How does the Google Pixel 2's camera compare to a $20k Hasselblad?


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/03/how-does-the-google-pixel-2s.html


#2

I agree that with practice you can shoot quality with a cell phone camera, but you really need to tweak them in PhotoShop to get printable scans that will stand the test of time.


#3

Flashing a $20k camera and they can’t pay the model a little bit of cash, for a video that they are expecting revenue from? And they have so little concern about it that they even tell us about it?


#4

Seriously? If that’s true, I am not watching the video.


#5

That’s the way it started out and exactly when I stopped. Dont know if they paid her later… joke? Seemed like the model is a friend doing a favor, but that is besides the point when that industry has a huge problem expecting free work. A jerk with a $20k camera knows better.


#6

Pixel pixel peeping.


#7

What Google and Apple have managed to do with smallish lenses and sensors and lots of software is pretty astonishing. It makes me wonder what they could do if they had the space for Hasselblad-sized lenses and sensor.


#8

If you ever venture into the swamp that is Quora, you’ll see dozens of posts on the photography boards encouraging people to get into ruts.
They’re always the same. “To take portraits on an APS-C DLSR, you need a fast 50.” (or more commonly, a “AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/ 1.8G”, because of all the “please spend my rupees for me” type posts.

and yet, there are books like this one.

50 Lighting Setups for Portrait Photographers

which hardly mention the fast 50. Instead, the focus is on using lots of lights, and a comparatively deep aperture (f8-11).

A different approach, possibly more cumbersome. Definitely more expensive. Potentially more pleasing to the eye.

what the phones do is expand the library of cliches that a small camera can perform. For creative work, a dedicated camera is more versatile.

I’d expect that the dedicated photography enthusiasts will change their styles (or run out of money first.)


#9

Not totally disagreeing with you, but the 20K camera belongs to the other photog who also seems to be doing his friend a favor. I assume he didn’t pay either one of them to appear in his video. He plugs the model’s blog toward the end of the video.

He’s obviously not destitute though - Mac pro workstation, whatever obviously good camera he shot the video with, lighting a local camera shop loaned him (presumably so he’d plug it in the video which he did).

I don’t like business relationships where people work “for exposure”, but if it’s really a couple of his friends, that’s not the same exploitation as purely professional relationships. We have no idea what those people’s friendships are like or why they might be working on the video for free. If someone chooses to post someone else asking them to work for exposure to something like For Exposure, then yeah, that’s not cool and I’ll express outrage on their behalf. But otherwise I’m going to respect the choice of the person who decided to do that work and not try to make that decision for them.


#10

Those are good points. But why even put that interaction in the video when the whole industry is weary of TFS? It’s just odd.


#11

They get away with it because people have such low expectations, having been fed a diet of very subpar 35mm compact cameras for so many years (and the early digital compacts were no better). High street printing standards have also been rather poor. They have also sold people on abominations like prints on canvas, which conceal all kinds of defects. Phone cameras do a very good job of replacing the basic fixed lens fixed focal length compact with high street printing. I use one. But they don’t replace good quality imaging.
When 4k screens become commonplace the difference between phone cameras and serious cameras will be a lot more visible. The limit is the wavelengths of visible light and there’s no way around it. A camera with an 8mm diagonal sensor can’t really resolve more than 2k pixels, and that’s pushing it. (HTC tried to persuade people of this but they didn’t want to know). High MPx phone sensors are relying on dithering and averaging. As soon as you start cropping, image resolution falls fast. Unless you are filling the frame, even a 1080px monitor -roughly 2k pixels - will show the limitations.
A good zoom on an APS size camera can resolve a true 9-10MPx, which means you can fill the frame with a 4k picture without cropping. A medium format camera will allow you to print A2 or B2 size with a high degree of fidelity.
Resolution and lack of noise are not everything, but if you want to photograph landscape or nature they’re pretty essential.


#12

The popularity of that comes out of the canon “nifty fifty”. Which is apparently a 50mm full frame lens (and isn’t particularly fast). On an aps-c sensor that comes out to somewhere around 80mm equivalent, a slight telephoto. And slight telephoto lenses are (or were) often taught as “best” for studio portraiture. As well as being very nice for things like macro and some other things the internets likes an awful lot.

That nifty 50 is an interesting lens. Primarily based on what it provides for aps-c sensors. A somewhat cheap, not terrible with light, analogue to what used to be a specialty lens. On a full frame it’s just a boringly mid grade normal lenses.

Conflate that with 50mm being “normal” for 35mm/fullfram cameras. And a long standing tradition of normal lenses with very low F-stop ratings (that being your “fast 50”) being one of several preferred default setups in photojournalism.

And well, some not bad advice the giver doesn’t actually understand.


#13

After just going through the aprox 2.5K of pictures from my son’s first year I have some experience with this.

I professionally shoot a Nikon D800 (well, 850 now). I have an iPhone SE in my pocket. The SE isn’t as good as some cameras but it’s also not terrible and not that old.

The bulk of my shots of my son were on the SE with occasional batches from the Nikon. It was a pretty remarkable difference between the two in real-world scenarios where you’re not in control of the light and racing to capture the moment.

I would usually have to denoise the SE pics and do other processing tricks on them to get ok to good results. The Nikon pretty much always was at least good to start out and I could easily edit to great if the pic had the potential.

In short getting great pics with a phone is a lot more work. That said, the best camera is always the one you have.


#14

The 50mm 1.8 is a cheap lens to sell, and a cheap lens to make. On a 35mm SLR, it’s close enough to “normal”. (Others will say that normal is closer to 42 mm) But a 42 mm might be hadrer to make.

On a Nikon, has the same angle of view as a 75mm lens would have on a 35mm camera. On a Canon, it’s closer to 80mm.
Back in the old days, 35mm manufacturers offered an 85mm, a 105mm and a 135mm as short telephotos, and all three were used as “portrait” lenses. Later on, if you were insanely rich, you might opt for a 200mm f2.
It was harder to produce the longer lenses with larger apertures, so I guess some people made do with a fast 85mm. That doesn’t mean that it’s the ne plus ultra of lenses.
Cruft, upon cruft, upon cruft.

I love the creamy soft backgrounds that are produced by my 300mmf4. It’s far more interesting than a 50mm 1.8 and I could probably figure out a way to use it as a portrait lens if I really wanted to. But it’s expensive, big, heavy, slow, and in my case, noisy.


#15

If you shoot in Raw on an iPhoneX and then process that file, it looks far better than that Pixel model shot. Heck, I get better results on my iPhone 7 than he got. Not to knock the Pixel, I’ve seen great results with it. But this was a lame “test” at best and clickbait at worst.


#16

No is the not the “best”, or only, or the one you should buy by default. But 80-100mm was often called out as great portrait lens for what it did to the proportions of the face. Regardless of whether you were going for sharp focus or not. Its something that was (and probably still is) still being taught in photo and film making classes until pretty recently. They’ve also long been a thing in product photography, macro photography and some other stuff. Point being there are people, and books, and schools out there that will tell you to seek out an 80ishmm lens. As you yourself pointed out long telephotos are sort of impractical in close up or studio situations.

And these days manufacturers do still make 85, 105, and 135mm (along with 110’s, 115’s, 125’s etc) lenses with nice low aperture settings. An f1.8 50mm cannon lens (the “nifty fifty” most of these people are on about) can easily be had at or around $100. The 85mm from the same line seems to go for around $300 (just spot checking prices on google). They don’t seem to make an APS-c specific prime lens that gives you the same sort of slight telephoto. And the zooms they make that go up to, or cover that range, are again. More expensive. With a much higher minimum F. Quality 3rd party lenses in my experience are often even more expensive. And having sold professional camera equipment far enough “back in the day” to know. That’s sort of always where it stood. Those lenses came at a premium.

So those affordable 50mm, with low f-stop lenses are a fairly new thing. Only when combined with that smaller sensor camera. A relatively cheap, fast, slight telephoto.

And they became popular all of a sudden with a new generation of hobbyists who more than likely only had experience with zooms.

And from what I remember of the photojournalism end of things. Fast, often very fast. Normal or slight wide angle lenses were preferred in a lot of situations for easy framing, good light, lenient focus, etc. “Shooting fast” as in doing it quickly, rather than “fast with light”. For similar reasons it was the default kit lens packaged with consumer cameras for decades. And often still is, good set up for family photos and students.

Its pretty easy to see the way those two things. One pointed out by clever people looking for a bargain on prime lenses not normally produced for sub full frame cameras. And one just out there as a “50mm is good” combine into the current fetish.

I think the rise of DSLRs for video, and pro-video cameras mounting cheaper still photo lenses, is a factor too. Fast lenses are insanely important in video, and telephotos over 200 millimeters are uncommon.

Its decent advice, for a couple different situations. I just don’t think most of the people throwing it around understand any of this. I’ve had this conversation with multiple friends who were crowing about their new 50mm lens. And the response is “no dood fifties are what the pros use” or abject confusion.


#17

This is why I use a 50mm lens as a portrait lens on an APS DSLR. It isn’t the focal length but the working distance. An 80mm lens on 35mm fills the frame at a working distance that makes faces look a little less fat. I did put up a diagram once but I can’t find it.
Victor Blackman once told me that he used a Rollei with an 80mm lens for portraits, but effectively used the centre because, the resolution being a bit lower than his Leicas, it didn’t show up every tiny facial imperfection. So it was the best of both worlds.


#18

I think the company you are looking for is called Red


#19

I wonder, can the pixel 2 shoot RAWs? I’d love to see those in lightroom, and play with them.

ETA: pity Mark didn’t link to the peta pixel piece. For everyone who doesn’t like to waste time on the video, for reasons (I’m looking at you, @Medievalist :wink: ), here’s the money quote:

“Remember: anytime you see somebody telling you that a smartphone is going to be replacing your DSLR, it’s probably just clickbait… just like doing a comparison between a $20,000 camera and a smartphone.”

https://petapixel.com/2018/01/02/google-pixel-2-camera-stacks-20000-hasselblad/


#20

Red is simply a producer of Cinema grade video cameras. Their reputation primarily comes from being the first cinema grade camera you could reasonably outfit for less than $20k. Currently their Cameras run significantly more than a Hasblad and are significantly bigger.

Their announced (and apparently preorderable phone) doesn’t seem to have seen any more info since August. And doesnt appear to involve fitting a large cinema sized or medium format sensor into a cell phone. It appears to involve having that large sensor offloaded into a separate module of some sort. And there seems to be little info about just what kind of sensor would be in there. But heavy modularity is Reds other trick. The one that’s kept them popular even as prices rose. And the one that means their products are never as cheap as the single price listing for their camera bodies make it seem.

Either way I kind of suspect the phone will turn out as vaporware. If not take a very long time to come out. Base idea is to somehow get your phone into one of their modular camera systems. Which seems rather pointless to me. If you’re the kind of person who spends over a grand on a camera body, And several grand more on the tools that Bolt on to that body. You’re probably disinterested in your phone being your main camera.