iPhone 7/7+ Raw Capabilities


Would an iPhone 7 raw capture have produced more shadow detail, more highlight detail, and less sky noise than this iPhone 6 standard camera shot?

While the internet is flooded with negative articles about the iPhone 7 series and how little new they have to offer (a great way to get clicks, whether you have anything meaningful to say or not), there are, in fact, a number of very interesting new features, especially in the 7+. I will wait to discuss the dual cameras and what they offer for phone photography, as well as the wide gamut P3 colorspace of the new iPhones, until I actually have one in hand (the prudent way to write about any product), but in the meantime I can’t resist commenting on another feature of the new phones, or for that matter other recent iPhones, running iOS 10.

That would be the ability to shoot raw images. Not that the native camera app which Apple supplies (and which accounts for the vast majority of images shot with iPhones) offers such an option; but it is available for third parties to use. Adobe is making a splash by supporting this capability in their Lightroom camera function. But first, lets step back, and think about what raw really means.

Raw means nothing, unless there is more than 8 bits (256 levels) of meaningful data available. So the value of raw functions of any type with iPhones will depend on how much meaningful raw data is actually captured, and made available for use, from these phones.

Experience with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras has shown that ten bits of data is good, and twelve bits is better. But where does such “extra” data show up, since screens often don’t display more then 256 levels per color channel anyways?

It shows up mostly when you make significant adjustments to the file, to open the shadows, or enhance the highlights. And the peculiar way that bit depth in files works, extra bits allows us to keep much more highlight detail, while leaving more bits for further down the range. However, unless the dynamic range captures meaningful data, not noise, in the deep shadows, then the value of that extra depth is questionable.

So what we will be looking for from raw capture as we test the iPhone 7 and 7+ (and iOS 10 with phones from the 6s forward) is the ability to produce more highlight and shadow detail, and the ability to make big density shifts in editing software, without causing “thinness”, which shows up as posterization in one or more zones after the edit has been made.

How will the iPhone 7 series perform in raw mode? These are tiny sensors, which are therefore prone to much more noise, especially in the shadows, and in dim lighting. Perhaps the 7+ with its dual camera functionality will be able to reduce that noise a bit, but  don’t expect  raw capture from the iPhone 7 and 7+ to respond like a recent generation DSLRs when editing. But we can hope that this will provide at least incremental improvement on previous iPhone images.

The real question is whether the improvements by shooting with Lightroom raw, over the standard iPhone camera, is large enough and frequent enough for us to use the Lightroom camera as our default, go-to choice for shooting.

Copyright C. David Tobie

Apple Power Supply Cable Wear

IMG_6544I’ve seen a fair amount written about the problems with Apple Powerbook power supply cables wearing at the end near the power supply. I’ve seen various clip-ons or do-it-yourself gummy solutions that claim to reduce this issue.

Everyone’s assumption seems to be that there is not sufficient cable stress relief, meaning the cable bends tightly at one spot, rather than making a smoother bend over a longer distance, thus relieving the stress at the power brick.

Apple’s stress relief is, indeed, minimal. And yes, the methods suggested do extend that cable relief. But that only solves the problem if the assumed cause of cable failure is correct.

Observing what is actually happening with these cables, they are very supple; Apple would not want to ship a stiff cable, which cannot be wound-up conveniently. And this suppleness means the cable does not fatigue much from being tightly bent; this would be one reason why Apple does not supply an extended stress reliever.

Instead, the motion that I see causing wear in the cable has to do with the sheath not being bonded to the interior components, and a rotation occurring within the cable sheath. This twisting motion eventually stresses the cable sheathing, the internal wires, or both, causing cable failure.

Most stress relief designs do not address this issue. Anyone who has spent time on sailboats knows about the problems that side-winding a rope produces; wind it to the wrong side, and not only will you kink the rope, you may actually open up the strands, significantly weakening it. The ideal solution to avoid kinking, is to straight-wind a line or cable from the end, not the side, both winding and unwinding.

Applying this to power supply cables, the cause of twisting at the end, causing eventual failure of the cable is the method we use to wind and unwind the cable. If we wind it up overhand, but then, instead of reversing that process to unwind it, pull the cable over the end of the power supply, we are building a series of kinks into the cable, and increasing this twisting force every time we store, then release the cable.

Apple has designed their cable storage solution with end plates that force the user to straight-wind the cable both on and off the arms. However many of us do not open up these clips and store the cable on them, but instead wind the cable around the body of the power supply, or simply wind it up on it’s own.

This has two problematic results. First, it straight-winds the cable onto the power supply, or our fingers, but in most cases we pull the cable off the end of the supply, or sideways out of its self-coil to release, it, thus side-winding kinks into the cable in the process. The second problem is that the Apple winding arms are positioned to contain the short stress reliever, and eliminate force against it, or repeated motion of the cable at that point during storage and travel. Any other cable storage method will leave the cable exposed to force and repeated bending at this point, shortening its overall life expectancy.

So while a conveniently supply cable is prone to wear, the best solution to Apple power supply cable wear appears to be storing the cable in the manner Apple planned, plus being aware of the dangers of twisting the cord, and straightening out any kinks that may form, to avoid ongoing twisting of the cable at the point of attachment.

C. David Tobie


What Photoshop Is Used For Today

We hear a lot about Photoshop being used to make models impossibly thin, or remove every sign of wrinkles from someone’s face. Photoshop is no longer the day-to-day photo adjustment app (that’s Lightroom’s job); but it is an invaluable tool for a certain type of photo related work: masking and compositing.

The image below shows the before and after versions of an image. Clearly the before was shot for graphic design use, as it lacks the foreground element to make it a final image in its own right. However, that’s exactly what’s needed to create the type of commercial image required to advertise this gelato cart business.


This type of image makes it possible to create business cards, brochures, and websites before the cart is actually available. In fact, the “Photoshopping” of the cart into the scene is not the only digital trickery here; the cart does not actually exist, it is a rendering produced prior to building the cart for final okay of paint color and graphics.

If the final image below leaves you hungering for gelato, and you are looking to hire such a cart for a special occasion in the Miami area, contact mritzer@gelatobarista.com, and inquire about availability. Buon appetito!


C. David Tobie

Simplified Multiple Image Deletion in Lightroom CC

Adobe applications are powerful; but the flip side of that power is complexity, and the learning curve needed to master that complexity. In the case of Lightroom one of my ease-of-use complaints has always been that deleting a single image was easy; deleting multiple images was a complex, multiple step process any way that you chose to do it.

In the case of the single image, selecting it, and hitting the delete key brought up a dialog allowing you to simply delete it from the Lightroom library (which I never want to do) or to also delete the underlying file from the drive (which I always want to do). I didn’t object to this choice, as it provided a chance to change your mind about deletion, always a good safety factor. However, the same function was not available with multiple images selected; for that you needed to first flag all the images, then run one or another secondary function to delete the flagged files.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.53.40 PM

Apparently I was not the only photographer who found this unnecessary (after all, there is already a safety function) and wished that I could delete multiple images of my choice at a time via the delete key. Because: it now works the same way for multiple images as for a single photo. How long has it been this way? I can’t say, as I’ve only just discovered this convenience.  But, in case others have not yet stumbled across this luxury, I thought I should post a short article describing it. Happy Deleting, Everyone!

C. David Tobie 2015

Warning: Major Data Loss Potential in Photoshop CS6 & CC2015

As an expert Photoshop user I am meticulous about my processes and I do not expect to lose work. Today I have lost the same job, not once, but twice, before I figured out what was causing the issue. Let me share this “feature” with you before it costs you hours of labor as well.

In Photoshop CC2015, as well as CS6, the dialog box for converting a file from one colorspace to another has a line at the bottom named “Flatten Image to Preserve Appearance”. No matter what well-meaning goals Adobe had for including this box, and defaulting it to checked, the results of doing a conversion of a multilayer file with this box checked can be catastrophic. All text layers are lost as text, all layers are lost as layers, and the resulting converted file is a flattened, one layer image. Unless you notice this change before saving the file, then you have a major data-loss situation

Convert to Profile Window

So, if you value your layers, and all the work they represent, uncheck this box before converting. And from now on keep one eye on the bottom of this window, rather than converting without checking these options, for fear that this option may once again have become active, and ready to lose your layers and your work!

C. David Tobie 2015

Creative Sunblocks

Shots into the sun can be a challenge, particularly with the more recent iPhones and their sapphire lens covers, which cause a lot of flare with shots incorporating a bright light source. Using sunblocks is one solution. When an object is available that can be used to block, or at least partially block, the sun, the resulting image can have better contrast and detail, as well as reduced artifacting. A convenient tree is the most common choice, and classic, especially with a palm tree. But using foliage at a corner of the image can get good results in a less obvious manner, as can other image elements. Even sunset shots can benefit from sunblocking, as the last of these images shows. So remember your sunblock!






C. David Tobie

Conflicting Color Palettes

Color palettes are groups of related colors, such as primaries, or pastels. There are palettes associated with certain holidays, or seasons. Conflicting palettes can create striking images that grab the eye, and demand further consideration. This can be valuable in locations where images compete for the eye. The image below includes two classic color palettes: the hot summer colors of the sailboat, and the more natural fall foliage colors of the trees. The challenging relationship between these two palettes creates a memorable, and eye-catching, image.Sailboat-1

C. David Tobie