Salamandra salamandra - 014365 - Nokia N8, Zeiss 6mm f/2.8, 1/33 f/2.8, iso 145, handheld. Appennines, Italy.
During a trekking in the Appennines with some friends, we have found this salamander: I had never seen it before and the location was pretty good for photos, but ...my Canon 7D was at home. Not a big problem: it has given me another occasion to try the photo capabilities of the Nokia N8!
The salamander was quite tame so it was easy to get close and to compose the photo; that said, due to the cloudy sky there was low light and it was difficult to get sharp photos. Many images had been lost due to motion blur: in low light, the Nokia N8 uses slow shutter speed instead of high ISO to avoid excessive noise. If you don't have a stable support, the resulting photos are often blurred: without stabilization it is very difficult to get a sharp image at 1/10 or 1/15 with a camera phone.
After some unsuccessful images, I finally managaed to get a sharp photo at 1/33 f/2.8, ISO 145. The huge depth of field of the Zeiss 6mm lens has allowed to get the entire scene in focus; to get the same result with a reflex, I would have needed an aperture of f/11 and ISO 1600 or 3200! I have used the N8 camera with the default settings, except for the shooting mode (I have set it on Close-Up) and the flash (I have disabled it). For snapshots the N8 flash is a great help, but for serious photos it is better to turn it off: its light is pretty harsh and it gives an amateurish look to the photo.
The result has been this photo: click here to see the original photo, without post-processing
Even though it is a JPEG file, I have opened it with Adove Camera RAW to recover as much detail as possible from the highlights with the "Exposure" tool. The dynamic range of the N8 is very limited, around 4 stops, so it is not possible to recover a lot: anyway, I managed to get a little more detail in the bright areas. I have cropped the photo to 3:2 ratio and I have chosen a slightly tighter composition; I have increased the contrast with Levels and Curves and I have done several selective adjustments with the Layer Mask.
The most difficult thing has been to enhance the colors. The original file had a cold cast, but it was difficult to remove it without creating other color casts. With a careful work of color balance and selective saturation I got the desired results. The last step has been to increase the vignetting: in this photo, I think that the dark corners helps to focus the attention on the subject.
This is a 100% crop from the final image to evaluate the image quality: