24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.
For someone whose priority in taking photos is to make sure they look good on Instagram, I rarely tinker with a phone camera’s manual settings to achieve more professional-looking shots. After all, Instagram is all about capturing life’s moments as they happen. Especially when you’re exploring a new city, there’s really not enough time to adjust your exposure and ISO, let alone fit everything you want to do in such a short period of time.
I took one of our favorite budget phones, the Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime, to a New Year’s Eve celebration in Taipei to see how the phone fares.
New Year’s Eve at Taipei 101
We watched the fireworks show at one of the hotels beside Taipei 101, and boy was it amazing! Although it was shorter than I expected, and navigating the crowd was quite difficult even hours before the countdown, the way it was designed to mix with lights coming out of the skyscraper’s windows left me in awe and wanting more.
Taipei 101, as millennials used to say in 2016, was lit af that night. I didn’t expect much from a phone that costs less than $200, so I was quite surprised at how the Redmi 4 Prime was able to capture these shots.
Spirited Away in Jiufen
This famous tea house in Jiufen, a 90-minute bus ride from Taipei, is said to be the inspiration for the bath house in the Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away.
It’s picturesque no matter the time of day. I’ve been here at night on a previous trip, but seeing it against Taiwan’s blue skies is quite an experience, too. I turned HDR on to achieve said blue skies without making the tea house too dark.
It worked well on portraits, too!
Around 40 minutes away from Jiufen is Yehliu Geopark. I’ve seen plenty of gloomy photos taken here in the past, so I’d say we’re pretty #blessed to have great weather when we went there.
Sleeplessness did not stop us from taking photos that day. Here’s a selfie!
I’m still blown away by how this photo turned out! Props to my friend for looking like a professional model, but wow. Who’d believe an inexpensive phone can take a photo like this? The best part was we didn’t have to do multiple takes under that sunlight. I tapped the shutter way too early in the first shot, but nailed this fashion spread material on the second try.
teamLab exhibit at Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park is one of those things I wish we had in Manila. It’s a former winery restored and converted into an art space and is a good place to hang out with your friends, or even a date. Wink.
Of the six times I’ve been to Taipei, I visited Huashan three times, but never really paid so much attention to the exhibits and events. That day though, we were lucky enough to chance upon teamLab’s exhibit that I kept seeing on Instagram when my friends went to Tokyo a few months ago.
The exhibit was an immersive digital art jungle for kids and adults alike. While it was a lot of fun, it was here where I saw the Redmi 4 Prime struggle for the first time, since all the sections in the exhibit were dark so one can fully experience the colors and lights in the kaleidoscopic universe teamLab made. The phone had a hard time taking clear and sharp photos, especially with so much movement going on everywhere.
We tried to take a selfie inside, but with the help of my friend’s LuMee case.
We enjoyed the exhibit so much that we stayed there for almost three hours, but that was also partly because it became difficult to properly document the experience with the Redmi 4 Prime.
Chiang Kai-shek memorial
Our last stop was the Chiang Kai-shek memorial just a few hours before our flight. The results weren’t the best.
To say that I’m not a fan of how this turned out is an understatement.
The Redmi 4 Prime set the bar so high during the day and left me disappointed come night time. The amazing photos it took made me proud and wonder how such a cheap device can make something look so good. But when it didn’t, reality hit me and reminded me that I needed to manage my expectations considering how much the phone costs.
Photos taken in daylight were consistently great, but those in low light were a hit or miss. When the trip is best enjoyed during daytime, say, the beach, the Redmi 4 Prime would be good for it. But for cities like Taipei, where some of the most exciting activities (read: night market) happen at night, you might want to look elsewhere.