Monday, March 26, 2012

Sometimes an iPhone 4s is Better Than a dSLR

It's been a wacky weather time here in Vancouver. The two weeks before the start of spring I've counted at least five days where he had spurious snow/sleet/hail flurries. This a snap that I caught on one of these days. And as the title of the post indicates, this would have been almost impossible to capture with a dSLR.

The reason has nothing to with the fact that my iPhone 4s is more portable and is with me all the time, unlike my Nikon d7000. Look at the depth of field in the picture. There's tonnes of it. With a larger sensor camera, it would have been almost impossible to both downtown in the distance and the water droplets on my window. My rough calculations indicate that the total amount of usable depth of field was approximately from 1.5 feet  to infinity. To achieve the same amount of depth of field with a dSLR at the equivalent focal length, I would have had to stop down to f/64.... actually, it's still within the realm of possibility as my standard zoom goes down to f/32. The experienced amongst you will recognize that that is well past the point where diffraction starts robbing details. Even if you could achieve f/64, the necessary ISO would be on the order of ISO6400, so basically, it's a lot of work to turn a dSLR into a camera phone.

The composition that I was going for here was something akin to this M.C. Escher woodcut: 
Without the water droplets, you wouldn't have the immediate sense that it was still raining. Instead, the rainbow would have been more of an abstraction, as something that was happening 'over there'. With the water droplets, the narrative ties what is happening in the immediate vicinity with what you are seeing in the distance. I was also lucky enough to have caught the the rain just when I did, as you can see the sky clearing in the west. If I had more presence of mind, I would have taken a panorama showing the bright clear sky over English Bay extending to the rain storm over Strathcona. Oh well.

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