iPhone 7/7+ Raw Capabilities

iphone6-sample-1

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

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!

Sunblock-1-5

Sunblock-1

Sunblock-1-6

Sunblock-1-4

Sunblock-1-2

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

Amusing Signs

There are few ways to get more smiles, or more attention, than images of amusing signs. This can range from intentionally witty ones, to signs with poor grammar, to signs that seem normal in one location, but very odd to those from other places, to unintentional placement of signs. Stock up!

Signs-2

Signs-1-2

Signs-1 Signs-3

C. David Tobie

Creating a Numbers Series

Numbers are in constant demand for graphics, articles, blog posts, and even book covers. Take the time to start an interesting numbers series, and remain on the lookout as you shoot, for additions to the series. Interesting numbers shots will be amoungst the most popular of your stock images with writers, graphic designers, illustrators, and bloggers. Consider creating multiple series, depending on colors, or locations of numbers within your images. Include plenty of context, and let the designers crop as desired.

Number48-1

C. David Tobie