National Geographic On Assignment

Have you shot with smartphones professionally before? I’ve never really been confident shooting with a smartphone for magazine publication because the cameras have just not been good enough.

My standard protocol in the field is to download every night and back everything up. (Nokia) had also given me a handgrip that has a half-pound battery in it [for extended use].

It’s 120 degrees some days and I tell you, not having 30 pounds of camera gear with you is pretty nice on some days like that. Technology has always driven innovations in photography.

I had actually met two people on the development team a week before I left.

We met in a hotel room in New York and they swore me to secrecy and showed me the super secret camera.

It would produce the results that they claim it would produce. If anyone has tried to shoot a picture like in a bar or restaurant with a camera phone, it’s a disaster always just because the sensors are small and they don’t perform well in low light.

This camera’s got a really big sensor and so I was shooting constantly at ISO 1,600, but sometimes up to 3,200, and getting really good results.“That was a concern of Nokia’s, so they gave me some stealth coverage for it that made it look very generic.We were really worried around the Grand Canyon, where there would be a lot of public people.” Although Nokia funded the campaign, Alvarez does seem genuinely impressed with the 1020, which has been praised by many others – us included – for its photography prowess. Nokia called my commercial rep and said, “We have this new camera coming out, and we’d be interested in having Stephen think about where he’d take it, and we would really want him to show off the capabilities of the camera.” So I proposed a couple of ideas, and we settled on the Southwest because of the timing and I really wanted to see how this camera performed in a really big landscape; because you’re trying to show off a sensor like this, you want as much detail as possible.Because I have this prerelease model, they asked me not to put it on a network – any kind of network at all. (I use it as a phone now – it’s great.) Since I turned to digital photography solely in 2003, my biggest concern is how I’m gonna keep my cameras powered.And so we would recharge in the car, or I have a couple of little brick USB batteries that I would carry with me and charge the phone if we had some down time.I’ve never talked about a camera phone in the same kind of sentences talking about a normal camera, because nothing ever approached the quality that you get out of the 1020. The only thing I found myself wanting was that the pictures be shot as a RAW file, because it produces a JPEG.It’d be great if you can just get the RAW sensor data straight off the camera because that’s what my other cameras do.“Mostly my work has been centered around exploration, adventure, and natural history,” Alvarez said.“I have been for years the guy they go to for physical exploration.” For his type of assignments, Alvarez normally carries three Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIs and half-a-dozen lenses, not to mention a computer, hard drives, and all the accessories that are part of a photographer’s gear.So when Nokia approached him about testing a preproduction smartphone camera on a special assignment in which he would only use the phone, Alvarez was intrigued.“I’ve always been interested in where photography is going and what the new cameras and devices will be like,” he said.

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