alan frost photography

my images and thoughts on photography

My new camera – an iPhone 6S – a useful photographer’s sketchbook

Most photographers will be familiar with the saying – ‘The best camera is the one you have with you’. I can’t disagree with this adage but just how good are smartphones as a true photographic tool? Let me say rather swiftly that this is not intended to be a review of my recent upgrade from the iPhone5 to the iPhone 6S, but merely a selection of images and a few opinions of my own about the value of taking images with a mobile phone. I hope you will find my thoughts interesting.

 

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The iPhone 6S now boasts a 12mp sensor, so it’s no wonder that the use of smartphones have stolen a huge number of sales from the compact camera market in recent years. (Click on this link to a page on Flickr which only confirms what most of us already know about the use of camera-phones). However I am all too aware that more megapixels doesn’t necessarily equal better quality pictures. The biggest factor is always going to be the person taking the shot, not the equipment being used, but that’s a topic for another day!

The four images in this post were all taken in the past few weeks whilst out and about walking our dog. I have never found it easy to multi task and keep one eye on the subject being photographed and the other eye on the dog, just in case he gets bored and runs off out of sight. So a quick shot is really all the time I have. The pictures have been imported into Lightroom from the iPhone 6S and then converted to black and white. Some limited post processing has been used to enhance each image if only to prove to myself what is possible with the jpeg files.

 

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So what are my thoughts? Well the results are pretty remarkable all things considered. The iPhone 6S has coped well with some high contrast conditions and to a certain extent the files are flexible in post processing. There isn’t much detail in the shadows but it’s unquestionably a better performer than the iPhone 5. They are certainly good enough for posting on the web which is where the vast majority of images now end up. What I would say is that the quality deteriorates significantly when zooming in, so it’s arguably better to take a ‘full size’ image and then crop in post. Would I want to make an A4 or even an A3 size print? – I haven’t tried, it would be an interesting exercise but I doubt I would be happy with quality, however I might be pleasantly surprised.

 

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I enjoy taking pictures on my phone but for now it will never replace any of the cameras I take so much pleasure in using. For me the camera-phone is the equivalent of an artist’s sketchbook. Something which is very portable and convenient to have with me at all times. Something I can use to make a visual record of a particular location. Something to inspire me and to think about when considering a return visit. A photographer’s sketchbook – most definitely yes, and a very good one at that. A replacement for my cameras with interchangeable lenses and the ability to shoot in RAW – no way, but still worth having with me at all times – if only to make the odd phone call!

 

 

9 Responses to “My new camera – an iPhone 6S – a useful photographer’s sketchbook”

  1. Haylee

    An interesting idea, having it as a sketchbook. There are many ‘professional’ photographers that capture amazing images with iPhones and also a few movies shot entirely using them. But I definitely agree it comes down to the skill and creativity of the person wielding the ‘phone’, even if it does make everyone think they can be the next photographer of the year! Particularly love the image of the forest by the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • alan frost

      Thanks Haylee. I agree there are many people who take wonderful photos using a phone but it’s not really for me. Call me a traditionalist but I much prefer the whole process of making manual changes to all my camera settings to try and create the look I am looking to achieve. Nevertheless I still value having phone to take the odd ‘sketch’ shot from time to time. Happy New Year.

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      Reply
  2. Vicki

    They look pretty good to me, but I truly think it is always the photographer that produces amazing images, not necessarily the camera. Of course a good sharp lens helps, but if you wobble at the last minute (like I sometimes do if I’m breathing heavily after a long walk), nothing is going to save the image.

    The 2nd and 3rd images look particularly good. That sweep of pattern in the sand reminds me of a whale.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • alan frost

      Thanks for your comment Vicki and I agree wholeheartedly it’s the photographer who makes the picture not the camera. The best camera in the wrong hands will almost certainly yield a disappointing outcome.

      Re the sand dunes, I too saw not a whale but the scales and shape of a fish. In fact there ‘appears’ to be a fin on the left hand side, although I didn’t see this at the time I took the shot.

      Happy New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. LensScaper

    I too upgraded to a 6S from a ‘3’ recently and am very impressed with the camera on the new iPhone and especially with the processing tools available.
    The image of the sand dunes is remarkable for the depth of field and the sharpness of the immediate foreground. .

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    Reply
    • alan frost

      Hi Andy – haven’t camera phones come a long way! They really are very good and whilst the depth of field is excellent, I also like to take shots with a very limited DOF, so a ‘real’ camera still has its place. Whether that will remain true in another 5 years or so, only time will tell.

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  4. Photographs by Peter Knight

    Hi these are really lovely photos and definitely more to do with you than the camera and nicely edited which is a skill in its own right!
    I have always liked the look of photos on my iPhone while they’re on its screen, as long as the light is good otherwise they are grainy in a very unattractive way as opposed to “good” grain 🙂
    I did print around 100 photos from my iPhone 5 recently and thats when I wished I’d used my little fuji instead as the prints were awful. However for web use, as your post demonstrates perfectly and as long as a shallow dof is not needed, a smart phone can be a good tool.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • alan frost

      Thanks Peter. I agree entirely about the appropriate use of a phone as a camera. Fine for ‘online’ but not great when it comes to print, and poor light further degrades the quality. A good tool providing you accept its limitations.

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