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VodkaPundit

Leave the Nikon, Take the iPhone

October 16th, 2013 - 12:35 pm

mann-travel-photo-5s-fitzroy

A nature photographer takes his iPhone 5S to Patagonia — and no other camera. The results are pretty impressive.

No fooling, the 5S might be the best camera ever for taking pictures of the boys. I can snap ten frames a second, choose the best one, delete the rest with a single swipe — and all in camera. The big Nikon still gets hauled out for portraits and (linked story not withstanding) nature trips, and any time I’m shooting in low light. But otherwise, it’s all iPhone, all the time.

Here’s a snapshot I took just this morning of some of the fall colors coming into our back yard. I haven’t edited, retouched, or cropped this at all — just used the phone’s built-in (and instantaneous) High Dynamic Range. Click for the full-size image and enlarge in your browser window if you need to, and you’ll see the sharpness is pretty impressive.

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That’s as much detail and more color than I used to get out of my then-current Nikon D200 just six or seven years ago. The only thing my current Nikon D7000 does better is shoot in low light, provide more megapixels, and change lenses. It can shoot only 4.5 frames per second to the iPhone’s ten, with a buffer limit of about 15. If the iPhone has a buffer limit, I’ve yet to hit it. It seems to be able to shoot 10FPS, every second, until you completely fill the memory.

Hot-dam, but if you’re chasing kids around that’s the greatest thing ever.

Even the front-facing camera produces decent results under crappy conditions. Since I take the boys to school most mornings, I cram the three of us into the frame for a three-man selfie to text to Melissa. The sun is coming in at a bad angle, everybody is trying to squeeze down to the level of Nate’s car seat, we’re in a rush — but the phone still does a passable job.

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This shot is also unedited — just cropped to square and resized for your browser.

Then there’s the iOS version of iPhoto. It’s hands down the best general-purpose photo editing software for mobile, and plenty powerful enough for editing the kinds of pics you’ll take with your phone. That means I spend way less time alone at my desk, poking around with Aperture or Photoshop.

If I were Canon or Nikon, I’d be getting plenty worried about what cellphones are going to be doing just a couple of years from now. With phones this good, there’s no reason for anyone other than pros and dedicated hobbyists to own an SLR. And you can forget about point-and-shoots. They were always pretty lousy; now they’re also redundant.

Me, I’m going to enjoy hardly ever having to carry a camera bag around, and missing fewer shots of my overactive kids. And I’m going to enjoy it with one of these.

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All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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Looks nice. How would you compare the 5s camera to that of the 5, 4s, and/or iPhone 4?

I've been thinking of saving up for a basic Nikon digital SLR, but if the iPhone can match it for general work...

Aside from the martini shot, how well does it do macro, close-in shots? I like to take photos of complete scale models, and while many cameras let you adjust the field so the model sets in the frame properly, it's frequently difficult to get a good shot, especially if you'd like to focus on stuff like just the cockpit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You really need an SLR for that kind of flexibility. The Nikon D3100 (*not* the D3000, which was a rare misstep for Nikon) can be had perfectly good used for about $300. You can fill out your starter kit with the SB400 flash (the best value on the market for bounce-flash) and a used 35mm DX f/1.8. Set you back $500 or so, and you'll be one happy shooter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I took just my Galaxy 2 on a trip this summer, expecting mediocre photos. They were amazing - 8 MP, sharp, and good colour. I was stunned, I was used to grainy and terrible phone photos. I don't know what cell phone makers have done with the laws of optics, but I approve wholeheartedly.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Those are great pics! Especially from a phone. Just the other day I saw some of the sample shots from the new Oppo N1 and they were pretty jaw dropping too:

https://plus.google.com/112434616205326385174/posts/hYvQ3xkvAt6

It's nice to be getting to the point where smartphones are as good and better than an ancillary point and shoot. No comparison for a good DSLR but definitely closing the gap.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And I'm saving up for a 5s. Between the faster processor and the M7, I'm just jonesin' for some power right now.

And Liora's just laughing her ass off at me. I really didn't think I'd want one. But as soon as the specs were released, I told her I was sold.

Saving the shekels now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Great looking kids, Steve! You and Melissa make for a robust gene pool. :-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

I know it's not Friday yet, but since you put up the pic...

Gimlet? Or just gin with a lime twist?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Grey Goose with a twist of lime -- a hot day favorite of mine.

Although my bartender did something new-to-me a couple weeks ago. I asked for my customary (when I want gin) Hendricks martini, and the garnish was a thin slice of cucumber.

Given that Hendricks is heavy on the rose & cucumber, it was perfect.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That Hendricks and cucumber trick is my brother's favorite martini, though I haven't tried it.

My hot-day fave is still that gin and vodka with cornichon you posted once. We make it with Sapphire, Monopolova, a gherkin, leave the twist in. So we call the variation a half-n-half.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Cute kids!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm still a dumbphone user, so just wondering, does the iPhone have controls over shutterspeed/aperature/iso? Is there any way to override the autofocus when it gets confused?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can aim the focus anywhere you like, just by touching the screen. Everything else in the phone's built-in app is automatic. When you want to control for depth of field or whatever, you'll still need to shoot SLR.

There might be camera apps you can buy to give you fuller control, but I don't know of any off the top of my head. I understand the Nokia Lumia 1020 does give you SLR-type controls, although it's slower to shoot.

It's always a compromise, isn't it?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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