Leave the Nikon, Take the iPhone


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.


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.


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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