Welcome to the Morning Comment—the replacement for the Morning Coffee. Every morning I'll talk about one reader comment from the last day or three. My responses are just my opinion. Even if I argue, I'm not necessarily claiming that I'm right and the commenter is wrong.
This morning's comment, from Frank Petronio: "The iPhone is the best small camera yet."
This isn't the first time Frank and I have to agree to disagree. He's a longtime reader and an excellent photographer but we don't always see eye to eye.
Or in this case, i to i.
The statement that the iPhone is a good camera has achieved the level of truism, but it mystifies me. Mine isn't, to me. I have an iPhone 4s, which I've been forced to carry far more often recently because it's temporarily the only phone I own. When I was young—to you younger people, that would be when Teddy Roosevelt was President and they hadn't invented the Victrola yet—cases for MMM (metal, manual, mechanical) SLRs were sold that were called "ever-ready cases." The standard joke was that they were really "never-ready cases." Because by the time you had wrangled your camera out of its case, your picture had retired and moved to Florida.
The iPhone is worse than those.
Granted, this is partially because I use a beautiful little leather iPhone case that interferes with the camera. So when I want to take a picture I have to: fish the phone out of my pocket. Flip open the case. Flick to unlock. Enter the number code. Hit the camera app. Unfold the case to get it out of the way of the lens. Squint at the poor viewfinder. Try to hold the phone still even though it's not meant to be held that way. Taking a picture with it is a bit like the famous walking dog: It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.
My picture by that time had better be static; a fast-moving picture has long since escaped by the time I'm ready to "capture" it with an iPhone.
Of course if I do manage to take the picture, I'd better hope it's a bad picture, not a good one, because if it's something I want I'll have to suffer from having gotten the right picture with the wrong camera! Always a miserable fate.
I guess an iPhone is good enough for some people. David Hume Kennerly, who I met once in a line at a deli in Washington D.C., used one for a project to improve his photography. He's a better photographer than I am, by quite some.
But to me, the iPhone is a wretched, paltry little camera, one that's only "good" insofar as something is better than nothing. I hate using it and I can't understand why anyone feels otherwise.
But then, I don't understand everything.
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Adam Weaver: "Press the home button, then swipe up from the bottom of the screen, and you'll see about a dozen icons, including one for the camera. Unlocking the phone isn't necessary—this shortcut allows you to take a photo with up to three stops of dynamic range in just a moments."
Svein-Frode: "Nicely put. I thought I was the only one unable to take any usable photo with an iPhone. Like you said, the action is all over once you have gotten the camera app up and running, and the photos look terrible unless you had a scene in front of you that was bright, lacked contrast and you were able to hold the darn thing still while pressing the button."
Marco (partial comment): "You seem to have the odd idea that an iPhone is primarily for making phone calls...how quaint! Beyond snapshots of my grandson and daughter, at which the iPhone is perfectly adequate, I think of the iPhone as a scratch pad, a way to remember things I've seen and want to see again. Sort of what I imagine a painter would use pencil and paper for. There is that 'truism' that the best camera is the one you have with you but I think that's not completely accurate—especially if you are someone who is passionate about capturing light. These devices that can also take pictures are fine but they aren't cameras in the true sense."
Stas (partial comment): "I am not going to claim to enjoy iPhone's image quality (I have a 5), but I actually like the extremely simple shooting workflow. Point, touch to focus/exposure lock, shoot. I partly purchased E-M1 to replace my NEX-7 because it replicated this workflow in an ILC, and even expanded on it by allowing me to do it from hip level (should have got the silver version for extra hip). So, I agree with Frank—smartphone cameras are the most interesting cameras. They enable an exceptionally pleasing simple workflow, and are 'always with you.' But I wish I could have at least 1" IBIS sensor there, because when I open the image for clean up in Lightroom, I certainly wish I used something else to take it...."
Ben Rothfeld: "Respectfully, your age is showing. I've noticed that a lot of people in their teens, 20s and even 30s NEVER LET GO OF THEIR PHONES. As a result, it's the equivalent of carrying your MMM camera with the never-ready case unsnapped."
Frank Petronio: "Thanks for the acknowledgement Mike. I agree that the iPhone can be clumsy, especially in the supposedly indestructible Lifeproof case I use. But...I still find many aspects of the modern phone cameras superior to other digital cameras I've used (and that goes back to the Canon Xap Shot!) They do require a little practice but you can make rewarding images with them.
"When I use the panorama feature I really wish the same technology was implemented into a pro camera...it is the closest thing to a digital Noblex yet. These run over 8000 pixels wide so you can get a pleasing screen image.
"Continuing the impending frigid Winter theme, this picture proved quite disconcerting to my fellow passengers as we flew over the tundra (i.e. Lake Erie).
"The iPhone doesn't replace my other cameras but now I don't waste time making 'throwaways' with the big guns. Also the iPhone has completely replaced any need for me to have a consumer video camera for family events—birthday cake candles, dance recitals and the like. I can easily upload videos of the event to my family-only YouTube channel—which is far easier than burning discs. Cheers, Frank."
Reid Parkinson: "Well hell Mike, your iPhone is three generations old! Your comments might be more persuasive if you were packing an iPhone 6."
Shadzee: "I agree with you 100%. It takes me more than five seconds to get my phone out and take an image. And almost every time the first image is blurry. Then again, my 13-year-old daughter can take a sharp image within a second or so with her iPhone !! ;-) A couple of things: she carries her phone in her hand (I put it in my pocket). Her phone is always on (mine is mostly asleep)...most importantly...she is not bothered by blurry images. ;-) Every image is awesome. ;-) "
Mike replies: That last point is key. Don't worry, be happy! Made me laugh.