Update: Seems like Google Photos is now uploading full resolution, non-compressed photos, so please omit this part of the comparison.07/01/2021 (MM/DD)
Pockets now have cameras, yes, your phone is a mini camera that can capture good, funny, interesting moments; however, its convenience have a price.
Convenience is humans most common flaw, we will, always, choose convenience rather than anything else.
Before we used to hire a stranger that makes us stay still for hours to capture a “beautiful” family photo that only your parents will love. Thankfully, those days are over, and technology is moving so rapidly that we have cameras on our pockets now.
Anyway, coming back to 2021, your phone can capture beautiful (mediocre) photos, you don’t require special lenses, or photographic knowledge, you only need to point and shoot; the interface is so intuitive that even our grandma/grandpa can take a picture about their garden now.
But hold on, not everything is good; phone cameras lack sometimes “pro” or manual modes, the lenses and the sensors are small so the quantity of details that are captured in the photo are lower compared to a camera; this is not really an issue, but a physical limitation of the sensor and lens.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) advancement
However, in the last 3 years manufacturers have been implementing AI (Artificial intelligence) software which helps you get better photos from the social media context. Smartphone Camera photos are optimized to be shared over the internet, as bandwidth is a big limitation for most people, compression applies to all those photos.
Compression is not bad; on the Music Apps vs Quality Music post we discussed some advantages and the downsides of compressing media. In photographic compression change how you intend people to look at your photos and how they perceive it.
Let’s dive into a photographic comparison so we can understand the ways photo compressions affects the quality of the picture.
Full HD photo
0.68 MB x10 times smaller than the original version
Update: Google Photos seems to be uploading Fullres photos now.
WhatsApp compressed version
0.16 MB x37 times smaller than the original version and x4 times smaller than the Google Photos Compressed version
If we look and compare the three different version of the photo, Full-res, Google Compressed, WhatsApp compression you will see three major changes:
- The compression algorithm washed color out. Green is less green, blue, red, yellows are more pallid in the compressed versions.
- The higher the compression the worst Background blur gets.
- The compressed photos have more noise. Compare the waves form, in the Full res the waves are noticeable but in the higher compression’s waves aren’t clear enough.
Should I use a camera or my smartphone camera?
If convenience is particularly important for you using your phone camera is the way to go; if you want to improve your phone final photos you may want to learn how to use the pro mode.
If you got an iPhone here is a rich video that meticulously explain iPhone Camera Pro Mode:
If you got an Android, I’ll leave a video about how to use the camera pro mode in a Samsung S21 Ultra:
But if quality is your preference, then start carrying a camera and take a course about how to use the Manual mode which will allow you to capture more dramatic, authentic, and beautiful photos.
I took the next two courses to learn how to use my Canon T6 Rebel; both courses technical knowledge will apply to almost any DSLR camera.