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PureView Drone Photography – by Peter Meijs

Recently, my PureView friend Peter Meijs hinted something about working with a drone to do some spectacular shooting with his Nokia 808 PureView. Of course, I contacted him directly to write a post about his experience.

Today  he sent me this – I think – no less than sensational post. I’m proud to share it here, at the PureViewClub. Everything you read below is written and captured by Peter Meijs (aka Pixel Peter on Flickr).

Choose your drone and your shop
Suppose you own a Nokia 808 PureView and want to do “drone photography” on a budget, here’s how I did it. First I looked for a partner to share the adventure and to cut cost in half. I “conspired” with my photoclubfriend Peter van Doorne. He is always in for adventures and thinks perpendicular to my thinking so he is my ideal sparring partner.

Initially I looked for a DJI Phantom drone but Peter van Doorne suggested a Blade 350 QX. On the internet we found: “The Blade 350 QX quadcopter is a solid package for anyone looking to get into aerial videography. It does not pack the same punch as the DJI Phantom series of quadcopters, but at its price point, $478 for a RTF (Ready To Fly) version it offers a decent value at the entry-level market”.

Peter van Doorne found a shop “Modelbouw Bloemendaal” with the Blade 350 QX instock. Bloemendaal is close by for us and the shop turned out to be a real specialist. The choise of a “physical” shop and not an “internet” shop proved to be important because we knew nothing about model airplanes and we had to ask many questions. But let’s first see how our setup looks:

On a budget, but photos with high IQ
The Nokia 808 PureView weights 170 grams. Our goal was not to make videos but photos. We both want high quality photos be it that I go for “nature” and “people” and Peter van Doorne for “architecture” “garden” and “social”.

I am rather experienced with the Nokia 808 PureView and I thought that the combination of low weight, big sensor, PureView technology and features should make the Nokia 808 PureView useful for drone photography. The results even surpassed our expectations.

The Blade 350 QX costs about half the price of a Phantom drone and an anti-vibration camera mount is included. That mount is based on rubber joints and has optimized dimensions for a GoPro camera. To this mount we fixed the Nokia 808 PV with rubber straps.

The Nokia 808 PV has no optical image stabilization but the rather basic rubber joint approach of the Blade mount proved to be sufficient. Our pictures show that a so called Gimbal construction (more axis gyroscope stabilization) that costs between $ 300 and 400 is not necessary. At least not for drone photography during daylight.

Next picture (from the manual) shows the details of the Blade camera mount.

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An old farm at the river. Nokia, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Oppo: 7 smartphones, 8 resolutions (3)

Here´s the third scene I captured a few days ago during a sunny day last week, when I was testing the Nokia 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Oppo Find 7a.

The Nokia will let you capture in three different resolutions, the Lumia 1020 and 1520 give you two with the same shot, you can shoot in two resolutions with Sony’s Xperia Z2 and with the Oppo Find 7a. So in total I’ve been sharing thirteen shots from all devices.

You know the drill after the previous two posts I guess. First I show you the original scene – this time from the 5MP result coming from the Nokia Lumia 1520 (which I chose for no particular other reason than change :-).

2c Nokia Lumia 1520 River 5MP 640 x 360

In the next screenshots (again, they are resized to fit this post), I’ll be “closing in” on the old farm on the other side of the river. From HTC’s 4MP up to Oppo’s 37MP (in 16:9 aspect ratio). At least it’s interesting to see there are many different shades of blue in these results :-)

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The importance of peeping pixels

Here’s a post I just have to share with you. Steve Litchfield seems to be having the exact same thoughts as I’ve been having for the past weeks / months: why are we both so concerned with all the tiny details of smartphone photography?

I wrote about it myself a few weeks ago. Call me vain, but I’ll quote from my own post: “The higher the resolution, the more details you’ll see or get to work with. It will enable you to make sharper printed results, or bigger prints with great quality. And it will provide you with the possibility to zoom in (and crop) your shots before sharing or printing.”

Now Steve and I must be kindred spirits in some way, and I just need to quote some of his post as well. Don’t forget to read his complete post however!

- I’m not against image effects, I’m not against post processing, and I’m certainly not advocating others go around looking at their photos under a magnifying glass or zooming them in to see individual pixels. But there is method in my madness…

 - the only reason why most people don’t notice flaws in their smartphone photos is because they only view them on a phone screen and share via very low resolution versions on social media. 

- next time I do a head to head camera shootout and wax lyrical over the purity of the images produced, bandying about 1:1 crops, remember that I do this not because I intend to view the photos on a 50″ screen or printout, but because purity is important in the ongoing workflow with what you intend to do with the image later on.

These are just three quotes from an even more interesting post. Steve added a few very interesting examples, too. You can read it all here.

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An ancient castle. Nokia, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Oppo: seven smartphones, eight resolutions (2)

As you may already have read, a few days ago I’ve been testing the Nokia 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Oppo Find 7a. With each device I took several shots, when possible in different resolutions, so I ended up with way more than a hundred shots to select from. From all those shots I selected the very best.

First scene was from a bar in new restaurant in an ancient fort in the small city of Muiden. This time you’ll see the majestic outlook on the Muiderslot, an ancient castle that dates back to the 13th (!) century (check the link). It was a very sunny day, so the light was bright and constant (not hindered by any clouds that is, which is a bit of a rarity in The Netherlands).

Like the last time, I’ll show you one resized shot of the scene itself first, then I’ll “zoom in” to see how much detail you will get from the different reslutions. This is the Nokia 808 PureView’s 8MP result (resized to fit this post of course).

3a Nokia 808 PureView Muidersslot 8.3MP 640 x 360

I do realize there is a lot more to be said about coloring etc (there are some huge differences in the way the old bricks and the blue sky is represented), but I’m focusing on resolutions in this test first.

Like I wrote in the previous post, it ranges from 4MP in the HTC One M8 all the way up to the artificial 37MP in the Oppo Find 7a. Not the full 50MP resolution since I ‘m shooting in 16:9 and “artificial” since there is no 50MP sensor in the device – it combines four 13MP shots.

Here’s the full range (screenshot from my laptop) in the order I’m going to present them to you.

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Nokia, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Oppo: 3 scenes, 7 smartphones, 8 resolutions (part 1)

Luckily I had a few hours off yesterday afternoon and the weather was great, so I tried to find some interesting scenes to capture with no less than seven (!) smartphones.

I was travelling with the Nokia 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy S5 (still don’t have the K Zoom to test), Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Oppo Find 7a. With each I took several shots, when possible in different resolutions, so I ended with way more than a hundred shots to select from.

Now there’s only one way to do this – I won’t post all three scenes in one post, but stick to one scene per post. In this post, I will share only one resized version of the original scene to show you where all the 100% screenshots came from.

Then I will present you all 13 screenshots from the lowest to the highest resolution – so from HTC’s One M8 (4MP) to Oppo’s Find 7a (37MP in 16:9) First scene is a quite dark bar in a new restaurant in an old fortress in the very small but beautiful city of Muiden (definitely worth a visit when you’re in Amsterdam for instance).

Here’s the original scene (of course, you’ll find all the original shots on Flickr!). When possible, all smartphones were set to “lamplight” (Tungsten), since after some experimenting I was sure it would give the most appropriate result under these circumstances.

2b Nokia Lumia 1020 5MP Dark Cave 640 x 360Now here we go with the screenshots I made from the scene looking at it 100%… Starting with the 4MP shot from the HTC One M8 1 HTC One M8 Dark Cave 4MPNot bad of course – pretty bright but that’s what I expected from the “ultrapixel”. But keep in mind you can’t get much closer than this – this screenshot was taken at 100%. You’ll already get a bit more detail at 5MP. You’ll see the Nokia 808 PureView – darkest of all, but most realistic – and the 5MP results from the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 (in that order) Read more…

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The Verge: iPhone 5S best smartphone camera

It’s been a while and this might a bit off-topic, but I can’t resist writing about Verge’s new This Is My Next “buying guide for the future”.

The first episode is about the best smartphone, and the Verge bluntly states the iPhone 5S simply is the best you can buy: “two things really set the iPhone 5S apart: its camera and its ecosystem.”

Verge reporter David Pierce says: “The 8MP camera is the most consistent, sharpest, simplest camera smartphone camera you’ll find. Other smartphones offer cool features the iPhone doesn’t, but there’s just nothing that matches its picture quality or ease of use.

Well, I think there are far too many smartphone cameras around to just state the iPhone is best at being “most consistent and simplest”. And I simply refuse to believe that “there’s nothing that matches its picture quality“.

I’m quite sure it’s okay, I’ll accept it’s far above average even – but I won’t buy it offers the best picture quality. It won’t come as a surprise to you I believe the Nokia 808 PureView and the Nokia Lumia 1020 are King in this area.

Talking about Lumia, the Verge says: “You might find yourself looking at a Windows Phone like the Lumia Icon or the Lumia 925, but even though they have good cameras and hugely improved software thanks to Windows Phone 8.1, they still don’t have the app selection or general performance the best iOS and Android devices do.”.

When the smartphone camera is considered to be that important, not even mentioning the Nokia Lumia 1020 is almost hilarious. As I think the way The Verge is complaining about Windows Phone app selection and performance is pretty old-fashioned.

First runner up is the HTC One M8, although the camera is “the big compromise“. That’s sort of funny, since the camera was one of the most important reasons to prefer the iPhone 5S over everything else. It’s HTC’s design that wins here, since The Verge must know the second runner up simply has quite a bit more to offer.

Second runner up is the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the way The Verge is putting this smartphone down is seriously making me wonder if this wasn’t sponsored by Apple in the first place.

The Galaxy S5 “takes good but unspectacular pictures pretty much all the time. Actually anything about the S5 is good but unspectacular. I has a good screen, some useful software features and great battery life. And it’s waterproof, which I really like.

But it has a plasticy design, which is better than last year’s S4 but still not exactly attractive. And it’s still too full of overbearing and unnecessary software and bloopy sound effects to really be a great enjoyable device. There’s nothing terrible aobut the S5 except maybe the design, but there’s really nothing to be all that excited about either”.

Well… That reads like the S5 is actually very good in just about all respects (it’s even waterproof!) but the Verge simply doesn’t want to put it that way since the reviewer doesn’t like the design.

Other runners up are: Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Motorola Droid Maxx, Moto X – and as David Pierce puts it: “honestly that’s really the end of the list of phones you should consider“. Wait what?

Is the Verge seriously putting the Moto X in the same list as the Apple iPhone 5S, be it at the end of the list? There as so many other devices that could be put there. Is it because those are “not from America”? Speaking of which: where is the new Sony Xperia Z2? Where is the new LG G3? They certainly got very high marks in The Verge’s reviews.

This first episode of “this is my next” certainly looks very well produced and promising in that respect – as we may expect from the Verge. Other than that it looks like their advice about what should be your “next” is more about design than about pure quality.

As for me, the iPhone 5S would probably be my last choice. Here’s This Is My Next if you want to check it out all yourself. I wonder what you think.

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