Having been stung by accusations that I didn't know what I was talking about when I wrote about cellphonography recently (accusations which were, however, true), I have dutifully been making an effort to shoot more, and more seriously, with my state-of-the-art* iPhone 4s. I took this one messing around as I waited for my spring rolls to appear at the local Asian Fusion tonight.
One version of the future is that ILCs (interchangeable lens cameras) as they are now known will have virtually disappeared in 12 or 15 years, as computational photography synergizes with Moore's Law to create smartphones that take nearly infinitely croppable pictures made sharper by camera shake and which allow you to choose exposure and point of focus after the fact. I have to say I think it's possible. The market for smartphones is so vast, far greater than anything photography has known in the past—development is sure to be swift and deep once things get going.
But if it's true, then my State-of-the-Art* iPhone 4s (last one announced before the death of the great Jobs, R.I.P. and He Will Be Missed) is roughly equivalent, in digital/smartphone terms, to what a Kodak Brownie camera was in the 1940s. What I mean is, it's pretty primitive compared to the postulated future.
I think I'll stick with my antidiluvian and soon-to-be-antiquated ILCs anyway. But at least I've had a little experience with iPhonography now, and know how to open the camera without typing the passcode and how to add a snap to a text. As my good self gets dragged, not kicking and screaming, but nodding and smiling, into the twenty-teens.
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:
Stephen Gilbert: "David Hume Kennerly, one-time White House photographer, has been using the iPhone for a while. He's pretty good at it. :-) "
Mike replies: Yeah, well, to paraphrase the old Chevy Chase joke on the original Saturday Night Live, he's David Hume Kennerly, and I'm not.
Incidentally, I recognized DHK in a park in D.C. once when I was a student (he lived nearby), and he (generously) stopped to talk to me. In the course of our conversation I asked him what camera he used, and he replied, "It doesn't matter! It doesn't matter!" So there's that.
Ranjit Grover: "I like the equation between the cellphone camera and brownie camera. But, I loved shooting with that brownie at that time. I learned the ABC of photography with that. Brownie was the very first camera I had. Cellphone camera will be the very last camera I will have."
Jerome: "This is a very promising development. In my opinion, the camera manufacturers are stuck in filmthink. Cameras work as before, and are designed around an imaginary film canister and takeup spool. Canikon have replaced film with a sensor, and left it at that. Reminds me of early automobiles, that were horse carriages without horses.
"Fortunately, innovation is coming from outsiders, who don't see digital just as a substitute for film, but are ready to explore the new possibilities that it brings. Nokia with its pureview technology, lytro, smartphones and apps—and of course Sony. They will keep pushing, create new interfaces and ways to capture images. Not restricted by a status quo of the late 90s of the past century.
"It might well be that a 7D mark VII will be the best horseless carriage ever, but not very relevant."
Mike replies: Ouch, burn!
Jordi P.: "Digital native here. The usefulness of cameraphones might be seen much more if you encounter situations when the main camera isn't there. It's great for my time at college, even at classes. On the streets, where people don't pay you attention with the phone.
"I'd say it is the modern day box brownie + Polaroid + mail turned instant. Good light camera, decent in shade and bright interiors, forgetaboutit in lower light; as a snapshooter would with slowish film. Instant mail: once my phone grabs a wireless network (at college) in no time it's 'beaming' to my headquarters all the files, which I can get from my dropbox account anywhere. Jesus, I am 20 and couldn't have imagined it a few years ago! And I was quite a tech-savvy kid.
"Ten years from now? Don't know. My S4 with 1/3" 13MP module kills my two compacts from 2004 and 2007, except flash. I'd love a Lumia 1020 if it had Android on it. Computational photography applications + a small increment in sensor efficiency and size would do a lot of good in the short/midterm (IQ wise).
"iOS and Android in the latest iterations will support RAW as DNG. I played with a DNG from a Nexus 5 and it was veeery nice!"