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Sunday, 29 July 2012


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Makes more sense to start using your iPhone as a camera for its own sake -- that is, not as a fallback, but as a primary capture device. It has much to recommend it -- for instance it's practically invisible, where a "real" camera always attracts attention (this is what Cartier-Bresson would be using if he were around today). Its lack of "image quality" encourages the user to think in terms of capturing bold-stroke images, not "photographs.". I hate to say it, but I may be a better photographer with the iPhone than with anything else -- and I think most other people are too.

I have the same problem with the video camera which is only a little switch on the camera. I take a picture and think , darn i wish i had a video camera to record this..

You have pockets in your shirt? Unless you can confirm that you are using a can of spray starch per month for the ironing, I'm going to be persuaded of this fact. Clearly, dress standards are slipping in Waukesha. ;)

I do know what you mean though. I do carry a little P&S about, but it's always in my briefcase and hardly ever used. Sadly, my company has disabled the dinky little camera on my Blackberry (corporate IT policy), which is the only device I tend to have directly to hand.

With the 4S (the 3GS camera was not so great IMO) I've come to really enjoy using the iPhone as my "best camera is...blah blah yuck urgh."

It's fun. And it's especially fun when you let go of all your hang ups about what good photography should be.

Don't think I would go back to a compact as tempting as the RX100 is.

I've been lugging my 7D and 100-400 zoom daily since I had a pod of Orca swim past me about 50 yards off shore of Pacific Grove two months ago. I didn't have the 7D at the time and it never dawned on me to use the phone in my pocket.

It's sad the the man-purse or European satchel as made infamous on Seinfeld never took off in the US. A large purse would be perfect for hauling small dslr's or mirrorless cameras around. I make do with a small backpack over one shoulder, keeping my favorite camera with me just in case a neat shot shows up at the grocery store parking lot.

Mike, I was without a camera for several years and my habit on encountering a good photo op was to stop, scrutinize the scene, imagine how I'd shoot it, and then move on.

Unfortunately said habit proved very hard to break after buying a new camera. I spent the first few weeks with the 5D2 spotting scenes, imagining the photos, moving on, and then backtracking to actually take a photo when I remembered that the 3lb hunk of metal and glass slung over my shoulder wasn't just ornamental.

That made me laugh. Habits really are hard to break....


Doesn't Ctein have a Chevy "Sedan Delivery" of much newer vintage with side windows? An HH something . . .

That's Carl Weese, and it's a Chevy HHR ("heritage high roof") designed by Bryan Nesbitt, who also designed the Chrysler PT Cruiser (I really wanted one of those when I was the editor of Photo Techniques a.k.a. "PT"). The old Sedan Delivery was indeed among the inspirations for the retro HHR.


A camera phone is useful to document a fender bender for insurance claims. Otherwise, waiting for a traffic cop to do a sketch of the incident will tie-up traffic for kilometers (in Manila). The only photo op I've taken with one. Never mind composition, all they (police, insurance folks) need is the time stamp.

And yes, we still have well-resurrected Caddillac hearses going about their estately service.

Yep. Me too. I frequently wish I had a camera with me, forgetting that I have an iphone in my pocket. And I've been using a camera phone of one kind or another since 2006!

One reason is that I often see something and visualize it taken with a specific camera and lens--most often my usual take-along camera (these days an EPL1 with a 40mm). If I don't have it with me, that's that--I "tsk tsk" and walk on, the iphone the furthest thing from my mind.

A related reason may be that, unlike the cameras I use often, I find no pleasure in using the iphone as one--have no excitement about it as a camera. I just don't associate it with making photographs for pleasure, only as a kind of recording device.

I'm not sure it'll make sense to anyone else (perhaps it will to David, above), but when I do go through periods of using the iphone as a camera, it's because I've consciously designated it the take-along camera, treating it as such mentally and even physically.

I had a Sedan Delivery way back in my college days. It had been my father's service van and then I had it for a year. My favorite 'car' by far. Many good times with many people in that vehicle.

I don't think much of the iPhone as a camera, despite my generally high regard for the device.

Fortunately, I do carry a satchel, Seinfeld be damned, and my OM-D fits in it nicely.

Hi, DAG! I like Hueless too.

@ David A. Goldfarb, thanks for the tip about Hueless. I opened another tab and went to the iTunes store and have already purchased it.

I use an iPod Touch 4G with a 960c640 camera (the perfect size for the web). I'll use Hueless for my next #monochromemonday entry 8-)

BTW if you think that HDR is cheesy, you should see it at 960x640 8-0

I carried around an XA in my pocket off and on for years. The Olympus has given way to an S95 which I really like a lot.
Last year my employer replaced my cell phone with an LG Android with a 3mp camera on board. I use it to shoot back a quick snap for use on the internet at spot news stories (I'm a TV news photographer).
The pictures aren't bad but I'm a long way from seeing a camera phone as a replacement for the S95. Maybe it's my age but taking pictures with my phone feels clunky and slow to me.

Me too, same iPhone model. But, I found that after a few months, during which I used it maybe 5 times, I started to remember that I had it with me. You may also find that this problem solves itself eventually.

My iPhone (which I adore) takes documentary photos at work to show the boss my concerns. That's it. I can't imagine using it for anything else. A real digital camera lives in my truck behind the seat. My days off are spent shooting B&W film.

On a normal daily basis I always have at least a small rucksack or shoulder bag with me. So there's no problem carrying a "serious camera" if I want to. I also use an iPhone. Having both available I find I use the iPhone most of the time just to capture things I find interesting. If needed, the "big" camera comes out.

Now I use public transport most of the time, so this might be important. You always have some kind of bag for carrying reading material, lunch etc etc.

You're not missing much by failing to remember to shoot iPhone pictures.. the image files, once you enlarge up to about 6x8", are riddled with artifacts and posterization. Nothing to see here.

My 550D lives in a sling bag, and I "never leave home without it" as the saying goes. My tripod lives in the back seat of the van.

I am never "without a camera".

To me camera phones are useful as visual notebooks, but for unexpected photo opportunities I carry my S95.

A descendant of the Nokia Lumia could conceivably replace my S95 if its image quality matched that of the S95, but will Nokia ever allow full manual control and second curtain flash with slow sync?

Even then, the ergonomic and user interface issues of camera phones are unlikely to ever satisfy serious photographers, unless some sort of shape-changing technology becomes available. History shows that single-purpose device are almost invariably better tools than multi-purpose gadgets: e.g., a pocket knife will skin an animal in an emergency, but a skinning knife will make the job a lot easier.

I never owned a cell phone until about 2009—I was a very late adopter

I don't have one and have no plans to change that situation. If I leave the house I want to be un-contactable.

Contents of my small hessian shopping bag, which goes everywhere with me these days:
* wallet, large, zip-up, multiple cards for the holding of
* glasses, distance type, other
* mobile phone, Nokia, heavy, drag pocket down type
* Panasonic LX5, camera, high quality type
* tape measure, 5m, furniture and wood measuring for
* tissues, various, emergencies for
* GPS, Garmin 1490t, finding way home type
* iPod Touch, video files for showing of
* liquor shop bags, beer transport of
* strong analgesics, emergency for
* letters, notes, notebook, pencil, biros

How did I ever do without these things when I was younger? I don't have enough pockets for all this.

If you don't carry a camera, you won't get the shots. Fortune favours the prepared.

Dear Mike and Joe,

Joe was half right-- I do have a Chevy HHR. Replaced my Vdubbus. Carl's a copycat [vbg].

pax / Ctein

The Landscape Photographer of the year competition in the UK has (had?) a "phone" category. I'm not sure, as I didn't see it last year.

Prints were medium-large and needless to say the images are every bit as good as the other categories, even though the technical quality suffers somewhat.

I think your challenge of "Name one iconic image where focus mattered..." could be applied to "Name one iconic image that could not have been taken with a phone..."


If you like Chevy's from that era, you might enjoy my neighbor's truck which he still uses for deliveries. Shots look not far from context as our Butcher's Hill neighboorhood in Baltimore looks retro as well, except for the roll up garage doors in the alley, the ones on the street are good looking swing outs. All taken in front of our houses and around back in the alley.

This post has link to more in smugmug gallery

in the alley

with a Canon 45 TSE

Joe Nash

"Meh" to cellphone cameras. I have a phone with a 5MP camera. In theory, it should be better than my other digital camera (a 4MP, 10 year old Olympus). In practice, not so much. The convenience factor is far outweighed by the annoying interface, long start-up time, slow operation and rather impressionistic, smeary results once you start to look closely.

It's better than no camera, and Instagram is kind of fun, but when I don't have my bigger camera with me and I want to make a photograph that isn't "disposable" I'll reach for the Yashica T4 zoom in my other pocket. Every time.

I resisted following the pack with the iPhone craze until it became a great camera. Now I use it like I used to use my Leica as an "art" camera.

+1 (if people still write that) for the Hueless app for iphone. It is quite nice, shoots solely in black and white, can be shot in square format and allows exposure adjustment.

David wrote: "this [the iPhone] is what Cartier-Bresson would be using if he were around today".
No. 1 in the Silliest Comment Of The Year (SCOTY)ranking.

Mike: Those fake exhaust vents on Buicks are called "cruiserline ventiports"!

Happens to me all the time:)

This is another reason why I love this blog so much. What other photography blog would bring up Neil Young songs? In fact, you did two posts on Neil Young!

I just have to say, he is one of the most eclectic singer/songwriters that I've ever encountered. That's one of the many things that I like about him. He does what he wants, and I think that's admirable. Kind of like you, in a way.

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