In this day and age when the white heat of digital technology has delivered imaging devices of stunning quality and performance, it can be seen, as a glance through used car sales websites will demonstrate, that private car sellers and even motor traders still cannot take a decent shot. If selling a used car surely you would want it to look its best?
It wasn’t that many years ago when DriveWrite would attend car events and launches toting a big bag, the contents of which included a hefty DSLR camera and three lenses. After a few hours of lugging this lot around, coupled with several hours of driving, it was all a bit knackering to say the least.
The Phone Camera
Cameras in telephones are nothing new of course but it is only in the last few years that the advancing technology has enabled the taking of high quality images from a pocket sized device. I now use a Sony Xperia which has a brilliant camera that, when used with the Snapseed app, delivers great results in both stills and video.
I notice many colleagues use these pocket-sized gems now, having eschewed the DSLR in favour of travelling light.
Image Quality RAW vs JPEG
Although the phone cam has come of age and the images produced are almost always entirely suitable for online use (where many of us live) they may not be of sufficient size and resolution for magazine purposes. This is where a camera that shoots RAW comes into its own.
Don’t let anyone tell you that a jpeg is the equal of a RAW version because it really is not. There is a vast difference in the amount of information retained in a RAW file compared to a JPEG.
For this quality reason, most professional photographers today shoot in RAW format for image processing later. Most dslr cameras allow users to shoot both RAW and jpeg images simultaneously which is the best of both worlds. In-camera processed jpegs are usually ideal for online use but for best magazine or printing results RAW rules, no question.
Most phone cams do not shoot RAW although there are a few that support the format to date.
What’s needed is a compromise and, as luck would have it, there is one in the form of the…
At last, thanks to electronic viewfinders that can now deliver the optical goods, the reflex mirror has been dropped from what have become known as ‘compact system cameras’ to offer dslr quality in small, light packages. The images of the Ford Ranger, a fine pickup truck (more on this in due course) on this page are jpegs straight from a mirrorless camera with no manipulation at all (honest) except for the adding of a border and resizing for the web.
They were made with a Sony a6000 which recorded RAW versions at the same time. This camera fits in my coat pocket and delivers images that will print to A2 and beyond. It carries an APS-C image sensor which is to be found in many dslr bodies but the Sony (and many other CSC cameras) has the added advantages of wifi and Bluetooth.
Obviously there is still a role for the dslr; it’s not dead yet. Nevertheless, whether the user is shooting professionally for magazines or print, or is a motoring writer capturing up-to-the-minute motors for a demanding public or just a guy selling a car, mirrorless is the way forward. Give your shoulders a break and save the phone for Instagram. Geoff Maxted