Monday, December 12, 2016

Macro Photography with an iPhone 7+: Moment Lens

I have found the iPhone 6 and 7 to be amazing tools for photography.  Even though their low resolution (12MP)  presents an insurmountable wall, as far as optical enlargement, the cameras themselves seem almost magically better than those of other zmart phone cameras I have used.  The Photos image management tool is, for me, leaps and bounds better than those I remember from past phones, giving almost instantaneous access to large numbers of photos (if only it allowed instant deletion also!).  I loved the ability to deploy the Note 5 camera almost instantly; but the iPhone 6 immediately took my photography to a new level.  This is what happened to me many years ago, when I traded in a Nikkormat and several lenses for a used Leicaflex, and a low power telephoto: my photographs were instantly much, much better.

Macro Photography has a strong pull on me.  Give me a camera, and the first thing I do is check how close I can focus.  Well, I was fooled by the iPhone 7+, when I tried it at the Apple Store.  I took a shot of my finger, and was amazed how close I could get and how sharp was the photo.  I'm not sure I understand what was the difference, but later, using my own phone. I found that it was extremely difficult to get a photo of the same sharpness and magnification.  The problem was, I think, that the two cameras work together in mysterious ways, driven by the algorithms in the firmware.  Some of the algotrthms---as well as the functionality of the photo management infrastructure---seem to concentrate on the lowest common denominator of snap shots that an average consumer would take.  Face identification, pets, landscapes, kids.  Not that these are not important, but these cameras can do much more.  The iPhone7 and 7+ cameras can save photos in raw format; but the canonic camera app does not allow this feature to be exploited: I am learning to use other "cameras" to utilize this feature, as well as to access the functions of the physical camera with a more hands-on approach.   I'd be extremely pleased to be able to do my photography algorithmically.  Various cameras take better advantage than others of certain features.  Camera+ has a macro mode.  Several cameras can directly bypass the algorithms that select which of the iPhone 7+ cameras is being used for a specific shot.

So, fooled at first, I still am discovering its capabilities.   will mention that the wide angle lens brings much better results to dim light photography.  Perhaps to available light macro?

In this post, I am focusing on macro photography with the Moment Macro lens.

A review, of sorts

[The following comes from  a letter to Moment.]

   I am still climbing the learning curve.  During the time since I took delivery
   on my the iPhone 7+, I have tried out several camera apps.  I spend more time
   on Macro than anything else, so my experiences are biased in that way.

   Each cam has its own feature set, so I think that over time I will find myself
     using each cam for it's strengths.  None has all the advantage in any way.

   - burst mode is extremely useful to me.  I do alot of handheld macro (eg
     flowers, insects, etc.)  Taking a burst serves well: often, one of even 100
     photos in a burst is sharper or has a more salutary plane of focus or angle
     on the subject. 
   - The "Photos" app is remarkably facile for sorting through a burst or a bunch
     of photos quickly.  Rapid deletion without need for feedback is found on at
     least one camera;  I Would like to have that abillity from different cameras.
   - It would be be terrific if deletions or selections from bursts were
     reversible in some kind of trash bin for a while.
   - I don't quite understand whether the iOS photos app actually permanently
     deletes, when a selection is made from a burst.  For me, it would be best if
     these changes were indeed permanent.  I don't like sorting through my photos
     more than once.
   - The brush works well to clean the lens, so far.
   - I didn't realize that the diffuser on the macro lens is removeable.  I have
     been pleased with the results using the diffuser, which enables me to use the
     iPhone7+ flash with pretty good effect.  Not perfect.  I am thinking, how
     could a shiny metal reflector be used to effect on the other side of the
     diffuser bowl.  This would approximate the Lieberkuhn attachment for
     microscopes of 150 and more years ago.
   - Finding that I can use the lens without the diffuser: what a boon!  And how
     well designed is the hood!  It fits either way.  (Although I am disappointed
     that I must use an implement if my fingernails are cut short, to dig the hood
     out if it is pushed down into the diffuser too far.  Nice detail.
   - Camera+ app has a macro mode that is useful.  I haven't learned enough how to
     use it yet.
   - The photos I take are much better.
   - Night time macro walking out in the garden, the flash works great with this
     lens and diffuser.
   - I'm a little freaked out about the bracket, that at some point I might tweak
     the lens hard enough to bend the bracket.  The bracket sticks out far enough
     to make it possible to bank it or scrape it, putting the phone down.
   - My Silk iphone7+ case (see Wirecutter) works very well with the lens
     bracket.  Love this case.
   - I need to get access to raw.  This brings up the point that the Moment Camera
     is simple and nice, but except for recording the lens specs in the exif info
     it doesnt seem more useful than other cameras, esp the native camera.  BTW,
     access into complete exif info would be a boon from the camera app when
     reviewing pix.  Even better would be to record tags or comments in the exif
     of a photo.
   - So far I am very pleased with the quality and design of this lens.  KUDOS!

Some Photos

Looking at these, I want to do more.  Darn!  It's been raining quite a bit.  Time to hit a botanical garden, and check the possibility of using this as an "aquarium microscope" (through the glass). 

African Violet, using diffuser and flash, zoomed
Christmas Cactus
Bouganvilla FLower
Spider in apartment on paper towel

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