Okay, no surprise, I got a few things about the iPhone wrong yesterday and don't want to let anyone go away with any wrong information on my account. First, "saying that an iPhone costs $199 is just plain wrong—wrong in the sense that it’s not factual, and wrong in the sense that it’s deliberately deceptive." (That's Dave R.) Some plans hide "layaway" payments for the device in the price of the plan, and it turns out it can be less expensive to pay full price for the phone and then just buy service without the device. So Bryce is right, it's expensive. Best advice is, do your homework, as I obviously did not.
There's no shutter lag with the iPhone 6+ camera that I can detect. The shutter fires with an extremely light touch (I can't touch it lightly enough to cause the shutter not to fire) and anyway you don't need to touch the screen at all—you can shoot one-handed by pushing the Up/Down volume buttons as well—they function as shutter buttons in camera mode. As far as I can detect, IS is working both for stills and video.
A few basic navigation tips: swiping down from the top windowscreens down your daily organizer, date and weather and so forth; swiping up from the bottom brings up basic and most-used controls, like volume and airline mode, which is where the flashlight is and where my calculator was hiding; and swiping in the middle of the screen brings up local search (Spotlight) for finding things on your phone, which some people use to navigate to their apps. (Thanks to Joe H. for some of these tidbits.)
Re my prediction, I didn't explain, because I don't understand it, but my feeling is that the use of multiple miniaturized camera units, in an array, linked by software, will one day actually overtake the use of large single sensors by allowing computational photography. This will have advantages over single-image capture that we* can't quite imagine yet, but see the Lytro camera for one example. You'll be able to choose parameters after the fact that you now how to choose prior to shooting; multiple shots with millisecond delays will allow computational sharpness correction and blur deconvolution; sensor binning will allow extreme low light capture; and it's possible that R, G, and B data collection duties will be separated between different sensors—possibly even using inherent mis-registration between sensors to usefully dither image information similar to the way the new Olympus E-M5 II mimics a larger sensor. As I say I'm not an expert and I have only superficial knowledge of what I'm talking about, but I do suspect that the camera in a smartphone or tablet in the future could possibly not just exceed a current Leica S or D810 in convenience, but in actual literal image quality. That was my prediction. But you need to allow for the fact that I know nothing.
...Consider, though, how far past the imaginations of 1965 the actual state-of-the-art smartphone of today is. They literally couldn't imagine then what we take for granted now. The same will be true of cameras when we finally get past the current model of a 35mm film camera with the film in the gate replaced by one large sensor. That those are still current is primarily a conceptual limitation, not a technical one; the vast, rich market for phones will enable, and encourage, development that we can't foresee.
Dick Tracy's two-way wrist radio (c. 1946) was upgraded to a two-way wrist-TV in 1964...did I mention yesterday that the iPhone includes Facetime?
My last mistake, which many readers pointed out (again, thanks) is that there is indeed a scientific calculator built in to the iPhone—you turn the calculator app sideways to see the additional function keys.
Belatedly doing due diligence in my reporting, I called my doctor brother Charlie to see if he remembered what he paid in high school for his first scientific calculator—it was $179, and he said it was "huge, the size of paperback novel." And his first outboard hard drive, the one the size of a phone book, was twenty MB, not eighty, and cost $829—and he says our other brother ridiculed his purchase, wondering how if the world he was ever going to fill up all that storage space!
Finally, a few words about the size of the 6+. I like it. It makes it easier to use as a photo viewer (photos are very seductive on the Retina screen in exquisite miniature), easier to use as a mini-tablet for reading, and easier to hold as a camera. Everything on it is easier to see and control. I can finally type halfway confidently—my fingers were just too big for the old phone's QWERTY keypad. Vs. the 6, not only has the 6+ been more popular than Apple thought it would be, but my seat-o'-the-pants anecdotal nonscientific survey indicates that roughly four out of five of us who bought 'em, like 'em. But YMMV.
(Thanks to many readers for their kind schooling of Ye Hmbl. Ed.)
*And by we I mean I
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Bruce Mc: "A couple of points: First, your phone camera's properties can change by using a different camera app. I have one app set up for casual shooting and one for more careful work. I know I could change the settings back and forth in one app, but having the two apps ready to go is more convenient for me.
"Second, I agree with your predictions, but they will get people stirred up. I'm old enough to remember the film vs. digital wars in the photography forums, and now we have phone vs. dedicated camera forum wars. Actually, I'm old enough to be on the side of the film guys in the film vs. digital wars, but I came to computers early (early 1970s) and photography late (mid 1980s). Currently I love dedicated cameras, and I even enjoy my time spent in Lightroom. I have to remind myself not to 'act like a film guy' towards people who prefer iPhones."
Eolake: "I think it takes a village of geniuses to really appreciate how great and revolutionary smartphones and tablets are. Just listing all the things one can do will fill a book! It's insane. And then add the fact that they are cheap, and do most of the things they do better than the things they replaced. I warmly recommend the newest event video on Apple.com. Just one little point blows ones mind: how much an iPhone can help medical research. It will be revolutionary. And it was not even made for that!"
Andre Y: "OK, how about something positive from the iPhone camp: Apple's major promotion of good photography in their latest campaign. Why aren't the camera companies doing this? Why does it take an outsider to show us why our hobby/craft/art is so great? The promotional pictures from camera and lens companies are anti-aspirational compared to Apple's photos in this campaign. Buy this umpteen-megapickle, cast unobtainium, price-of-a-small-used car camera system, and take...uninspiring, bad pictures, or hey look, your phone can take some pretty great pictures. I think it's pretty clear that camera companies don't really care about good photography anymore: the camera equipment is now the end in and of itself, not what you can do with one. Maybe Apple doesn't either, but at least they are aligning their commercial interests with people who do, and that's worth some attention."
Jim Richardson: "Might I vote for a new camera category: the Interchangeable Software Camera. The ISC. From a fair bit of experience with an iPhone (and a few decades with SLRs) I've come to the conclusion that camera makers have seriously underrated the value of interchangeable software. Apps give you all sorts of creative possibilities. Apps are are fun. Given the choice of spending $1,000 on a new lens that might improve your pictures or spending $15 on five new apps that you can go out and play with tomorrow, I think lots of photographers are figuring out where the fun is."