Dean Holland

Dean Holland

Lives in Australia Brisbane, Australia
Works as a Photography Trainer
Has a website at www.takebetterphotos.com.au
Joined on Feb 2, 2008

Comments

Total: 97, showing: 1 – 20
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SmoothGlass: This test is pretty bogus because Canon APS-C sensors have hardly changed for many, many years. If you want to compare state of the art, you have to include cameras with Sony sensors, like most of the recent Sony, Nikon, and Pentax DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, as well as most of the recent Micro Four Thirds cameras.

It seems the author is cynically going for shock value and page hits by using a D800 at a high price point without filling in the gaps with other cameras which have evolved unlike the Canon sensors. For example, you can get Sony sensors in very cheap bodies such as the NEX-3N or a3000 or Nikon D3200. Those cameras would give you better image quality than the Canons and yet cost $200-300.

Hi Razor512, contemporary cameras vs contemporary phones would make an interesting comparison. I wanted to address a different question, though: where would modern phones fit into the evolution of DSLRs? Or wouldn't they fit at all? It's a bit like the ads showing that a modern family car is faster than a 1920's racing car - I wanted to find out if you look back far enough, would phones and DSLRs look similar? And how far back would you need to look?
I didn't think including modern cameras would change where the phones fit into history.

Direct link | Posted on Nov 20, 2014 at 04:09 UTC
In reply to:

SmoothGlass: This test is pretty bogus because Canon APS-C sensors have hardly changed for many, many years. If you want to compare state of the art, you have to include cameras with Sony sensors, like most of the recent Sony, Nikon, and Pentax DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, as well as most of the recent Micro Four Thirds cameras.

It seems the author is cynically going for shock value and page hits by using a D800 at a high price point without filling in the gaps with other cameras which have evolved unlike the Canon sensors. For example, you can get Sony sensors in very cheap bodies such as the NEX-3N or a3000 or Nikon D3200. Those cameras would give you better image quality than the Canons and yet cost $200-300.

Hi SmoothGlass, You make a good point that you can certainly beat a 2007 Canon EOS 40D with any of the cheaper 2013 cameras you list. Do you think including Sony sensors would have changed the figure of how far phones are behind DSLRs? The Sony alpha 700 was the competitor to the Canon EOS 40D, and to my eye the 40D had the edge, and it was cheaper too.

Direct link | Posted on Sep 9, 2014 at 11:53 UTC
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DSMIW: Great work Dean, not an easy task to build a framework that enables viable comparison of these technologies and leads to a coherent conclusion.

I am an enthusiastic DSLR photographer who marvels at the work produced by the dedicated Hipstamatic community. They provide a wealth of reference data on the versatility of a smartphone as a camera that re-enforces your proposition that, "...we’re fast approaching the time to look again".

Shame really, I kinda like the mystic art of bodies and lenses. The mystic art of Hipstamatic just does not do it for me.

Thanks DSMIW. I think you (and Eolake below) hit the nail on the head why DSLRs will never completely die... we love using them. There will come a time when they will seems like anachronisms, and then it will only be the people who really ENJOY them who'll use them. Much like the car replaced the horse for transport, horses didn't disappear - they became a passion, rather than a necessity.

Direct link | Posted on Feb 5, 2014 at 00:38 UTC
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niget2002: I agree with your review, but not sure I can agree with your conclusion. You stated that the cell phones are on average about 6 years behind the SLRs, but then canons that you compared it to are at best 4 years out of date already. Even your graph at the end showed that there's the 60d and 70d out which both have better output than the previous 40d.

As someone else stated, you can't beat physics. The best cell phone cameras will ever be able to do is 'come close' to that of SLRs.

I will state that the best camera you can have is the one you have with you, and most of the time, that camera is my cell phone. It is good for everyday shots of the kids, animals, weird happenings at work, but if I have the time to run to the car, then I'm using the 60d.

Thanks Niget, yes - at the start I'd never have guessed that I'd have needed to include 60D and 70D... I thought the results would put the phones much further back in time (closer to the 10D). Based on the pictures here, where would you place the Nokia? Would you agree with about 6 years back or would you put it somewhere else?

Direct link | Posted on Jan 27, 2014 at 12:59 UTC
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gurmusic: How do you convert film to digital is cahanges the DR, color detail, and contrast detail and may add more noise and color distortion...Its like retaking the printed film photo with a high end camera( you need a decent scanner or high end digital camera to go in digital world and this is a very expensive process)

I take photos with 30D+Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and iPhone 5 in every EV condition, 30D simply outperforms but iPhone 5 is also very usable for me...

Yup, there's no such thing as a perfect scan, nor a perfect analogue print either. We used a Durst Sigma scanner with a professional operator. It's a high-end scanner, but not a drum scanner. It did a good job of pulling out the detail - better than my old $3000 Nikon Coolscan 4000. The mega-high contrast, low dynamic range, and ultra blues really are Velvia... They look like that in the original slide too.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 19, 2014 at 22:12 UTC
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delpic: Interesting, but with all the technology & software it really comes down to the laws of physics & the far larger sensors & massively superior optics of DSLR's are always far superior than manipulated images from small sensor cellphones.
I would argue conversely that even a 10 year old good high point & shoot camera can still produce better quality than today's phones. DSLR's, even the lowest cost are in a totally different league.
The main & possible only advantage of the phone camera is as it has always been that it is the camera you are more likely to have with you.
The reason some non photographers can't tell the difference is they are looking at such small images & maybe don't even care about quality at all.

Hi Delphic, I like your idea of testing old compacts too. Where would you place the Nokia among the cameras that we tested here on image quality? I was surprised to see how competitive it was. Can't wait to see if raw solves its limitations for dynamic range and processing.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 13, 2014 at 22:15 UTC
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Willi Kampmann: I think the results are very interesting, but they aren't putting enough focus on the severe shortcomings of the phones, especially the low-light shots.

I've got an iPhone 4S and frankly, I hate the 1/15s shutter setting -- without an optical image stabilization I often get blurry results even when there are no moving objects. Compare that to my E-M5's IBIS which basically lets me shoot blur-free at 1/15s while jumping on one foot. To me this is one of the most impressive technical advances in cameras in the past decade! The Nokia 1020 has OIS but I doubt its efficacy because of its simpler nature. The Nokia 1020's low-light shot also shows another shortcoming: the poor dynamic range. The shadows are completely black!

Of course those shortcomings are just temporary. The iPhone 5S already captures near-instant HDR images thanks to its fast A7 processor; automatic pixel averaging through burst shots is the logical next step. Imagine the large Lumia sensor combined with the A7's speed!

Great summary. I suppose what we're saying is that it's not "phones v. SLRs" but "processing power v. hardware". Over a long enough timeframe, processing power will win over hardware. I couldn't agree more about the 1/15th sec on most phones. What goes on at the parties at Apple and Nokia that they find 1/15th sec to be fine? Motorola must have livelier parties, as they try to hold a more reasonable 1/30th sec (the iPhone 5s makes a timid stab at this too). I haven't tested Nokia's OIS side by side against a modern in-body camera, but it works OK with both feet on the ground. With Photoshop's motion-blur sharpening, wonder how long it will be before digital image stabilization will be able to do it just as well... another processor v. hardware battle.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 12, 2014 at 21:05 UTC
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Alan2014: When digital cameras first appeared, film shooters used to rubbish them and even today DSLR's are considered to be inferior to medium / large format. I guess smartphones face the same challenges versus DSLR's. However, they represent the future due to their small form factor, ease of use and sharing. Also because smartphones integrate so many other features such as wifi, GPS, etc. that are clunky bolt-ons for DSLR's. For prosumer use, the direction is clear. DSLR's and their larger sized cousins will be relegated to increasingly specialized niches such as architecture sort of like the space occupied by large format , film today

@wansai, I agree 100% based on how things are now, but I think that DSLRs as a design only have a handful of decades left in them, at most. Within 45 years, devices will have about 1,000,000,000 times the processing power if Moore's law still holds. By then, I guess it will seem archaic to use big expensive lumps of glass to bend photons around, all just to work out which direction they came from. Technology will be able to do it cheaper, smaller, and better. Whatever replaces DSLRs might not look like a phone, but technology has to make the DSLR design obsolete sooner or later.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 9, 2014 at 13:37 UTC
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KAllen: I shoot with Canon 1Ds II, III and X, I also have MF film cameras. I prefer the look of my MF cameras loaded with Portra film.
Viewing images on screen for detail the Canons have it. Looking at prints I'd take the film any day for over all beauty.
Besides I have more fun with ac Rolleiflex than I do the Canons and all the gizmos that go with them.
I can't make a living with film but if I only shot for fun, I would happily stick with film, MF and LF.

I like your criteria for comparing them. I think the words you use like "beauty", "prefer", "like" and "fun" are key ones for enjoying photography. I find I get caught up too easily in "better" and "worse" comparisons instead, which may be appropriate for photography as work, but I like your criteria better!

Direct link | Posted on Jan 9, 2014 at 03:09 UTC
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sblecher6sj7: Three of us performed a side by side test with a NikonD800, a Canon 60d and a Mamiya 645 Pro. The Mamiya was loaded with Kodak Portra color negative film. The pictures were taken with the cameras on a tripod and the focal lengths were chosen to give the same field coverage. The focal lenth of the Nikon Test shots was !.6 times the Canon and the Mamiya focal length was 1.6 times the Nikon. Then the Mamiya negatives were scanned with a Nikon Coolscan 8000 scanner. The Nikon D800 was best performer, and handily outperformed the Mamiya , and Canon 60D also was better than the Mamiya by a smaller margin. Both digital cameras were both much less noisy than the scanned negative. Since the image from the Mamiya doesn't require as much enlargement,it's still capable of making a big print, but not as good as the Nikon D800. The Mamiya can produce a bigger print than my old Canon 30D. Too bad the test written up in DP Review didn't include any DSLR's between the 40D and The D800.

Thanks for sharing this. Did you publish it somewhere? I'd love to see the pictures too. I wish I'd included 50D - 70D too. When I started, I was trying to find a D30 and D60 (pre-10D), as I thought the phones would be more likely at that vintage. I didn't expect either to get close to the 40D. I learned a lot from doing this!

Direct link | Posted on Jan 9, 2014 at 03:04 UTC
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Xpress_Shutter: Something doesn't look right with the low light shot from the Lumia 1020.

It has a f.2.2 lens unit. The author has increased the exposure by .66 EV and it was still darker than all f.2.8 cameras at the same shutter speed and ISO setting.

Is Nokia faking the EXIF data?

I've noticed it too at the comparison between the previous 41 Mpixel model, the 808, and the Lumia here at connect site:

http://connect.dpreview.com/post/8720896323/pureview-compared-nokia-808-lumia1020-studio-test-scene.

The Lumia was set to ISO 800 whereas the 808 was set to ISO 640. The 808 has a f2.4 unit and its shot was brighter than Lumia's.

More people seem to have noticed it too:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/52826932

Yes - I think the Nokia is being slightly optimistic about its ISO. Have a look at the long discussion of factors in this in Mitsyfog's comments below.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 9, 2014 at 03:00 UTC
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b craw: Well done, Dean. DSLRs and smartphones embody the structural and philosophical extremes in a divide that, all too often, results in strange-faced territorialism. I remember a time (and cringe to imagine just how long ago it was) that photographers would look at each others' collections of many cameras and formats and acknowledge relative delights and potentials. Sadly what presents now is advocacy for this or that - dry, flat exclusivity.

A good many conceptually-bent photographers find new potentials in in-phone cameras all the time. It wasn't even 15 years ago that a friend of mine produced a project in which he photographed persons in the supermarket secretly, then quickly rushed out to a van outside to print their image integrated into an ad that was then put into cart ad space, that cart/ad taken back into the store to be potentially confronted , then quickly rushed out to a van outside to print their image integrated into an ad that was then put into cart ad space, that cart/ad taken back into the store to be potentially acknowledged by the subject. Per his suspicion about places where we "sleep", no one every did (0/27). I just give this as an example. He used a compact point and shoot camera hidden in a book - would have today used a smartphone (although that hollowed-out book housing was a nice bit of sculpture). Point is: different objectives demand different application(s) of technology.

What you do here, locating a point of equilibrium between the performance of today's smartphone to yesteryear's DSLR, is actually very informative and curiously good fun; kind of like doing math while playing racket sports.

This is brilliant - a much clearer conclusion than mine in fewer words! By putting the cameras on a continuum, not a hierarchy, you show how they all have worthy characteristics. None is better than any other, just more or less appropriate for a given application. I'd extend the scale a bit, and put large format at one end, smartphones at the other, and DSLRs somewhere around the middle. It's essentially a sensor size scale. At the ends are the specialist tools which excel at few things. The DSLRs are the jack-of-all-trades generalists in the middle. The progress that I should have been writing about is how technology is starting to usurp the scale itself.
Love your thinking. If I ever play you at tennis, remind me to set you a particularly thorny maths problem first.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 21:08 UTC
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Juandante: Extremely biased review. First of all, those images don't show the quality of the color reproduction, and dynamic range. This review is based only on the image details, and a bit of noise. Since when a good camera is only those two last points ? It is a pure joke, also, that the tester upscaled a low ~5 mpx picture to 20 mpx. While this tiny sensor Nokia is from 41 mpx to 20 mpx. It is logical that it will win ! You want to stretch an image to make it ugly and zoom all the defects (Canon 10D) and reduce an image to hide all its defects (Nokia)... It is 10x more intelligent to upscale ALL pictures to 50 mpx... Or lower all to 2 mpx ! I have an APSC camera of 2011 and 2007, and a Iphone 5s. And my Iphone will NEVER match my 2 DSLRs ! Maybe for a 2003 camera, but if it is fullframe, for the color and noise, I doubt ! Please make a new review, not biased, and showing all the global image quality as you know how to do it very well DPReview !

Hi Juandante, thanks for following-up and checking the pictures. I agree that the Nokia is really limited for dynamic range in jpegs - it's almost as limited as the transparency film. So I'm keen to see how it does with raw when it's released in a few days. When you compared the Nokia and the 10D at 100%, did you make the pictures the same size first? Otherwise, you're looking at a 6x greater enlargement for the Nokia, so it shows the ugly painterly noise reduction. To my eye, the Nokia captures massively more detail than the 10D in EV15 - I'd put it closer to the D800.
I agree that it's weird to compare old to new, but the purpose is to get a sense of how far we've come and how fast we're moving, not to choose which to buy.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 13:00 UTC
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Chrismcg: "can’t change the perspective and feel of pictures by zooming or changing lenses"

You can only change perspective by moving your camera position - changing lenses only crops or sees more of the same perspective view.

Hi Chrismcg, that's true for the perspective of each part of the scene itself, but the lens still chooses the total amount of perspective you're able to capture in the image. If I only owned a wide lens, I couldn't avoid huge depth and perspective in every picture without cropping, no matter how far back I moved. That's the perspective challenge that I feel that smartphones face.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 12:37 UTC
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MistyFog: Dean, I was rather curious about the relatively high ISO used by the 1020, and the very low ISO used by the iPhone. I would have thought that at ISO3200 versus 1250, there would be more than twice the amount of light in the 1020's image. Any comment on why this might be the case? Also, what was that +0.66 Raw adjustment?

Some of it might be the tungsten light; different sensors might lose sensitivity to different degrees without as much blue light around. Just a guess. Apple say that the iPhone 5S has an always-on shadow recovery (probably like Nikon's Active-D lighting, or Canon's i-Contrast), which may be a factor here. I can't say that I've seen much evidence of it in side-by-side comparisons with the iPhone 5, so it must be pretty subtle. HDR wasn't on for the iPhone shot. The Nokia was down-sampled from 38MP.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 01:22 UTC
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Michael Uschold: An excellent article. Two thoughts. First, please do some tests of the add-on lenses for smartphones, there may be some good quality lenses out there that can close the gap further between smartphones and DSLRs.

Second, I am glad to see film in the test. It can serve as a stable baseline against which to compare modern cameras. I recently made an 11x16 print from a Canon S45 4 megapixel camera that came out in 2002! I was startled to see that the quality was excellent. How many people need to print larger than that? A poor or average image quality rating from a modern camera need not deter a buyer, if they know it exceeds the quality of the best film ever (e.g. Velvia 50).

Of course, marketers don't want to hear this, they want to sell more and better stuff even if the quality improvement will never be directly experienced by the photographer.

Didn't think of using add-on lenses! Good point. Anecdotally, I've found that the fisheye and close-up lenses are pretty good. They take a toll on sharpness, but they're fun. I haven't found any half-decent telephoto lenses at all yet. Does anyone know a good one?

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 01:08 UTC
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Rob: Really enjoyed the article. I wish the comparison wasn't just between smartphones and DSLR's though, because it's such an unfair and illogical comparison in just about every way (however illuminating it was). Comparing compact cameras to smartphones would have been much more appropriate, because they have more similar sensor and body sizes, as well as similar price range, lack interchangeable lenses, etc. Also, people who shoot with compact cameras are more likely to also shoot with smartphones, while there are far more DSLR shooters who would not bother with smartphone shooting.

With that said, I'm one of those people who over the last few years, has started to take more photos with the smartphone in non-demanding situations, and the DSLR only comes out when I'm doing planned "serious" photo sessions. Even when traveling, unless I'm on a photo-trip or going somewhere exotic, I don't even bring the DSLR anymore as it's just too cumbersome and gets in the way of enjoying a vacation.

I agree completely about the comparison with compacts - much more sensible and comparable in every way. I didn't do it, because DXOMark have made a stab at that one already (see the details in the comment from George Hsia below). Plus, I was just curious!

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 01:03 UTC
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Liviu Namolovan: Smartphones vs DSLRs?! Come on! Get real!!!! What about the joy of using a real camera?! To acknowledge that tech. has come a long way is one thing but to compare the results from a state of the art machinery as DSLRs are right now with some so-so IQ from smartphones is totally unnappropriate; it's like a statement of acceptance of uneducated/rudimentary opinions vs the opinion of knowleadgeble and educated people. There are some that may like 1 mp facebook photos; it is all they ever need. Those unfortunated uneducated people don't know what a printed image is like and what is that all about but they have a lot of nerve to bash the DSLRs' output. This topic is about the preferences of people enjoying a vacation. It is not about photography or photographers. I'm wondering if people that have nothing in common with photography are entitled to an opinion, actually. Quality is hard to find, so numbers are low. Unfortuated uneducated people are plenty; their opinions matter to marketeers.

I accept that you don't think that we should compare them, and I agree 100% about the joy of using a well-crafted camera. I learned so much from doing this comparison, and hoped that others would too. What's your view of the actual results? Where would you place the Nokia among the other cameras?

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 00:58 UTC
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Pete Holzmann: Hmmm... while there is a lot that can be done with technology, there are some limits built into the fabric of the universe, ie physics.

Light has a certain wavelength. Eventually, you get to the point where cramming more megapixels into a tiny space does no good because each pixel in a sensor is just too small and you get diffraction blurring. And that's where we are with phone-based sensors. Even the Nokia has pixels that are barely bigger than one micron -- this is what limits the useful aperture of phone cameras.

There's nothing that can be done about this physical/physics limit, other than using physically larger sensors.

What do you think? I wonder if perhaps future challenges will be less about technology and more about usability?

I think yours is the key question. I'd love to hear from an imaging engineer who knows the challenges. I don't see diffraction as an insurmountable limit. For example, from my primitive understanding, it's the challenge that radio telescopes have, where the detectors can be small compared to the 30m wavelength. It's solved with "interferometric arrays", like LOFAR in Europe where software creates images from interference patterns. I've got no idea if it can work in a phone with visible wavelengths - just that the problem is solvable in theory with enough processing power... no idea if it could be engineered! But with so much money to the team that cracks the decent zoomable phone camera, I'm optimistic that it'll be cracked.

Direct link | Posted on Jan 7, 2014 at 00:50 UTC
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MattLangley: Great article... It's definitely becoming more and more diminishing returns. Though most things tend that way with technology. Just think that we have quad core processors in our phones now. Not all that long ago quad core was amazing in a desktop. Technology progresses fast until it doesn't.

With that said I do think you framed the context well, though possibly could have focused a bit more on the framing. Smartphones can compete pretty decently with DSLRs in the conditions smartphones work at all, though as you mention there are *many* situations in which the smartphones can't work and will probably be much harder to solve (such as swappable lenses giving you different zoom lengths, or visual aspects like depth of field etc).

With that said, we're finding more and more that what smartphones are working increasingly better at are those situations we want pictures the most often.

It definitely seems this is creating a firmer line between hobbyist photography and personal.

Thanks! I'd like to hear more about the firmer line between hobbyist and personal photography. Can you expand on this a bit? I'm curious, because I'd arrived at the opposite conclusion that it's blurring those lines!

Direct link | Posted on Jan 6, 2014 at 08:11 UTC
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