Motorola G5S Plus Shoots KL At Night

I initially wanted to shoot with an old, old compact camera, the Panasonic LZ8 which I bought in the year 2008. Yes, 10 years ago, I purchased a budget compact camera and I still have it. However, the LZ8 refused to start up properly, giving me an error message (after a few days of inactivity the camera fixed itself and is fully functional again). I was already planning a night photowalk with some friends so I thought why not shoot with my current smartphone, the Motorola G5S Plus, and see what I can produce with the budget smartphone instead?

ISO400, 1/4 sec

From the short walk we had around KL city area, I only had one particular shot which I was happy with, as shown above.

Here are some things I had in my mind while shooting with the Motorola G5S Plus:

1) There is a manual mode that allows full control of shutter speed and ISO which I have not used before this. The manual mode made a world of difference when shooting in low light. The Auto mode daringly bumped up the ISO to ridiculous 3200 all the time in this session shooting the city buildings at night, rendering images that will make any of our eyes bleed.

2) The manual shutter speed control has limitations. The slowest I can go down to is 1/4 second, which is not slow enough for any long exposure photography. I was not able to do light trail shots and even for normal city buildings at night, with 1/4 second shutter speed, I need a minimum ISO of 400 or higher. ISO400 on a budget smartphone is not doing so great either.

3) I wish the shutter speed can go as slow as 30 seconds, or better, 60 seconds. That can open up even more shooting possibilities. Though I understand non-photographers may find no use with such long exposures.

4) Though the camera is rated at 13MP on specifications, honestly, the final output quality, after pixel-peeping thousands of shots I have taken with the Motorola G5S Plus, is closer to probably 7 or 8 MP only. I have the 10 years old Panasonic LZ8 tiny sensor compact camera which was also 8MP and can deliver sharper, cleaner and more detailed shots than the modern day smartphone camera.

5) I am in no way expecting the smartphones to surpass dedicated cameras. Look at it this way, instead of selling a mediocre 13MP camera on a smartphone, why not do some downsampling to 8MP? You will have a great 8MP camera with better overall image quality. 8MP is still plentiful these days, good enough to fill a 4K screen. Surely, an optimized 8MP camera on a budget smartphone is a good solution.

6) I wish there was an option to shoot RAW, purely for shadow and highlight recovery purposes. Nonetheless, that is probably asking too much for a budget smartphone. I don't think including DNG support in the camera will shift the cost of smartphone manufacturing significantly either.

7) I need to find a replacement for my broken tripod. Shooting at dangerously slow shutter speed without a tripod or any means of image stabilization is no fun at all.

8) How I wish smartphones have the capabilities of the 5-Axis IS from Olympus. Seriously, with the powerful stabilization, the smartphones can truly do wonders.

9) Before anyone asks, of course the image shown above was post-processed. However, I do my post-processing with minimal adjustments and the changes of colors, contrast and exposure balance were done to bring the image as close as what I saw with my eyes in real life.

Do you shoot night photography with your smartphone? Do share your thoughts!

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