Is there a compelling reason to use photos taken on mobile phones?
There are now more people than ever taking photos with smartphones, but the quality of those photos is dividing the photographic world with many saying they’re just not up to standard and shouldn’t be used for professional work.
Others, however, see the framing and ability to have a camera right there when needed as a more compelling reason to consider using pictures taken with them.
Although the most publicity many of the images will get is a post to Facebook, many publications are now considering snaps taken on mobile phones. But, it depends on what’s being taken. The subject matter and the events surrounding it are vitally important.
So should hotels consider using such images? And are there times when they might be ideally suited?
I’ve given the game away already, but I believe there’s a compelling argument for using panoramas on at least websites, if not in printed publications.
Firstly, let’s consider the major shortcomings of all mobile phone cameras – the lens.
Just turn your phone around and take a look. The lens is that small hole at the top of it. Now look at a digital SLR camera. The difference is obvious.
SLR cameras have those huge lenses which let in buckets of light, enable you to get pin-sharp focus and have complete control of the aperture.
The mobile phone doesn’t. It just doesn’t.
There have been some attempts to put lenses on phones, but the big problem is that they suddenly lose their biggest benefit – they no longer fit easily in the pocket.
Phones tend to brag about the number of pixels their cameras can capture, but that still doesn’t make up for the fact that without a decent lens, it’s going to be limited.
Manufacturers know this, so they look at ways in which they can provide simple functionality in their devices that produce great results easier than traditional methods. And one of those is panoramas.
How to create a panorama
Don’t get me wrong, if you want to do a great panorama that is perfect for print, especially if you’re going to be creating posters, then you need a DSLR, but for a website, it’s not so critical. The resolution of websites is such that many people end up reducing the quality of photos anyway. It also helps with download speed.
A few years ago, I was working for a client that needed panorama images for their website, and one of the ways to do it effectively was with a camera, a quality lens, and a strange adapter with a conical mirror on it.
The camera had to be positioned pointing up the mirror which was on a tripod. The operator had to set the timer on the camera (or operate it remotely) and then duck out of the way of the field of view.
When the photo was taken, it was then loaded up onto a computer where dedicated software knitted it back together to provide the finished panorama which could then be cut and cropped to size.
The whole process took a long time and was expensive.
Fast forward to the weekend just gone, and I took a panorama with my camera phone. It took a few seconds to rotate on the spot and then a couple of minutes for the camera to process it.
Then it was ready.
The picture is not of high enough quality for print, but it’s certainly enough for web. It’s more than enough in fact, and it has the added benefit of being interactive.
Bring the picture alive
One of the benefits of the web over print is that it is interactive.
There are now many tools available that will allow you to make your new panorama interactive. That is, with a simple plugin, users can rotate it and navigate themselves with the mouse.
Yes, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but it also has a real benefit of giving your customers a reason to stick around.
The longer they do stay on a website, the better it is in Google’s eyes, and so this could also have a direct influence on your ranking. Double win!
Mobile phones are a long way from replacing SLR cameras for brochure shots, and even web work, but they are a fantastic tool for the quirkier side of photography.
If you happen to be in a great place at a great time, you might find that you can whip out your camera and take a shot that will look great on your website as-is.
And if you’re looking to show off some of the fantastic scenery around your hotel, then there’s nothing better than a relaxing walk where you can indulge in a bit of photography, too.