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There’s an old saying that the best camera you own is the one you have with you. You might not get a great picture with a cheap compact, but you won’t get any picture with that expensive DSLR if it’s on a shelf at home.

IMG_20140729_204336Although I enjoy photography I’ve never managed to get into the habit of carrying a camera everywhere I go. When I do it tends to stay in a bag all day anyway. Most of my photography is planned, and I’ll go out with the specific intention of taking pictures. Sometimes, though, I see something worth photographing when I’m just out and about.

These days we all have a camera with us all the time. The humble phone camera has come a very long way since the feature first appeared. My phone’s camera┬áhas an 8MP sensor, and they’ve improved┬ásince then. It takes a surprisingly good picture in the right conditions. The shot at the top was taken yesterday on my way back to the car after a shopping trip, and the others from local strolls over the year (as always, click to enlarge).

IMG_20140729_204336-2The main limitations are the size of the sensor and lack of a zoom. I’d actually argue that 8MP is more sensible on a camera phone than higher resolutions. Most camera phone pictures end up, like these, as small images on a website anyway and 8MP is still plenty enough for a decent size print. Going to higher resolutions on such a small sensor would only increase noise and ultimately reduce quality.

I was surprised by the quality of my camera. The sectional enlargement shown here is at 100% with no sharpening applied in post-processing. The detail is pretty good, and there’s no evidence of colour fringing even though this is exactly the sort of situation in which you’d expect it.

IMG_20140729_202952Dynamic range is also surprisingly good. These shots have been edited to be more dramatic, but the camera did a great job of retaining shadow detail while avoiding blown out highlights. That only really leaves the lack of an optical zoom as a limitation, although with 8MP at least you have plenty of room to crop for web sized images.

I will never start carrying a camera all the time and keeping the battery charged, but I always have my phone with me. In the sense of that old saying, it truly is the best camera I own.

 

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