Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mount Woolley with an iPhone

This past summer (2013),  I had an opportunity to hike to Woolley's Shoulder in the Canadian Rockies.  This hike was extremely challenging and even after months of training, I was completely drained by the time I got to the top.  The full story can be found in a previous posting.

On this trek, I found the physical demands were such that while underway, I just didn't want to dig my Nikon D800E out of my pack, mount a lens, setup a tripod, and then shoot.  Instead, I decided to enjoy the experience and capture a few memories with my iPhone.

On returning from the trek, I was anxious to look at the images captured from my D800E.  This was of course a trek that was driven entirely by my passion for photography.  Since I was very pleased with what I got from the Nikon, I only gave the images from my iPhone a quick glance.

It was only in the past week that I revisited some of these iPhone images and to my surprise, many of them were remarkably good.  Of course, they're not the same quality as a pro series camera and lens but it is quite impressive what a tiny little phone camera can achieve.  Image resolution and colour were good.  Dynamic range is not nearly as wide as a pro level camera so you'll notice that in scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, the highlights will tend to be blown out.

The iPhone's panoramic feature is surprisingly good.  I've included a few panoramas below.  The iPhone just makes shooting a panoramic so easy.

In today's camera crazed world, it seems that everyone is looking for a better camera.  The industry leads us to believe that a better camera will produce better images. While this is true, time and money are often better spent on learning rather than gear.  I'm sure there have been plenty of people that have spent a pile of money on a camera only to find that the images don't look much different than the ones they were getting with their previous camera.  Learning the craft and to use tools like Lightroom will have you cranking out better images than spending a few thousand on the next greatest camera.

If you have an iPhone in your pocket, you're already equipped with a pretty decent camera. Given decent lighting, an iPhone can produce images that will make you proud, and suitable for smaller 5x7 prints and sharing on the web.

The moral of the story is, you don't need thousands of dollars worth of gear to create compelling images.  Yes, if you want to print studio quality images, you will benefit from top notch gear, but if your goal is to produce decent images that capture the moment and are worthy of sharing on the web, the iPhone (and just about any compact camera today) will do a pretty good job.

All of the images below were shot with an iPhone 5.

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