Leaving my DSLR at home: An iPhone experiment
1 What's to like?
An iPhone, a second honeymoon and photography: Can they mix?
I'm a professional photographer, and I recently spent two weeks in Vietnam shooting just with an iPhone. Nothing else. Just the phone.
"You'll never survive!" suggested my darling wife. "You'll be going cold-turkey from your big camera ... it'll be like travelling with someone in rehab!”
She had a point. I was already getting twitchy at the prospect of missing golden photos while I stabbed in frustration at apps. I knew the iPhone could get good results in the right conditions, but I also knew that there would be some photos that it simply couldn't take.
But this trip was to be our first time alone together in eight years since the children came along, and I’d built-up a rather optimistic picture of a second honeymoon with a twist of photographic expedition thrown in. The big camera would have to stay at home (Sue calls it my “mistress”), so the iPhone it would be. We’d booked four nights in Hanoi, and nothing beyond that -- we thought we'd make it up as we went along.
Surely a little iPhone wouldn't get in the way of a second honeymoon? Surely I'd get some nice pictures?
As we headed to the airport, we had that "Something missing" feeling. The bags seemed tiny for a two-week trip. No children, no camera, no lenses. I'd packed pretty much every accessory that I could find for an iPhone, and it still took up no space in the luggage. I had the iPhone 4S (I've since upgraded to the iPhone 5) with loads of apps, a small lightweight tripod with a Glif adaptor to mount the phone, a phone case with a built-in battery as backup, and a new Olloclip lens that clips over the phone's camera to give different perspectives to pictures. I also packed an iPad (which I barely used).
So can you have a holiday AND take pleasing photos with an iPhone? I’ll split the answer between the things that I liked and the things that I didn’t.
What's to like?
Less gear means more eye
Using a phone camera freed-up my head. No settings to fuss over, no gear to shepherd. It became about seeing pictures, rather than creating pictures. When I saw good things, I got good pictures. When I didn’t, there was no technical wizardry to save the day.
I thought I'd be lost without settings to change, but it wasn't like shooting a camera on auto, not knowing what the camera will give you. I knew exactly what it was going to give me: unlike a camera, the phone has only one combination of settings for any given level of light, so I quickly learned its style. It became about finding things that suited its style of picture.
This made me realise two things: first, I saw how much I normally lean on my technical skills to make photographs rather than my (weaker) skills to see photos. Using the phone was like doing a visual "workout" by exercising my "seeing" muscle.
But it was my second realisation that really changed things: the more I looked, the more I saw. It sounds obvious, but because I had the phone with me all the time, I started looking at things differently. Silhouettes of people, patterns in water, big things next to small things. Little visual treats everywhere.
Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager in love? You could take pleasure from the sunlight on a coffee cup or the curve of a shoulder. I found myself LOOKING for those things more than ever before. Finding pleasure in little things. I’ve never used a camera that encourages this as much as the iPhone. I was smitten. Free with every iPhone: more nice stuff in every day! How good is that?
For a stronger man than I, it could have made me a more attentive and fun travel partner. Instead, it gave me all the self-awareness of that teenager in love. I had a new mistress. But more on that in the drawbacks below. On with the positives ...
Good quality in good light
In good light, the quality of the photos was good. Not “good for a phone”, but actually good.
When I made 36-inch (90cm) enlargements of the pictures back home, I was surprised just how good they were. No, they’re not as crisp and detailed as from a big DSLR camera, and they’re more speckly too. But they’re certainly good enough for me to blow-up and put on a canvas for the wall. They’re better than from many cheap compact cameras. I’d suggest that they’re easily good enough for most uses.
|Madrid subway by MAGMATCICO62|
from Your City - Public Transport
|Incandescent Bulb by Kukla|
from Illuminate- Macro only
|Curiousity by PERCY2|
from Macro - Your Best Macro Ever
|Hoar Frosted Trees by sabishiT3T|
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.