Best of: camera phone photographers, part 2 – Anshul Mehrotra
Anshul Mehrotra began taking photos as a child in Delhi using his father’s camera. By his own admission his early efforts weren’t technically perfect but they did instil in him the desire to drive his photography forward and, as the shot below demonstrates, he has come a long way since those early days. We caught up with Anshul shortly after he took part in our “best of” photo series to ask him about his experience of using Xperia Z1.
1. What’s the story behind this shot?
I took this shot on a fine summer morning when I was in the way to shoot The Taj Mahal at Agra, India. Firstly the overall mood and colours attracted me but once I saw the footsteps I was hooked. I had a story in my mind before taking the shot that the footsteps are leading to a brighter life. This was an inspirational composition for me as the light was quite dreamy and warm, there’s a pathway and the steps made you want to follow it to the brighter side and this what I hope the image captures.
2. Can you talk us through how you set up the shot with your Xperia Z1?
Xperia Z1 is not just a phone but an incredible camera too. I took this shot on manual mode and trust me, Xperia Z1 was quick and easy to use and captured the exact composition I had in mind.
3. You’ve taken an incredible landscape backlit shot. How did you capture the shot without underexposing too many elements in the foreground?
It was golden hour when I took this shot so the light was even and the clouds made the sunlight even more diffused. Since I took this shot against the light, keeping proper exposure was a tuff call. I could have taken an HDR but sometimes the HDR process can miss some of the sharpness in the image. So in this case I went for the focus-locking feature which helped me to keep the perfect exposure, I took the mid value exposure by locking the focus on the grass and set the metering to center from average. The next challenge was to control lens flare, I managed this by tilting down the phone and letting the tree in the background manage the rest. Finally, exposure compensation and perfect white balance added warmth to picture and made it more soothing.
4. What area do you think the Z1 camera excels in the most?
Xperia Z1 has a substantial sensor, the 1/2.3” 20.7MP Exmor RS for mobile works really well and its f-2 lens gives you a high shutter speed in low light conditions resulting in sharper images with more detail. Colour saturation is balanced, noise is less and the colours are detailed with a great dynamic range in comparison to other mobile cameras.
5. How did you approach setting up the shot with the Z1 in comparison to your typical approach with a DSLR?
It is really hard to compare a mobile camera with a DSLR and a mobile camera can only be an alternative, not a replacement. A DSLR is quicker to set up for more considered shots but the Z1 is quite impressive as you can launch the camera by just long pressing the integrated camera key even if you phone is locked, it’s far more responsive compared to other mobile cameras. Had I been using a DSLR, I would have used a higher f-number around 11 in order to get more depth of field, which I couldn’t on Z1. The key is to use the right equipment for the right circumstance. I don’t always always carry a DSLR, as they are bulky but I do almost always have my phone on me, Xperia Z1 is substantial camera which takes pictures easily as well as a good point and shoot camera.
6. For journalists and bloggers reviewing the camera, what would you recommend to them when setting up quick and easy shots that really stretches the Z1 camera’s capabilities?
For journalist and bloggers I would suggest, checking out the focus-locking feature alongside the variable focusing options (like multiple auto focus, single auto focus, and even object tracking which we find usually in DSLRs). It also has center, average and spot metering modes, which work well and have a distinct effect on the resulting image. The sensor is capable of taking ultra low light pictures with less noise, the credit goes to its f-2 lens as well. Try shooting by keeping its ISO in auto mode, it tries to tweak ISO settings as subtly as possible – which is great for reducing noise. The dynamic range is also pretty awesome particularly if compared to other mobile cameras.