size. The original question was: are pro camera OEMs meeting the challenge of the cellphone, or are they asleep at the wheel - if the latter then they'll get bypassed the same way steam engine OEMs were bypassed by better gasoline engines. My feeling is that the pro cam OEMs are not quite appreciating how fast tech is moving and that they are not actually investing in software and data processing capabilities to meet that challenge, or perhaps simply don't have the expertise. Today data processing is a gigantic part of image acquisition, and the cam OEMs are still rolling along traditional lines as if we're still shooting film. They need to re-thing not just data processing but the whole stack from form factor to multilenses - there is a feedback loop between all these factors. Instead, the cams still look like they looked back in the 60's. The image acquisition tech has seriously moved focus and it seems the cam OEMs are not waking up fully to the challenge. YMMV.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldCorpse View Post
    Let's keep in mind what the subject is - it's camera capabilities and how do cellphones stack up against pro equipment. It is not about how amateur OPERATORS stack up against pro operators. Yes of course the pros will light better and have better visual ideas and better lighting equipment etc. - but that has nothing to do with the equipment. We are discussing specifically the camera capabilities - it's not like pro lighting can only be utilized with pro cameras. You can use pro operators and pro lighting and so on with BOTH cellphone cams and traditional pro cams - after all, Soderberg used pro folks with the iPhone 7.
    What I find ironic, is that when we have lit sit-down set-ups and someone comes in and takes a pic(selfie, etc)of the subject, talent, etc. in the light, the cell phone pics are crappy(usually blown out). But when they get out of the light and "just let the phone do it's thing", they are 10x better. I think all the algorithms, etc. are designed for "natural" and "unlit" and when they're in situations that are lit for manually controlled cameras they don't do well, at least not in their default "auto" modes.


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    The thing about digital processing is that you can adapt the process for anything. Today, yes, the algorithms are designed for specific situations, i.e. what most consumers would use the phones for. That doesn't mean those can't be changed at a drop of a hat. It's exactly as when folks developed digital profiles to mimic film - you can create profiles that can mimic specific film stock at specific ISOs. But then the further we move away from actual celluloid, and the more people are used to digital, the compulsion to mimic 35mm celluloid film look will pass into history and a new aesthetic will develop based on the capabilities of the tool. Remember back in the day, you had to have a specific lighting scheme because film stock was so slow - then as faster stock was developed lighting schemes changed. So too with today's lighting. Today's lighting is just as dependent upon the capabilities of the tools, and when the capabilities change, so do the aesthetics. After all, nobody accused newer cameras with faster film stock of not mimicing the look of movies from the 40's and lighting for slower stock. The aesthetic evolves together with the capabilities of our image acquisition tools. The intense real time data processing is revolutionising the capabilities and hence the aesthetic - no use crying about losing the lighting schemes of yesterday - tomorrow is a new day with new aesthetic, that's not a pity, that's natural evolution... it happend in the past and will continue to happen in the future. The only question here is who gets to play the game - are today's camera OEMs going to evolve or are they going to go the way of the Mitchells when technology passes them by. My point is that I see a worrying lack of effort on the part of traditional camera makers in face of the cellphone challenge. Opinions of course will differ. I guess we'll just have to see.


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