Thursday, June 07, 2012

DSLR resolution from your iPhone -- and HDR, too!

Getting the Most Out of Your iPhone Camera in Tricky Lighting Conditions Outdoors

For photographers who want to go hiking without taking a lot of gear, the iPhone is a godsend. Not only are the maps and GPS apps useful, but the iPhone camera is a powerful photographic tool that eliminates the need to carry a lot of gear in most cases. Trouble is, as anyone knows who has snapped an iPhone picture in the woods on a sunny day, the 5mp camera is no match for the high-contrast dynamic range of the dappled lighting under the trees, let alone the extremely fine detail that surrounds you on all sides.

There are fixes for these problems, though, as this photo taken and processed this afternoon in the Edgewood College woods entirely on my iPhone shows. First, I turned on the camera's HDR function, which really tamed the shadows in the 7 overlapping images that I took. Then I imported them into AutoStitch for the iPhone and stitched them together, creating a large 5516x3042 file (16.8mp -- not bad for a cellphone). That took care of the fine detail. Then I imported it into the Snapseed photo editing app to tweak color balance and open up some of the remaining shadow detail a bit. And then I uploaded the 8.2mb file directly to Flickr from Snapseed over a wifi connection.

To see more detail scroll through the Large (2048-1129px) size. Or check out the Original (5516x3042px) size to inspect the really fine detail. In the latter, you'll see a bit of fuzziness here and there. Some of that is from the breeze during the twin exposures of each HDR image, and some is from the stitching process. But the result is still far sharper than any single cell phone camera image could be.

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