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Tuesday, 17 June 2014


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I don't have enough fingers or toes to count the number of times my iPhone battery has died while composing a photograph. It is absolutely maddening. Little things like this, or the fact that the iPhone obscures roughly 25% of the image with interface overlays are what keeps me from thinking of my phone as a serious photographic tool. Not that it can't be used as such... but I simply have no urge to try and use it as such. Some day, I guess.

I thought you were on a diet!
(You don't need to disclose, if you are not, anyway!)

Funny you should say this. Flicker has just announced that the iPhone is the most popular camera on its site.

On a personal note, I'm with you. I like my phone to be a phone and my camera to be a camera. I don't want something that is a jack of all trades. Something usually suffers.

Mike it is totally OK, I get it at many levels. e.g. I still can't get into that newfangled abomination called color film.


[Bill, Kodachrome was introduced in 1935!! What, were you born in the 1890s? [s] --Mike]

Whoa, John Camp goes for the jugular! As luck would have it, Thom Hogan recently published an article debating the merits of using an iPhone for photography: http://www.dslrbodies.com/newsviews/is-the-iphone-good-enough.html

I'm a late convert to Smartphones - having had several, and detested them. Android finally seems to have matured, and the Motorola Moto G is a hell of a bargain.

I did it the cunning way - bought the kids identical phones at the same time...

Going on vacation, and effortlessly sharing the holiday fotos on Flickr and Facebook when you got back to the hotel's wifi was impressive.

Got a 20 year old nephew who is on a 6 month round the world trip - India - Far East - Australia - USA. Been sharing his travel pics via Facebook the same way.

I don't think you can ignore cell phone cameras. They continue to evolve, as did the Box Brownie. There is at least one that claims 40 meg resolution, and the latest I hear is that there is now an app for HDR. Apparently in high contrast situations it takes two exposures, one based on the high level light and one for the low level light. Then it averages them. I don't have the details or know what algorighm they use, or even if it works well. The point is that changes and improvements in cell phone cameras will continue, and that they will become better at making images. Of course that doesn't mean the picture shooter will become better, but still... Anyway, I'm not trading my DSLRs in any time soon.

The only digital phone I have is my Android phone, which I got because of the Vignette app (not originally available for iPhone), and I got the Vignette app because it does an excellent job of replicating the Diana toy camera which was my thing.

A couple sets



Gee Mike, the phone section of the bricks and mortar B&H is bigger than most camera stores, and they seem to sell a lot of them online.

No iPhones but they do sell iPhone accessories such as steadicam mounts for iPhone etc, and just about everything else Apple makes

The number one thing you benefit from, from the existence of cell phone cams is this: a whole generation is learning to see with a fixed 35mm-e or 28mm-e lens. They are learning about light, about perspective, about blocked shadows and blown highlights. They are learning about grain. Grain! Grain of all things! If the camera manufacturers had their way, all there would be is an endless ladder of point and shoots at 5$ increments, stretching up to the sky. If they had their way, everyone would learn to see with a 28-300-equivalent slow zoom, and grain and fine detail would be carefully smeared out into smooth and shiny shapes, and nobody would understand anything about how framing and perspective interact.

Most of all, thanks to the cellphones, people actually share their images with an audience, instead of plopping their drugstore 4x6s in a shoebox that is later thrown away by accident. God bless them, every one.

it's unfortunate that t.o.p. is dependent on amazon to survive. amazon is evil. amazon will destroy the rest of retail and then it'll finally be able to justify its obscenely ridiculous p/e to the vultures on wall street.

also mobiles make really awkward cameras even if the picture quality is almost as good.

Mike and Thom, and most of their readers, are on the wrong side of forty. People who've read David Vestal and Herbert Kessler really aren't the right people to discuss the merits of iPhoneography ;-)

The kids have grown up using iDevices, so they don't see anything unusual about making art with their iPhone and their iPad. And it's not just photography, check-out Animoog http://www.moogmusic.com/products/apps/animoog-0 There are a lot of music apps, as well as photo and drawing apps at the iTune Store.

But not to worry, there are still a lot of old folks that are still interested in, and still buying cameras ;-)

[I know stereotypes are comforting, but in my case yours aren't warranted. I know how to use a cellphone camera. I like cameras better. --Mike]

Mike wrote: "Ken Rockwell packed up his family and moved across the country when Amazon temporarily cut off its California affiliates.

As I always say, something's gonna kill TOP, I just don't know what it's going to be yet. I just plan to ride this horse all the way to the inn and have a good ride along the way, that's all I can say."

Folks like Ken Rockwell, you, and dare I say myself, don't publish our ideas and our personal perspectives on the internet because we think huge profits are just around the corner. We do it because we are passionate about what we like to do. So, no one and no new technology will kill your passion until you lose it on your own behalf.


I had burgers with one of my sons, his wife, and child on Father's Day. Just perfect.

@ John Camp-

The lawnmower was the right move- and The Straight Story proved it.


Some months ago you had a sale, a father and son sale. Father was using a view camera and son an Iphone...

Luiz Kamnitzer

I don't exactly "like" my iPhone 5 as a camera, but I sure do respect its ability to get the shot when there are no cameras around.

Every time someone brings up 'cellphone photography,' I start thinking about how this could be the beginning of the end for photography as we know it. Maybe the next generation won't see the point of buying into a 'real' camera system. If that happens, I'll be a dinosaur, babying my ancient Canon gear and grumbling about how convenience triumphed over quality and how I completely disagree with that point of view. Sigh. I don't want to talk about cell phone photography.

I was the last person I know to get a cell phone

I don't have one. I was going to write 'yet' but that would imply an intention to get one!

At work I receive many photos from many varied sources and I've come to the conclusion, that although phones may be able to take decent photos, the general public cannot actually achieve that.

This is me begging. Please please please, when writing about smartphones, please tell people to hold the damn things horizontally when shooting video. I am just so tired of seeing amateur videos with those big black bars on the sides because this so-called tech savvy generation cannot understand the simple concept of aspect ratio.

"if everybody shot with a cellphone and nobody bought dedicated cameras and lenses any more, TOP would be history and Xander would have to pay for all my dinners."

If photography is worth discussing and the the content and esthetics are the main factors, does it really matter which kind of machine has been used ?

[No. But that misses the point. The point was about making money.

Believe me, I've always been able to find plenty of things to do for free. He said ruefully. --Mike]

The iPhone has done in-camera HDR and panoramas for about the last four years or so. I continue to be mystified as to why people will write off an entire class of capture devices as incapable of "serious" work just because they don't fit the traditional mold of a serious camera. But whatever.

Also, apropos of a previous post, that youtube personality "PewDiePie" was written up in the WSJ this week. He made $4M last year.


[You miss my point too. I'm not "writing off an entire class of capture devices as incapable of 'serious' work." I'm saying I need a way to make money, and if cellphones eventually destroy camera sales I won't have a way to do that. As I said, selfish. --Mike]

Mike, what stereotypes did I use. Thom's readers voted for Not Having Video - I didn't make it up ;-) And you did work for Darkroom Techniques ;-) If I wanted to read about iPhoneography I'd find a site more attuned to the zeitgeist.

And I did stick to the subject of making money. There really are enough old folks, to click through to Amazon, to keep you going for a long time.

BTW I was born before WWII, so I do qualify as old folks ;-) And my cameras run from a Toyo 4x5 to an IPod Touch G4.

I really don't get why every activity connected with an Apple product must be called "iSomething" and transformed in a trend. For me, photography done with a cellphone is just PHOTOGRAPHY. And it is a good thing that can give birth to an exceptional piece. Just like photography done with a Lomo camera, a DSLR, a pinhole camera, a digital medium format back, a mirrorless...

Glad you had a good Father's Day Mike, Zander also.

One downside of the small-sensor phone camera is that depth of field you don't always want.
I notice that, presuming both your phones applied some level of selective focus, the high-contrast backgrounds 'push forward' , leaving the softer flesh tones of you both as the 'main subject' looking slightly, soft focus.
Fashions for large sensor/minimal DoF, or it's opposite, can both be useful, or tricky.
Traditionally, a 'real camera' experience teaches us the value of using different lenses/focal lengths to play with these qualities. No doubt it can also be done now with software/touch screens.
Somehow making things easier often reduces our chance to learn.

Cellphone photography is much less about hardware and a lot more about software. I don't think anyone here would want or expect Mike to review photo apps but it could be nice to show serious work done with phonecameras by talented photographers. Isn't it all about the picture at the end?
For example I heartly invite you all to take a look at the (wonderful, in my opinion) work by Viviana Peretti:http://www.vivianaperetti.com/#/iphoneography/easter-in-colombia/Easter_01

Looks like you've lost weight. How did you do to achieve this?

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