Nothing technical about this photo. Just a nice landscape with water from the Batson River at Emmon’s Preserve. iPhone SE2020 with the Sirui 18mm on the Moment thin case. Native Camera App. Auto.
The Apple Camera App does this “live photo” thing. I have not yet figured out exactly what it is actually for…why anyone would use it most of the time. Or maybe it is more why I would use it, any time. I have experimented with it for photos of active birds using the Sirui 400mm and it has potential there…but not as much as actually shooting in 4K video and taking clips. One of the other things it does is to simulate a long exposure…for things like flowing water. I had to experiment with that, and I had a chance yesterday when I biked out to Emmon’s Preserve on the Baston River in Kennebunkport. Above you see three renderings of the same little fall of water. The first is the standard shot lifted from a live photo and processed in Apple Photos. The second is a “Vivid HRD” from ProCamera, also processed in Photos. The third is the same live photo from the Camera App, with the “long exposure” effect engaged. I have never been a big fan of the “silky water” effect, but it can be interesting. I will leave it to you to decide whether the iPhone Camera App does a good job with it.
The difficulty I have with macros is remembering to take them. The Sirui 10x macro lens is easy enough to twist on to the Moment thin case, which is always on my iPhone SE2020, but I do have to remember to do it. It produces excellent results. You just have to move in on your subject until it comes into focus, and touch the shutter button. The native Apple Camera App works well in good light. This crocus, the first to open this spring in our yard, was in the shade of the trunk on an overcast day, but still had plenty of light.
One advantage of the Sirui 18mm lens on the iPhone SE2020 is the amount of foreground you can include in your landscape images. By limiting the sky to the top third of the image, you can create landscapes with a lot of foreground detail and an interesting perspective. Of course the same advantage applies whether you are using the Sirui, or the ultra-wide lens built into your phone, or even an ultra-wide on a mirrorless or DSLR style camera. Sirui 18mm lens on the iPhone SE2020 with the Moment thin case. Native Camera App on Auto.
So what does the 18mm Sirui lens do for the iPhone SE2020. The native lens on the iPhone camera is already, arguably, a wide angle lens, roughly equivalent to a 28mm lens on a full frame DSLR. Adding the Sirui takes it into the ultra-wide range at 18mm equivalent. The two shots above show the difference pretty clearly. As important as the extra width is, the 18mm frame also contains more at the top and bottom, and, for landscapes, can be quite effective in producing a natural view of the world…closer, in my opinion, to the impression the scene makes on our naked eye. iPhone SE2020 with the Moment thin case, native lens and Sirui 18mm. Native Camera App.
Distortion, or the lack there-of. One of the surprising things about the Sirui 18mm lens on the iPhone SE2020 and the Moment thin case is how little distortion there is both across the field and at the edges of the field. If you have used other wide angle add-on lenses for your phone, or even the native wide angle lens if you phone is equipped with one, you know that this level of quality is the exception, not the rule. This shot did require some “vertical perspective” correction in Polarr as the 18mm perspective tips verticals back toward the horizon if you have the camera pointing up at all, as in this case, to catch more of the sky drama…but that is just something all lenses do whenever the sensor is not perpendicular to the horizon. It is so common in photographs that we generally do not even see it. Architectural photographers, who care about such things, use special lenses which eliminate the vertical tilt. It can also be corrected in many photo editing apps. iPhone SE2020 with the Moment thin case and the Sirui 18mm lens. Native camera app on Auto.
I am really impressed with the quality of the Sirui 60mm lens when mounted on the iPhone SE2020 and the Moment thin case. This is actually taken with the native Apple Camera App at 2x digital zoom, giving me a nice close up at 120mm equivalent. I am beginning to see the appeal of a phone with multiple cameras and different focal lengths from ultra-wide to moderate telephoto. Something like the iPhone 12 Pro model…but I am a long way from replacing my SE. 🙂 For now I can deal with switching lenses as needed. The Moment thin case makes it easy.
The Sirui 18mm lens on the iPhone SE2020 produces an interesting field of view, in that, unlike many ultra-wide lenses I have worked with in the past, at least in the standard 4×3 format of the iPhone Camera App, it is wide in both dimensions…capturing an image which is both broader and taller than normal. Makes sense. If you want a more panoramic effect, you can switch to the 16×9 format. Technically, you should not get any wider a view since the 16×9 format is just a crop of the 4×3, but in practice you do gain a few pixels along the edges. The longer, more narrow view, with less foreground and sky does have its appeal, as it produces a very “expansive” feeling in landscapes.
Of course you could just crop the 4×3 image in post processing, but there are, I think, advantages to composing in the 16×9 format in the field. It makes you look at the world differently, and, in fact, opens you to new imaging possibilities. This shot with the subject (object?) in one corner of the long thin frame, for instance.
Using the native Camera App on the iPhone, it is just a matter of opening the control panel and choosing the 16×9 format. Worth a try when working with landscapes and other stationary objects 🙂 Sirui 18mm lens on the Moment thin case on my iPhone SE2020. Native Camera App on auto.
One of the things I love about the 18mm view is the interesting perspective of the ultra-wide angle lens. In normal landscapes it is not so obvious…nothing like a “fish-eye” lens for instance, but once you get in close or down low, the perspective opens out in a why that your normal lens just can’t match…with extreme depth of field. Not all 18mm lenses work. Many ultra-wide lenses, especially add on lenses for phones, have a lot of distortion in the field and a lot of softness at the edges that destroys the perspective effect. Not so the Sirui…which is, in many ways, as good as my Sony 18mm combo lens, or the ZEISS Touit that I used for a while. A very fun lens to use. iPhone SE 2020 with the Moment thin case and the Sirui 18mm lens. Native Apple Camera App. ISO 20 @ 1/1350th.
One of my hopes for the Sirui 60mm “portrait” lens was that I would be able to use it for telephoto macro shots…to capture butterflies, dragonflies, flowers, and other small subjects from a reasonable distance. 60mm is not much reach, but it is way better than the native semi-wide angle lens on the phone. Add 2x digital zoom, which, on my iPhone SE 2020 at least, produces images which are quite good…all but indistinguishable from non-digital zoom images…and you are out to 120mm and a reasonable working distance for telephoto macros. This is an easy shot, in that the subject was not going anywhere fast…or anywhere at all. It is not dragonfly season yet, but I hope to get a chance to test the Sirui 60mm on a moving target soon. I am certainly pleased with the level of detail in this shot. iPhone SE 2020 with the native camera app in Auto, Moment thin case, and Sirui 60mm. 2x digital zoom.