Nicolas Magand on the internet

Comments about tech, media, nature, &c.

My name is Nicolas Magand and I live in Paris, France. I work as a social media and engagement editor at the Global Editors Network, a non-profit aimed at promoting innovation and sustainability in the news industry. Here I blog mostly about tech and media, but many other topics can face my enthusiasm.

Filtering by Tag: camera

Night mode is à la mode

On Tuesday, it was Apple's turn to unveil a "night mode" for its iPhone, a few months after nearly all its competitors. During last year, Google's latest Pixel sort of introduced the world to the power of computational photography ; its own version of night mode, the well-named Night Sight, looked like a superpower. A few months later, Huawei showed the industry that it wants to be considered as the leader of mobile photography. The P30 Pro demoes were a good argument for the company's ambitions, and they did so especially with, you guessed it, an impressive night mode.

The tech scene was understandably very impressed and I was too. What would have looked like an obscure dark shape now looked like a brightly lit scene. Shots of cities at night looked so bright that it almost looked the pictures were Photoshopped.

Knowing this feature is just a mode, meaning you can decide not to use it for a regular night picture, I never really liked the results of it. Technically the pictures are impressive. Sure. But something felt a bit off about them.

This morning, I had a "yes, exactly how I feel" moment when I read John Gruber's take on the Apple keynote, and more precisely the part where he compares Apple's take on night mode (where it is not really a "mode") with Google's, where you have to select "Night Sight" for the night mode to kick in:

My guess has been that Google made Night Sight its own mode because Night Sight images, though often amazing, are also often quite unnatural. It’s so effective that it often makes nighttime scenes look like they were shot in daylight — like an old Hitchcock movie where they shot day-for-night.

Speaking of movies, the iPhone 11 Pro video samples played at the event featured a lot of night scenes and the results were absolutely stunning.

My phone's homescreen, November 2018 edition

Since my homescreen has pretty much stayed the same in the last couple of months – despite a few changes of phones and Android versions 1  – I figured I would share what has been one of the most stable digital setup for me.

Sixteen apps are living on my homescreen: three rows of four, and the bottom four apps. The other apps are on other screens, sometimes grouped in folders, sometimes not. The bottom four obviously stay on every screen.

The bottom four are, from left to right: Signal (which double as my SMS app), WhatsApp (my main messaging app), Tidal, AntennaPod.

The "top twelve" are, in no particular order: Instapaper, Readably (RSS reader that syncs with Feedbin), The Guardian, Mediapart, DuckDuckGo (which doubles as my main browser), Dropbox Paper (as of today, my main writing/notes app), Twitter, Fastmail, VSCO, Lightroom CC (mostly to back up my photos, since I use VSCO to edit them on the phone), the preinstalled photo gallery app, and the phone's default camera app.

I could add Hello Weather to the list, since it has an ongoing notification displaying the weather forecast at all times, and also Fleksy, my favourite keyboard on Android 2 .

Since this setup is never quite finished, or balanced, we will see what it will look like in a few weeks. Here you can see what my homescreen looks like.


  1. In 2018 I used: EMUI (Huawei P9), Oxygen OS (OnePlus 5T), briefly Android One (Xiaomi Mi A1), and currently MIUI (Xiaomi Mi 8) ↩︎

  2. Mostly for the reasons that it has an option for maintaining the key buttons as capital letters, and it allows me to switch the font of the keys from Roboto to Helvetica, as you should. ↩︎︎

What dedicated cameras are missing to compete with phones in the future

John Gruber, in his review of the iPhone XS camera:

iPhones can’t compete with big dedicated cameras in lens or sensor quality. It’s not even close. The laws of physics prevent it. But those traditional camera companies can’t compete with Apple in custom silicon or software, and their cameras can’t compete with iPhones in terms of always-in-your-pocket convenience and always-on internet connectivity for sharing. In the long run, the smart money is to bet on silicon and software.

I would add a fifth and a sixth big advantage of smartphones over dedicated cameras on top of the software, the silicon, the convenience and the connectivity for sharing, and it's the security of a passlock, and the connectivity for cloud backup.

What happens to your photos if your camera gets stolen or if you lose it? Anybody can access the pictures, and you have no backup. What if you lose your SD card while traveling for the weekend? Everytime I upload my Fuji XE-2 pictures into Lightroom, when I come back home to my computer, I feel relieved that these captured moments are now safe in the cloud. With my phone camera, I never truly have to think about it. There is obviously an app to connect my phone to the camera, but it's very slow and not permanent.

I wonder if we will see more 4G-enabled cameras in the future à la iPad (maybe there are a few already), it really seems like a no brainer, just for a found my camera feature.

Finding old photographs in the attic, USSR edition

Lev Feigin, on Mother Jones:

This is a story about a woman whose photographic obsession left a rare historical look into the USSR and whose secrets are now being discovered by her daughter. Ivashintsova’s archive offers a glimpse into the world beyond the Iron Curtain through the aperture of her life. The photographer used her camera to create a day-to-day record of loves big and small. She identified with what she saw–a lover, a dog in a muzzle, a child on the street–and imprinted upon it her aura.

Such a fantastic discovery. The pictures included in the Mother Jones article are acting as time machines: you can really feel like being part of those lost moments captured by the photographer.