How the iPhone changed my photography

How the iPhone changed my photography

I bought my first iPhone, the second-generation 3G, in 2008. I didn't buy it with photography in mind and in fact, as far as its camera was concerned, I took a serious downgrade. My previous phone, the Sony Ericsson K800i wasn't the best phone in the world, but it had a far better camera. The iPhone 3G, like the original iPhone, took dreadful pictures in comparison. Back in 2008 iPhone users had to put up with poor detail resolution, even worse low light performance and - of course - no flash.

Back then, I was confident that my iPhone wouldn't replace my trusty compact camera in my jacket pocket. I hoped it might replace my iPod (it eventually did) and transform the way I used email (it quickly did) but photography? No way. Not even the most hopeless Apple obsessive would claim that the original iPhone's camera was anything other than an embarassment - a shameful technological throwback on an otherwise thrillingly futuristic device. Like finding a cassette deck on the bridge of a starship.

Over-extended metaphors aside, as every photographer knows, the best camera you own is the one that you have with you. And the funny thing about phones is that (with the apparent exception of my mother) most people carry them around pretty much all the time. As such, despite the crappy camera on the first two iterations, the iPhone  - purely by virtue of being a popular device that a lot of people have in their pocket, purse or handbag - has been used to snap millions and millions of photographs. iPhones have been used to illustrate newspaper articles, magazine front covers and countless web galleries. Sometimes to make a point, but sometimes because it has simply been the only camera on the scene.

The camera in my first iPhone, the 3G,
was pretty poor, but because it was
always in my pocket, it soon became the
camera I reached for most often,
despite its limitations. 
The camera in my iPhone 4 is a
completely different beast, and much
more advanced. A useful 5MP
resolution, fine-tunable focus+AE and
effective HDR mode put it much closer
to a compact camera than previous
generations. 


Back in 2008 I would never even have considered using my iPhone 3G for anything approaching 'serious' work. After all, I was a serious photographer. wasn't I?

Well... on my good days yes, of sorts, but how many 'serious' photographers can honestly claim to have a correspondingly 'serious' camera in their bag at all times? My iPhone soon became the best camera I owned - the camera I always had on me. I never learned to love the 3G's 2MP output, but I did learn how to exploit the camera's few strengths (good metering, nice colors and acceptable detail in decent light) and to use its 'distinctive' characteristics creatively. For me though, what really transformed the iPhone into a serious photographic tool was not the hardware, which until the iPhone 4 was poor compared to most compact cameras, but the huge ecosystem of applications which sprung up around it. 

Both of these images were shot with the iPhone 4, and then manipulated using Nik's Snapseed application. I performed the adjustments using an iPad 2, but Snapseed has recently been updated for the iPhone as well - just one of the countless applications available to spur the iPhone photographer's imagination.

Apple's app store in iTunes was launched in 2008 at the same time as the iPhone 3GS, and within months it was host to countless photography-related apps. Some, inevitably, were utterly pointless. Some were simply useless, but a great many were fun, and a surprisingly large amount were very, very useful. In the years since the iTunes app store was launched, the impact of both the iPhone as hardware and the idea of 'apps' on consumer level digital imaging has been profound.

Sometimes the influence is obvious - the spookily iOS-like interface of Samsung's latest touchscreen compacts for example - and sometimes it is more subtle. I don't think it is too much of a stretch to pin the current 'retro photography boom' on the advent of the iPhone and app store. If it hadn't been for the popularity of the iPhone, would we have seen the same explosion of 'artistic' filter effects on compact and interchangeable lens cameras released in the past couple of years? Honestly I doubt it. 

With a range of carefully-chosen apps installed, my iPhone can create moody black and white images, atmospheric lomo-esque shots (like the one at the top of this article, which was processed using Plastic Bullet) and fake Polaroids. Of the thousands of photography apps available for the iPhone, Hipstamatic (see images below) is one of the most popular, and fun.

And fun is what it's all about. Because my iPhone is always with me, and because I have fun using it, I take far more photographs with it than I ever did on my previous camera-enabled phones. I'm a more spontaneous photographer with my iPhone, and less self-conscious. I'm more inclined to get creative with filters and post-processing, too, because I can do it quickly and all on one device. In short, the iPhone has made me more open-minded. I don't get out with my DSLR as much these days as I'd like to, but when I do, this new open-mindedness extends to my more 'serious' photography as well. I'm less liable to get hung up on the technical risks of attempting a certain shot, and more likely just to go for it, and see what happens. 

My iPhone has also proved invaluable for keeping in touch with friends and family back home in England, and I'm not just talking about phonecalls. Services like Instagram (above) allow me to share photographs I've taken on my various wanderings around America. Friends follow my Instagram stream, and I follow theirs. It's no substitute for a conversation, but it is nice, nonetheless, and helps narrow the 5,000-mile gap a little. 

At a major tradeshow last year I got talking to a fellow journalist who was using his iPhone 4 exclusively to illustrate his online coverage of the event. His reason? He likes the images it takes, the quality is fine for the web, and it's much less bulky than his normal DSLR. My initial reaction was that there was no way I could - or would - use my iPhone in the same way, but the conversation made me think. Why not?


Barnaby Britton is Reviews Editor of dpreview.com. You can see a selection of his after-hours work at www.photoinsensitive.com.

Comments

Total comments: 105
12
makofoto
By makofoto (Nov 2, 2012)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/11/01/why-time-magazine-used-instagram-to-cover-hurricane-sandy/

0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (May 27, 2012)

iPhone 4GS x NOKIA 808 pureview cameras

Is there any good place to look for that ?

Agree with most people that the best camera is the one that you always carry with you, sure a phone doesn't replace a good bridge cam or DSLR but I'd like to have the best current cameraphone.

Dpreview team should start including photography reviews of such camphones so we can have better info as with regular cams.

0 upvotes
MsCheeky94
By MsCheeky94 (May 4, 2012)

With the high resolution of the Iphone, its really good for photographing immediate photographs. Me personally as a student, I don't carry my camera every day. I find the Iphone great when taking impulse shots.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
jj74e
By jj74e (Apr 1, 2012)

I think people focusing on whether or not these kinds of photos are "good" photos are refusing to recognize the multidimensional aspect of photography. It isn't about messages, deeper meanings, or calculated, trained work all the time. Believe it or not, it can be just for fun. And these types of photos and effects make it easy to document your life as you're growing up, regardless of your age. The effects don't make a photo "better," but they give them a certain aesthetic appeal that gives that moment some warmth, that year some memory. If anything, it makes a nice, nostalgic photo album from when you were a kid, a teen, a young adult, an adult, a grandpa- photography isn't always serious work- sometimes good photography means simply living in the moment, and for that, smartphones and quick effects do quite well.

0 upvotes
Malcolm Chalmers
By Malcolm Chalmers (Nov 5, 2011)

this all sounds like the Hatfields and Maccoys .... pictures, or images should be taken to be enjoyed. Does it matter if they were taken with an iphone or a Nikon. The purpose of a image is to be enjoyed. . . . whatever.. . .

2 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Oct 25, 2011)

Taking a picture with an iPhone and applying some stock effect from an app cannot exactly be called an artistic process... either the picture is good and tells something, or it's not, and applying a vintage or toy camera effect or posterizing colors will not turn it into a good picture.
With an iPhone you always have the camera with you (but even, say, with an S90...), and the picture quality might be good enough for most purposes. What you should ask yourself is if you're really doing something new, something worthwile, or you're not just trying to shift the attention from the photo subject and its intrinsic value to the effects that are applied to the picture.
This is more for the masses... "hey, look at my picture, looks like a picture from a Lomo so I'm an artist"... not for people who should know what photography really means and what it means to take a picture that is really worth to be watched.

3 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Nov 21, 2011)

I suppose one could have made the same argument about different film types. I mean if the photo isn't good in color, it won't be good in black and white. Same deal with Velvia vs Kodachrome.

0 upvotes
LiSkynden
By LiSkynden (Oct 23, 2011)

iPhone sucks as camera. The lens is in wrong place and the tocuh screen is just too sensitive for use as a shutter button.
... but my wife bought an iPhone just awhile ago, and i downloaded Hipstamatic to it, and wow, i love it. I love the old style "bad" photos, they bring back memories and well, they are just somehow cool. With Hipstamatic, the photos take way too long to process tho and its kind of hard to find the settings you like. I wouldnt take "normal" photos with iPhone ... i have my old Canon 650IS for that, lol.

iPhone still sucks as camera, but so did the old film plastic (toy) cameras. iPhone just sucks in a different way :D

1 upvote
io_bg
By io_bg (Oct 16, 2011)

You Americans are describing things as if anyone has an iPhone. I do not own one and I'd probably never buy one!

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 18, 2011)

So why comment?

1 upvote
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Oct 18, 2011)

Because it is so boring to get all this noise about iStuff ... nothing special about this camera .... why all the free promotion. Why link an article with a brand? Wouldn't it be nice to make it an article about phone cameras? Why praise this product over and over ? It is not the best, not the cheapest ... not the most rectangular .... not the whites ... it's "i".... you can take iPictures , not just pictures ....

6 upvotes
John I. Clark
By John I. Clark (Oct 26, 2011)

Why get all whipped up just because you don't have an iPhone? Millions of us do; it's extremely popular, for reasons clearly apparent to anyone who's used one. So obviously there're going to be articles like this one! If you don't like it, ignore it and move along... Otherwise you just end up looking like a jealous whiner.

Comment edited 58 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (Oct 31, 2011)

Resistance is futile...

1 upvote
liran1
By liran1 (Oct 10, 2011)

Cellular phones cameras have bad quality comparing to 150-200$ pocket cameras, especially at low lighting.

2 upvotes
egafx
By egafx (Oct 29, 2011)

'bad quality'
is what 'photographers' now want for their photos.

4 upvotes
Brandon Herring
By Brandon Herring (Oct 10, 2011)

Love the article and relate 100%! I also use HDR Pro and it is amazing. Not as great as the high resolution HDR stuff from my real cams, but for a phone, it is incredible!

0 upvotes
Kenneth Margulies
By Kenneth Margulies (Oct 9, 2011)

Cool shots...iPhone is always with you. I can't wait for the 4S as the iPhone 4S camera is much improved over the iPhone 4.
To those who hate iPhone, I would ask how many perfect pictures can you take when your dSLR is at home?
My advice is to enjoy both worlds! dSLR (or more compact Sony NEX 7) when you want quality, iPhone for unexpected photo ops at any time when you need a decent picture or HD video.

3 upvotes
rudymnv
By rudymnv (Oct 7, 2011)

Nice article and photos, however I don't understand such comment hustle here... apple fanboys or apple haters... from my point of view, if it makes you happy... can't be that bad. :)

7 upvotes
gmackers
By gmackers (Oct 7, 2011)

The best feature I found with the iphone is the touch focus and exposure. Great for back lighting - I usually take 2 shots, one for the main subject exposure and the second for the background - assuming I do not move, much.

0 upvotes
OdonataPix
By OdonataPix (Oct 6, 2011)

Well, I was very pleased with this article.
Although my main camera is a prosumer one, and that I still feel that an SLR would do a much better job - my SE K800i was allways with me with it's small, but wideangle lens (that my "real" camera doesn't have):

https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/112806225484558472107/albums/5603504386903937329?hl=en

It really makes you try to do everything you can to create a good photo, and at the same time - have fun.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (Oct 5, 2011)

Wonderful! Stunning! Love all images!

0 upvotes
alfredo_tomato
By alfredo_tomato (Oct 5, 2011)

To many, the iPhone is their introduction to photography. A percentage will want more than what they have. I'm all for encouraging them.

0 upvotes
wetracy
By wetracy (Oct 5, 2011)

This guy needs an editor.

1 upvote
dugbot
By dugbot (Oct 5, 2011)

Yes! You are an artist.

Fuzzy creativity or technical excellence. Both can be stunning, both can invoke emotion, both are valid forms of photography.

Thanks for the excellent article!

1 upvote
cynwit
By cynwit (Oct 18, 2011)

Recently bought a Sony A33 and love the photos I can take but I also adore my iPhone 4 and being creative with the countless apps available and long live Instagram a great online communityxx

0 upvotes
aquadust
By aquadust (Oct 4, 2011)

mobile phone photography - it is just about high PP, nothing else... PP is not an art, not for me.... if i want uncompromising quality i grab my 7D, for everything else i grab my LX5... i tried to shoot photos with my mobile phone but i gave it up and bought LX5, mobile phones can not replace compact cameras, not within next 10 years or so. but i understand, many people doesn't really care because they are unable to spot the difference between good and bad photos, people so called consumers

4 upvotes
moving_comfort
By moving_comfort (Oct 5, 2011)

Composition, an eye for a subject or unique setting, understanding of light and it's effects - all these skills are gained independent of equipment used. A good photographer armed with a cell phone will shoot circles around a mediocre photographer who's shooting a D3s.

9 upvotes
Gerry Winterbourne
By Gerry Winterbourne (Oct 5, 2011)

Some people PP excessively whatever camera they use - it doesn't mean that that's what their camera is about. I use my iPhone in much the same way as my K-5, on occasions when the DSLR is inconvenient to carry.

IQ is, obviously, lower but I PP to get the same sort of look to my pictures. I'm fully aware of the difference in picture quality: I'm also fully aware of the difference in convenience. Leaving my real camera at home doesn't magically transform me from a photographer to a "consumer".

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
tedc333
By tedc333 (Oct 4, 2011)

This is just a general comment. Whatever one might think about cellphone photography, and certainly negative comments are valid, personal attacks on the writer are NOT valid. I have been thinking about getting an iPhone for other reasons, and this article about the photographic possibilities I have found very useful. The argument that the best camera is the one you have with you, while almost a cliche now, is certainly true.

And for street photography, which I love to do, having a (relatively) good cellphone camera seems like a great idea to me. Thank you for this article.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 4, 2011)

Thanks! Glad you liked it.

0 upvotes
Poss
By Poss (Oct 31, 2011)

A cellphone has the advantage of not making one stand out in the sea of other cellphone shooters.

0 upvotes
fastprime
By fastprime (Oct 4, 2011)

I recently commented on a chap's photo's on the fuji forum whereby he had shot with an X100 then ran the images through Snapseed to produce what looked a lot like the images from an iPhone. I fail to understand why anyone would want to replicate the "look" of a microscopic sensor and crappy lens followed by overprocessing in some "hipstamatic" type app. with a $1200 camera capable of superb imagery. As far as I can see if any photographer produced images as gawdawfull as these with a 1D MarkIV or 3Dx they'd be mortified. So what elevates them to art just because they orignate in an iPhone?
If the iphone 5 camera is on par with a decent compact (LX5) will iPhone fanboys cry over the loss of the inferior technology?

3 upvotes
cynwit
By cynwit (Oct 18, 2011)

Have you ever looked at the photographs on instagram? You might be surprised!!

0 upvotes
D Gold
By D Gold (Oct 4, 2011)

I for one, am tired of junk iPhone pics from its low quality camera that then get over-manipulated by software and wind up looking even worse. Here is another example of such amateurish images and I am sure the author thinks it's art...

6 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 4, 2011)

Nope - just having fun. Unlike you it seems.

16 upvotes
TheLastMan
By TheLastMan (Oct 4, 2011)

Excellent article, it is clear that Mr Britten has a great eye for a "found" image, wherever they may crop up. There is a similar article in the Economist glossy periodical Intelligent Life:
"Cairo, before and after the fall of Mubarak: pictures from an iPhone, by Steve Double"

Ultimately though this tool is limited to opportunistic shots - mainly street photography and photo journalism requiring an instant reaction. Fixed high DOF is a boon here, rather than a limitation, as focus is less critical.
However what it is not good for is:
- high quality portraits
- event photography
- landscapes
- wildlife
- macro
- telephoto
- low light (ie virtually dark)
- sports photography
- flash photography
- studio photography
(and so on)
Whereas any half decent DSLR would be able to cope with all of these. So don't worry, the iPhone is not likely to replace your Nikon quite yet!

However for capturing street life the only camera worth having is the one in your pocket.

3 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Oct 4, 2011)

I have 2 Nikon D5000's and one of them is almost always with me, because once you get used to the quality of its images, you can't degrade from that, unless it's a silly picture of your 5 year old nephew doing the "rabbit ears behind the head" of your 7 year old niece, the lighting is poor, their clothes are dirty from them rolling the mud & the background is cluttered with junk anyway.

Also while I know Barney Britton is just sharing his opinion, I have to concur with those who say "why just Apple?" Yes really, why is the Apple the ONLY phone we ever hear about? I'm sick of all this Apple idolatry. Apple, Apple, Apple, Apple, Apple--good grief, next thing you know we're going to have an "iToilet" that requires you to buy toilet paper refills through iTunes & doesn't let you remove the lid from the tank to "jiggle the handle"--and people will be calling it "innovative" and swearing that prior to the iToilet people had to use the bathroom outdoors in an outhouse. Ugh!

4 upvotes
mlibre
By mlibre (Oct 5, 2011)

sounds like you have a PC

2 upvotes
cynwit
By cynwit (Oct 18, 2011)

Well really it appears you have your head up or in yours

0 upvotes
carlo trevisan
By carlo trevisan (Oct 4, 2011)

"Art tends to facilitate intuitive rather than rational understanding, and is usually consciously created with this intention."
from Wikipedia

Today, I feel that our "intuitive understanding" is closely related to instant sharing. My artistic/great/photoshopped shot is nothing if I share it a month late.
So instant sharing and simple, creative and fun to use apps make the iphone the best photographic tool available (probably?)
The future of our DSRL and mirrorless cameras should be this: instant sharing and cool, third party photographic apps. Megapixels and ISO are a non-issue

PS: I'm not paid by Apple, I don't own an iPhone but I'm planning to buy one asap.

0 upvotes
cynwit
By cynwit (Oct 18, 2011)

Way to go dude.

0 upvotes
Ravitej Khalsa
By Ravitej Khalsa (Oct 4, 2011)

I still have a iPhone 3 to compliment the 5D2 as a pocket carry. I use Topaz clean to make a photo that looks so good on the screen of the iPhone. With just one or two iterations of the effect it creates patterns that make the photo totally fit the screen resolution. That said, can hardly wait for the higher resolution for the new iPhone.

0 upvotes
Daryl Cheshire
By Daryl Cheshire (Oct 4, 2011)

I was never impressed with the photos from my iPhone 4 and I think the lens is half of the equation. The lens on the phone is a bit tiddly in spite of the megapixels.
I recently got the Fujifilm X100 and I carry that in my work bag and I still have my iPhone with me in case I get kidnapped by aliens in my lunchtime.
The X100 has terrible 3G reception.

4 upvotes
Lyon Chen
By Lyon Chen (Oct 4, 2011)

I totally agree with the author. Better have than nothing in grab. I bring my moto defy anywhere like shoes and feet. Regarding "limitation", how about calling it "characteristic"? like noticeable vignette in lomo, limited DR and high noise in phone camera. I'd like to experiment with it myself. Must be fun. THANK YOU, Barney, for your great inspiration.

1 upvote
dom33
By dom33 (Oct 4, 2011)

God, another "look how great my Apple product is" article. Crappy camera (but good composition and pp)

7 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 4, 2011)

Well not exactly...

4 upvotes
moving_comfort
By moving_comfort (Oct 4, 2011)

I very much prefer shooting my D700, K20D or D90, but I completely agree with this - my iphone is with me 100% of the time, the DSLRs *just *are *not.

The impending iphone 5 has actually kept me from purchasing a better mirrorless camera, because I just know that no matter how small, it's still a special-purpose device, is larger than the iphone... and still wont go with me everywhere.

Here's some of my 3G output:

---> http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&message=38878503

and:

---> http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1036&message=39030210

.

1 upvote
WT21
By WT21 (Oct 4, 2011)

I just hate grabbing my iPhone for pictures, as I have to turn it on, turn off whatever app I was using, swipe to the screen where camera is, and turn on the camera. Wait. Possibly move it from video to picture, then frame. Ugh. Not a quick snapper.

1 upvote
mrbrich
By mrbrich (Oct 16, 2011)

Great point. All these everything-but-the-kitchen-sink devices are such a pain to use.

0 upvotes
cynwit
By cynwit (Oct 18, 2011)

Obviously haven't got the ios 5 software

0 upvotes
harley13
By harley13 (Oct 4, 2011)

an iphone really? really? You can find camea costing 1/5 of an iphone able to do 10 times what that phone can do. Not there yet.

4 upvotes
Yakbutter
By Yakbutter (Oct 4, 2011)

I LOVE shooting my my iPhone 4. As a professional photographer, it's nice to always have a camera on me and not have to haul around my D700 for everyday stuff.
People trip out when i post pictures to Facebook and then I tell them it was taken with my iPhone.

3 upvotes
Yakbutter
By Yakbutter (Oct 4, 2011)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/64075291@N02/
Just a few of the photos taken with the iPhone. The quality is amazing from a phone!

2 upvotes
TheLastMan
By TheLastMan (Oct 4, 2011)

Nice snaps. However looking through them what sets them apart from the average Flikr collection taken with a P&S or DSLR is the heavy use of "effects" and processing - your selective blurring is particularly effective (Dana point and Roadside tagging). However I have to say I am seeing the "Polaroid" effect everywhere these days and it is losing its novelty and becoming a bit stale.

It is clear that for you the main benefit (apart from always having it with you) is the processing apps available. Maybe that is the iPhone's real advantage over a tiny P&S or other camera phone?

I like L.A. Country Fair Sunset (the first one). A real example of the advantage of having a camera to hand. How many times have I said to myself "damn, If only I had my camera with me!" when I have spotted scenes like that.

1 upvote
Yakbutter
By Yakbutter (Oct 4, 2011)

You are partly correct as that it's nice to have Camera+ (an app) on the phone, so I can get the bet from the photos. Oddly enough, I did not use any selective blurring in the Dana Point shot.

The moral of the story is i love having a camera on me at all times.
:)

0 upvotes
MMehresUSA
By MMehresUSA (Oct 4, 2011)

This article would have a lot more credibility if it was focused on smart phones in general, instead of just focusing on one brand. The Nokia N8 and Samsung Galaxy II would have delivered equal or superior results and also have a multiple of applications and are equally well connected.

By going on and on and on and on about one particular brand to the exclusion of others, an article that would have had some (slight) interest instead comes off as as puff piece by a fanboy, which frankly has the effect of diminishing the credibility of the author and the website in general.

9 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 4, 2011)

It's an opinion piece. About my experiences with my phone. It's not a review or a group test or a roundup (watch this space). I'm a little worried that this is causing confusion...

4 upvotes
aramintastudio
By aramintastudio (Oct 4, 2011)

Like it or not, but the iPhone is by far the most used smartphone on Fiickr: whatever the reason, one cannot denny the fact unless one admits that most Flickr users are fanboys.

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/

1 upvote
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Oct 18, 2011)

@aramintastudio - is this iLogic?

0 upvotes
Gary Leland
By Gary Leland (Aug 1, 2012)

How does the inclusion of other makers give this article credibility? The article is clearly about a manufacturer who has taken a very different tac to mobile phone cameras. It is totally about the 40+meg sensor (completely unique in the field) and how they are using it to improve the resulting images. Barney, great article, I enjoyed it like I do all new innovation and found it very interesting as well. I especially like the interview. He was certainly well spoken and communicating very effectively. Thanks once again.

ooops. I posted this to the wrong thread. Thought this was for the Nokia 808 article. Please disregard and have a nice day anyway.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (Oct 4, 2011)

I do like my iPhone4 photos more than the Nokia 97 5MP camera. Did anyone compared iPhone4 photos with 8MP Nokia E7 or 12MP Nokia N8 ? I've been told that the last one is currently best camera-phone.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Oct 4, 2011)

The embarrassing thing, really, is that the iPhone4 is more fun, and less complicated, than a modern digital compact camera from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic etc. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the output is essentially equivalent.

Camera manufacturers had years of opportunity to make a fun, simple, high quality camera with, for example, a developer based software ecosystem, and instead we get "scene mode 33: baby portrait mode IIa : bath and indoor sports." Gee.

That the iPhone (and smartphones generally) is kicking compact cameras to the curb gets no sympathy from me.

4 upvotes
ovrebekk
By ovrebekk (Oct 4, 2011)

I would definitely welcome a similar app-model on DSLR's, allowing you to customize the UI and functionality more.

That said, saying that the output is essentially equivalent is wrong. If you only post facebook pictures I guess they are pretty similar, but if you want to do some processing to your shots, make larger prints or shoot in low light a DSLR is a completely different thing.

0 upvotes
Valentinian
By Valentinian (Oct 4, 2011)

when will they put a telephone on my LX5 ?

1 upvote
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Oct 4, 2011)

Pretty soon? Panasonic *already* grafted a phone onto a Venus Engine-equipped Lumix...
http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/29/android-phone-lumix-camera-panasonics-lumix-phone-101p-for-japan/

0 upvotes
craigslucas
By craigslucas (Oct 3, 2011)

Interesting article... I work in a photo lab and have printed i-phone photos upto 12 x 16inches and they look fine. But however much I hear how great the i-phone is, I've yet to be convinced that it's worth the cost.

I have a nokia e5 smart phone... great phone, talking or texting. Crap at everything else. Hard to navigate, internet is useless, camera takes ok photos but is a pain to use.

Nah... until someone gives me an i-phone as a free upgrade, I'll stick to my P7000 for my photos.

1 upvote
jcmarfilph
By jcmarfilph (Oct 3, 2011)

Great article but the title doesn't fit. You could have said...

How to make great pictures out of cheap phone or camera.

It's your skills in photography and post-processing made these shots. Not the iPhone or whatever.

3 upvotes
TheLastMan
By TheLastMan (Oct 4, 2011)

I mostly agree, as it is clear the author has a brilliant "eye" for a good image and - for him - the best camera he has is the one he has with him because he could clearly take a good picture with *any* camera!

However the Apple iOS photo apps are generally extremely good quality and very usable because they are produced by people/companies with extensive experience in image processing and publishing using Apple software and hardware (I include Adobe in that category). Try and find a publishing or image processing professional who *doesn't* use Apple kit. You will be looking for a long time!

0 upvotes
mac west
By mac west (Oct 3, 2011)

Yes the pictures and the mp3 format that people listen to music on go hand and hand.

1 upvote
RockyOne
By RockyOne (Oct 3, 2011)

My Dad said to me seems like a hundred years ago " a good tradesman never blames his tools". With that in mind, on my collection of some 18,000 photos on my Apple™ 'Aperture 3' photo data base, I find the b & w ones I took when I was 15 on my bakelite (Google) Kodak™ 127 roll film camera are just as relevant today as any I took with my various Nikon™ and other cameras over the years. Quality is something I worry about, only after I have the image. After all, capturing the image, which may never present itself again is most important as I feel almost selfish any time I allow camera 'politics' to come into play and miss a shot that others in the future will be denied. Yes, I do love photography.

2 upvotes
webneep
By webneep (Oct 3, 2011)

I like the iPhone 4 camera, I've taken some photos with it that I could not have taken with my D3, simply because the D3 was in my backpack, or hotelroom.
The quality is pretty good and the HDR feature helps a lot to tame excessive brightness ranges. And there are some fantastic apps to take panos like the free Microsoft Photosynth offerring.
And the biggest advantage it has over 99.9% of conventional cameras: you can upload, email or MMS straight from the phone.
Why can't I do that with a normal compact?

1 upvote
Thomas Traub
By Thomas Traub (Oct 3, 2011)

This article shows very well how cracy and useless our effort for more and more pixels, for a better and better technique in our cams is. Good pics can be made with lomo-cams as well as with Polaroids oder with an IPhone, with a Compact or a DSLR.

The pictures are still made in our mind - and we use the unit only as a tool.

So every tool has its advantages and disadvanteges. A phone is every time with us, a DSLR is very sharp and the RAW-format offers additional possibilities.

But a good pic (what is a good pic?) can be made with all kinds of cams.

1 upvote
sean000
By sean000 (Oct 3, 2011)

Love the photos and the processing. As someone who shoots with several cameras ranging from an iPhone to m4/3 to an APS-C DSLR: I enjoy playing with any kind of photograph tool I can get my hand on...and that includes an iPhone and apps like Snapseed. I do carry a m4/3 camera with me wherever I go, but I still take photos with my iPhone 4 just to see what I can get with it. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised.

1 upvote
Robo2k
By Robo2k (Oct 3, 2011)

No offense, but I just don't see how taking a picture and kinda-post-processing it by merely pressing a button on your iphone qualifies as a real artisitc effort.

4 upvotes
Scott Everett
By Scott Everett (Oct 3, 2011)

It's a valid point, and certainly there is a lot of this in iphoneography/mobileography. But in the last 5 years there has also been a growing culture of high quality photography being done with mobiles. Lots of noted pros, from documentary to fine art, portrait to street, are shooting and sharing their mobile photography.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 3, 2011)

Maybe it doesn't. I'm certainly not sure. But what 'iPhoneography' has done for me is to open my mind to different ways of seeing photographs, and make me less risk-averse when it comes to taking pictures.

3 upvotes
stevenstreet483
By stevenstreet483 (Oct 3, 2011)

Ask yourself what qualifies as an artistic effort? And if it has anything to do with what camera you use. For me an artistic photo starts with choosing the right model, having an idea, finding a great location, lighting it to realize your vision. All of these things can be done with no camera in hand. Where the iphone comes in is that it allows people to take photos where they (in most any other case) would not have taken the photo. As the old saying goes "the best camera is the one you have with you". Because art is just an idea, it is not a filter, or a camera. You can realize your idea with any camera, and if the camera you have on hand happens to be an iphone, then why would you diminish the artistic effort, the artists "idea"merely because they are processing the photo in the camera vs in the computer? Your view on this is far too rudimentary.

2 upvotes
Robo2k
By Robo2k (Oct 3, 2011)

stevenstreet483: i totally agree with you that artistic creation has nothing to do with the material you use. the essence of art lies in the mind that controls the whole creation process. and this is exactly what bothers me: to me those apps are far too restrictive. it only gives you a handful of choices. to me this is far too little. creating something is always about being free to choose. here you oly get a couple of prestes "that everybody loves".

0 upvotes
Gary Martin
By Gary Martin (Oct 3, 2011)

It's not so much that I always have a smartphone with me (I also always have a small DSLR handy), but that my smartphone is a *connected* device that allows post-processing and distribution with a few finger presses. It's much more fun to send a vacation or event pic to family and friends in *real time*, rather than waiting to process a bunch of RAW files after coming home.

1 upvote
dwstv
By dwstv (Oct 3, 2011)

I think the Olympus E30 was the first serious camera with art filters. It was announced in November, 2008. Would they have been influenced by the iPhone so early?

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 3, 2011)

You're right about the chronology of course, but did the Oly E-30 have enough of an impact on its own to force more mainstream camera manufacturers to start adopting similar features? I suspect not.

1 upvote
jvacierto
By jvacierto (Oct 3, 2011)

Thanks for the article, I for one don't have an iPhone but I'm looking forward to getting a new one when the new iPhone is announced and guess what, the reason I want to get one is because of the photos it's capable of taking! So what if the photos aren't technically as good as what comes from my DSLR? I do agree that the main point with the iPhone is having fun, like with a Polaroid or a lomo camera. That's why I still use my dad's film point and shoot cameras sometimes, because it's fun to go back to the mind set of just taking photos without worrying about all the technical stuff. If the iPhone is good enough for Chase Jarvis, Zack Arias, and the other fantastic photographer out there, it should be good enough for everyone.

1 upvote
zoran555
By zoran555 (Oct 5, 2011)

The new iphone 4s uses the Sony Exmor R cmos sensor. You could have gotten Experia Arc with the same sensor a year ago.

1 upvote
timeandspace
By timeandspace (10 months ago)

It says on the apple website that iPhones are used to take more photos around the world every day than any other camera!

here's a link to the full article: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2013/06/10Apple-Unveils-iOS-7.html

0 upvotes
win39
By win39 (Oct 3, 2011)

I think those who think that a camera phone is just like a point and shoot are missing the point. It is the integration in the phone that is missing in the point and shoot. And to repeat Barney's point, "It is always with you." So, take your picture, process and filter it with an app, send it off in email, text message, photo site.

1 upvote
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (Oct 3, 2011)

I have just started using the iPhone for casual shooting, it's quite interesting. Thanks for the article.

1 upvote
Total comments: 105
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