Aerial photography expert Jason Hawkes – author of London at Night – takes really awesome photos from helicopters. Usually, he uses his Nikon D3S and D3X with lenses ranging from 14mm up to 300mm. These spectacular images, however, were taken with a mobile phone.
Jason used a Nokia N8, a phone that has a great camera and a craptastically outdated everything else. The N8’s camera is a 12 megapixel model with 28mm Carl Zeiss lenses.
I tested out the Nokia N8 on a flight over London, and my first thoughts were that we really needed some pretty large and impressive locations around the UK to shoot. The N8’s Carl Zeiss lens is surprisingly good but fixed at 28mm which is fairly wide so I looked through my archive of locations and came up with places such as The Shard and 2012 site in London, Chesil Beach, St Michaels Mount and Longships Lighthouse in the South West and the huge Emily Moor Mast, Jodrell Bank Observatory and even the offshore Wind farm at Thanet, all places I knew we could get really dramatic images of.
According to Jason, to overcome the vibration of the flight you have to shoot at a very high shutter speed and low ISO. Apparently the Nokia N8’s 1/1000th of a second shutter speed is fast enough for those amazing night shots of London. Enough to impress him, in fact:
The idea of shooting aerial stills using just a phone really should be ridiculous but after downloading the images at the end of every day and doing initial edits I was really impressed with the results.
It impresses me too. Those shots are crystal clear and, without stabilisers, it’s really hard to get such crispness and detail at night. What I want to see now is the photos that were discarded, and the ratio of good vs crap. Also, I want to get into an helicopter and test a bunch of phones all over New York. [Aerial Photography]