The Best Camera

There’s a saying — the best camera is the one you have with you. I hate it. I’ve got a brand new iPhone 11 Pro which is receiving rave reviews because of its incredible camera. Except, it’s not incredible. Not without adding a qualifier. It’s incredible for a camera in a phone.

I’ve taken some really nice photos with it, which is to say they look really nice on the phone, or even on my iPad mini, but put them on a 4K screen on a Mac and you start to see the limitations. Predominantly, I notice any area of relatively uniform colour, like a ridge line in the background, is distinctly “muddy” and the edges show strong signs of compression artefacts.

My phone is probably a 10th the size of my DSLR and, limited to an equivalent lens choice, my DSLR would not produce photos 10 times as good. But it would produce photos more than twice as good. If in fact you could measure that.

Good Enough Software

Speaking of cameras, they take photos which sometimes need to be tweaked by software. As I am more skilled at “fixing in post” than “getting it right in camera” I tend to have fairly lofty requirements for photo processing software.

This year, I discovered Pixelmator Photo, which is a fantastic piece of software that runs on iPads. It is seriously approaching the quality of experience, and output, of some of the big hitters in the desktop software market. I wrote an article for about my “while travelling” process for DSLR photos which had Pixelmator Photo at its heart. In that piece, I wrote that the tools offered by Apple’s Photos app for iOS were “primitive.” iPad OS 13 changes that.

On the weekend I used my DSLR to get some good “product shots” of my old iPhone and Apple Watch which I would be selling online. After completely freezing my Mac trying to do some basic processing on the RAW images in Photos for Mojave, I fell back to using iPad OS’s Photos app by way of the SD Camera Connection Kit dongle. Not only was the process quick, and stable, but the tools were certainly good enough to get the job done and done well. They might even be good enough for my “real” photos when I’m on the go.

Except, of course, it should not be forgotten that all versions of Photos are terrible at photo management and that you can only use the tools on photos in your camera roll.

Look Both Ways

When I was a young’un at school, I was taught to “look right, look left, look right again” before crossing the street. Those of you in parts of the world who haven’t yet learned to drive on the left will need to swap left and right to understand. 😉 It’s pretty simple stuff — check for traffic approaching in the near lane first and last.

However, this simplicity escaped some local roading engineers when a previously one-way street was turned into a two-way bus lane. In order to help emphasise this change, these engineers came up with a tool to help pedestrians adapt. As far as I can work out, they painted “LOOK RIGHT” on the kerb in an effort to fool pedestrians into thinking the one way street had simply had the direction reversed and thus step out in front of a bus approaching from the left. After all, being hit by a bus will learn ya, right? The genius is in the fact that this is painted mere millimetres from the very narrow roadway, meaning you have to LOOK DOWN just at the point you should be looking right. And left. And right again.


Look Where You’re Walking

Following on from the previous topic, if there’s one way to rile me when I’m out in public, it’s to be looking where you’re going but not where you’re walking. Or just as bad, looking somewhere you’re neither going nor walking.

A particularly insane example of this is while jaywalking. It is not illegal in New Zealand (though arguably it is within 20m of a marked crossing), and it’s almost mandatory in Wellington — a very walkable city. Most roads in the city are one lane each way with frequent intersections and controlled pedestrian crossings and some have traffic calming measures also, so traffic is rarely very fast.

I’m an accomplished jaywalker from many years of practice. One of my critical factors in deciding whether to execute a jaywalk is, of course, whether there is a big enough gap in traffic. But a very close second to that is whether there is anywhere to exit the roadway on the other side. It blows my mind when people dash through a gap in traffic paying very close attention to said traffic, only to collide with a jaywalker heading in the opposite direction. Often me. The time to do the “you go left, no I’ll go left, no you…” dance is not in the middle of a road with approaching traffic.

Look right, look left, look right again, then… look where you’re walking.


Following on from last week’s item about the youth movement for climate action, I present this without further comment: New census data reveals more than half of NZ’s students use private vehicles to commute

That concludes this edition of Echoes. The comments are open, but will be moderated for civility. Alternatively you can hit me up on Twitter, where I go by @zkarj.

Categories: Echoes


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