Photography in your pocket
Every now and then, you experience one of those things that makes you chuckle. Picture the scene; I was out at the coast for a sunset shoot. I’d got there about an hour before sunset like I usually do, I’d walked around, looked at a few compositions and settled on a scene. I got my DSLR out of the bag, set it up on a tripod, got my filters out and got myself ready for the impending coloured sky. I’d taken a few test shots to dial my settings in just right; manually setting my aperture and shutter speeds to give me the desired effect. I was happy with the setup and ready to go. As the sun set, the sky turned a great shade of orange and the photos were looking stunning. Out of nowhere, someone came up from behind me, pulled out a phone, held it up and all I heard was *click… lovely* and off they walked!
I just turned round in bewilderment. There I was, spending an hour of my time researching the perfect position for my photo, dialling in the perfect settings into a massive camera setup for someone to come and press the screen on their phone once and that’s it! They didn’t care what aperture they were using, what ISO they were using, what focal length they were using. They didn’t worry about their depth of field or whether they were clipping their highlights. They were back on their merry way to continue whatever it was they were doing and now with a sunset photo they were seemingly happy with. I just chuckled and thought to myself “have I just wasted my time? Would I have been better just turning up at the last minute and taking a picture on my phone?”
Now, granted the use of those two photos are probably very different. My photo is blown up and displayed in my lounge on a metre wide canvas, and theirs is probably still on their phone never to be looked at again, or at most it made it to Facebook to gather a few “Likes”.
Whether you think phone photography is “real photography” or not, you cannot argue with the facts. With the Instagram generation becoming ever greater, the amount of people “doing photography” using their phones is growing at a huge rate. The sale of compact / bridge cameras has dwindled to a virtual extinction and even hobbyist SLR sales are down. The phone has become the new “quick snap” king and people are even earning a living from taking photos on their phones. There are apps and social media platforms dedicated to it. You can buy clip on wide angle and telephoto lenses, you can shoot photos in RAW and even edit them using Lightroom Mobile now.
Perhaps all this sounds like an old man, “back in my day…” sort of thing but it got me wondering; how big is the difference between a modern camera phone and a top end DSLR? Using some of the apps and tools available out there, how close can you realistically get when used side by side?
Over the coming weeks I’m going to set myself a series of challenges, with the hope of answering that very question. I will be putting some of the latest apps and gadgets to the test in real world situations, pitting a humble iPhone against a Canon 5D MkIV. I’ll be looking at some of the aftermarket camera apps that allow full manual control of the phone and allow you to shoot in RAW and I’ll be testing the new NiSi P1 Mobile graduated filter kit… yes, you can now buy filters for your phone!