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.
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.
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.
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!