A Great Sony Alpha Companion Device: Sony Xperia 1 II Review

The Sony Xperia 1 II blends smartphone photography with the features of a dedicated Sony Alpha camera.

Smartphone cameras have come a long way in a small amount of time. Most reach for an iPhone or a Samsung device. However, you have other options. Sony makes smartphones too. Sony’s Xperia line of phones has been around for a while, but they tend to fly under the radar. However, they have a unique product in the Sony Xperia 1 II that we think photographers might like. The Xperia 1 II takes smartphone photography and mashes it together with the tech like human and animal eye autofocus found in Sony’s Alpha line of cameras. This all sounds great, but how does the camera perform in the real-world? Find out in our full review.

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There’s Better. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera Review

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is a very valuable tool for journalists, but it’s also just a lot of fun!

Our staff always says that photography should be fun. And for us, it isn’t always fun. Some cameras are too serious. Some are too complicated. But the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max camera is both fun and useful. One of my best friends is an Editor at a large Tech Publication. He’s been shooting for years, and has gotten sick of dedicated cameras. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max embraces the fun associated with spontaneity that Canon and Fuji don’t. It even rival’s Sony’s fantastic controls on their Xperia 1 Mk II. And if this were the only camera you had on you, I really couldn’t blame you.

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Does Your Phone Need This? PolarPro LiteChaser Filter System Review

The PolarPro LiteChaser Filter System is a nice way to add a circular polarizer into your workflow, but there are some flaws.

The cameras in modern smartphones are getting better and better. It’s no wonder that many people are ditching their dedicated cameras. One area that mobile photography needs help is in the accessories department. PolarPro has been making filters for traditional lenses for a long time, and they have decided to branch out into the mobile arena with their PolarPro LiteChaser filter system. While this system comes in many flavors, we had the chance to test and review the Photography Kit. Is this a system mobile photographers can’t live without? Let’s find out in our review.

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Long Term Review: Using the Sony Xperia 1 as an Every Day Camera

The Sony Xperia 1 is a phone with a pretty good camera. 

As a photographer and journalist, I find it hysterical when folks geek out hard about the image quality that cameraphones deliver. Granted, it improves with each generation, but so too do dedicated cameras. This doesn’t invalidate the advancements Sony has made with the Sony Xperia 1. Phone aside, the cameras, app ecosystem, and functionality are all quite good. If you’re a photographer with enormous paws, I can ultimately see how the Sony Xperia 1 could be the option you want. But, if you’re on the short bus like me, then it becomes a tad unwieldy. And if you’re a Sony Alpha camera user, don’t expect the same level of attention to imaging that you get from your a7 series device.

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Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (A Great Camera with a Phone)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ continues to blur the lines between phones with cameras and dedicated cameras.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ is packed with four cameras (three on the back and one on the front), and it promises to be quite extraordinary. We all have our own feelings about mobile photography, but whether you like it or not, it’s here to stay. Smartphone manufacturers have been working hard to blur the lines between dedicated cameras and those found in smartphones, and Samsung is no exception. Over the last few years, the Galaxy Note series of phones have been pushing mobile photography boundaries hard, and the AI they use is becoming more powerful. But do the cameras live up to the hype? Let’s find out in our review. Continue reading…

Smartphone Review: Huawei Mate 10 Pro (Apple Had Better Be Scared of the Camera)

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a nice phone; but still not enough to move me away from iOS

When the Huawei Mate 10 Pro was announced, I saw it as just another good phone from Huawei–but what I didn’t know is just how much more I’d really like the camera vs the iPhone’s. I’m an Apple iPhone 8 Plus user and I’ve been an Apple smartphone user for around four or so years. I was originally an Android user, and with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro I experienced some of the first wonderlust that I had when I moved to Android from a regular flip phone years ago.

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Review: Kodak Ektra SmartPhone (Android)

I’ve had the Kodak Ektra for a pretty long while now and have purposely taken my time with this review. The reason: I hated the Google Chrome Pixel to the point where it’s sitting in a spot in my office and I never reviewed it, and so I wanted to give the Kodak Ektra a proper go. For years and years, I was an Android phone user and there was something I always felt I was missing until I went over to the iPhone. I switched to the iPhone mostly because around 80% of readers of this website read it daily from an iPhone. So why shouldn’t I, as the business owner, have the same experience? Despite Apple making some extremely questionable moves in the past few years that have angered a whole lot of professional users like me, the phones are still more reliable and do everything I want in an arguably more efficient manner than Android devices do.

Despite a fair amount of issues, the Kodak Ektra is perhaps the first phone that would make me consider going back to Android.

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First Impressions: Kodak Ektra Smartphone

Earlier this year, the Kodak Ektra smartphone was announced and photographers looked on with curiosity. The Kodak Ektra is manufactured by Kodak–you know, the same company that makes fantastic film. And so the inspiration for the Ektra was to be revolutionary in the same way that the Ektra camera was years ago. The Kodak Ektra was the first film camera with a manual film advance on it according to Kodak, and so they were trying to bring back a sense of that spirit with the new phone. On that idea, the phone isn’t designed for the uber-hipster techie that doesn’t believe themselves to be a hipster, but instead it’s designed for the creative hipster–you know, the stereotypical one that you’d say is one but is actually just on a different creative level than lots of people are. Take for example Thomas Leuthard, who has been using the phone to great success.

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Review: Bitplay 18mm HD Wide Angle Lens (Apple iPhone)

Though many of the more traditional photographers don’t really take the iPhone seriously, it’s very fair to say that lens options like the Bitplay 18mm HD Wide Angle lens for the Apple iPhone are options that can really change the way you shoot. Bitplay has a load of excellent lens optics for their SNAP! Pro case, which we’ve reviewed previously and they’ve updated. But this newest addition is promising incredibly low distortion. So if you’re an adventure photographer, landscape photographer, street photographer, or cityscape shooter, then there is very little reason why you wouldn’t want a lens like this. In the same way that Moment and Zeiss have been changing the way that photographers shoot with the iPhone, this new lens offering from Bitplay is very similar.

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Review: Motorola Moto Z Play With Hasselblad True Zoom

When you look at the state of camera phones today, you’ll find loads of interesting options out there–and today the Motorola Moto Z Play & Hasselblad True Zoom phone are yet another option available that’s trying to really stand out from all the rest. It seeks to appeal to a person’s specific interests by allowing various peripherals to be connected to the phone; and with the case of the Hasselblad True Zoom peripheral, you have a 10x optical zoom with a camera, a zoom rocker, and a shutter button that work pretty well. Indeed, it makes a load of sense and truly embodies the evolution of the point and shoot camera.

At the same time though, it has its share of problems that Motorola promises will be fixed very soon.

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Review: SNAP! Pro iPhone Photography Case (Apple iPhone 6S)

If you had asked me years ago to do an iPhone camera case review, I probably wouldn’t have taken you seriously though I had full knowledge that I’d eventually do them. Fast forward a while, and here I am: and enjoying the heck out of it. One of those cases that is rather enjoyable is the SNAP! Pro lens case.

Built like a tank, it allows you to use a variety of fisheye, wide angle, telephoto, and macro lenses in addition to a CPL filter. The case is built hardy and tries to do what it can to embrace the ergonomics of an actual camera. In some ways, it feels like a rangefinder. And in some other ways, it falls short.

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Review: Photojojo Iris Lenses (iPhone 6)

Photojojo has been known for making some really cool and fun stuff for photographers. They had iPhone lenses before, but they weren’t that high quality. Photojojo wasn’t alone on this though–everyone and their mother tried to create some sort of plastic fantastic lenses for the iPhone. Moment, on the other hand, created some fantastic lenses using glass–and the new Photojojo Iris lenses also utilize glass.

Using a lanyard and mount system, the Iris lenses are a trio including a macro, fisheye and wide angle lens. Made of metal and glass, they’re also pretty large for something that is supposed to mount onto such a small camera and sensor.

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Review: Asus Zenfone 2 Camera

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Though we don’t review many phones on the site, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some incredible ones out there that make picture taking a better experience. Take for example all of the hype that was behind the recently released Asus Zenfone 2. Touted as being powerful enough to be a serious camera and having DSLR like features, there is still no way that this can replace a dedicated camera despite how much Asus may say it can. However, they’re making a couple of accessories like a flash that make taking photos better in certain situations.

With a 13MP rear camera sensor from Toshiba, five glass elements in the f2 lens, and a couple of cool features like an HDR mode, the phone has quite a lot going for it on top of manual controls. Unfortunately, it has its vices too.

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The Phoblographer’s Top 10 Mobile Photography Apps

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You might get an eye roll in some circles if you say you shoot with your phone. Some might say that phones aren’t real cameras, but the truth is that phones are incredibly capable cameras that can sometimes succeed where bigger rigs might fail. Thankfully, there are a bevy of mobile apps to streamline the process from shooting to editing. Here are our picks for best mobile apps.

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Review: COVR Photo

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Here at The Phoblographer, we get plenty of emails from folks with ideas for ways to trick out your phone in order to help it take better photographs. These ideas almost always come with a Kickstarter link attached. Yet, most are variations on things that already exist. What you see above is the first item that made us take a step back and say, “There’s something there.” The case resting on top of my iPhone 5 is called the COVR Photo, the brainchild of Thomas Hurst, a Seattle-based photojournalist with a wealth of experience. The COVR Photo is a case designed for the iPhone 5/5S, with a 6/6+ one in the works, that has a prism lens for making iPhone photography a little more candid. Essentially, you can hold the phone like you do when you text, but you can make a photograph of whatever’s in front of you.

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DNG RAW Files from the Google Nexus 5 Are Quite Versatile

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Since RAW DNG access was unlocked on the Nexus 5 via Camera FV-5, we’ve been playing a bit with it. What we didn’t expect were some incredibly versatile RAW DNG files with very good highlight recovery and pretty good shadow/black level recovery. After bringing the DNG files into Adobe Lightroom 5, we were able to see what the camera’s small sensor is capable of doing.

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Expand Your Mobile Photography with Moment, a Lens Collection for iOS and Galaxy S Devices

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Moment is a new Kickstarter campaign that aims to improve the mobile photography space. Currently, Moment comprises two lenses: Moment Wide and Moment Tele. As their names suggest, wide is for wide angle and tele is for telephoto. In order to mount the lenses on your iPhone, you attach a metal plate that sits around the camera and twist the lens into place. Galaxy and iPad mounts are still in the prototype stage, but the folks behind the campaign plan to have the mounts ready when they start fulfilling orders.

On the spec sheet for iPhone 5S, the Wide has an 18mm focal length, and the Tele has a 58mm focal length. For the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Wide has a 19mm focal length, and the Tele has a 62mm focal length. These measurements are 35mm equivalents. When all’s ready to go, Moment lenses will be available for: iPhone 4S, 5, 5S and 5C; iPad 2, 3rd gen and 4th gen; Samsung Galaxy S2, S3 and S4.

The campaign just launched, and it’s already amassed over $43,000. If the trend continues, it’ll blow way past its goal. Moment isn’t the first of its kind for mobile devices, but it looks to be among the best in a long while. With Moment, iPhone, iPad and Galaxy S owners will have a stronger reason to reach for their devices in order to make a photograph.

Head over to the Moment page on Kickstarter to check it out.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom

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In the pantheon of image making devices, smartphones usually don’t rank very high when held against actual cameras. The only fair comparison would be within its own class. Smartphones are phones first and cameras second. Or third or fourth, depending on the priorities of the company. Samsung is one of a few companies that has its hands in both the camera and mobile industries. With the Galaxy S4 Zoom, Samsung effectively fused the S4 Mini with its point and shoot line of cameras along with some subtle NX style touches.

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Review: Nokia Lumia 925

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Nokia’s Lumia 925 has been in our hands for a little while now, and when to comes down to just pure photography–this is the best damned phone you can probably get your hands on for a budget price. It also has a solid build quality and excellent LCD screen, but for what it’s worth, the phone also runs on the operating system that is behind the rest: Windows Phone. This results in a major disconnect if you’re coming from an Android phone or iOS device. But if you’re not tethered to either of those, the Lumia 925 is a nice option.

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First Impressions: Nokia Lumia 925

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Though it isn’t the flagship device that the Nokia Lumia 1020 is, the 925 still packs a sweet camera and Nokia’s Pro Camera App–which allows the user to have full manual control over the camera sans the aperture. Being a photography website, we had to check this one out. Complete with a Carl Zeiss lens, 8.7MP 1/3 inch sensor, f2 aperture, full manual controls, dual LED flash, and a couple of key apps to start with, the camera on this phone is one of its major selling points. But besides that, worthy of note is the fact that this is a Windows Phone, has a 4.5″ AMOLED display, and a Dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4 processor.

At the time of publishing this piece, we’ve had the phone for a couple of days–and we’re actually warming up to it very closely.

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First Impressions: Sony QX-10 and QX-100

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Yes, the rumors have been circulating for a very long time now and we have to admit: they’ve been true. The Sony QX10 and QX100 lenses with sensors built in are indeed real–and they totally connect to your mobile device. The QX10 and QX100 have a very specific naming for really good reasons. For the most part, the QX10 is a small sensor unit with a long zoom range while the QX100 is a larger sensor unit that is akin to the company’s RX100 camera. So just imagine it: the excellent photo shooting capabilities of the RX100 and your phone–connected together in true harmony via Wifi or NFC. Your Instagram is about to get a heck of a lot better.

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