You may remember a few months back, we caught up with full-time photographer and part-time explorer Lucinda Grange to discuss what she does with her Xperia Z3 Compact. Well, we tracked her down again, lecturing at a photography school no less, to ask her about some of the differences between DSLR and smartphone photography.
I’ve been shooting with DSLRs for over eight years, and with Sony’s Xperia Compact range for two. It’s safe to say that shooting with my Xperia has revolutionised my photography, and not just in terms of the phone’s camera specs and capabilities. Mobile photography offers a certain intimacy as well as incomparable speed and responsiveness that allows both beginners and professional to gain a level of creative freedom.
What’s more, I think the Xperia has improved the photography I take using my DSLR, mainly because it’s prompted a change in how I think whilst shooting, but I’ll get on to that later. In the meantime, here are some of the key differentiators I’ve noticed between smartphone and DSLR photography…
1 – SPEED
A main advantage of the Xperia is that I can go from seeing something to being able to capture it in just a matter of seconds. You can see this in the image I took high above Times Square. It gives you a real opportunity to capture the everyday in a way that an obtrusive DSLR doesn’t. On the odd occasion that I want a higher quality of the same print, I’ll try to re-create the moment – as I did in the below images shot in the Parisian sewers.
The shot on my phone was taken handheld, only using a single torch to provide backlighting for the model. The image taken on my camera was shot on a tripod using an 8 second exposure, f6.3, ISO 200 but once again only a single torch was used to light the image.
2 – AGILITY
Sometimes as a photographer, you can get caught in tight spaces. I’ve been in situations where my camera has been caught quite literally between a rock and a hard place. It’s at these times that I’m extremely grateful for my Xperia.
Once again, if I really like what I shoot, I would find the nearest place in which I could get access to my camera, set it up, and crawl back to the same location. At other times, I just want the moment and it doesn’t need re-creating – as seen in this image taken under Paris in the vast Catacombs.
3 – SIZE AND WEIGHT
There are times when I want a shot but I’m not willing to do with my camera what I would be with my phone. No matter how well secured to me or the building I felt my DSLR was, I wouldn’t be comfortable holding it at arm’s length over the edge of a building. However, with the Xperia being so small and light, I’m far more confident in doing so (but only when I know it’s secured safely!) This allows me to capture shots like this one of Times Square. The Xperia’s noise reduction and stabilising also meant I was able to shoot this with my hand at arm’s length from the building.
4 – WATERPROOF
Whilst I’m fully aware that I can purchase a waterproof body for my camera, the price is off-putting. However, the desire to shoot confidently in the rain remains, and for this the Xperia is perfect!
5 – FOCUS AIDER
I often shoot in low-light situations, where it can be difficult to get the correct focus. At times like this, my Xperia is ideal. To get the correct focus for this image, I had the model hold my phone with the screen lit and face the camera. If holding the phone is difficult, it may be best to include a tripod being used in this process, and once the correct focus is gained, as long as the tripod and the model don’t move, it will remain steady. I then used the camera’s autofocus, putting the focus point on the light source. I can then switch to manual focus mode, ask the model to hide the phone, and as long as he doesn’t move – the focus will remain correct.
6 – PACKING LIGHT
Whenever I take my DSLR out, I always end up taking a huge bag, with at least the following equipment:
Spare batteries and SD cards
When I take out my phone, all I need is my Xperia, and a torch if I’m being extravagant. The Xperia lets me travel lightly, with no excess baggage (apart from maybe a handbag), but still have the confidence in the quality of the photography I’ll be able to take. More than that though, it means I have my photography equipment all the time. A quick trip to the shops can become a photo-shoot opportunity.
7 – STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
Anyone who has tried street photography will know that as soon as you pull out your DSLR, people become more aware of you. However, the majority of people carry a phone with them and it isn’t unusual to spot someone snapping away. That’s a great advantage of the Xperia – I can shoot street photography in a more inconspicuous way.