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The Best Camera is the One You Have With You
January 30, 2013 9:00 AM   Subscribe

A Traveling Photographer is a short video by Kevin Russ, who has been journeying thought the American west taking amazing pictures with his iPhone. [via]
posted by quin (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the far east, here's an iPhone 5 snap from atop the Taipei 101. Such a great little camera.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:23 AM on January 30, 2013


I was amazed at some of the shots my iphone 4 captured, when we were driving around Utah and Colorado and New Mexico last fall. We had a little point-and-shoot with us as well, but we both used our phones for probably 80% of the pictures we took.
posted by rtha at 9:37 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use my iphone 4S's camera quite often as my "I'm walking and see something interested" type of camera and for double funs, will often throw it through a filter. I've been generally amazed at a number of the shots I've gotten, but even more so when friends have successfully enlarged them to 8 x 10 or so without any pixelation issues.

Here's one I took without any filterage, just straight up camera doing its thing.

Here's another where I just took advantage of the power duo of morning fog and rising sun when occurring behind a statue.

I then did run it through a filter and cropped it for this result.

So in brief, I'm amazed at the quality of cellphone cameras these days and not at all surprised to see the shots this guy has gotten.
posted by Atreides at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2013


Kevin is a colleague and I've followed his work for years. He can produce fantastic images with whatever tool is in-hand.

The iPhone has proven to be a terrific tool though. I've ditched my DSLRs and I'd say half or more of the prints I sell and images I license are created with the iPhone 4S. Nice to earn a living with such a small tool!
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2013


Did this with my trusty Nikon D40 while in Australia over Christmas. I ditched the kit lens a while ago and have been using my 40-year-old prime 50mm f/1.8, a Nikon Series E. (Not the newer Series E. The old, non-AI series made for manual focus film cameras – still have mine too.) In other words I need to focus, set the aperture, and choose the shutter speed manually, because there's no AI (Automatic maximum aperture Indexing) connection to tell the camera what it has to work with.

Totally worth it. Nearly every non-underwater photo in this Australia photoset was taken with my D40 and that lens. Didn't have to worry about packing any other hefty glass, and always had an innate sense of what the shot would look like since I wasn't changing around all the time.

The other photos were all with my little Kodak Playsport, which I took because it's waterproof to 3 metres and also does video. Yay for Rottnest fishies.
posted by fraula at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2013


The iPhone has a pretty decent little camera in it, but I think this is a testament to the fact that its the photographer, not the camera, that gets the shot. This guy's photos are great despite an average camera because of all the practice he puts in and the time he's willing to spend (waiting for the light, etc) to get the right shot. This also speaks to working to your cameras strengths. The iPhone is well-suited to landscape photography, because its relatively slow and relatively wide and best in bright light. He takes advantage of this instead of trying to make an unsuitable camera work for the wrong types of shots (an iPhone is actually pretty horrible for photographing children indoors, for example).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


The iPhone has a pretty decent little camera in it, but I think this is a testament to the fact that its the photographer, not the camera, that gets the shot.

Yup.

One of the things I've come to love best about my camera phone is that because I always have it with me, I can use it all the time, and immediately review what I've just taken a picture of, and think about what made the shot work or not. I'm managing to take more good photos on purpose rather than by accident (though I still take a ton of crappy/just okay photos, of course).
posted by rtha at 10:33 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then there is the Buzz Lightyear camera challenge.

Really, within its limitations the iPhone camera takes marvelous photos, as will many cameras, but I always have my iPhone with me.
posted by caddis at 10:37 AM on January 30, 2013


I really wanted to hate this the first time I saw it but what Kevin is doing really does transcend the medium of iPhone photography. Someone else working in a similar fashion is Ben Lowy who's worked throughout the world most notably Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya with nothing but an iPhone.
posted by photoslob at 11:21 AM on January 30, 2013


I love using my droid's camera just because, as noted, it's always with me and also has on it the tools I need to instantly throw them where I can share or access them later.

It's a meh camera...not bad in bright light. But I'm hopeful that by the time I replace it in a couple of years, the camera might be more like the one in my Canon S95, which really is a very nice machine, with decent low-light abilities, the bugbear of all small digital cams.
posted by maxwelton at 11:39 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry photoslob, but it's hard to take someone seriously who uses the phrase "iLibya 3" and uses Flash, in 2013. Maybe I'm missing out on a masterpiece. All I know is I'm too old for this.
posted by Yowser at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2013


He's got a flickr stream (linked via his tumblr, the second link in this fpp and also right here) if flash is such a dealbreaker. I don't know what "iLibya 3" is or means so I can't provide a workaround for that.
posted by rtha at 12:44 PM on January 30, 2013


From what I can tell as a no longer avid amateur, as long as the subject is large enough in the frame, and there is sufficient light, a good phone camera is perfectly serviceable. That covers a huge amount of photographic ground.
posted by wotsac at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2013


its the photographer, not the camera, that gets the shot.

There's truth in that, and I absolutely agree with you that the iPhone is less relevant here than the photographer's understanding of composition, willingness to walk around and place the shot, and patience in waiting for the best light.

However, this FPP cracked me up because just this morning, a photographer I follow on Facebook posted a quote about how the equipment matters least in getting a shot. Which is fine to say, except that the quote's source was known for shooting with Sinar and Hasselblad. It's easy to say that any car can win a race when you drive for Scuderia Ferrari.
posted by cribcage at 4:16 PM on January 30, 2013


A few years ago (er, 2005, I guess) Martin Parr did a series of photos taken with a Sony Ericsson flip phone. They were brilliant. I have done the same, and they were...not.
posted by Fnarf at 5:03 PM on January 30, 2013


Yup, photographers spend thousands of dollars on professional gear because they want to rack up expenses for themselves and carry XX pounds around just to look cool.

Someone needs to tell them that they should just get an Iphone instead. :)

Honestly... these arguments are silly.

The Iphone part is nothing but a gimmick. The guy becomes famous for being the "Iphone photographer guy". It works for him. It gets him press coverage. Sort of like the first guy who did the Million Dollar Homepage.

The important thing to remember is that any cheap camera can capture an image in good weather and good light and it has nothing to do with the Iphone. All cheap cameras and phones are very capable these days. But good luck trying to capture an image on a phone when the conditions are less than perfect. You end up having to deal with lousy battery life, horrible low-light capability, horrible action-capture ability, poor weather-sealing, poor construction that can't take much of a hit, you don't have zoom to get closer to war action or wild animals, and you don't have interchangeable lenses to capture a variety of perspectives.
posted by Witold at 6:31 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice post. Coincidentally, I finally got off my butt and posted the first entry in my blog which touches on ths very subject.
posted by The Deej at 6:56 PM on January 30, 2013


Honestly... these arguments are silly.
posted by Witold


Spoken like someone with no actual first-hand experience in the matter.

My cameras pay my bills. The camera that pays a big bulk of those bills is built into an iPhone 4S. A photographer who knows what they are doing can choose whatever tools fit the work they do and the clients they are after. My clients pay the fees I ask and don't care what tools produce the images. Most of this disdain for phone-generated imagery is pretentious gear snobbery. I own or can afford to buy any of the most expensive gear available... but don't need or want to.


You end up having to deal with lousy battery life, horrible low-light capability, horrible action-capture ability, poor weather-sealing, poor construction that can't take much of a hit, you don't have zoom to get closer to war action or wild animals, and you don't have interchangeable lenses to capture a variety of perspectives.


Battery life - lots of portable recharge options, including having multiple phones.
Low light - not as bad as you're assuming.
Action - generally fine, but no match for the Canon 1DX for sure.
Weather sealing - again, multiple phones which are practically disposable. But really, they're pretty well sealed.
Construction - I drop my phones all the time and have never had an issue. Add an Otterbox and don't worry.
Zoom - "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." Zoom with your feet. You are probably young enough to have never known only manual focus also.
Interchangeable lenses - There are a TON for iPhones, but the Olloclip is the king. Terrific glass.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


there's only one thing limiting compact cameras, at this point: low-noise low light photography.
posted by legospaceman at 9:16 PM on January 30, 2013


More amazing mobile phone snaps: Mobile Phone Photography Award Winners
posted by caddis at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2013


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