Midweek mobile 3

Amazement is very natural when you begin to look carefully at photos which have 65 million pixels. The featured photo of a bushbrown butterfly is as good as anything I’ve posted on this blog. I didn’t take this with a zoom. I did not try to creep up on the butterfly. I stood at a distance and took a photo of a meadow with my phone. That’s the photo you can see on the left in the diptych below. You can see a couple of patches which have been converted to monochrome. I could crop the photo to yield two close ups.

The butterfly photo that is featured was cropped as you see in the monochrome block and then reproduced at about 90% of the size of the crop. The result is quite acceptable on a laptop screen, and seems quite nice on my phone. That’s what 65 million pixels, and 20 Megabytes of memory gets you! The ability to crop pretty drastically and still get an acceptable photo.

Let me digress on the word size. You could think of size by the number of pixels in the photo (or equivalently) by the file size of the image. When I say reduction to 90% I’m speaking of the number of pixels. But you could also think of it in terms of the amount of screen space it covers. That depends on the screen. A phone screen has between 720 and 1440 pixels across the width of the screen. A good desktop screen can have a higher pixel density. Since devices differ quite a bit, I will not talk of sizes on the screen. Your perception of a photo will depend very much on it, of course. A million pixels shown in a small area will give a sharper feel than when it is stretched out over a larger area.

Here’s the second image cropped from the same original. In the gallery above you’ll see that this is a cropped out of a smaller area of the original than the butterfly. After the crop I reduced the size to almost 25% of the original. There’s still enough detail to see the plant and its strange flower. I’ll write about the flower later, but for that blog I’ll use photos taken with a macro lens. The reason is that there is a limit to the crop which is essentially set by the limit of resolution of the lenses.

Here is a crop from the second original in the gallery. Again the area which has been cropped is indicated. When I took this photo I thought I hadn’t charged the macro camera I took on a walk with me. So I took this photo of the lovely blue flower with my phone. After I’d gone forward I realized that the other camera was actually charged. But by then I’d forgotten this flower, and I never saw it again. You can see that I got a pretty decent photo of this flower, but it isn’t quite sharp. I think I hadn’t bothered to tell the phone which point of the field of view the focus should be on. Phone cameras are not quite ready to replace macro lenses yet, but maybe in a year or two the situation will change.

Phone photography changes our expectation of the interaction of camera hardware and image so dramatically that it is worth rethinking what photography means. I intend to explore this a bit in this series.


By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. I did this yesterday with a spider in my zinnias. I knew he was there, so it wasn’t completely just taking a photo of the zinnia plants and then looking, but I also knew that with my phone I’d never see him through the lens or whatever that is.

    Liked by 1 person

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