Smartphone Cameras are Better than Ever - even for the Pros!
Putting aside the apparent advantages of the latest iPhone, let's consider smartphone cameras for what they offer photographers today.
If you all you have on you is your smartphone, and an opportunity for a fabulous picture presents itself, there is no reason - and there hasn't been for years - that you can't pull out a smartphone and shoot. Going back to the iPhone 6S (even earlier, actually), smartphone camera technology is giving DLSR's a run for their money. The technology on these cameras has come a long way in a relatively short period. Keep in mind that the 6S camera 12MP which is the same as the latest XS. That says a lot right there!
(NOTE: We'll be reviewing the new XS in the coming days, so keep an eye out for that blog post.)
Today, street photographers don't need to spend or haul around thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment when they can simply pull out a smartphone. These tiny cameras in our pockets today have made street photographers out of the general public.
Put Aside Your Prejudice:
There are too many pro photographers that still turn up their noses at shooting with a smartphone camera. They need to stop. Today, you can take some seriously stunning pictures on a smartphone that would give any serious photographer - or photography critic - pause to tell the difference between an image shot on a smartphone and one shot with a camera worth thousands of dollars.
Amateur vs. Pro:
The beauty of smartphones is that it can turn anyone and everyone into a photographer versus a professional camera. Give a smartphone to your grandmother who's never held a camera, and with a few brief tips, she's off and running. Give her professional camera equipment, and it's doubtful she'll know what she's doing.
But, can a bunch of amateurs turn out high-quality images worthy of being confused with a professional's? The answer is yes. Even the savviest of pros carry around a good camera phone they can yank out to shoot. An amateur photographer we know traveled to Rome last year. Rather than lug around her DSLR, she decided to spend the week shooting with an iPhone 8. The images - simple point and shoots - were stunning. Friends didn't believe she'd left her "serious" camera at home!
DSLR When You Want:
So, when you feel like it, or if you're shooting professionally for clients or something trickier like night photography, you can rely on your DSLR. But when it's for your own purposes and fun, a modern smartphone will save you from hauling around equipment. (Night shots were the only ones our friend visiting Rome found difficult to capture well on her iPhone.)
Many photographers today look at smartphone cameras more as a supplement to their cache of equipment. When the time is right, they pull out certain equipment and go for it. The smartphone is just another tool in what's available to you to create extraordinary images.
Limitations of Smartphones:
As great as they are, smartphones do have certain constraints. Low-light conditions as we just said are more challenging. Most, but not all, smartphone cameras only have at most two optical focal lengths. They also have limited battery life, but recharging can be relatively quick. However, knowing the limitations can pose an opportunity rather than a challenge for the photographer.
How do you work around those limitations to still shoot stunning pictures? Don't forget that a typical fixed lens system like the Leica M, has only one focal length. And, yet, it's still used by pros. The limitations of a smartphone camera only mean that you have to be more creative and more agile in dealing with the technological limitations - just like early photographers once did!
Better than Ever:
As the technology continues to evolve, naturally so does what you can do with your smartphone. Optical zoom capability is better than ever. Editing on your smartphone using apps like Lightroom Mobile continues to transform what we can do out on the street. Shooting in RAW is now also possible. Posting directly to social media is easier than ever without needing to return to your office or studio. And, the quality of the images is better than ever - no compromise necessary.
Next time you find yourself out on the street or traveling without a DSLR, don't hesitate for a second. Pull out that smartphone camera and start shooting. You might be shocked by what you can produce on such short notice with something you pulled out of your pocket or purse.