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Reliable and accurate target exposure

Reliable and accurate target exposure

The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) is the EU version of the mobile phone, which differs from the China-exclusive Exynos version in terms of chipset among other characteristics.

The EU model features the Snapdragon 870 chipset with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage, runs Android 11, and boasts a 4200 mAh battery with 33W flash charging. The display is a large 6.56-inch FHD+ AMOLED with a 120 Hz refresh rate.

For selfies, both the EU and China models use the same front camera module. There’s a 32 MP sensor coupled with an f/2.45 aperture lens. Video is also captured at full HD 1080p at 30 fps resolution.

Let’s see how the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) performed in our DXOMARK Selfie tests.

Key front camera specifications:

  • 32 MP sensor, f/2.45 aperture lens
  • 1080p/30fps video
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chipset

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

Reliable and accurate target exposure 1
Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

Reliable and accurate target exposure 2

91

selfie

Pros

  • Dynamic range is fairly extended in photo
  • Photo color rendering is accurate indoors and outdoors
  • Noise is well-controlled on outdoor photos
  • Details are well preserved on faces in outdoor photos
  • Generally accurate and stable video target exposure
  • Video detail is well preserved indoors and outdoors
  • A slightly warm but pleasant color in outdoor videos

Cons

  • Limited depth of field in photos
  • Noise and low detail in low light photos
  • Color quantization, halo, anamorphosis and blue edging artifacts are sometimes visible in photos
  • Face deformation and residual motion video stabilization problems in all lighting conditions
  • Limited dynamic range in most videos
  • Low skin tone saturation in videos
  • Visible noise in low light videos

With a score of 91, the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) offers a notable improvement over its predecessor the Vivo X51 5G. Strengths include reliable and accurate target (face) exposure in all scenarios and pleasant color rendering in outdoor and indoor selfies.

The fixed-focus lens also delivers good sharpness on faces in the 30 to 55cm range, and overall noise and texture are well-controlled in outdoor shots.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 4
The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s outdoor selfies show neutral white balance with few color casts, accurate color rendering, and natural skin tones.

In challenging conditions, however, the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) slightly underperformed against the top-ranked devices in our premium segment of smartphones priced between $600 and $799. Slight exposure instabilities are visible on indoor shots, and in low light, white balance inconsistencies, unnatural skin-tone rendering, visible noise, and low detail are all evident.

Photo

The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) achieves a Selfie Photo score of 94. In this section, we take a closer look at each sub-attribute and compare image quality against competitors.

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Exposure and Contrast

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

83

90

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (90)

In these tests, we analyze target exposure, contrast, and dynamic range, including repeatability across a series of images. Tests are undertaken in a wide range of light conditions, including backlit scenes and low light down to 1 lux. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

Exposure instabilities are visible across consecutive shots. These samples show a slight difference in background exposure.

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), brighter background and highlights

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), slightly darker background and highlight rendering

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), brighter background and highlights

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Color

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

92

100

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best: Google Pixel 6 Pro (100)

In these tests, we analyze color rendering, skin tones, white balance, and color shading, including repeatability across a series of images. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This sample shows the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragons)’s color rendering in an outdoor scene.

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), accurate color and skin-tone rendering.

These samples show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s color performance in low-light conditions.

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), poor color rendering with a strong orange cast

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, very slight orange color cast

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Xiaomi Mi 11, slight blue color cast

Reliable and accurate target exposure 14

Focus

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

62

97

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (97)

In these tests, we analyze autofocus accuracy and shooting time, including repeatability, in the lab. We test focus failures, depth of field, and tracking of moving subjects using perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the limited depth-of-field capabilities of the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s fixed-focus lens.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), fixed-focus lens

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Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), crop, acceptable focus

While sharpness is good in the lens’s optimal focus range of 30-55cm, faces toward the back of a group selfie are out of focus.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), fixed-focus lens

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Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), crop, out of focus

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Texture

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

65

79

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro

Best: Asus ZenFone 7 Pro (79)

In these tests, we analyze texture on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s texture performance in the lab at a light level of 1000 lux.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), texture at 1000lux and 30cm

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Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), crop, excellent texture, on par with Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), texture at 1000lux and 30cm

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), crop, excellent texture

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Noise

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

66

90

Huawei P40 Pro

Best: Huawei P40 Pro (90)

In these tests, we analyze noise on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s performance in the lab at a light level of 10 lux where the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon) reference device is able to hold on to more fine detail.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), texture at 30cm

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Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), crop, noticeably lower detail compared to Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), texture at 30cm

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Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), crop, better texture

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Bokeh

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

55

75

Huawei P40 Pro

Best: Huawei P40 Pro (75)

When using the X60 Pro’s bokeh mode,bokeh blur strength (aperture value) is adjustable. However, the default value is f/16 (not an aperture typically used to induce a strong bokeh effect), and manufacturer defaults are the baseline we use largely to test. So by default, the Vivo’s portrait mode is not a true  bokeh mode, but more of a skin softening and beautification mode that also allows you to adjust a bokeh effect.

In the two samples below you can see that there is virtually no difference in terms of background blur between a standard photo and an image captured in selfie portrait mode. However, a difference is clearly visible on the skin of the subject, which is much smoother in the portrait image.

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), bokeh simulation at default settings, softened skin

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), standard photo mode, natural skin

For comparison here is the same shot from a couple of competing devices. As you can see, at default settings the background blur is much stronger on the Samsung and Xiaomi devices.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, stronger bokeh

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Xiaomi Mi 11, stronger bokeh mode

The lack of background blur at default settings on the Vivo leads to a lower score in our bokeh category than some competitors. However, compared to previous Vivo devices with similar settings, the X60 Pro 5G’s bokeh mode still represents an improvement in terms of noise, artifacts and other elements that are not strictly dependent on the strength or weakness of the bokeh blur effect.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 34

Artifacts

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

81

87

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best: Google Pixel 6 Pro (87)

In these tests, we check images for optical artifacts such as vignetting, flare, lens softness in the corners, distortion, and chromatic aberrations, as well as for processing artifacts such as ghosting and fusion errors, hue shift, and ringing.

This sample shows that color quantization artifacts are sometimes visible on the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon).

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), backlit indoor image

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Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), crop, color quantization

Video

In our Video tests, we analyze the same image quality attributes as for still images, such as exposure, color, texture or noise, but we also include such temporal aspects as speed, and smoothness and stability of exposure, white balance, and autofocus transitions.

NOTE: The sample video clips in this section are best viewed at 1080p resolution. 

The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) achieves a Selfie Video score of 85. A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. In this section, we take a closer look at these sub-scores and compare video image quality against competitors.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 5

Exposure and Contrast

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

67

90

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (90)

These video samples show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video exposure performance in a high contrast scene.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), accurate target exposure, slightly limited dynamic range, highlight clipping

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), slightly low target exposure but wider dynamic range

Xiaomi Mi 11, accurate target exposure with limited dynamic range

Reliable and accurate target exposure 9

Color

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

78

100

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best: Google Pixel 6 Pro (100)

These video samples show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video color performance in an outdoor scene.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), under saturated and slightly unnatural skin tone rendering

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), more accurate and natural skin tone rendering

Xiaomi Mi 11, more accurate and natural skin tone rendering

Reliable and accurate target exposure 14

Focus

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

84

97

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (97)

These video samples show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video focus performance in a group selfie shot in the lab.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon), stable autofocus with wide depth of field

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), unstable autofocus with more limited depth of field

Xiaomi Mi 11, stable autofocus with wide depth of field

Reliable and accurate target exposure 19

Texture

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

85

Highest Score

Texture preservation in video is good, but slightly surpassed by the other devices in this comparison.

This graph shows the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video texture performance under different lighting conditions in the lab.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 41

The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s texture rendering is very stable under different lighting conditions, with better results under simulated indoor and low-light conditions compared to the reference devices.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 24

Noise

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

65

90

Huawei P40 Pro

Best: Huawei P40 Pro (90)

This graph shows the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video noise performance under different lighting conditions in the lab.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 43
Temporal noise performance on the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon) is very similar to our reference devices in all lighting conditions.
Reliable and accurate target exposure 34

Artifacts

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

82

87

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best: Google Pixel 6 Pro (87)

For video artifacts, we check for the same kinds of artifacts mentioned in the Photo section, along with such video-specific artifacts as frame rate variation in different light conditions, judder effect, and moving artifacts (artifacts such as aliasing, color quantization, and flare can often be more intrusive when moving than in a still image).

This graph shows the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video frame rate under different lighting conditions in the lab.

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The Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s frame rate decreases in low light conditions (under 100 lux), whereas the references devices maintain 30fps in all conditions.

Reliable and accurate target exposure 46

Stabilization

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

50

In these tests, we analyze residual motion when handholding the camera during recording, as well as when walking and running with the camera. We also look for stabilization artifacts such as jello effect, sharpness differences between frames, and frame shift (abrupt changes of framing).

These sample clips show the Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s video stabilization in outdoor conditions.

Vivo X60 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)’s, strong residual motion is visible

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), the best stabilization performance of the three devices

Xiaomi Mi 11, some residual motion is visible

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Revolutionize your Photography by Mastering Metering and Exposure

Revolutionize your Photography by Mastering Metering and Exposure

Every year, I run dozens of workshops for photographers, and there are always the same areas that even established photographers have not grasped. Learning the metering and exposure ropes opens a gamut of creative possibilities.

Metering

Almost without exception, modern interchangeable lens cameras have through-the-lens (TTL) metering. This is a simplified explanation, but using the basic default setting, TTL measures the amount of light coming through the lens. The metering tells the camera what the exposure settings should be.

Entire Frame Metering

From most users’ points of view, the default metering is an average of the entire frame. It is more complex than that, though. Cameras’ processors are programmed to make assumptions about photographs. Consequently, they may change the meter reading depending upon where different amounts of light are distributed within the photo. But thinking of it as an average taken across the whole frame is a simple and usable way of working with metering.

This metering mode has a variety of different names depending upon the brand of the camera, and, unhelpfully, the icons change from system to system too. On your camera, it may be named evaluative, matrix, multi, ESP, multi-zone, multi-segment, or multi-field. Whatever it’s called, this mode is particularly well suited for scenes where there is an even distribution of light throughout the frame, such as a typical landscape.

Spot and Center-Weighted Metering

There are two other common metering modes. Center-weighted metering emphasizes an area in the middle of the frame. This is great for portraits.

Meanwhile, spot metering, as its name suggests, concentrates on an individual spot in the picture. Basic cameras restrict this to the center of fame. However, far more useful is when that spot is tied to the focusing point. A typical use for this might be photographing flying birds against a bright background. As the focus point tracks around the framed bird, the metering spot moves with it.

Different brands have other metering modes for specific purposes, and there are too many to describe them here. If you are unsure, please feel free to ask about them in the comments; I’ll try my best to answer.

Exposure

A lot of photographers confuse metering with exposure. Although linked, they are two separate functions. While metering measures the light, exposure settings change the shutter, aperture, and ISO according to that metered light to create an image of a particular overall brightness.

Your Camera Can Be Fooled Into Suggesting the Wrong Exposure

In an automated or semi-automated (aperture or shutter priority) mode, the camera will adjust the exposure of the frame to cohere with the metered light. It will try to produce a Goldilocks image, neither too bright nor too dark but, on average, mid-toned.

This is fine, but what if the scene we are shooting is exceptionally bright, like photographing contre-jour? I am often pointing my camera across the ocean towards a sunrise. Consequently, the camera will expose that dominant bright light to be mid-toned. Therefore, the water becomes a dull mid-tone in the picture.

Similarly, if we are photographing a primarily dark frame, the camera will try to brighten the image up, making blacks turn mid-gray. This might not be the result you are looking for.

Give it a go. Take a photo of a sheet of white paper, filling the frame with it (you may need to draw something in the middle of the paper for your camera to focus on) and look at the resulting image. The paper will appear gray, not white. Now, fill the frame with something black, like the back of your camera bag. Again, the resulting photo will be dominated by grays and not black.

If shooting in aperture or shutter priority, this is where exposure compensation becomes essential. It’s counterintuitive, but dialing in positive exposure compensation for a bright scene and negative exposure for a dark one will give you a result where the photograph more accurately reflects what your eyes saw.

I estimate that in 80% or more of my photos, the exposure I chose is not the one that the camera’s metering recommended. This is partly because of the dominance of either bright or dark areas in my photos, but also because it is one of the most useful creative techniques available to us.

The Histogram and Exposure

The screens on the back of the cameras and in the viewfinders on mirrorless and bridge cameras are not calibrated. They are often adjusted to be brighter so you can see them in daylight. The histogram gives you a more accurate way of judging exposure than looking at the screen.

It may seem confusing at first. A histogram is like a bar chart, but with no gaps between the bars. Each bar does not represent a single value, but a range of values. If you want to learn more, I wrote a fuller explanation of the histogram back in July.

The histogram on a camera is a simple representation of the number of pixels at different luminosities (brightnesses) within the image. The left-hand side is black. Next to that, moving to the right, come the shadows, and then the midtones are in the middle of the chart. To the right of the midtones are the highlights, and finally, the whites.

A big peak in one section of the histogram will mean there is a large area with that luminosity in the image. If there are no pixels in another area of the histogram, that means that none of the pictures has that luminosity.

If most of the histogram is pushed to the left, the photograph will be mainly dark; a low-key image. Conversely, high-key images will have most of the pixels illuminated as highlights or whites, so the histogram will be pushed to the right.

Images with a U, M, and W-shaped histogram will have strong contrast with clearly defined areas of separate tones. Meanwhile, having all the pixels pushed together will represent a low-contrast image.

It’s a misconception that an underexposed image will have all the histograms on the left-hand side. Taking the sunrise seascape I mentioned before, without exposure compensation, the pixels for the brightest areas would be in the midtones (middle) area of the histogram, when they should be on the right-hand side.

Using Exposure Creatively

Once you know how exposure and metering works, you can apply them creatively.

Imagine walking through a forest and a shaft of light beams through the trees and falls on a single leaf. Because most of the frame is dark and only the leaf is bright, in auto settings, the camera will bring the dark area up into the mid-tones, and parts of the bright leaf will become blown-out whites.

By applying for negative exposure compensation, the brightness of that leaf can be brought down to the middle of the histogram and the dark background pushed to the left so it becomes black.

You now have a picture of a leaf against a dark background.

It’s possible to do the reverse of this too, making a high-key image by pushing the highlights into the whites and the blacks and shadows into the midtones.

Buying a New Camera? Here’s What to Look For

Because exposure control is one of the most important tools in photography, it is something that you want quick and easy access to. A lot of cameras have just one dial and therefore require pressing a [+/-] button before entering exposure compensation. It is much faster to have two dials instead. In manual mode, one is set to adjust the aperture and the other, the shutter speed. In aperture or shutter priority, the second dial adjusts exposure compensation.

If you use a semi-automated mode, such as aperture priority, then also look at the amount of exposure compensation that is possible. Three stops on either side of zero compensation are barely adequate, but I recommend looking for a camera that has at least plus and minus five stops of available compensation.

Let’s Hear Your Thoughts and Experiences

There is a lot more to this than I can include in this short article. If you have any thoughts about this topic that other readers might find helpful, or if you have a question, please leave a comment. It would be great to see your images where you have used exposure creatively too.

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How to Use Google’s Pixel 6 Action Pan and Long Exposure

How to Use Google's Pixel 6 Action Pan and Long Exposure

The Google Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6 camera has several features that help you fake some of the coolest photo styles and techniques out there. Whether it’s removing things from your photos or blurring the background in your selfies, Google’s clever software makes complicated photo effects surprisingly easy. There’s some other fakery to play with on the Pixel 6 range, too — adding motion blur to photos of moving objects.

There are two modes to play with, Action Pan and Long Exposure. Although both rely on your photos having motion in them to work, the execution and end results are quite different. But is the fake effect convincing enough to justify the effort it takes to learn how to use these features?

Where to find them

These modes are accessed under the Motion option in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s camera app. Action Pan, “focuses on a moving subject and adds a creative blur to the background,” while Long Exposure, “adds a creative blur to moving subjects in the scene.” Put more simply, Action Pan blurs out everything around something that’s moving, while Long Exposure blurs the thing that’s moving and leaves everything else in focus.

Action Pan and Long Exposure mode on the Pixel 6.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We can also consider them to be variations of Google’s Portrait mode, where image recognition and A.I. decide what should be kept in focus and what should be artistically blurred out. Both these Pixel camera features have Beta tags, so consider them a work in progress and don’t expect flawless results immediately.

Action Pan

We’ve all seen those photos by motorsport photographers where the car appears frozen in a blur of motion around it, and that’s what Action Pan attempts to replicate, just without the expensive camera equipment and skill usually required to take such shots. There’s no real skill needed to use Action Pan at all, but there is a knack to getting it right. The feature works in the same way whether you use the Pixel 6 Pro or Pixel 6, and the results are broadly similar.

You can use Action Pan with the normal camera, the wide-angle camera, and the telephoto. What you need to remember is to follow your subject as you take the photo, otherwise the final picture doesn’t always add a convincing blur. There’s also a fair amount of trial and error here, and not every photo will be what you hope for. It’s the timing that makes it difficult, as there’s no guidance on when to snap the best shot, especially when the subject is not very close.

The examples above were taken with the Pixel 6. The software saves both a normal photo and one with the Action Pan blur effect added. It’s surprisingly realistic, adding motion blur to the wheels and the body of the vehicle, while keeping the front fender closest to the camera in focus. The background rushing past and the effect on the road completes the look and emphasizes why it’s important to track the moving subject when you take the picture.

By looking at the Pixel 6 Pro’s photos in the second gallery, you can see that there’s no real difference in the effect, but the original photo does differ a little due to the sensors on each phone not being the same. Here’s a top tip to make Action Pan photos stand out even more. Find the picture in Google Photos, go to the Tools menu, and select Sky, where you can adjust the ambience of the image. The version below was taken during the day on the Pixel 6 and has the Ember Sky filter added, making it look like it was taken at sunset.

Action Pan mode on the Pixel 6 with Ember sky.
Action Pan with Ember Sky filter Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Action Pan is fun to use, but mostly if you’re interested in taking photos of cars. It struggles to add the same motion effect realistically to people, cyclists, or animals, which does limit the feature’s appeal.

Long Exposure

If Action Pan is rather limited in the situations where it can be used effectively, it’s no different for Long Exposure. It’s also slightly harder to get the best from it. The best way to explain how it works is to imagine Action Pan but in reverse, where the moving object is blurred out, and the surroundings remain in focus. Professionals take photos of car lights streaking down the road at night or smooth photos of flowing water using this technique.

You can shoot Long Exposure photos using all the camera lenses on the phone, but timing and composition is even more important to get a good photo here. The reason is that the method of shooting a Long Exposure photo is inconsistent. You tap the shutter button, and the camera appears to watch for movement, but it doesn’t always recognize it, so it either stops shooting too early or continues shooting after the moment has passed. I haven’t been able to figure out how to make it work well.

In the gallery above, there is an example of how Long Exposure gives moving water a sheet-like look. This was taken with the Pixel 6 Pro using the 4x telephoto camera. The software keeps the water separate from the pipe and the rocky edge, and you can even still see the fish under the water’s surface. Technically it’s quite good, but I’m not sold on the effect, and prefer the look of the normal image.

The timing issues show up more when you’re taking photos of moving traffic. It’s not a mode where you can just take one photo and be happy with the results. You have to take quite a few, and even then, you probably won’t get many that look good. There are just too many variables, from the movement of the subject to the time the software allows for image capture. You can get an idea of the effect in the examples, which also show how it can have difficulty separating the moving object from the background.

How about at night? Long exposure times are used to capture the light trails of passing traffic, so can Long Exposure mode on the Pixel do the same? It can, but once again, you have to take a lot of photos to get one decent one, and the conditions need to be exactly right to be successful. The photos in the gallery above were taken with both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. To get the best results, it needs to be as dark as possible and as busy as possible. Unlike manually controlling the exposure, the software isn’t great at isolating one vehicle in the photo.

Are they worth using?

Yes, both modes are worth trying out, but I don’t think there is a lot of long-term appeal in either. They’re definitely not gimmicks — the effect can be very convincing — but only a niche audience is going to make a point of using them. For example, I have found Action Pan more fun to use than Long Exposure, but that almost solely comes down to me enjoying taking photos of cars.

I have not really found many suitable situations for Long Exposure mode yet, and the photos I have taken haven’t inspired me to really try. Unlike Magic Eraser on the Pixel 6, which I believe most people will use at some point, there’s a good chance many people will never use either of these modes more than once. Despite liking some of the results, even I probably won’t use Action Pan very often after I’ve finished writing this article, but there’s no denying how technically impressive the Pixel 6’s motion camera modes are.

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How to Simulate Long Exposure with an iPhone Without ND Filters

How to Simulate Long Exposure with an iPhone Without ND Filters

Right off the bat, I’m going to add the disclaimer that this tutorial will probably not be for every type of photographer out there. If you have no interest in exploring the creative opportunities that mobile photography offers, then this video may not be for you.

But, I’d like to challenge you to at least consider it because mobile photography really has come such a long way over the years — and I’m not advocating that you should replace your camera gear with a smartphone camera.

However, I am advocating those who have been closed off to it, to approach this with an open mind because there are so many fun photographic things that you can do these days with your smartphone camera. Here are two photos that were recently taken with my iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Spectre app (which I’ll share more about in the next paragraph). I imported both photos into Lightroom mobile and edited them on the fly. I mean, that’s just such a cool workflow to have at your disposal, right?

How to Simulate Long Exposure with an iPhone Without ND Filters 47

How to Simulate Long Exposure with an iPhone Without ND Filters 48

Speaking of photography workflow apps, one of my favorites is called Spectre, made by the same folks who develop the outstanding Halide camera app. It is important to note that both apps only work in Apple’s iOS and iPadOS ecosystems, but I suspect that there are some Android equivalent apps.

Spectre allows you to take simulated long exposure photos using three different shutter speeds: three seconds, five seconds, and nine seconds. What is more impressive is that you can get these photos without having to use an ND filter and the exposures won’t get blown out. The functionality is similar to what you can achieve when recording Live Photos in Apple’s own camera app, but the Spectre interface is much more robust and functional.

How to Simulate Long Exposure with an iPhone Without ND Filters 49

With that said, a lot of the real fun happens when you marry creating these mobile photos with the power of desktop apps like Adobe Photoshop. Suddenly, you have access to an arsenal of ridiculously powerful tools that aren’t currently available on mobile devices, or they’re not close to being equivalent in terms of performance, and that’s what the above video is all about.

I wanted to explore a start-to-finish long exposure workflow that starts with my phone (I’ve since upgraded to the iPhone 13 Pro Max) and ends in Adobe Photoshop on my laptop. I’m not necessarily trying to convince anyone, but I’d ask you to keep an open mind. I think the results are really impressive and I’m very curious to hear other photographers’ thoughts on it.

How to Simulate Long Exposure with an iPhone Without ND Filters 50


About the author: Brian Matiash is a professional photographer, videographer, and published author based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. His passion is to serve other photographers by helping them grow their own visual pursuits. Learn more about Brian by visiting his website, on Instagram, and on YouTube.

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New to Photography? Here’s How the Exposure Triangle Works

New to Photography? Here's How the Exposure Triangle Works

Perhaps no concept is more important in photography than the exposure triangle, as it will have a hand in every photo you ever take, both from a technical and creative standpoint. If you are new to photography, this awesome video tutorial will show you the ins and outs of the exposure triangle to get you up and running in no time. 

Coming to you from Tyler Stalman, this excellent video tutorial will show you how to use the exposure triangle to take total technical and creative control over your photos. The exposure triangle consists of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO working in tandem. And while they determine the technical quality of your image, they are also tremendously powerful creative tools. Auto modes on modern cameras have become quite advanced, and you can usually count on them to get a decent exposure, but what they can’t do is read your mind and know the sort of creative rendering you are after, which is why knowing how to control the parameters manually is so important for developing your own style. Check out the video above for the full rundown. And if you would like to read more about how the exposure triangle works, check out this article.

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Good exposure and dynamic range

Good exposure and dynamic range

The Xiaomi 11T Pro is a Premium smartphone and successor of last year’s Mi 10T Pro. It features Qualcomm’s high-end chipset Snapdragon 888 and a 6.67-inch AMOLED display as well as up to 12GB RAM and 256GB of built-in storage.

The main camera module comes with a 108MP sensor in the primary module which is accompanied by an 8MP ultra-wide camera. There is also a macro lens that Xiaomi calls a “telemacro.” However, this camera is not used for tele zooming, instead the device uses digital zooming algorithms on the primary camera.

Let’s see how the Xiaomi 11T Pro stacks up against the competition in the DXOMARK Camera test.

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary: 108 MP 1/1.52″ sensor (12MP output), f/1.75-aperture lens, AF,
  • Ultra-wide: 8 MP 1/2.8″ sensor, f/2.2-aperture lens
  • Macro: 5 MP 1/5″ sensor, f/2.4-aperture lens
  • LED flash
  • Video: 8k at 30fps, 4k at 60/30fps, 1080p at 60/30fps, HDR10+ (4k/30fps tested)

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

Good exposure and dynamic range 51
Xiaomi 11T Pro

Good exposure and dynamic range 52

117

camera

Pros

  • Accurate target exposure in Photo and video
  • Colors are generally pleasant on portrait scenes in Photo and Video
  • Accurate autofocus in Photo
  • Level of detail is high in video for outdoor and indoor conditions
  • Image preview on smartphone is similar with recorded picture.

Cons

  • Fine details are often lost in Photo
  • Colors are sometimes unnaturally vivid in landscape in Photo
  • Luminance noise is visible in dark areas in photo and Video
  • Stabilization artifacts in video as sharpness difference between frames is often visible.
  • Wide : fine details are often lost and noise is visible
  • Night : Target exposure is often too low.

With a DXOMARK Camera overall score of 117,  the  Xiaomi 11T Pro does not quite compete with the very best in the Premium segment and somewhat lags behind devices such as the Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini or Xiaomi’s own Mi 11. The score is also one point lower than that of its own predecessor, the Xiaomi Mi10T Pro. This is mainly due to the lack of a real tele lens. In some other image quality categories, our testers actually observed some slight improvements over last year’s model.

In the Photo category, the camera does a decent job, without any major shortcomings in any of the sub-attributes. The autofocus works reliably in most situations, and the camera captures good exposures with a wide dynamic range as long as you don’t venture into low light. Skin tones are accurate on portraits but when shooting landscapes in bright light, saturation can be unnaturally strong. Texture is an area for improvement, too, and worse than on the Mi 10T Pro in all light conditions.

Xiaomi 11T Pro illustration

Xiaomi 11T Pro offers pleasant skin tones, and is able to record a wide dynamic scene in outdoor conditions.

Both ultra-wide and tele Zoom are areas where the Xiaomi lags behind competitors in its segment. The level of detail decreases rapidly as you apply tele zoom and is lower than on may other devices that have to make do without a dedicated tele camera. Video clips recorded on the 11T Pro show accurate white balance. Saturation is pleasant and exposure adaptation is smooth. Stabilization artifacts are an issue in video mode, with some strong differences in sharpness between frames when clips are recorded while walking. On the plus side, motion is well compensated for, though. In indoor and low-light video clips, noise becomes visible.

Photo

Good exposure and dynamic range 54

Exposure and Contrast

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (111)

In these tests we analyze target exposure, contrast, and dynamic range, along with repeatability across a series of images. Tests are undertaken in a wide range of light conditions, including backlit scenes and low light down to 1 lux. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s exposure performance in bright light.

Good exposure and dynamic range 55

XIaomi 11T Pro, accurate target exposure, wide dynamic range

Good exposure and dynamic range 56

Xiaomi 10T Pro, accurate target exposure, wide dynamic range

Good exposure and dynamic range 57

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, accurate target exposure, wide dynamic range

Good exposure and dynamic range 58

Color

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (107)

In these tests, we analyze color rendering, skin tones, white balance, and color shading, along with repeatability across a series of images. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s color performance in bright light.

Good exposure and dynamic range 59

Xiaomi 11T Pro, strong saturation can look unnatural

Good exposure and dynamic range 60

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, pleasant color rendering

Good exposure and dynamic range 61

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, pleasant color rendering

Good exposure and dynamic range 62

Autofocus

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (109)

In these tests we analyze autofocus accuracy and shooting time as well as repeatability, in the lab. We test focus failures, depth of field, and tracking of moving subjects using perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph shows the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s autofocus performance handheld at 100 lux and 0EV brightness difference.

Good exposure and dynamic range 63
The Mi 11 T’s autofocus is accurate. The shutter lag is close to zero in low-contrast scenes, for all devices in this comparison (for this test the shutter is pressed at 500ms after defocusing the camera.)

This graph shows the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s autofocus performance in the lab handheld at 100 lux and 4EV brightness difference.

Good exposure and dynamic range 64

Autofocus remains accurate for all devices, but a shutter lag of 400ms is measured for the Xiaomi 11T Pro (for this test the shutter is pressed at 500ms after defocusing the camera.).

Good exposure and dynamic range 65

Texture

Xiaomi Mi 11

Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 (111)

In these tests we analyze texture on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s texture performance in low light.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, low light texture

Good exposure and dynamic range 67

Xiaomi 11T Pro, crop: low level of detail, highlight clipping

Xiaomi 10T Pro, low light texture

Good exposure and dynamic range 69

Xiaomi 10T Pro, crop: fairly good detail

Good exposure and dynamic range 70

Noise

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (99)

In these tests we analyze noise on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s noise performance in bright light.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, outdoor noise

Good exposure and dynamic range 72

Xiaomi 11T Pro, crop: noise in the sky

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, outdoor noise

Good exposure and dynamic range 74

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, crop: noise barely noticeable in the sky

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, outdoor noise

Good exposure and dynamic range 76

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, slight noise in sky

Good exposure and dynamic range 77

Bokeh

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (80)

For these tests we switch to the camera’s bokeh or portrait mode and analyze depth estimation, bokeh shape, blur gradient, and repeatability, as well as all other general image quality attributes mentioned above. The score is derived from perceptual analysis of real-life images.

In bokeh mode, the Xiaomi 11T Pro struggles to produce good results. As you can see in the outdoor samples below the blur gradient can look unnatural.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, bokeh mode

Good exposure and dynamic range 79

Xiaomi 11T Pro, crop: unnatural blur gradient

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, bokeh mode

Good exposure and dynamic range 81

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, fairly good blur gradient

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, bokeh mode

Good exposure and dynamic range 83

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, fairly good blur gradient

Good exposure and dynamic range 84

Night

Huawei Mate 40 Pro+

Best: Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ (82)

In these tests we shoot a selection of images in pitch-black darkness as well as with city lights in the background providing some illumination. We shoot sample images with the camera at default settings in both flash-auto and flash-off modes. We analyze all image quality attributes but we pay particular attention to exposure, autofocus, and color. We do not test night modes that have to be activated manually.

These samples show the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s performance when shooting at night.

Good exposure and dynamic range 85

Xiaomi 11T Pro, shadow and highlight clipping

Good exposure and dynamic range 86

Xiaomi 10T Pro, strong highlight clipping

Good exposure and dynamic range 87

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, underexposure and strong shadow clipping

Good exposure and dynamic range 88

Artifacts

Google Pixel 4

Best: Google Pixel 4 (75)

In these tests we check images for optical artifacts such as vignetting, flare, lens softness in the corners, distortion, and chromatic aberrations, as well as for processing artifacts such as ghosting and fusion errors, hue shift, and ringing.

These samples show color moiré artifacts.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, artifacts

Good exposure and dynamic range 90

Xiaomi 11T Pro, crop: color moiré

Xiaomi 10T Pro, artifacts

Good exposure and dynamic range 92

Xiaomi 10T Pro, crop: moire is hardly noticeable

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, artifacts

Good exposure and dynamic range 94

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, crop: moire barely noticeable

Good exposure and dynamic range 95

Preview

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (80)

In these tests we analyze the image quality of the preview image and the differences between preview images and captured images, particularly in terms of exposure, dynamic range, and bokeh effect. We also check the smoothness of the field-of-view changes in the preview image when zooming with both buttons or when using the pinch-zoom gesture.

This video shows the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s preview performance when using the pinch zoom gesture.

Preview: smooth transitions between camera modules in preview when using pinch zoom

Zoom

The Xiaomi 11T Pro achieves a Zoom score of 39. The Zoom score includes the tele and wide sub-scores. In this section, we take a closer look at how these sub-scores were achieved and compare zoom image quality against the competitors.

Good exposure and dynamic range 96

Wide

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (57)

In these tests, we analyze the performance of the ultra-wide camera at several focal lengths from 12 mm to 20 mm. We look at all image quality attributes, but we pay particular attention to such artifacts as chromatic aberrations, lens softness, and distortion.

These samples show the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s ultra-wide performance in daylight.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, ultra-wide

Good exposure and dynamic range 98

Xiaomi 11T Pro, crop: low level of detail

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, ultra-wide

Good exposure and dynamic range 100

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, crop: better detail

Good exposure and dynamic range 101

Tele

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (140)

In these tests we analyze all image quality attributes at focal lengths from approximately 40 to 300 mm, paying particular attention to texture and detail. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These graphs show the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s tele performance in the lab.

Good exposure and dynamic range 102

Texture score on DMC chart: the 11T Pro lags slightly behind at all zoom settings

These samples show the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s tele performance at a close range tele setting and a light level of 1000 lux.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, close-range tele, 1000 lux

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, close range tele, 1000 lux

Good exposure and dynamic range 105

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, crop: good resolution

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, close range tele, 1000 lux

Good exposure and dynamic range 107

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, crop: good resolution

Video

In our Video tests we analyze the same image quality attributes as for still images, such as exposure, color, texture, and noise, but we also include such temporal aspects as speed, smoothness and stability of exposure, white balance, and autofocus transitions.

NOTE: The sample video clips in this section are best viewed at the highest resolution available. 

The Xiaomi 11T Pro achieves a Video score of 110. A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. In this section, we take a closer look at these sub-scores and compare video image quality against competitors.

Good exposure and dynamic range 54

Exposure and Contrast

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (118)

These video stills show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s exposure performance in a high-contrast indoor scene.

Good exposure and dynamic range 109

Xiaomi 11T Pro, accurate target exposure, wide dynamic range but clipping in highlights

Good exposure and dynamic range 110

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, lower target exposure, shadow and highlight clipping

Good exposure and dynamic range 111

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, accurate target exposure, less dynamic range

Good exposure and dynamic range 58

Color

These video stills show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s color performance in a low light scene.

Good exposure and dynamic range 113

Xiaomi 11T Pro, accurate white balance and nice color

Good exposure and dynamic range 114

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, orange white balance cast

Good exposure and dynamic range 115

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, pretty neutral white balance

Good exposure and dynamic range 62

Autofocus

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (109)

These samples show the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s autofocus performance in the lab at 1000 lux.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, fast and accurate autofocus but occasional loss of focus during tracking

Good exposure and dynamic range 65

Texture

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (97)

This graph shows the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s texture performance in the lab across different light levels.

Good exposure and dynamic range 118

Video texture comparison: detail on the Xiaomi 11 T Pro is comparable to the Xiaomi Mi 10 T Pro. Texture is noticeably less well preserved on the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G which was tested at 1080p resolution rather than 4K.

Good exposure and dynamic range 70

Noise

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (105)

This graph shows the Xiaomi 11T Pro’s noise performance in the lab across different light levels.

Good exposure and dynamic range 120
Video noise comparison: spatial noise is higher on the 11T Pro than for the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro and Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. Noise is quite noticeable in indoor and outdoor shots.
Good exposure and dynamic range 88

Artifacts

Oppo Find X2 Pro

Best: Oppo Find X2 Pro (94)

For video artifacts, we check for the same kinds of artifacts mentioned in the Photo section, along with such video-specific artifacts as frame rate variation in different light conditions, judder effect, and moving artifacts (artifacts such as aliasing, color quantization, and flare can often be more intrusive when moving than in a still image).

These video stills show some video artifacts on the Xiaomi 11T Pro in low light.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, video artifacts

Good exposure and dynamic range 123

Xiaomi 11T Pro, crop: color moiré on edges

Good exposure and dynamic range 124

Stabilization

Huawei P50 Pro

Best: Huawei P50 Pro (102)

In these tests we analyze residual motion when handholding the camera during recording, as well as when walking and running with the camera. We also look for stabilization artifacts such as jello effect, sharpness differences between frames, and frame shift (abrupt changes of framing).

These samples shows the Xiaomi 11 T Pro’s stabilization performance in outdoor conditions.

Xiaomi 11T Pro, sharpness difference between frames is visible in the center of the video

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Enter your work into the Great Exposure Photography Competition

Enter your work into the Great Exposure Photography Competition

October 26, 2021

Fancy having your image seen by tens of millions of people every year at London’s Heathrow Airport? The GREAT Britain & Northern Ireland Campaign has partnered with the Royal Photographic Society to launch the Great Exposure Photography Competition. This is a unique opportunity for photographers from across the nation to submit work that brings the UK’s vibrant, diverse and innovative spirit to life from your own perspective.

Great Exposure Photography Competition poster

Winning entries will be displayed at a range of large, prominent sites throughout Heathrow Airport, welcoming passengers as they arrive in the UK. The competition presents a unique opportunity for UK-based photographers to showcase their talent at the UK’s largest airport, encouraging the world to see the UK from a fresh perspective.

To enter, all you have to do is submit an original photo under one of the following themes:

• Modern Love
• Downtime Joy
• Surprising Spaces
• Cultural Crossroads
• Future Vibes

Great Exposure Photography Competition poster

Submissions will be judged by experts from the industry, including Mariama Attah of Open Eye Gallery and photographers Simon Roberts and Alistair Morrison, 40 winners will be selected to go on display in the Great Exposure Photography Competition gallery at London Heathrow – which will be there for at least a year. Each winner will also receive a £500 license fee.

So take your best shot and click here to enter.

Please note: the Great Exposure Photography Competition will close at 23:59 on Sunday 31st October 2021.

Great Exposure Photography Competition poster


Further reading

Best photography competitions to enter in 2021

Britain’s best landscape photography locations (part one)

Shooting the British weather

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Nice skin tones, good exposure

Nice skin tones, good exposure

The iPhone 13 shares most specs, including front and rear camera setups, with the slightly smaller iPhone 13 mini. Images can be viewed on a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display and Apple’s mobile OS is powered by its in-house A15 chipset. Images and video can be saved to up to 512GB of built-in storage.

The front camera hardware for selfie capture is the same across all iPhone 13 models, featuring a 12 MP sensor coupled to a f/2.2-aperture lens with a 23mm equivalent focal length. Let’s see how the iPhone 13 does in our DXOMARK Selfie test.

Key front camera specifications:

  • 12 MP 1/3.6″ sensor, 23 mm equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens
  • 3D sensor
  • Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps)
  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 60 fps; 4K video recording at 24/ 25/ 30/ 60 fps; 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

Nice skin tones, good exposure 125
Apple iPhone 13

Nice skin tones, good exposure 126

99

selfie

Pros

  • Accurate target exposure on face
  • Wide depth of field
  • High level of detail in indoor and outdoor conditions
  • Quite accurate depth estimation
  • Wide dynamic range and accurate target exposure in video
  • Accurate video white balance
  • Wide focus range means all subjects are in focus in group  video selfies.

Cons

  • Luminance noise
  • Occasionally inaccurate skin tones, especially in backlit indoor scenes
  • Slight anamorphosis artifacts (perspective distortion on faces)
  • Low subject exposure when using the flash
  • High noise levels in video, especially in low light
  • Residual motion in walking videos
  • Loss of detail in low light videos

With all iPhone 13 series devices sharing the same front camera specs and processor, it would be fair to assume the Apple iPhone 13 Selfie results are very close to those of the iPhone 13 Pro. We have confirmed this by putting the Apple iPhone 13 through the complete DXOMARK Selfie test protocol.

In this outdoor comparison, you can see that the two cameras produce virtually identical image results.

Apple iPhone 13, outdoor selfie

Nice skin tones, good exposure 129

Apple iPhone 13, crop: accurate color rendering and face exposure, good detail

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, outdoor selfie

Nice skin tones, good exposure 131

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, very similar result to the iPhone 13

Like the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 13 achieves an overall Selfie score of 99, a Photo score of 102 and a Video score of 95. Given the identical scores and very similar image results, we are posting only this short article for the Apple iPhone 13. For the full set of sample images and measurements, as well as a complete analysis, please click on the link below and read the full Selfie review of the Apple iPhone 13 Pro.

Go to the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Selfie review

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Elia Locardi’s New Eight-Part Long Exposure Tutorial Series Is Here

Elia Locardi's New Eight-Part Long Exposure Tutorial Series Is Here

Today, Fstoppers has teamed up with NiSi filters to launch a brand new, free tutorial series with landscape photographer Elia Locardi. Not only are we releasing new video lessons every week, but we are also giving away over $600 worth of free gear with every video. Welcome to our long exposure adventure in Puerto Rico!

Hey, everyone! Elia Locardi here, and aside from the few times Patrick tricked me into doing some Critique The Community episodes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted something new here on Fstoppers. That’s why I’m excited to announce the first episode of an eight-part video tutorial series about long exposure photography and how to use different types of filters to create unique results. We will also be giving away awesome prizes with each video release, so read through the post to find out how to enter each contest.

Elia Locardi's New Eight-Part Long Exposure Tutorial Series Is Here 132

A few weeks ago, NiSi was kind enough to send us a huge box of all their newest gear, including a collection of their best neutral density filters and the freshly redesigned V7 Filter Holder Kit that was just officially released today. They were like: “Hey! Can you guys teach everyone how to use this gear, like Photographing The World style?” Patrick and I said: “Hell yeah! We can do it right here in Puerto Rico.” As usual, Lee was skeptical: “I don’t know, guys. I mean, it’s so hard to wake up before sunrise, and there are mosquitoes, and I’ll miss my bath time, and good grief, what if I don’t have time for breakfast?” Thankfully, it was two against one, and here we are.

Elia Locardi's New Eight-Part Long Exposure Tutorial Series Is Here 133

Long exposure photography is an amazing art form by itself, but it can also be intimidating when you’re first starting. There are many different types of filters to use. While it can be a bit overwhelming at first, NiSi sponsored this video series so we could show how it’s actually quite simple to get amazing results, even with just a few select filters. This first video introduces what will be covered in the field as we release each episode of this series and all of the gear we’ll use to get there.

Along with this episode, we’re giving away a Nisi V7 Kit, a Bluetooth Wireless remote, and a free tutorial from the Photographing The World series. You can enter the contest here, and with each action you complete, you will gain an additional entry into the contest:

We’ll be covering a lot of ground in this series, along with highlighting some high-quality gear to enhance long exposure photography. Head over to the Nisi Optics website if you’re interested in any of the gear we feature. Also, make sure you subscribe to the Fstoppers Youtube Channel or at least follow the Elia Locardi / NiSi Long Exposure Playlist to follow along as each episode is released. Good luck to everyone who enters the contest, and I hope I’m able to give you some insight on how I like to use filters out on location in my own work!

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Why I Use Stacking Instead of an ND Filter for Long Exposure Photos

Why I Use Stacking Instead of an ND Filter for Long Exposure Photos

Why I Use Stacking Instead of an ND Filter for Long Exposure Photos 134

In this article, I’ll share a technique that I learned many years ago and that I still use occasionally. You can use it for removing people from a scene, but in this case, I will be using it to mimic one of a neutral density (ND) filter’s main purposes: longer exposure.

There are disadvantages to using an ND filter for longer exposures.

First, if the camera has moved or if something happens in front of the camera, those changes will often be permanently saved in the resulting photo.

A second problem is the noise that’s introduced when shooting longer exposures. Yes, higher-end cameras and sensors can help you avoid some of the noise, but even on those cameras, using image stacking instead of a single ND filtered exposure can help you achieve cleaner results.

To create the following photograph, I first captured 247 separate photos:

Why I Use Stacking Instead of an ND Filter for Long Exposure Photos 135

I then stacked the photos in Photoshop after making simple adjustments to my raw files.

Here’s what you do:

1. In Photoshop, under the File menu, go to Scripts, then Load Files Into Stack.

2. If you have opened your files from Camera Raw, click on Add Open Files. If you have tiffs, then hit Browse. Make sure you check the boxes to automatically align source images and to create a Smart Object after loading the layers.

3. After Photoshop does its magic of aligning, go to the Layer menu, select Smart Objects, then hit Stack Mode. Choose Median or Mean. You have to make your choice based on what works best with your work.

Note: If you’re stacking large numbers of files, you may need a computer powerful enough to handle this kind of task.

Why I Use Stacking Instead of an ND Filter for Long Exposure Photos 136
Making basic adjustments across the individual photos before stacking them.

So instead of using an ND filter for longer exposures, you can capture a longer cumulative exposure time across multiple photos and then stack them for a combined longer exposure.

The main advantage of this technique is the control you get when you have so many frames to choose from and work with.

For example, if someone walked in front of your camera during the shoot, you can easily delete the frames that have the person in them.

If your photo contains moving subjects such as trees, those objects would be blurred with a long exposure shot through an ND filter. But if you have a large number of photos captured with shorter exposure times, you could bring back detail and sharpness to things like trees and skies if you’d like to.

But one of the biggest advantages of using this technique for me is the fact that it allows me to do minimal retouching.

Say you captured the same lightning photograph seen above, except you used an ND filter and one long exposure. If there were more flashes of lightning than you wanted, you’d have to remove those lightning strikes in post-production. If a boat in the water stayed too long in the same place, you may be forced to remove the light from that boat in post-production if you want a clean river.

These types of things would ordinarily force you to clone and retouch your final photos.

By using stacking for long exposure photos, I am able to avoid all of that. I only choose the frames that I want in my final photo, and I did not need to do any retouching whatsoever aside from my usual color correction and dodging/burning.

I’ve been using this stacking technique for my long exposure look for a long time now due to the increased control it gives me.


About the author: Alexander Light is a photographer focused on street, travel, and landscapes. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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