Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Camera That's Always With You

Colorado River in Marble Canyon - an iPhone 4s photo ~ © Royce Bair (click to enlarge)
There's a lot to be said about "The Camera That's Always With You," like my iPhone 4s. Although it does not have a zoom lens, it is incredibly sharp. It's 8MP files rival those from a expense DSLR camera I purchased a few years ago. A 16"x20" print I recently made for a client, from the above file, amazed both of us.

Now is often better than later. I shot this photo and the one below, using the ProHDR app, which allows you to take two different exposures and blend them into one photo that has a higher dynamic range than the originals. Impressed with these photos, I walked back to my car, got out my Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a 24-70mm zoom lens (a $5K package), and took several similar images using the camera's built-in HDR firmware. The results were nice, but because the light was quickly changing, these later images just didn't have the same unique shadows and glow that were in my iPhone photos.

A vertical view of Marble Canyon - taken with my iPhone 4s ~ © Royce Bair
(click to enlarge)
Lesson and motto. There's a lesson in this story that has been repeated many times in my life: Having any camera, always with you, and constantly using it, will always produce better photos than the one that is packed in the trunk or safely at home. This reminds me of Chase Jarvis' motto, "The Best Camera is the One That is Always With You," — a precept that has became a best-selling app and book.

Income from little cameras. It's not surprising that over the last few years I've had many of my iPhone photos published in magazines, even some of my early 3s images, with only 3MP. (There is now a stock photo agency that actually prefers cellphone and pocket camera images—offering a higher sales commission than images produced by regular cameras!)

Other small camera options. Nokia is introducing later this year their Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera. Using a Carl Zeiss lens and a much larger image sensor (0.42 inch diagonally vs. iPhone's 0.22 inch), the resulting images are said to be ultra-sharp, even in low light.

Much press has been given lately about the compact mirrorless cameras that are replacing some photographer's DSLR cameras because they have large, high-quality image sensors (many are APS-C size) that over six times larger (in total area) than even the new Nokia smartphone camera. I recently purchased an Canon EOS M to keep in my car, even when I am not on assignment. However, the iPhone's camera will still aways be in my pocket!


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