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Equipment Etc

Has the SmartPhone Come of Age?

The one-inch, 20-megapixel sensor on the Panasonic Lumix CM1 smartphone is impressive!

If you're wondering why the bokeh (blurred bits) look so good in this photo, there are two reason. First, the closer you get to your subject, the shallower (thinner) your depth-of-field - so the sharp bits don't stay very sharp for long, and there's lots of blur. Second, the larger the sensor, the better the bokeh. This is one reason why photographers prefer a full-frame DSLR over an APS-C version (with a slightly smaller sensor). You might have the same number of pixels, but it's the physical size of the sensor that helps make the depth-of-field shallow.

The photo above is taken very close to its subject and the background blur is great. This is nothing you wouldn't expect from a DSLR or CSC - except it was taken with a smartphone!

Most smartphones have physically small sensors, so they can struggle to produce shallow depth-of-field. In fact, most smartphones (like most compact cameras of a few years back) were designed to produce as much depth-of-field as possible to cover up any focusing errors.

But no more! The fashion today is for shallow depth-of-field and so you need a large sensor. And, unusually and unexpectedly for a smartphone, the Panasonic Lumix CM1 has a one-inch, 20-megapixel sensor which works pretty damn well in low light!

Even better, it has a serious lens as well - a 28mm (equivalent) Leica DC Elmarit lens and shoots 4K video. This is not just a phone, it's a very cool camera as well.

What's the phone like? No idea! Who cares! Okay, okay, so we should care. It has a 4.7-inch Full-HD Touch LCD screen which runs an Android system, but I confess, the reason I asked to review the CM1 was because of the camera.

Is this the best camera in the world? No, but it must be the best quality smartphone in the world at present. Yes, Apple has billboards the size of 10-story buildings overseas showing you how good its iPhone is, but I'd put my money on this smart little CM1. The specs say it all.

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Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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