For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be discussing shooting on a Samsung A21s mobile phone.
Last week Wednesday, I went on a day trip by myself to Seaford in East Sussex for the first time. I was originally meant to go on the 11th November, however the government announced another lockdown would begin from Thursday 5th November until Wednesday 2nd December. Thankfully I was able to bring the trip forward at the last minute.
I bought a new phone towards the end of last month, a Samsung A21s for £149.95 from Argos. It was on special offer at the time and I had really wanted an upgrade for a while. My previous phone was also a Samsung, model A3 2017 which I bought in October 2018. The old handset was running out of space, plus the operating system was a bit outdated, so I needed a faster and efficient replacement at a reasonable price.
For the last few years, my mobile phone has been my digital camera, since I sold my Canon DSLR that I had for a long time (still have the Canon Powershot in my drawer). The phone is lighter, quicker and convenient to use at any time. Alongside with my film cameras that I have, my mobile phone has been part of my photographic life and work.
The Seaford trip was a chance to test out my new phone’s camera and its functions. I also had two film cameras with me: Minolta X-700 and Olympus XA2, both loaded with Kodak Portra 800 and Kodak Tmax 400, respectively. They were enough to shoot for the one day.
I took my first Samsung shot as soon as I got off the bus, just a random direction sign. I noticed afterwards there was a small vignette in the corner of the photo. It could have been from the phone case.
I started my trek walking through the Seven Sisters National Park, along Cuckmere River heading towards Cuckmere Haven, to the beach, the cliffs and finishing off at the famous Coastguard Cottages. Initially, I didn’t anticipate how long it would take for me to go around the national park, but it was worth the whole day exploring non stop for hours until it went dark.
The sky was clear and the weather was quite nicer, a little bit of a breeze here and there. I took some shots while walking along the Cuckmere on my phone, plus both film cameras. It was quite a juggle!
At first I was confused on why my phone took square-ish sized photos rather than the standard full size ones. Then I realised there were options of full size photos, similar to panoramas or landscapes (or portraits) depending on what way you hold the phone.
The first few photos down the Cuckmere were shot at 3:4, then I would switch into full size once reaching near to the cliff and beach. I would go back and forth both size settings throughout the day.
Another interesting feature on the Samsung A21s that I discovered, was the camera burst mode – similar to continuous shooting or al servo found on most DSLR cameras. I had to press firmly onto the shutter button, then the phone would take three or four continuous shots. Weirdly enough, they were saved on the phone’s internal drive rather than the SD card. Even my image gallery made a GIF from one of the burst mode shots.
Afternoon came, it would gradually get darker after 4pm. The sky would soon turn into a pastel gradient mixed with blues, oranges and even a tinge of red, with the sun dipping down. This was a great opportunity to capture the sunset, although it can be tricky at times to take them; making sure the shutter and aperture are on the right settings, as well as both the exposure and composition when using a film or digital camera. With some phone cameras, the exposure settings are just contrast and brightness. I chose to go full on automatic on mine and hope for the best soon after.
The shot of the Coastguard Cottages wasn’t exactly the way I had wanted it to be, nevertheless it’ll do for now. My attention would soon turn into making my way to the nearest bus stop heading back to the city centre.
I went to a fish and chip restaurant called Trawlers, not too far from the train station. I didn’t eat anything for hours, only a bag of Doritos during a short break en route to the cliff.
I had to do the obligatory snap of my dinner. The camera has a food shot mode, which is basically a filter with a focus mode, similar to a depth of field on a standard camera. Note the mid section of the photo, the chips are in focus while the surrounding subjects such as the cutlery and salt/pepper shakers are blurry. Since food photography has gained popularity all thanks to social media, my guess is Samsung, if not other phone brands, added this feature to cater (no pun indeed) to its target audience of today’s social media generation or photography enthusiasts.
So am I happy with my new phone overall? Yes!! I feel satisfied with the camera, also how easy it is to use – the apps, features and navigation. I can see myself having this phone for many years to come until it is due for another upgrade, hopefully not too soon!!
Take care and stay safe