UKH

Cameras on phones

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My phone, a Moto G4 plus, has been excellent for the last 25 months - but is doing that thing that phones seems to do that as all the internal memory fills up is progressively having more and more problems with apps failing to work properly and not updating.

I'm happy to buy a new one and originally thought I would just get the newest version in the Moto G family (I had an earlier version in the family before the G4+). I don't want to spend much over 200 quid and less would be a bonus, and the Moto G6 gets great reviews for one of the best phones in that price range.

BUT - I have in recent years for various reasons stopped carrying a compact camera when climbing and in the hills and come to rely on my phone for photos instead. I know the limitations of the camera on my G4+, but have still been very happy with lots of pictures it has taken. I partly bought that model because the camera was said to be very good for that price level of phone. Looking at the updated version I notice that the camera is on the G6 is 12 MP camera while the camera on my current G4+ is 16 MP. I know megapixels aren't everything, but is that likely to indicate Lenovo have put less emphasis on the camera on the newest models? Or will another 2 years mean that the cameras have just improved a bit in other ways?

Are there other mid- to budget-priced phones that are known for having really good cameras that I should investigate? I know the cameras are meant to be great on some top end phones but I don't have the money for them! Probably 250 is the most I would spend - and the Moto G4+ has done everything else I want it to so well - from serving as a mobile TV when I'm doing chores in the kitchen to working as my GPS for cross referencing against map and compass when I've happily navigated through lots of white outs!

 Armadillo 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Before you ditch the G4, a (maybe) obvious question.  You mention memory filling up, but are you moving photos on to a memory card?  By default they are saved to the phone's internal memory and need moving across to free up storage.  My missus has a G4 and this has become a routine activity to keep it ticking along. Apologies if I'm teaching Toby to suck eggs!

In reply to Armadillo:

It's a fair point - my G4+ is of the generation where you were meant to be able to set up external memory to be used as internal, but it never seemed to work very well and Motorola seemed to have given up on that by G5 that my son has. But with photos they do store on external memory and then sync to google whenever I'm on wifi, so they are then removed from the phone so unfortunately its not that.

I do have certain apps that use a lot of memory up on the phone, like on of my OS map apps where I've bought 'tiles' of maps. It stores copies of those maps on the phone so it works even when there is no data connection, or indeed signal at all. Probably removing that app would free things up, but its one of the most useful apps I have for my uses! I took amazon music app off as that's quite big and even though I only used it intermittently get annoyed now when I want to listen to some music!

 

 deepsoup 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

If you're thinking about replacing the phone anyway, would it be worth backing up your data and doing a 'factory reset' before re-importing just the stuff you actually want?  See if your old phone is ok as your 'new' phone before you buy a new new phone.

 

 Marek 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> It's a fair point - my G4+ is of the generation where you were meant to be able to set up external memory to be used as internal, but it never seemed to work very well and Motorola seemed to have given up on that by G5 ...

Are you sure? Works fine on my G5 (Android 8.1). I thought it was more of an Android version issue. Anyway, as other have said, I'd first do a backup, restore factory settings, spend an evening ploughing through all the Android updates since the G4 came out (although it might be worth checking which is the latest Android version supported on G4).

 

 Chris Craggs Global Crag Moderator  UKH Supporter 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

The camera on my iPhone 7+ is supposed to a good one - but to be honest it is crap. Even a cheap camera would out-perform it easily,

Chris

In reply to Chris Craggs:

> The camera on my iPhone 7+ is supposed to a good one - but to be honest it is crap. Even a cheap camera would out-perform it easily,

A slight tangent to the OP but just wondering what your metrics for good and crap are, and what a "cheap camera" is. 
I find the iPhone 7 camera quite pleasing under the right conditions as long as you never try to actually pixel-peep. Its photographs taken in useable conditions and viewed on the phone screen, are alright. Of course as soon as you go to low light, noise renders it a bit porridge-like when viewed on a computer monitor. Even then, if it's all you have, it'll do! 

I don't perhaps have a modern "cheap camera" for comparison. Is there something pocketable and incredibly responsive for (say) less than £130? 
 

1
 Sans-Plan 05 Feb 2019
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Weird, my iPhone7 easily outperformed my older Panazonic TZ something or other, just upgraded to iPhoneX which is also pretty damn good with photos

In reply:

Definitely worth trying a factory reset. 

 

Camera phones have really moved on, I got my xiaomi mi8 for the camera and its so good I use it for my main camera on holidays.  There are plenty of comparative reviews - the moto G6 sounds good for 200

 

 kristian 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

You can definitely format an SD card as internal on the G5 but if the phone goes wrong and you need to reset all will be lost if you didn't back up first.

Wife has G6 play £129. Best battery in class with 13MP camera, 32gb internal storage, android 8 going on 9. John Lewis 2 year warranty included.

 Jamie Wakeham 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

The phone on my first gen Pixel is outstanding. I have 12x8" prints from it, alongside some from my Leica M8, and you wouldn't be able to tell which was from a phone camera.

Obviously it can't do macro or shallow DoF shots like a 'proper' camera, but for landscapes (which really use the small sensor to its best advantage) it's  really astonishingly good. 

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I've got a xaomi too and it's been a fantastic phone. Runs lots of apps at once very smoothly, decent storage, good camera all for about £180 new. Octacore processor, 4gb ram, 64gb storage. The screen is a bit big for my tastes, but there aren't many small screen smartphones out there to choose from.

 Tom Valentine 05 Feb 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I am really impressed by how clever the phone is on my SE but a lot of the cleverness is lost on me and I was wondering what the longest focal length telephoto you can get on a smartphone is  without resorting to clip on accessories?

 Wee Davie 05 Feb 2019
In reply to Sans-Plan:

Same here. Modern phones take incredible photos. They blow all my old Canon G series cameras out the water for point and shoot amateur stuff. Maybe that’s the issue here- phones are good for amateurs but less useful for professionals  who need a lot of control on all the variables?

 somethingelse 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I was also very happy with my G4. It took a lot of abuse. I recently upgraded to the G6 and smashed the screen to pieces within a week. i dropped my phone into a pile of clothes on the floor, it must have hit something in my jeans pocket but it was pretty shot at afterwards, wasn't a big fall, i had regularly mistreated the g4 in this way and it was fine. like you software issues brought the end for my g4, only minor damage to screen over course of its lifetime. i never had a case for that and it lasted a long while. i've now gone and got a samsung s8 on a contract and a bulky case. the camera is much more responsive/quicker to switch on, and pictures look better on the screen, but the screen is higher quality too. didn't have the g6 long enough to take many pictures to compare though! anyways, id just say whatever you get, get a case!

 stuartf 05 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I recently replaced a g4 (not plus) with a G6 and think the photos are much better. I'm sure there are phones with better cameras around, but the G6 seems to be a really good all rounder for the money.

Some pics from my G6 here:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Lo1oieTfdPRN3xFy7

In reply to somethingelse:

I've always used mine in an amoured case and tempered glass screen protectors. It gets used so much at crags, on mountains and while I'm cycling seems silly not to! I've dropped it while riding my bike and it survived ok! I've also dropped it in the sink while watching iPlayer and doing the washing up and it survived that too!

Post edited at 20:41
In reply to Tom Valentine:

> ...I was wondering what the longest focal length telephoto you can get on a smartphone is  without resorting to clip on accessories?

I rarely apply any "in-phone digital zoom" on phone photos, and I assume this is effectively what you mean by "telephoto". Of course the very small sensors change the focal lengths to something nearly incomprehensible (it is 4mm on an iPhone 7 standard model, and "digital zoom" does not change that)

Here is a set that was taken under somewhat challenging conditions. I think they look "quite good for phone photos taken from a concert crowd whilst enjoying the concert and drinking beer" but of course you see the constraints in noise, dynamic range etc. especially if you click to expand. But as I said above, they look "better" when viewed on the phone.
Strange that the reported ISO does not exceed 100. 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/blue-straggler/albums/72157697691293470/with/45141105134/


here is a set that was taken under easier conditions and I think they look smart

https://www.flickr.com/photos/blue-straggler/albums/72157677901227378/with/31863730367/


 

 dgp 06 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Toby

Am really impressed by images from my  Moto G6. So much so I now don't bother to take my Lumix  gx (16mp) or Lumix tZ100 (20mp) - both light cameras  - on the hill as the g6 is always with my and produces great images!!

 jethro kiernan 06 Feb 2019

In

I guy I go out on the hills with uses a Huawei and he is very impressed, the social media pics he puts up seem pretty good. I think it is this model 

https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/reviews/brand/huawei

In reply to Chris Craggs:

To look at my reply another way - the very nature by which people VIEW photographs, has changed. Not many people use large hi-res computer monitors and fewer people probably use a laptop now compared to ten years ago, for much outside of work and general web browsing and watching "television". In short, people aren't "pixel peeping" or "chimping" at photographs online, in the same way that they used to. Most might at best "coast" through a gallery. 

The level of discussion on the Photography forum on UKC is a decent indicator of this. 10+ years ago people would ask for advice and composition etc, and others would look at those peoples' photographs and suggest ideas. 
You don't really see this any more. 

I visited a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition late last year and even to me it felt kind of special and "novel" to be viewing these large high quality physical prints. 

A photographic exhibition 10+ years ago would not have felt so novel to me. 

And this is why people accept the "crap" iPhone 7+ camera as something "really good"

1
 Tom Valentine 06 Feb 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

At last! A BMW to lust after!

 Mehmet Karatay 06 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

> My phone, a Moto G4 plus, has been excellent for the last 25 months - but is doing that thing that phones seems to do that as all the internal memory fills up is progressively having more and more problems with apps failing to work properly and not updating.

My phone filling up too quickly is something I've struggled with as well. I've discovered a few tips, and an app, which really helps. 

Did you know that you can make most apps live on the SD card, saving your phone's internal memory for the apps that can't be elsewhere and your phone's core functions? On an Android phone, you do this by going into the system settings, finding the applications, and touching a button which has a phrase along the lines of 'move app to SD card'. This can free up a lot of space! Clearing the apps' caches at the same time can also save space. If you've not cleared the cache, you can easily lose a gigabyte to information that is only there to make your phone a bit quicker to load. If your phone is slowing down because there isn't enough space then the advantage of keeping your cache full isn't worth it. 

The very annoying problem with Android is that each time an app updates, it moves back to the phone's main storage. You then have to go through and move each and every app which has updates, or you start running out of space again. 

This is where the app I mentioned comes in. After a bit of research, and lots of frustration about this problem, I discovered AppMgr III: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.a0soft.gphone.app2sd&hl=en_GB This app keeps track of what apps can be on your SD card and which are/aren't. You can bulk move all apps that can be to the SD card with one click. The app will send a notification when you have apps that can be moved, or when you have a large cache that can be cleared. 

It may seem strange installing an app when your phone is already short of space but it really makes a difference.

This might well help you extend the life of the phone. It always seems a shame to stop using technology, which a lot of natural resources have gone into mining, making and transporting, just because the system is set up to not have enough space. The other ideas on this thread should help too; this is just a different angle on the base problem you've described. 

Good luck,
Mehmet

 Deri Jones 06 Feb 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Another ex G4 user, went to a G5+ which was a decent improvement on the camera front. Watch out for not having a compass on the more modern phones (I think they either have compass or NFC) if you're terminally lazy with using the phone for navigation like me.

In reply to Chris Craggs:

"The camera on my iPhone 7+ is supposed to a good one - but to be honest it is crap. Even a cheap camera would out-perform it easily,"

I concur. My iphone 7+ can't manage to focus on anything as soon as the light levels are not basically ok sunlight, it hunts to focus and cannot seem to settle on anything. Occasionally I get a great shot, but definitely not a great camera for the cost of the phone.

In reply to Tom Valentine:

https://mo-vendi.de/en/cars/722-bmw-507/
A bit of a white-elephant apparently, kind of BMW's "Heaven's Gate", if you want a movie western analogy.

Though I thought you would suit that blue Panda cabriolet  

Post edited at 12:26
 ianstevens 06 Feb 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> "The camera on my iPhone 7+ is supposed to a good one - but to be honest it is crap. Even a cheap camera would out-perform it easily,"

> I concur. My iphone 7+ can't manage to focus on anything as soon as the light levels are not basically ok sunlight, it hunts to focus and cannot seem to settle on anything. Occasionally I get a great shot, but definitely not a great camera for the cost of the phone.

Force it to manual focus? A hard press on mine (admittedly an 8) does the job.

 Garbhanach 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA: I have a Moto G5 at present I decided to have the SD card set as not part of the phones internal memory and all my photos go to the card atomatically after setting that on the phone.

Concerning Mega Pixels my phone does 4:3 format in 13 or 6 MP, and 16:9 format in 9.7 or 6 MP, so I only get 13MP with the smaller 4:3 format, still get reasonable landscape shots with the 16:9 on 9.7 MP.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> Obviously it can't do macro or shallow DoF shots like a 'proper' camera

Some of the newer flagship phones are starting to simulate depth of field. It's done by algorithm so it makes mistakes sometimes but it's often quite convincing.

 NickDD 08 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Apologies for jumping in if that's now how it's done!

I have the G6 Play (coming from a Galaxy Note 4). The camera is lower spec than the regular G6, but genuine all day+ battery life is important to me, so I chose battery life over camera spec (plus I've usually at least got a Panny LX100 in my bag wherever I am, so more 'up market' photography is possible when necessary).

I was prepared for, and not really bothered about, disappointing performance, but that's really not how it turned out.... its fine. Sure it's simple, no filters, or modes to speak of, but in terms of a decent resolution, noise free, nicely balanced representation of the scene its way better than the reviews I read suggested. The Jpegs it turns out are sharp enough, with good contrast and colour representation, and are generally pleasing to the eye. I guess like most phone cameras it's not great in bad light, but that's not what I use it for.

At £150 it's a no brainer, I'd buy another tomorrow if I wrecked it.

In reply to NickDD:

I've got the Moto g6 plus, supposedly a better camera than the play and more memory, but smaller battery and more expensive (£240), the camera seems great to me I've previously used DSLRs but for putting pics on Facebook or similar the phone is great. Good auto Hdr that looks sensible, semi manual controls if you want them and pics are easily tweaked in the  free lightroom app.

I can't see the need for a camera if this is all you are doing with your pics.

 ewanjp 09 Mar 2019
In reply to TobyA:

I had a G4+, now have a G6 - the camera is considerably better on the G6. Happy to use it for anything I can't be bothered to take my proper camera out for.


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