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The Ideal DNG Capture App?

A quick trawl through the catalog of Camera Replacement apps on the Apps store will soon reveal a plethora of apps laying claim to being the greatest thing since sliced bread. It can be a little confusing to sort out what you need and what really works.

My eBook “Ultimate iPhone DNG” has information regarding App choices but you might also like to check out this little video where I discuss the items/features that you would ideally be looking for…fact is some of the apps have deficits that rule them completely out of contention.

Buy Ultimate iPhone DNG on the iBooks store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11

Check out the video here:

Shooting Seriously With the iPhone in DNG?

Custom motor cycle seat construction

 

Here’s a quick question for you. Considering we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing cameras and uber lenses that are able to render the hair follicles and yet unborn zits on supermodels at 50 paces why would you even think about using a mobile phone for anything other than a casual snap of that coffee and cake you had for morning tea.

Serious photos with an iPhone, are you serious, that just sounds totally contradictory!

Well if you disregard the differences with Depth of Field and the iPhones’ wide angle lens perspective you soon realize that when shooting iPhone DNG the dynamic range, sharpness and color are not too bad at all for many needs.

And here’s the thing, not all serious photos are taken by serious people with serious gear. These days lots of people who are not photographers are given orders from on high…”go and get me some pics of that event, make it snappy, and when ya done get it posted to our Instagram account…….. oh, and I want it on Facebook before you leave the office tonight or you’re fired”

Fact is, and I know this will hurt the ears, feelings, and egos of many of the sensitive photographic souls reading this.  I get lots, and I mean “lots” of people who turn up in my workshops on Lightroom, Photoshop, Photo Composition, iPhoneography etc who’ve been made “Chief Executive of Multi-Media, Instagram and Facebook, Resident Communications Dynamo, iPhone Wielding Guru” for their business or organization.

 

Storage area for upholstery materials.
Whatever the material needed for your seat, Mick probably has a roll of it somewhere.

Often these folks don’t actually edit the pics, others further down or up the stream might do that, but sometimes they’re expected to also be the resident “Photoshop genius”, with all the impossible expectations that infers.

These people are not actually photographers, heck they never intended to be photographers but that’s what they’re now expected to do, and damn it, those pics better be good!

So here we are 2017, the iPhone has DNG and all the extra goodness that it infers upon one’s image options and we have an increasing number of non-photographers and indeed even some professional photographers who now use the tool for serious work.

When I was planning my new Ultimate iPhoneography series of eBooks it soon became obvious that one of those books should look at what photographers and non-photographers with serious needs could do with their iPhones.  There’s definitely a strong demand for some wholesome but easily digestible information on how you might actually get the job done and importantly how to avoid the myriad of potential pitfalls.

Well that particular book’s still a way off, I’ve six planned for the whole series, the first book “Ultimate iPhone DNG” is already up on the iBooks store and the others are all well into the production phase but I thought it could be fun to show one of the sets of pics I’ve created in the preparation phase for upcoming “Ultimate Professional iPhoneography” book.

Lets just come back to the question of “why shoot serious (work) stuff with the iPhone”. I reckon there are several solid reasons.

The iPhone may be the only camera you or your workplace owns, maybe you or the workplace have decided that using a DSLR is just too complex.  (I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that but I well understand the way many feel about this situation).

An obvious one is the need for rapid turnaround and the benefits of instant sharing and no doubt for a great many such uses the quality deficits are less relevant.  You can easily crop the images severely and still have enough pixels for social media needs and honestly, regardless of how much traditional photographers protest, the fact remains only a very small proportion of images shot for promotional purposes find their way into print at anything larger than say 5 by 7 inches. Now even allowing for reproduction at 300 PPI, that 5 by 7-inch print only equates to around 3 mega pixels.

But I think you can make a case for iPhone shooting that transcends the traditional convenience and resolution sufficiency arguments, a case where sometimes the iPhone might technically be a great choice. (ASSUMING we are shooting in DNG)

Yep I know, right about now there are virtual knives and spears being thrust forth into computer monitors in the hope of impaling me or at least banishing my presence for the outer reaches of the inter-web, but please humor me, I’m just a country lad from a place that no-one much knows about.

 

Industrial sewing machine sewing embossed leather.
The industrial sewing machine had no issues at all in sewing heavy materials.

So what might those technical benefits of the iPhone be?

Well, Depth of Field is enormous, it’s pretty easy to get everything in focus and sometimes that’s just what you need. This fact might seem a little surprising to many who have come to the photography table since the advent of digital but once upon a time getting deep depth of field was a challenge and something professional photographers went to all sorts of lengths and contortions to achieve.

Related to the depth of field rendering, the iPhone can easily get really close up photos nicely sharp and yet still have quite nice separation between the subject and background elements.

Going further the lens is wide-angle, but it’s actually sharp right out to the corners, which is not a given with many regular wide angle lenses on DSLRs and Mirrorless cams.

Better yet, the lens/sensor size combination enables you to have some interesting perspective renderings that are impossible with larger sensor sizes without image stacking.

Now yes the iPhone is potentially a noisy little blighter but actually, the luminance noise, when shot in the DNG format at slightly elevated ISOs, is rather filmic and has a certain artistic appeal that actually works nicely for some types of images and especially monochrome.

Another aspect that few people will have considered is that it’s relatively easy to get total deep focus rendering from very near to distant objects by using focus shift techniques with only 2 or 3 frames.

So that’s not a bad list and for the working photographer and a tool only needs to excel in one specific aspect to make it viable for some selected shooting needs, no-one’s claiming the iPhone is the perfect portrait device, the ideal copy camera, the most powerful landscape tool, the last word or even the first word in the world of sport photography shooting, but then it doesn’t need to be either.

On the other hand, let’s face it, most DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras are still pretty hopeless when it comes to social media duties and many are very difficult to use for close-up work unless you have lots of other macro bits to go with them.

So onto the pics, our subject is Mick McCarthy from MJM Vehicle Trimming in my hometown of Goulburn NSW.  Mick is well-known for making the best custom motorcycle seats around for people who really want to be able to plant their butts on something more comfortable than the average plastic board with inverted nails that seems to pass for a motorcycle seat these days.  He still does some regular motor trimming for folks with special cars but basically motorbike seats are his gig, he also happens to be my neighbor and a friend.

I’ve gotta say it amazes me that all of the bike manufactures can produce machines which are brilliant in every way, yet they still can’t make a seat that soothes the average butt for more than 20 kilometers. Maybe we’re not actually meant to ride modern bikes, maybe we’re supposed to take them to the coffee shop, park them and then proceed to talk all kinds of BS about how great my bike is compared to your bike.  Anyhow Mick does great seats, the one he did for me totally changed the way I felt about my bike, that’s for sure.

Mick is a bit of “bike n car nut” and has a nice little collection of his own, and he really is a terrific bloke who loves to shoot the breeze on all those mechanical things that we fellas get excited about.

I wanted to create a set of images that gave a good account of the man and his craft, something that his family might treasure, but also something that told the story of MJM.

 

sewing leather material on industrial sewing machine.
Mick hard at work sewing a motorbike seat.

I think that shooting DNG files on the iPhone worked treat. I was able to get a tight close-up shot, super deep depth of field renderings (which I then dialed back to taste), a lovely filmic look and with appropriate editing some terrific shallow DOF stuff all with more than passable quality for most regular usages.  And I have to say I love the fact you can get into tight confines with the iPhone, it really is easy peasy with the iPhone on a selfie stick.

Lots of people get really hung up on the issue of noise but the honestly the noise when you shoot in iPhone DNG isn’t too bad and importantly it can be fine-tuned and even used creatively.  The key is not to shoot at high ISOs and before someone starts furiously typing a “full and well-expressed rebuttal on the folly of only having a low ISO option” think about it for a moment or two.  The iPhone lens is fixed at f2.2 or f1.8 and you don’t need to stop down to say f5.6 or 8 to get some clarity or depth of field, meaning you don’t need high ISOs all that often, provided of course you have the camera properly supported.  Some of the shots I took in his shed were at 1/5 sec or so but it all worked out fine.

And if the light is MIA and you need to bring in some artificial light via LEDs or tungsten then you don’t need near as much of it to lift the brightness levels to something workable when using f2.2 at say 100 ISO.  If you needed to use f5.6 – 8 @100 ISO with a DSLR you’d need about 8 to 16 times as much lighting power,  meaning either more lights or more expensive lights or a non-continuous light source, in other words, flash.

Yes, of course you could shoot your DSLR at a longer shutter speed, but then you’d risk subject movement or you could raise the ISO to 800 or 1600 ISO but then the difference between the quality of the two devices (when shooting in iPhone DNG) would not be near as wide as you might expect.  In any case, this article is aimed at those who are shooting with the iPhone and really don’t want to use a DSLR.

And just so you know, yep of course these shots have been lit, but in keeping with the concept of making it practical for those who need to use the iPhone for work stuff I kept it simple, just a couple of LED work lights on a pair of cheap stands with a couple of bits of foam core board.  All up the lighting stands and other bits represent about a $200.00 investment, which most businesses would pay for out of petty change.

Of course, if you want to compare JPEG outputs then all bets are off, those iPhone JPEGs are variable at best and the attainable quality level is nothing like that offered by the DNGs, so please don’t send me any arguments based on the JPEGs, I’d just be nodding my head in full agreement.

The big advantage of the DNGs over JPEGs is the pushability of the files, you can dodge and burn, sharpen and blur, crop and blow up in ways that the brittle JPEGs never allow.

 

cutting vinyl with scissors for motor trimming needs
Freehand cutting vinyl for a motorbike seat.

I find the idea of shooting with the iPhone then working out the Depth of Field rendering in post quite appealing, I’d normally choose to use a different camera if I want the shallow DOF look, but the approach can work pretty well.

Sure it takes a bit of work but then with practice, you get pretty quick at it, more importantly, it allows me to create DOF renderings that would be difficult or impossible if shot with regular DSLRs or Mirrorless cameras. In some ways, and I know this will prove a challenging statement, but sorting the DOF out in post is close in terms of flexibility to what you could do by using a view camera with tilts, shifts, rise and fall, except without all the chemical and scanning stuff arounds.  Yes, Yes I know it will not be as detailed etc, but we are not producing full-page spreads and billboards, basically most stuff goes straight to the web these days and honestly this approach looks fine for social media stuff and I reckon looks quite a bit better than the effects you get using the iPhone 7S plus portrait mode.

Going further on the Depth of Field simulation option, you can create looks that would not be possible with regular lenses, it’s easy for example to simulate the look of lens with significant field curvature or tilted focal planes such as with a tilt/shift lens, bokeh can be whatever you want and importantly you can create sharpness fall off characteristics that would be impossible with almost any regular camera. Ultimately if you start with an image that has overall sharpness, in other words, deep depth of field, you can blur it to anything your heart desires (given enough time/skill), on the other hand you can’t start with a shallow DOF image and then find clarity that was not recorded in the first place.

Sure this is a different way of working and it won’t suit everyone but like most techniques in photography, it’s just another option that might suit some specific needs. I imagine that those photographers who are fixed on the idea of photography being “what comes out of the camera” and with a strong belief that “editing is the devils work” will choke on the DOF simulation concept, but…. there are a great many of us who just accept and embrace editing as an integral part of the whole process.

I chose to go with a sepia monochrome look for this shoot but the colour versions are fine despite the basic light sources used, I’ve also added a little noise to give a more filmic feel.

iPhone DNGs can give quite different looks depending on how they are extracted and in this case, I used Iridient Developer with the noise reduction turned off. As you might expect that makes the files a little noisier but means they also look more film-like and more importantly they work really nicely with DOF simulation processes in Photoshop when you’re including added noise in the blurring process.

You might think, well sure the pics look OK on the WEB but surely the prints would be poor. Not so, 11 by 14s prints look rather nice and long ago worked out that if you make a good 11 by 14 you can pretty much print a file any size you want when you take into account the increased viewing distance.

I’ve put together a nice layout for Mick that he can frame and put up on his wall and despite the 36 by 34-inch size, the resolution is absolutely perfect.

Anyhow thanks for reading and I hope it has provided a little inspiration, Oh and if you want to know how to really shoot and deal with those iPhone DNGs check out my book “Ultimate iPhone DNG” on the iBooks store and you can also have a look at some other pics on my dedicated iPhoneography instagram site.

Just look for..   zerooneimaging or iphoneraw01 on instagram

Buy Ultimate iPhone DNG from the iBooks Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11

 

Custom motor cycle seat construction
Measuring the seat for a Moto Guzzi Magni

 

Matching automotive seat materials.
Checking the match for new seat covers for a very collectible Ford Falcon 351 GT.

 

Motor trimming fasteners
Mick has pretty much any trim fastener you could need in his drawers, it sometimes takes a little searching though.

 

Keeping the dust of a motorcycle.
Michael’s’ low K MV often needs a little dusting time.

 

MV Augusta in Motor Trimming Shop
MV takes pride of place in the customer service area.

 

Restoring E type Jag seats; close up of staple gun in use.
Working on restoring the seats for an E type Jag.

 

Boss in Front of his motor trimming shop
Mick, proud owner of MJM in front of his kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are DNG Files Noisier?

A common comment made by some photography reviewers and even quite a few iPhone shooters is that they think the DNG files are more noisy that the JPEGs, is it true?

Again, like lots of things digital……it depends.

Yep the files will look noiser before you apply the appropriate noise reduction but in truth you have enormous control over this and the jpegs only look as smooth as a babies rear end because the in-camera processing just obliterates all noise….and fine detail and color subtlety along with it.

With DNG we have choices and that has to be a good thing!  Anyhow check out the video to get a better insight and of course there is plenty more you can learn about noise control by reading “Ultimate iPhone DNG” which is now available on the iBooks store.

Buy Ultimate iPhone DNG for the iBooks store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11

 

Check out the video here

 

Why Are My iPhone DNGs so Poor

I’ve seen few items on the inter-web claiming there’s little difference between the JPEGs and the DNG photos, I’ve also been often asked about this in classes.  I reckon it’s high time to put the situation straight.

There’s an enormous difference between the two, it’s like comparing a takeaway hamburger n chips to a fine Italian sit down meal, not even in the same league.  If photographers are not seeing this difference it likely boils down to one of three issues.

  • Maybe they’re not editing the DNG files correctly or possibly not editing them at all, instead they are just looking at the initial “JPEG setting rendering”.
  • Could be that the images are only being viewed as small on-screen versions, in other words they are not being viewed on a large hi-res computer screen or as prints.
  • And…. the most likely the issue is poor DNG exposure.

It could of course be a combo of all three but regardless of the cause I have a little video where I discuss this issue, might be worth checking it out.  Of course all the intricate details and issues are covered in my “Ultimate iPhone DNG” e book which has just been released on the iBooks store.

Buy “Ultimate iPhone DNG” on the iBooks Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11

Check out the video here.

 

 

Video – Why Shoot iPhone DNG

It’s a common question and there are several reasons.  In the end, DNG is not really an impediment to your mobile photography but rather a powerful option that will almost always improve the results you get from your iPhone……provided of course you have an understanding of the core concepts and don’t mind doing some post-shot editing.

 

Buy Ultimate iPhone DNG from the iBooks Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11

Check out the video below for some inside info in DNG.

 

 

 

iPad Pro DNG, Monochrome Quality

Shooting Monochrome DNG on iPad Pro 10.5

A couple of days back I posted a preview test of the iPad Pros’ DNG potential, this is a short follow-up that looks at using iPad Pro DNG for monochrome.

Yesterday I took my iPad Pro down to my regular camera testing ground, Goulburn’s Historic Railway Precinct.  The precinct has all the elements you need to run real-world testing, high contrast situations, muted and bright colours, lots of fine detail, near and very distant elements.  Been using it for years, the really good thing is I can make meaningful evaluations between cameras from different times as I’m comparing apples to apples, as they say.

Typical of Goulburn in winter it was bitterly cold, I’m normally fine with that, but we’ve now moved into Goulburn’s well-known “Windy months”.  Basically the wind yesterday would blow a pitbull of a chain, it was supposed to have been around 50km per hr but the railway station has a national reputation of being “windy on steroids” and it didn’t disappoint.

I mention all this because it just hammered home my main criticisms of using the iPad outside for photos, basically it’s a sail, catching the wind perfectly and making it very hard to get sharp shots in less than calm conditions – In Goulburn that would stuff you up around 286 days of the year (according to official weather data)!

Remember the iPad Pro has no image stabilisation, but I did use the “delay stabilisation in ProCamera to take the test frames, I still got a few blurry stinkers!

Anyhow, I was wanted to determine a couple of things:

First using my *TLC-DNG methods how would the files handle the conversion to monochrome.  

And second, how did the resolution compare to shots I had taken at the railway on the iPhone 6S plus using the same methods.

You can check out the iPad Pro pics at the end of the blog, but here’s what I can tell you in addition to the comments I made in the previous post.

First, the ergonomics for handheld shooting are just bloody awful, especially in the wind, I seriously don’t know how folks do this with any sense of comfort.  I’m sure it would all be fine on a tripod but I don’t have an adapter at present to try that.

I checked some adapters out on eBay last night and frankly most looked decidedly dodgy – and those that didn’t cost stupid money to have shipped to OZ from the US!

Honestly, I just don’t think I could use the iPad Pro handheld, I spent the whole time panicking I was going to have a very expensive accident.

But now the good news…

The *TLC-DNG files are without a doubt much better than those from the iPhone 6S Plus, in every aspect, but a couple of aspects are particularly noteworthy.

The older camera modules show strong red colour shift in the edges and corners of the image which requires heavy-duty fixing in the Raw extraction phase (Most folk would not know this because Lightroom Mobile for example dials it out automatically).  This colour shift degrades the potential of the file because once corrected is exacerbates the noise on the edges and corners of the frame.

The iPad Pro and I assume the iPhone 7 series cameras have far less red-shift/vignetting natively thus the edited results are consistently much better but note the issue still exists at a lower level.

The second item and I really do love this, the edge clarity of the lens is better.  Again most photographers will never have noticed this shooting JPEGs or perhaps casually tweaked base DNGs, but trust me the corners are much more evenly sharp than with all the previous “i” device camera modules.

Finally, and this excites me, the files convert to monochrome in a very filmic way if you leave the noise reduction dialled out.  Basically, the noise looks rather like fine analogue grain  (think 64 – 125 ISO monochrome films) and it just works a treat.

I’ll finish off by adding that my initial shots in Kiama had me thinking the files were far more pushable than the previous iPhone models files.  Well yep, they are, they can be pushed prodded, poked and stroked much more vigorously.

So it’s all good, except for the ergos, but it all tells me I’m going to love my new iPhone 8 Plus come November….I can hardly wait.

Ok so now you can check out the pic

*TLC stands for True Light Capture and is an advanced capture method I developed many years ago, it is especially useful for iPhone DNG pics and is explained in full detail in “Ultimate iPhone DNG”.

You can buy the book from the iBooks store by clicking on this link below  

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11

 

Yellow locomotive flanked by grain freighters taken using DNG on iPhone Pro 10.5
How do iPad Pro DNG files edit?  I was interested in how the TLC-DNG files would edit once extracted, the answer is very well indeed, it’s quite easy to get nicely analogue results, no problems with tonal breakup/banding and colour can be nicely subtle. Importantly the files withstand all sorts of sharpening processes without cracking. It’s all good!
Hidden Loco
iPad Pro DNG Monochrome Quality? The monochrome conversions from the TLC-DNG files look really lovely, the tonality is terrific and detail really well resolved throughout the entire image. Noise (grain) is very analogue and should allow for some great inkjet print results. 
Mens on Goulburn Platform
iPad Pro DNG Resolution? You can’t see it at this size but in the full-size image, the bricks on that tiny building under the signals on the middle right can be seen. Which is to say…resolution and detail, in general, are not an issue.
 

iPad Pro 10.5 DNG, wide dynamic range, Goulburn Railway Station, Looking South

iPad Pro DNG Dynamic Range Ability. The impressive aspect of this test frame is the full tonality from shadow to highlight, this is not a HDR image. The deep shadows have been pushed in the conversion and held together well without breakup. Quite impressive really.
Shooting Monochrome DNG on iPad Pro 10.5
Testing the Dynamic Range of iPad Pro, this shot shows the possibilities, the fluorescent light was the brightest element, the shadows under the carriage are very deep. The result is excellent for a non-HDR capture, nothing is bleached and the dark tones sit where they should, it would be possible to pull more out of the shadows at the expense of a little more noise.
iPad-Pro-10.5in-DNG-Goulburn-Railway-Station-Bridge
iPad Pro Shadow Recovery with DNGs?  Sometimes test shots work out nice in themselves and I quite like this one, perhaps it’s the layered effect.  The pic shows how the deep shadows (under the bridge) hold up, nothing is clipped either.

DNG on the iPad Pro?

Can the iPad shoot DNG? One of my students asked me very a sensible question in an iPhoneography class a couple of weeks back, one I’d not really given much thought to before.

The short Answer is that only the iPad Pro models running the 12 mp iSight camera module are able to do this, so you have a choice between the 9.7 inch and the latest iPad Pro Models.  I have the 10.5-inch model so my comments apply to that only but I assume the larger 12.9-inch model exhibits the same attributes.

Yep, Ok Brad so the Pro model can do the DNG shuffle but is it any good?

The camera module is the same iSight unit fitted to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which is to say it’s the latest and best incarnation of the module having the f1.8 lens and the most sophisticated sensor.  The main difference is the lack of optical image stabilization.

So the short answer was there’s no reason the iPad pro should not produce excellent DNG image quality provided you have an app that allows it to shoot in DNG, but I thought being a dedicated teacher I’d better delve a little deeper for you.

I decided this past weekend to give that a try, now please note I’ve not had the chance to do any comprehensive testing,  there could be some hidden issues I have yet to uncover.

 

Kiama Blow Hole, testing the DNG photo quality iPad Pro
Kiama Blowhole, taken with my iPad Pro 10.5 using DNG (UniWb).
Crop of Kiama Blowhole taken with iPad Pro using DNG (uniWb)
Crop from iPad Pro DNG looks great, fine detail on the water is excellent and the highlight tonality is vastly better than what you would expect to get from the standard JPEG capture.

You have a few shooting choices because you can load any of the latest iPhone DNG shooting apps, they’ll only fill the middle of the screen but you can expand them to a 2X view and they’ll then fill most of the screen real estate.

You could also choose to shoot using Lightroom Mobile, the iPad version shoots DNG natively.

As far as I know all of the dedicated iPad apps, Like ProCamera HD only shoot JPEG or sometimes TIFF. (Let me know if you have any alternative knowledge and I can update the blog.)

I have to say that in past I’ve had a good chuckle at people wandering around shooting with their iPads, it just looks so…. odd.  Frankly the 10.5 inch iPad Pro is a pretty cumbersome camera and no doubt the 12.9 inch is getting more than a tad ridiculous for the mobile photographer.

There are a couple of issues that show up in a practical sense, first, it’s difficult to control and hold the iPad at the same time, for example, setting focus points and exposure and holding it steady etc really seems to need about 3 hands! The iPad is large enough to catch the wind and unless you shoot in landscape mode it just feels uncomfortable, I imagine the 12.9 in version would feel even more precarious.  I’m sure you could get used to it but honestly, I just couldn’t relax when doing the “iPad out in the big wide world” test.

And then there’s the issue of actually carrying it around, sure it’s not heavy by any means but try as I might it wasn’t going to fit into any pockets I had.

But by far the biggest issue is that, well I just felt ridiculous, nobody else seemed fussed about it but I really couldn’t wait to get back to the car.

Testing DNG photo quality iPad pro 10.5in using TLC method
iPad Pro raw dynamic range is better than expected. In this case the image is a TLC – DNG and even in this downsized image it’s obvious that the photo possesses excellent textural information, the contrast range is very high as the inherently dark rock face is in deep shade, still it holds some solid detail and the breaking surf on the distant rocks still has full tonality.

So it was all bad then….no not at all, there’s lots of good stuff as well.

The screen is just amazing, even in the bright sunlight I could see pretty clearly what was going on and it was really obvious if the shot wasn’t in critical focus. For me however the really neat thing is the color and tonal rendering of the new iPad Pro screen, it’s far better than my iPhone 6S plus and shows no banding that I could see, looks like all that Apple bragging regarding the new screens was justified.

In the end, I couldn’t happily shoot outside with the iPad Pro, DNG or not, and I certainly wouldn’t entertain the idea of shooting with any of the JPEG only iPad versions in the great outdoors or probably anywhere else for that matter.

But it got me thinking, what if you needed to shoot indoors studio style stuff and you could mount the iPad to a tripod, ah well, then I think the iPad Pro might actually be a very useful tool.

As said, the screen is just brilliant and the size makes critical focus and exposure accuracy a cinch, you could work at a greater distance from the screen, and seeing such a large image definitely improves your ability to judge composition.  So yep this could be a killer indoor studio camera for people who need to shoot products etc but don’t want the complications of a regular camera set-up.

The real clincher, however, could be the easy interfacing with the amazing editing tools you can use on the iPad Pro.  Lightroom mobile just rocks on the iPad Pro but even better the new “Affinity Photo” for iPad Pro is utterly incredible, so in short, you have the possibility of a rather compelling workflow.

Ok enough of the basic iPad Pro stuff, what about the photo quality?

Well, the news is great, the DNG photo quality is excellent.

Kiama Blowhole park taken with iPad Pro using DNG, Test image.
iPad Pro DNG records excellent fine detail, this image is particularly telling. First, we have a square crop of the original 4:3 aspect ratio frame taken using TLC-DNG, you can take it from me the cropped off sections are just as detailed and clear.  The sky is nicely done and shows no banding, this image has not been corrected for vignetting so the corners are a little darker than the middle but that’s easily fixed if desired.
Kiama Blowhole Park 100% crop iPad pro DNG image quality test
Look at this 100% plus iPad DNG crop,  (note this is TLC -DNG so represents the ultimate possible image quality you could get from a single frame capture), have a look at that sign,  you can’t read it of course but it’s pretty obvious it has writing and icons on it, what’s even more impressive is that tonally the sign is very high up on the scale yet it holds full detail, it’s not even close to clipped….impressive indeed!

I must point out however that when I test, I always aim to see just how high the quality bar can be for a particular device, which means the DNG test frames are extracted in Iridient Developer using custom settings and in this case some of the frames were shot using TLC (buy my “Ultimate iPhone DNG” book if you want to know about TLC).

Long and short of it, my results should show the absolute potential of the camera with optimal technique.

Back to the test then, basically the 12 mp iSight module in the iPad Pro is a step up from the ones used in all of the iPhones prior to the 7 series models.

Specifically, tests indicate it produces DNG files that are sharper, have less noise, better color accuracy, less vignetting (when uncorrected) and virtually zero chromatic aberration.  In other words, it’s pretty much better in every measurable respect.

The custom processed DNG files show truly excellent levels of sharpness and impressively better highlight retention that the iPhone 6 series sensors offer, additionally I think the edge definition is improved but I would need to carry out more exhaustive tests to confirm this.

Kiama Blowhole Lighthouse iPad pro dng test procamera
iPad Pro DNG and near white tones? This TLC -DNG image has impressive near white tonality and I expect that a monochrome image captured this way with the iPad Pro would be excellent.

On the other side of the coin, I don’t feel I can see any significant improvement in shadow detail, but again I’d need to run some additional tests to confirm this.

Most people probably want to know about the noise, well I can say that when optimally exposed the native level of chrominance noise is much less obvious, in fact, I’d rate it a non-issue at the lowest ISO and the luminance noise is actually very fine-grained and film-like, so not at all unpleasant.

So to sum up, ultimately I feel confident after this quick test in saying the potential of the iPad Pro camera easily bests that of all the pre-iPhone 7 models and is by all fair measures rather excellent, provided you can keep the whole thing rock steady as there is no optical stabilization.

The JPEGs? Basically, I don’t really care but I expect they would be fine for non-critical purposes etc, if I get a rush of blood to head on a day of rare boredom I might run some tests on those, but please don’t hold your breath.

What I do promise, however, is that soon I will do an exhaustive ISO ramp up at my regular test site to see how this sensor compares to the previous gen iSight sensor, I expect it will do quite well.

 

Buy Ultimate iPhone DNG from the iBooks Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ultimate-iphone-dng/id1274334884?ls=1&mt=11