Tag Archives: Camera

Google Pixel 3a XL First Impressions + My 5 Key Findings

Welcome to my Pixel 3a XL First Impressions plus my 5 top findings, covering off the camera and 4 other key aspects of the phone.

Included are some beautiful photos from Dartmoor National Park as well.

If you have any questions please ask.


Apple iPhone 8 Plus – First ImpressionsĀ 

Apple iPhone 8 Plus. First Impressions and initial thoughts. 

Judging by the lack of queues at all the main Apple stores it seems many people are clearly waiting for the newer iPhone X. 

But from my initial use of the new iPhone 8 Plus I have come away with a different view. The expression a wolf in sheep’s clothing is quite appropriate. It’s actually its more like a bland lion in sheep’s clothing. 

The A11 Bionic processor is a beast. What it does for the whole phone experience is badass. 

First my views on the 3 finishes. I didn’t like space grey. The gold is ok. But I loved the white and silver finish. 

Screen. The true tone screen looks too good to be true at times. It’s the ultimate in IPS technology. But it’s not light years ahead of the 7 Plus. But it’s still better. 

Operation. The A11 processor must contribute to the overall smoothness of the phone. Really felt like gliding through menus and apps. 

Camera. There’s no HDR option. It’s on by default. The camera felt fast to take shots and there was low noise in the indoor photos. Portrait lightning was fun to use but I did notice some errors on the edges. It is in beta though. The standout feature of the camera was the video. 4K at 60fps is freaking unbelievably amazing. So life like and real to view footage back on the screen. Stabilisation looked good too. 

Speakers. Louder than before. That’s a good thing. Wireless charging worked as expected. 

I started by saying it’s a bland lion in sheep’s clothing. And that is how I feel. It looks like every other iPhone for the last 4 or so years. Except it performs like the King of the Jungle. 

I can see this being quite popular on contract upgrade plans and for people that still want the convenience of Touch ID. It is however not a design I want to see in my hand. I’m more interested in the upcoming iPhone X!

Samsung Galaxy S8 – Camera – Epic macro shots

The Samsung Galaxy S8 camera is meant to be on paper better than last year’s S7. It has a new Sony 12mp sensor but also has new image processing whereby 3 shots get snapped each time and blended.

This is not the HDR+ mode found on the Google Pixel. This is a natural method of obtaining better images. The benefits should appear more in low light and sports or motion.

So below are 3 photos. All taken in auto. But check out the shots and what level of detail was captured. Epic.




Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus – First Impressions – incl audio, camera and that new home button


The Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus went on sale officially this morning at 8am.

This year Apple has prevented walk-ins and opted for pre order online or reservations for pickup in a store. My local Apple Store in Plymouth opened a lot earlier than normal and allowed people to browse as well as collect their reservations.

Whilst my order won’t arrive for another for days, the calmness inside the Apple store was a far superior experience than the normal chaotic launches. The staff were able to spend the correct amount of time helping customers setup their new iPhone and run through all of the new features. Other staff were also on hand to help you with any product knowledge.

What was missing from the iPhone 7 counter was the iPhone 7 Plus in either black or jet black. However, the finishes were available in the smaller size iPhone 7. If I am being brutally honest, I cannot see any point in getting the jet black over black. Once a case is fitted to the back, it is impossible to tell the two apart and as the jet black is more prone to micro abrasions it makes more sense to go for the standard black. Also, both blacks will show fingerprints as well, although the jet black attracts fingerprints much faster. Both black colours disguise the antenna lines better than any of the other colours available.

Now what about the new home button. I honestly don’t understand what the fuss is about. It just works and I was not bothered about the way it now worked nor did I have any issue with its operation. The taptic feedback system works really well for me.

The screen. Both iPhone 7 screens look good but they are not as good as those from the Samsung Note 7.

Performance. Testing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is a joy. iOS 10 and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are so fluid and fast to use, but we all knew that anyway.

Now to the audio. I tested the loudspeaker with BBC Radio 4 for spoken voice and Beats 1 radio station for music. The loudspeaker is louder than previous but it is not as good as having traditional speakers integrated into the front of a smartphone. Next I paired by B & O Beoplay H5’s Bluetooth Wireless headphones and listened to a number of different genres. The iPhone 7 bluetooth audio is excellent, so are the B & O Beoplay H5’s headphones and I doubt whether Apple’s Airpods would sound better, although the AirPods are wirefree.

The camera. It works as advertised. The standard iPhone 7 now takes fabulous photos and the 7 Plus with the telephoto lens is equally as impressive. The telephoto lens does not have OIS though. The optical 2 x zoom really worked very well. However, software zoom introduced too much noise for my liking. Obviously, the lighting inside the Apple store is dreadful, but nonetheless it still is a test of what the camera can achieve. I used the telephoto lens for panaroma shots too. I noticed the phone needed me to slow down panning more when using the telephoto lens over the normal 12mp lens. I then tried burst shots of people walking inside the store, with and without the telephoto lens. None were really crispy sharp like those I took on the Samsung S7 or Note 7. I need to re-test the burst operation is better lighting to see how it performs before I pass judgement properly, but early testing seems to show that the fast focus system on the Note 7 and S7 really is king. However, the iPhone 7 offers many other options on the camera which need testing as mentioned. The camera did freeze on me too which was resolved by restarting the camera app.

Anyway, this is my first impression of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I intend to cover off a lot more over the next few weeks.

If you have received your new iPhone, do add a comment below on your experience so far.

Huawei P9 – Blue & Monochrome Balls

An unusual piece of art in Bristol, so it was time to see what the Huawei P9 camera made of these blue balls.

To view the full size click on each photo. Great blue balls colours. Very true to life.

Blue Balls

It is always very tempting to shoot using the monochrome lens. So below is the shot. Love this type of shot.

Blue Balls

This time using the refocusing mode on the balls.

Blue Balls

The more I use the Huawei P9 camera the more I like its photo accuracy. The P9 camera has weaknesses which I will cover off in more depth, but it is not as rubbish as I had imagined.

LG G5 – My favourite shots from the Camera with commentary

Below are a selection of photos I took yesterday from the LG G5 with some commentary. To view the full size, click on photo and select original or full size.

Around and inside Foggintor Quarry #lgg5 #snapseededits

The above shot of Foggintor Quarry is superb. I have taken many shots with different phones of this place, but the wide angled lens of the G5 captured the walls too. Edited in snapseed with HDRScape filter.

Foggintor Quarry #16mp #normal #lens #lgg5

Above is the quarry with the normal 16mp lens. You can see my 3 dogs just before they jumped in for a swim. This is not edited in any way. In the past I used panoramic mode to capture the inside of this quarry, but the wide lens does a much better job.

Church of St Michaels #Princetown #lgg5 #wide

Take my local church and shoot it with the wide lens again. The effect is dramatic.

St Michael's & All Angel Church, Princetown #LGG5

Same church taken the day before but using the normal lens to give you an idea of the difference. This was the very first shot from the LG G5.

George sprinting with happy face #lgg5

So I tried some action shots with my dogs. Above is George. This is a cropped shot. Having 16mp worth of detail is great for something like this.

George sprinting again #lgg5 #wide #burstmode

Again another action shot using burst mode. But with the wide angle lens. Note how the clouds look as if they are moving inwards.

National Park Visitor Centre #lgg5 #normal #16mp

National Park Visitor Centre. Normal lens. Crisp and a good quality shot.

National Park Visitor Centre #lgg5 #wide

That wide angle lens on the G5 is something else. Look how much more was captured in the frame. Now this shot did curve the buildings more than shown, so using VSCO Cam app on the G5, I made a few adjustments and then edited in snapseed using HDRScape.

Drive out of Princetown #bothlenses #lgg5

Using both lenses to create the above shot. Not that excited about this mode.

Fury - She's looking pretty #lgg5

High quality shot using the normal lens of Fury. I like this one.

Tiggy showing off her teeth #lgg5

Cropped close up of Tiggy. This photo was originally too dark, so I had to raise the brightness and shadows.

So above is a small selection of the photos that I have snapped over the last couple of days. I found the wide angle lens to be wonderful. Not only that but the 8mp wide angle lens actually had a lot more detail than expected with file sizes around the 4mb. The Normal 16mp lens produced file sizes around 7mb.

Based on the full range of photos I have taken with the G5, I am able to write up my views on this camera versus the Samsung Galaxy S7 camera. This hopefully will be live tomorrow. But all I will say at this point is the G5 and S7 are so different its actually great news for consumers to have such choices.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – High Speed Photography

I have used my 3 labradors in high speed photography with all my decent flagship phones. The S7 Edge camera is the first phone that took so many burst shots I had fractions of differences between each movement. Truly amazing speed. 100 burst shots took just a few seconds.

George does the Long Jump

Look at all the movement captured by the S7 with all 3 dogs, not just George in the air.

The Long Jump - George & Tiggy at Windy Post,  Dartmoor

River Racing

This was a HDR burst into the sun, so remarkable what came out.

River Races on Dartmoor - Tiggy & Fury

Flying Tiggy

And now for Tiggy in the air.

The Long Jump - George & Tiggy at Windy Post,  Dartmoor

Happy Faces

The Long Jump - George & Tiggy at Windy Post,  Dartmoor

Now all the above photos were before the new firmware received a few days ago. The sharpening has been reduced slightly, so when zooming in the detail in more pleasing.

Big Smiles

And with new firmware, Tiggy is smiling big time.

Hill climbing by Tiggy #Dartmoor

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – Shooting in RAW – Editorial

This is my final part of the S7 Edge camera review. In this part I will cover off using the Pro Mode and RAW images. 

The above shot is full auto with HDR activated. I then took the same shot in the Pro mode and extracted the RAW image into Adobe Lightroom on my Mac to see whether the RAW image could be improved. After a few quick edits and conversion to a jpeg I achieved the shot below. 

Is this better than full auto. Not sure to be honest. What do you think?

I then tried using 3 raw images with 3 different EV exposures. -2, 0 and +2. The aim to combine them in Lightroom using the HDR option. Sadly, Lightroom would not perform this merge as it produced an error message data not available in images to perform HDR merge. 

My next option was using another Mac app, Photomatix 5 HDR. For this I combined 3 raw images with different exposures. This was a non runner as the boat name running along the edge was not aligned. This was despite the S7 Edge being on a tripod. This was very disappointing as this app produces amazing images. 

So was the effort of shooting in raw worth it? No in my opinion. Just use a normal jpeg and edit in snapseed or similar and create this shot below. 

So at the moment I cannot see any benefit in using RAW with this Phone. 

On Monday, my full review of the S7 Edge will be live. This will include by audio findings and my view of the S7 Edge “experience”. 

Samsung Galaxy S7 Camera – Testing the dual pixel focus system at 70mph

Samsung claim the dual pixel focus system is super fast. In my tests this is certainly the case. So how does it do at 70mph. 

The below shots are shot behind a windscreen too. 

The new multi million pedestrian and cyclist bridge built over the M5 that cost far too much money and a bridge that isn’t used that often. 

The road sign is in relative focus. So a few shots at very high speed that seem to work well. I did take several more of the same sections and they all were similar in focus. 

The final shot was a typical sunny day. This is where the 12mp shows its weakness. A 16mp sensor from the Note 5 or similar would reveal more detail when cropped. 


Just as an update in case you missed the fix from yesterday, but predominately my S7 Edge camera was failed yesterday and wouldn’t take any photos until I discovered the solution. If you get this error message it should be because you have Smart Stay optioned enabled. This can be found in the main settings app, under Display, Smart Stay. Toggle this off for the time being until Samsung releases a fix for the conflict. If you turned Smart Stay off, and are still getting problems can you please get in touch.

Asus Zenfone Zoom – Shooting directly into the sun

So from low light shots to aiming at the sun. Three camera shots highlighting the Asus Zenfone Zoom’s ability to shoot in to the sun. 

First shot is Auto. Second is HDR. Third is manual mode with EV at -1.0.  

Interestingly I aimed the sun at the phone screen and I could still see what I was snapping. Now manual mode with EV at -1.0. 

So which do you prefer?