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National Geographic photographer takes the iPhone 5S out shooting—and likes it

158

In general, there are few people more skeptical of smartphone photography than professional photographers. According to many people who make their living with photography, mobile photography is weakening their artform, and sometimes putting them out of work. Other professionals, like Jim Richardson, see their smartphone as just another tool in their camera bag.

Last week, Richardson left his Nikon DLSR at home and instead took his iPhone 5S on a trip to the Scottish Highlands. Unsure at first whether it was a good idea, Richardson quickly realized that while his iPhone wasn't exactly capturing "visually profound" images, he didn't feel like he was settling for second best, either.

Richardson shared his journey with National Geographic:

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling to make pictures. Walking down the Royal Mile surrounded by all things Scottish nothing seemed worth a picture. Out of desperation I took a few glib shots. Awful! Surrounded by great subjects I could see nothing. Made me feel worse.

[...]I got a couple of pictures, not much really. Hiking back down, I was a bit befuddled. And then we detoured to admire the swans in St. Margaret’s Loch, which posed and postured gracefully, gliding up close, easy subjects devoid of angst, however hackneyed they may be. They made pretty pictures. The iPhone liked them.

[...]What surprised me most was that the pictures did not look like compromises. They didn’t look like I was having to settle for second best because it was a mobile phone. They just looked good. Nothing visually profound is being produced here, I would have to say. But it feels good, and I even noticed some of the folks on our tour putting big digital cameras aside once in a while and pulling out their cell phones when they just wanted to make a nice picture.

Check out some of Richardson's photos from his Instagram:

Comments

Total comments: 158
12
Gregm61

Glad he liked the experience. I would not.

4 upvotes
skogredd

Horrible. Even at this small size, and including the last one that is taken in seemingly good light conditions.

1 upvote
mpgxsvcd

Those are well taken shots. However, they still look like they came from a phone. Nice try but the iPhone is even better than a good prosumer pocket camera. Let alone a good interchangeable lens camera.

3 upvotes
makofoto

"iPhone is even better than a good prosumer pocket camera." Glad you agree :-)

0 upvotes
jnxr

I think he meant to add a not before "even better than..."...... or maybe not, and he just meant that retarded statement.

0 upvotes
KariIceland

I believe every camera manufacturer and tests disagree with you, as well as reality, the sony rx 100 can get shots at iso 6400 that look like they were shot at iso 100 on the iphone

2 upvotes
CyberAngel

KariIceland: only if you Phoshop them for worse IQ

0 upvotes
Roy van der Woning

"And the colors are more accurate than any DSLR."

As much as I love my iPhone, this is complete hogwash.

9 upvotes
PeterK70

He could definitely do it better by taking a Nokia Lumia 1020 instead of an iPhone. He would definitely get better colors, more details and less noise.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/sets/72157634854663387/

5 upvotes
Johnsonj

More people use the iPhone then any other camera, and it's for good reason. It just works. And the colors are more accurate than any DSLR. HCB would have love the iPhone.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Oct 8, 2013)

That statistic is pure nonsense. That is almost always based on whatever is at the top of Flickr's list. It's like saying a camera is the best selling camera because it tops Amazon's list.
Which iPhone is "the" iPhone, by the way? If we're talking about all iPhones then lets talk about brand, and I'd bet money the most common camera is Canon...or Nikon or Sony or something else. If we're talking about chips, then iPhones usually use Sony chips (as the 5S does) and Sony makes a lot of chips for a lot of cameras....but we're not talking about sensors. And even if the 5S sold more devices than any other camera ever, that does not mean it is the most used camera. Whether it works or not is a really low bar for judging how good or useful a camera is.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Johnsonj

@howardroark - don't get too crazy about the iPhone's popularity. Fact is it's just an imaging device that happens to be a fine, versatile tool for the 21st century. There's a reason the Sun Times canned their staff photogs and gave their reporters iPhones. There's a reason iPhone images are popping up on the front page of the NY Times. There's a reason fine artists are making gallery prints for shows, and there's a reason its the most popular camera in the world. The reason's that it's a simple camera that doesn't get in the way of the shooter. It allows the creative types to be at one with their subject, not incumbered by all of the fancy, technical, and unnecessary distractions of DSLR knobs, buttons, lenses and other bell-and-whistles that amount to nothing in the end. The iPhone is a pure imaging machine.

1 upvote
wansai

iphone colours are not even close to being accurate. -_-

4 upvotes
Tonkotsu Ramen

iphone colors aren't accurate at all

also, dslr's (and any camera) have auto modes so you can avoid all dials knobs or buttons

seems like you've never touched a dslr

3 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Oct 8, 2013)

I'm afraid the Sun Times is still an experiment in progress and not much proof of any strategy or tool related to serious photography. I'd bet that most of their images are done by freelancers, in which case all they did is contract out their photography and used reporters as a back up plan.
Images have always popped up here and there from cameras not typically used for professional journalism because often the subject is much more meaningful than the quality of the image and if someone has a camera at the right place and the right time then whatever it is beats an amazing camera not there. If given the choice, a much better camera than the iPhone will be used in publications.
Fine artists also use fecies to paint with. There is always a spectrum of creative outlets and techinques, and that reveals nothing of the applicability of one tool to some other application.
"Distractions" on a DSLR don't encumber someone who knows what they're doing and have experience with the tool.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Menneisyys

" It allows the creative types to be at one with their subject, not incumbered by all of the fancy, technical, and unnecessary distractions of DSLR knobs, buttons, lenses and other bell-and-whistles that amount to nothing in the end. The iPhone is a pure imaging machine."

Lolz... it's very hard NOT to call you an Apple fanboy...

Look, you don't need to touch those "knobs" in any alternative OS'es either. They're still there if you DO need them. And even stock Android / Windows Phone has had much better manual control right from the start than iOS7 *now*.

Heck, iOS doens't even support proper exposure compensation - not even via the camera API. Needless to say, both stock Android and Windows Phone support it. (See http://www.iphonelife.com/blog/87/exposure-compensation-and-bracketing-bible for more info if interested.)

1 upvote
Menneisyys

"And the colors are more accurate than any DSLR."

Lolz... This is complete BS.

2 upvotes
jnxr

Sigh...Good Lord Jesus, how can I put this? Your entire statement is just retarded. Not even a single point is valid, every single sentence. You might as well delete your post, as it simply a load of BS strait from CRAP CAFE.

OP>
@Johnsonj--->> "Iphone is just an imaging device that happens to be a fine, versatile tool for the 21st century. There's a reason the Sun Times canned their staff photogs and gave their reporters iPhones. There's a reason iPhone images are popping up on the front page of the NY Times. There's a reason fine artists are making gallery prints for shows, and there's a reason its the most popular camera in the world. The reason's that it's a simple camera that doesn't get in the way of the shooter. It allows the creative types to be at one with their subject, not incumbered by all of the fancy, technical, and unnecessary distractions of DSLR knobs, buttons, lenses and other bell-and-whistles that amount to nothing in the end. The iPhone is a pure imaging machine."

2 upvotes
Johnsonj

@jnxr - you suggest I delete my post, but you post it again. That's kind of funny. LOL!

1 upvote
KariIceland

That is a blatant lie, apple is only 10% of the phone market

1 upvote
CyberAngel

KariIceland: I thin it's less than that, maybe just 7%
BUT I'll take a guess that Johsonj meant
(1) smartphones
(2) US of America

0 upvotes
Russ Reinberg

Not only do I agree with the post below but also find the iPhone 5S camera to be an inconsequential improvement over that of the 5. While I like Apple products I can't help asking myself how much of what appears in print and online about them is mere hype.

2 upvotes
JadedGamer

Improvements are by the very definition of the word not "inconsequential". Each iteration of the Canon PowerShot G series was slightly different than the last, but I doubt a current owner of the G15 would enjoy taking my brick of a G1 on a shoot.

There are shedloads of improvements in the 5S, for instance the faster processor helps camera software, e.g. allowing faster bursts and faster pano. Prejudice is not a good companion when judging quality.

0 upvotes
jcmarfilph

"Last week, Richardson left his Nikon DLSR at home and instead took his iPhone 5S on a trip to the Scottish Highlands. Unsure at first whether it was a good idea, Richardson quickly realized that while his iPhone wasn't exactly capturing "visually profound" images, he didn't feel like he was settling for second best, either."

I doubt if that is not intentional. Why would you leave the most important tool you are using in your professional job?

Any crappy phone can produce these appealing images at web size and the credit should go only to the photographer because of his eye for composition and not to the iPhone.

6 upvotes
carlos roncatti

Yep...this is getting tired...either companies see as totally stupids or these photographers really think they can convince us..or both...

2 upvotes
Lightpath48

Nice photos for the Web, but for what other possible end use?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Johnsonj

@Lightpath48

"Nice photos for the Web, but for what other possible end use?"

Umm, how about 10x10" prints for a photo album?

Sounds good to me.

1 upvote
hdr

It certainly looks like it wouldn't be very long before all photo pros will fall in love with their camphones (or phone-cams, if you like).

Such is the marvel of technological advance.

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
1 upvote
JadedGamer

... and the amateurs who think the gear makes the photographer will be the last holdout for the DSLR product line. Much like the car fanboys who think a BMW will make them a better driver...

1 upvote
Total comments: 158
12
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