No, it's not what you think—I haven't ditched one brand and skipped to another. My "real" camera is still my Fuji X-T1 and 23mm lens, and that's not changing. This is what I got:
Eolake Stobblehouse kindly shared his impressions of the iPhone 6+ and that pushed me over the edge. My old phone was a 4S, vintage late 2011. That's about 25 in dog years, and aren't smartphone years roughly equivalent to dog years?
In the picture (notice how I cleverly integrate the obligatory Butters shot for this week into this iPhone post—oh, canny blogger) we see Butters with Zander's former favorite new hat. Nefarious hound himself is observable in the upper right, back in the bokeh.
I took the 6+ as my only camera to a gathering last night and shot not only a number of pictures with it, but, in the "What's the World Coming To" category, videos as well. Mike shooting videos?!? Preposterous. But you know the old expression, When in iRome, do as the iRomans do.
First impressions are that the camera, despite similar specs, actually is a big improvement. It's fun to use as a camera. The only thing that satisfies my creative itch right now is Fuji's inimitable way with B&W, but this is nice for snapshots.
Casual iPhone 6+ portrait photo the way it fell out of the phone. Don't know what's up with that color—discontinuous spectrum lighting perhaps? The color was uncorrectable, except by doing this...
By the bye, let me just make a prediction based on an old column of Ctein's and my sense of the smartphone market: somewhere in the 4–10-year timeframe, phone cameras will exceed the quality of all but the best professional DSLRs. Eventually, you'll use a small device with an array of camera modules to take an exposure that allows you to select things like angle of view and focus point after the fact, like we select white balance after the fact now, and which will easily adapt to huge file sizes or super light sensitivity as needed.
Of course, my crystal ball is a good deal cloudier than Ctein's.
(Thanks to Eolake)
Original contents copyright 2015 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:
Barry Prager: "I live in San Francisco, so I see more people taking photos than most. I used to watch them taking crappy photos with a dedicated camera, which at least forced them to take photos in the more appropriate horizontal orientation. Now they're taking the vast number of photos in the vertical position, like they were holding the phone to their ear. Usually with one hand! They would be taking photos of the Grand Canyon in a vertical position. Also the vast number of pictures will remain on their phone as they don't know how to get them onto the computer, or what to do with them if they do. Many billions of crappy photos as digital vapor. No negatives, or any record, is their future. We're in the best of times for photography, and the worst."
Mike replies: One of the theses of John Szarkowski's Photography Until Now was that devices in part dictate the way they are used. And it's not like there haven't been vertical-format cameras before...for instance the Fuji GS645s and the Linhof 220.
jim (partial comment): "We're in SF this weekend and the city is plastered with iPhone photo billboards promoting it as a camera."
Bryce Lee: "Oh my that gets expensive. Here in Canada basic iPhone 6+ starts at C$859.00 plus here in Ontario a 13 percent sales tax, total $970.67. That's a good chunk of cash...for a bloody telephone!"
Mike replies: Well, I don't know, Bryce...the basic iPhone 6+ is $299 with a calling plan, and you kinda need a calling plan, since it doesn't work without one.
And this isn't exactly news, but it's a little more than just "a bloody telephone." It's a telephone you can carry around with you. And it's a very good dictation machine, with instant OCR (optical character recognition) built in. And you can write notes or letters on it...that are delivered instantly, more or less.
And I paid $700 in 2003 for a worse camera, albeit with a zoom lens. And I used to carry a pocket flashlight, which the iPhone has built-in. In the early '90s I inherited a hard drive the size of a small phone book that my brother paid $800 for...that stored 80 megabytes. My iPhone has 64 gigabytes of storage. I used to pay a quarter to play a game of Asteroids on a large machine at the corner 7-11—the iPhone offers many more games than that, lots of them free. Remember when Scrabble came in a box that contained a fold-out board and little wooden tiles? My girlfriend and I play Scrabble on her iPhone.
It's an extremely accurate pocket watch. It's also a stopwatch (I had to buy one of those in high school), a timer, and a world clock. Remember organizers, or planners? Thick sheaves of bound paper with in a leather or vinyl wraparound binding? It's got that.
I always wanted an Epson Photo Viewer but could never afford one. The iPhone serves.
It's literally easier to get the current outdoor temperature on the iPhone than it is to look out the window at the thermometer.
My brother paid nearly $200 in high school for a scientific calculator. The calculator that comes with the iPhone is pretty basic, but I'll bet you can get apps for better ones.
I used to carry a sheaf of maps in the glove box in my car. The other day I needed to go somewhere I'd never been before, so I punched a button on the iPhone, said "Fork in the Road restaurant, Mukwonago, Wisconsin," and the iPhone spoke directions that took me to the front door. You can buy devices that only do that.
The other night it showed me which lanes of the freeway were closed for construction, before I left the house.
Remember the Sony Walkman? We paid good money for those in the '80s. You can store the equivalent of several sacks full of cassette tapes on the iPhone and listen to your music on earbuds, headphones, or any external device up to a full stereo rig if you want to.
It's a web browser. Tonight at dinner we used it to look up a list of all the museums in the Smithsonian system (the Hirshhorn and the National Zoo are part of the Smithsonian, turns out). I can even watch TV shows and movies on it, although I've never done so. Could replace the in-flight movie you used to watch on a long flight, but with a movie of your own choosing.
I use it to browse real estate listings.
It syncs with my car.
Best of all, you can read books on it. It's a bit small—I prefer my iPad Air for reading—but the 6+ is easily big enough to read on comfortably. It's even a book store, albeit one where it's harder to browse. I still like real bookstores. But then, from a real bookstore, I can't buy a book on a whim at 2 a.m. without getting out of bed, and start reading it 90 seconds later.
It does quite a few more useful things as well. Like it or don't like it, it's more than a bloody telephone!
Bryce replies to Mike: "Mike, and others..when I wrote my initial note was thinking outright purchase. I do not subscribe to this stupid contract bit although our government finally got off its collective ass so we are not bound by a three year contract. It is now a two-year contract plus the cost of the phone. Problem is here in Canada contract rates are C$50–90 a month plus toll charges plus the cost of the phone plus taxes. Have friends with an iPhone 6+ who are paying about $65 a month plus taxes and that's after being loyal custmers for years. Over two years, that new iPhone might be charged out at C$20.00/month give or take. It is as bad as if it were a fixed landline."
Mike replies: Well, but do you want them to give it to you for free? It's true, as Eolake points out, that Apple is richer than his home country (Denmark). But I'll give them my money for the product they're offering. It's worth it.
Here's the best expression of my feelings about the cost of the 6+:
Stephen Gilbert: "Do ya think there's a market for 'distressed' caps? A special 'Butters edition' à la the new Leica."
Speed: "Next thing we know, Mike will have an Instagram page."
Mike replies: What's this "Instagram" of which you speak? (I love being a Luddite, or at least playing one on the Internet.)
Steve P.: "Mike, I note with interest your detailed reply to Bryce Lee's comment and I'm wondering if you can get some kind of 'paddle app' for the iphone? I ask because if the iPhone ever fails you'll be right up S**t Creek!"
Mike replies: It's an issue. I've never had trouble with it myself, but my brother's iPhone failed at night in the thick of Boston traffic when they were depending on it to get to where they were going. It also looms as an issue in case of catastrophe, for instance natural disasters or war. But I presume we are working on contingency plans, since our government is so united and acting as one for the good of the people.
Jordi Pujol: "Used to have a Samsung S4 until recently when my dad got an iPhone 6 from a draw.
"As a student always wandering between home, city and campus I quickly found a nice use of a visual snap journal for the cellphone camera. First, back in 2012 until early last year, I used the crappy 3MP of my cheapo phone. Upgraded twice and it's much more useful.
"A nice feature of the phones is that they are inconspicuous. So much that it lets me shoot scenes that I couldn't, wouldn't or shouldn't with a camera. I took a couple frames of a friend with my OM-1 (with Tri-X, carrying it daily now) and his reaction to the camera was much much different compared to the phones. Not just candids, when he was aware of being photographed his behavior was much different. Curious.
"In fact I'm going for exchange to Sweden later this year and I'm thinking of using the iPhone 6 as my sole digital camera. I can only imagine how happy I'd be if I had such a device 10 years ago at age 10. Just the camera and video and nothing else would be enough.
"The video...that stabilizer is black magic vodoo. Well, overall there is a lot of sotware voodoo that makes it a nice camera. But the IS made me shoot a lot much more video. Walkin'? No problem! Steadicam in your hands. Mike, try hyperlapse from instagram. Nice for making timelapses (I have lots of fun with it in the train and landscape).
"...And a couple of years ago I was a bit skeptical on phone photography. I am 20 now. By the way, this comment written in my iPhone 6."
Robert: "Most people taking photos with a cell phone are producing images that are better in almost every way than those produced by skilled amateurs on their high quality film cameras 30 years ago. The cell phone also offers possibilities that have created completely new markets where many of us traditionalists do not take part. When my daughter and I take our Labrador for a walk in the forest, she takes several 'snaps' which always make me think that I would have not been able to do better with my D800. Thus, I feel a point will be reached soon where sales fall and it will no longer be viable for the Nikons and the like to stay in business. I'm now looking forward to this as it might mean a return to my old film cameras. Using these wasn't just about taking photos, it was, in my case, as much about handling them and the non-instant approach."
"A real Photoshop wizard could do much better than I."