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Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography: An Intensive Usage Experience Summary

· 14 min read
Software Developer @ TuSimple
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This article was translated by ChatGPT automatically, with minor manual corrections.

Over a month ago, I got my hands on the Xiaomi 14 Ultra (along with its photography handle kit), replacing the Xiaomi 12 Pro I had been using.

On one hand, my previous phone was somewhat lacking in performance — severe frame drops with certain games, especially worsened when using WeChat's video call in the background, made it clear that it was time for an upgrade.

On the other hand, the photography-focused direction of the previous Xiaomi 13 Ultra models did impress me. However, I noticed some design flaws and chose not to purchase it. At the latest release event, it was apparent that the previous issues, especially the balance of the device, had improved significantly in the 14 Ultra.

Moreover, I have increasingly realized that not every moment of a trip is suitable for carrying a camera. Given the maturity of mobile photography, it serves well as a casual alternative to a standard camera. This sparked a stronger need in me for a phone with superior image quality.

All these reasons combined led me to purchase the Xiaomi 14 Ultra at its launch. Coincidentally, some recent changes at work gave me nearly two weeks off, which I used to visit Japan and thoroughly test the pros and cons of this phone.

Overall, this smartphone has many advantages. It aligns with various reviews, whether in glowing or regular articles. From its large aperture and sensor size that enhances low-light performance to the great one-click photo quality achieved through Leica color tuning, and the various video optimizations, anyone who has used this phone would likely agree.

However, the upcoming sections will focus more on some of the phone’s minor drawbacks. This does not mean it isn't an excellent phone, but its specialized focus makes it less suitable for everyone or perhaps even the majority of users. If you are its target audience, these drawbacks might be minor; if not, any one of these issues could be a dealbreaker.

The right fit is the best fit.

The ultimate companion for Sony cameras: Monitor+

· 3 min read
Software Developer @ TuSimple
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This article was translated by ChatGPT automatically, with minor manual corrections.

This is software used to connect to Sony cameras.

Creators' App

This is also software used to connect to Sony cameras.

Imaging Edge Mobile

This is yet another piece of software for connecting to Sony cameras.

Play Memories Home

Sony has historically released many different versions of apps and software, and sometimes different software may only be compatible with different cameras. For example, my A7M4 and α6000 require different apps for mobile connections; it's not feasible to use Imaging Edge to connect the A7M4.

Even with seemingly tailor-made software for each camera model, there are still various problems in use. Frequent disconnections and slow speeds are minor issues. Even the A7M4, released in 2021, requires a third-party WiFi connection to link the camera and mobile app.

Since the camera itself lacks a browser interface, if your WiFi requires additional web page login verification (as many hotel WiFis do), you might lose the opportunity to transfer photos from your camera to your phone... right? Not necessarily!

Today's featured app is Monitor+. Not only does it solve the tricky problem mentioned above, but it can also turn your phone into a real-time monitor and remote shutter release. Many of my timelapse photos, such as this one, were shot with this app.

This app supports not only Sony cameras, but most mainstream camera brands can be connected to it as well. Photo transfer and basic remote monitoring and shutter triggering functionalities are all free!

From Taking Pictures to Photography (02): Other Basic Parameters of the Camera and Advanced Effects

· 8 min read
Software Developer @ TuSimple
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This article was translated by ChatGPT automatically, with minor manual corrections.

To view other articles in the series, please use the tag to jump to the article directory page: #from-taking-pictures-to-photography.

In this article, we continue to introduce a few remaining basic camera parameters from the last article.

From Taking Pictures to Photography (01): Basic Parameters of the Camera

· 10 min read
Software Developer @ TuSimple
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This article was translated by ChatGPT automatically, with minor manual corrections.

To view other articles in the series, please use the tag to jump to the article directory page: #from-taking-pictures-to-photography.

From the Start to the End of Photography

My first card camera, a Nikon COOLPIX S200, was a possession I acquired during my middle school days.

Many people suggest to photography beginners that equipment is not important and you shouldn't expect to become a photographer overnight; just keep taking photos and you will naturally get better. I once believed in this advice.

So, in those days when the internet was not yet a ready repository of knowledge, I took my camera everywhere to shoot, trying out various things. I indeed wholeheartedly embraced the notion of shooting a lot, but what followed was not growth but greater confusion.

I didn't have many people around me who knew about photography, I didn’t know what a beautiful photo was, and all I did was repeatedly compose odd and skewed frames. There weren’t many around me who knew about cameras either, so my understanding of film cameras was limited to knowing that film would be ruined if exposed to sunlight, and I always thought that the colorful noise when shooting night scenes with a digital camera was my own fault. I didn't know what a tripod was or understand concepts such as aperture, shutter speed, or ISO. After trying various modes on the camera, I just switched back to automatic.

Thus, after accompanying me throughout my entire middle school, as the quality of smartphone photos gradually caught up, I stored away the camera in my home during college. My experimentation with "photography" started with "taking photos" and also ended with just "taking photos."

Years later, when I started working, I bought myself a mirrorless camera, the celebrated Sony α6000. By then, the internet was filled with a mix of good and bad information, and by exploration, I chose my first affordable prime lens and tried to shoot using aperture priority mode. Nevertheless, I still had many puzzling questions, such as why I would need a small aperture when I have a large one and what are the drawbacks of a zoom lens besides being expensive.

Falling into the same predicament as before, naturally, led to the same results. After a while, this camera too was packed away in a box, and just a few years ago, the kit lens was no longer focusing due to the aging of its internal plastic components.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally came across an article by Sean Ning titled "Photography Notes: Photography Isn't That Hard to Learn". Regrettably, I searched for a long time but couldn't find any information about the author. There's a website that I suspect belongs to the author, but without concrete evidence, I won't share it here.

The article was clearly written around 2010 and was obviously a PDF exported from Word, feeling very much of its era. Despite its age, the content is still relevant. It starts with a technical perspective, introducing many important parameters in the camera and their interconnections, then progressively introduces the key concept of "tone" in photography, extending to the essence of "highlighting the subject," and finally discusses key factors to consider for some basic types of photography.

This might differ from the majority of the "how to compose" articles or "how to adjust colors" videos you would find on Xiaohongshu (also known as Little Red Book) or Bilibili. In fact, this article doesn't mention much about the artistry of photography. Instead, it feels like a very "programmer"-like article—I saw it full of techniques, and it was quite benefiting.

This series of articles I write is actually a crude imitation and brief summarization of "Photography Notes: Photography Isn't That Hard to Learn". Even if you are willing to read my articles, I still recommend that when you have time, to click the above link, download the PDF to your local storage, and slowly read it through. Although seasoned photographers might scoff at it, as a beginner, you will surely benefit enormously—since photography is a hobby that is a lot more about satisfying yourself than pleasing others, why take the naysaying of veterans too seriously?