A couple of weeks ago I replaced my ever faithful brick-Nokia with a recent smart phone. I like HTC and when my friend Henrik (an excellent salesman working at Elkjøp Ullevål – in case you need new a new phone) recommended X One I chose that instead of Samsungs result from the collaboration with Google, the Nexsus.
This post is not so much about the phones, but more about the photographic quality of new phones and some cool features, most importantly the title function – the new panorama function in Android 4.0. I’ve always been fascinated by good photographic works and in upper secondary I started playing around with digital cameras though I still chose to shoot SLR pictures with an analogue camera, using the classic tangible 45mm film. Just years earlier we bought (still living at home so more correctly, my dad bought) a digital camera from HP. This camera had the specs of a five year old phone with 1.3 Megapixels picture processor, and since it was communicating with the computer through a very slow Serial interface (Our Intel Pentium II didn’t support this interface anyway) higher resolution would just result in more frustration. Anyway the digital and the analogue had very much the same features at this time, the analogue had just much higher technical quality.
Lets jump forward to 2012 again, now analogue cameras are a rarity. Digital sensors are fitted into High-Fidelity equipment and used in everything from action movies to small indie-productions, so the quality and range of artistic impression is maintained even when cellulite and plastic is replaced with digital sensors. At the same time users of digital technology is using filters made to resemblance analogue noise and cheap techniques with advanced cameras. I don’t know if this is to make an authentic feeling or anything else, but instagram and hipstamatic does make some cool photos (I find it fascinating how pinhole has become a popular effect. After all with was the lack of lens which led to projection methods for capturing images).
With my new phone there are two effects that I find especially cool, and this is mostly because they just don’t add a layer of colours by changing the HSI-values or adding a mask. The HDR, or High Dynamic Range and the Panorama. For more about HDR i recommend the Wikpedia entry or this blog post by Richard Coyne.
The panoramic picture is known for its width and perspective (at least when you go extreme with the rotation you cram into a flat surface). With the earliest cameras it was also possible to make panoramic photos and in the beginning the technique was very simple. You aligned pictures next to each other and used glue or other tangible tools. The first version of the digital photos had a similar technique. You took different pictures and then you opened them in a special program which added the pictures next to each other. The big difference here is that the result was a brand new picture composed of two instead of two separate glued together, a nice thing made possible when operating with pixels in bits not atom.
This process was tiresome, no help to show you where to take the next picture since there was no way of remembering the boundries of the pictures already taken. Well, some solved this problem by adding a part of the last picture in the beginning of the next. Some camera producers even made the part semi-transparent, those fancy pants.
I never created panorama pictures that much. I love it through, panorama, both when it is presented in a spherical enviroment such as at the Norwegian theme park Hunderfossen, but particularly when it’s presented on a flat surface. It’s like seeing the world normally located around you in front of you. Now, I can create more, and I want to thank technology for that. In Android 4 it is an ingenious panorama function which makes it harder for the phone (CPU-cycle wise) and easier for the user. Just swipe your camera from left to right or from right to left. In this swiping movement you are presented rectangles at where the camera wants you to move past. When you focus the rectangle the camera takes a picture and calculates where the next rectangle should be placed. Very elegant. And when your pictures are taken it automatically calculate the panoramic picture.
Enough of the text, let’s see some pictures
Since the picture is not taken at once you may see that somethings reappear in more than one picture. If a person moves from one frame to the next as a picture is taken he will appear in both. Can you spot some of these “deja vu”s?