Photography and iPhones: Taking knives to gun fights! (updated)

OK! I have had enough, I’m really sick and tired of the constant back and forth among photographers about gear. The discussion is as pointless as an argument about  the chicken and egg and like it would never be settled. Talking about it every other week, or posting iPhone photoshoots and videos will not change the minds of the people with a different opinion from your own!

The fact that you can take a great photo with an iPhone (check out Dale Martin’s stunning iPhone photos), does not make it a pro camera, seems like taking a knife to a gun fight. So forgive me when I’m perplexed by post like these (Scott Bourne, Fstoppers, SLRLounge ) it seems they are intent on flaming the “chicken and egg discussion”.

Let me be clear I mean no ill will to the aforementioned blogs or authors, in fact I enjoy reading them and especially listening to the photofocus podcast (Scott Bourne). I understand the point(s) they are making I just happen to have a different opinion on the subject.

My problem is that these “iPhone can” shoots place the focus on the device and not on what it really takes to make great photos with the phone. Except for the photofocus post none of the others mentioned the importance of light in making the images.

In both post the key to the resulting photos was the light and not really the phone, of course we needed it to capture the image but a $75.00 point and shoot would take great photos in this type of light.

SLRLOUNGE We rescheduled this shoot to ensure that we didn’t have any nice, photography-friendly overcast skies. We wanted to shoot in direct harsh sunlight so we can prove that this is possible regardless of the weather.

Well! What a statement, harsh sunlight is not that bad if you know how to use it, regardless of the weather, shouldn’t that be regardless of the light.

The problem with the continued highlight of the gear is that it over states the obvious and can negate the importance of using the right tools required to do the job. Professionals rely on the tools of their craft to make sure that they can deliver a quality product consistently and it can meet the demands of work environments. I don’t think the iPhone can deliver that.

Cameras and gear are important, no, they do not make better photogs, they make us more efficient and consistent at our profession. People need to realise that these are the tools of our craft, treat them with same the respect as other professions do.

UPDATED 05/13/2011

Let me be clear about this “you can take a great picture with any camera” but professionals are required to be consistent, in any condition at anytime. I strongly feel that this is where the conversation about gear should start. Scott Bourne asked me (in comments) “What exactly constitutes a “professional” camera”, here is an answer it’s his words but the best answer I can give :-;

Now if you are serious about producing quality photography, you’ll need to invest in a 35mm single-lens reflex camera with at least one lens. Commonly referred to as DSLRs, these cameras offer speed, choice, and control. The convenience of smaller format SLRs, combined with their ability to work with affordable lenses, make 35mm SLRs the a good starting point for most types of photography. (There is one exception to this rule. The newer 4/3 Micro format cameras like the Olympus E-P2 aren’t technically DSLRs. They don’t allow you to look directly through the lens. They have larger sensors than most point and shoot cameras but smaller sensors than most DSLRs. There may be some professionals who could get buy with a micro 4/3 camera system.)

This is the most practical answer I have ever seen given.

Point-and-shoot cameras USUALLY don’t deliver enough control or digital data to deliver professional quality photos. You can get some decent images with the higher-end digital point-and-shoot cameras, and as time goes by, you’ll see more published images come from these cameras, but generally, they don’t have sufficient focal length, dynamic range, response or image quality. Another problem with point-and-shoot cameras is that they are often too slow for some types of photography.

I simply choose to say pro camera!

Author: : "TECHNOLOGY THE MEDIUM CREATIVITY THE SOURCE" I am first CREATIVE, my medium of choice is TECHNOLOGY. As a young artist one of my most important lessons was that design must FUNCTION. Purpose must supercede aesthetics; it is the foundation of good DESIGN. IF IT IS CREATIVE I AM IN.

6 Responses to Photography and iPhones: Taking knives to gun fights! (updated)

  1. I think everyone but you understood it was all about the light. The FStoppers video showed the lighting setup showing the studio lights used in the shoot, the SLR Lounge video did the same by modifying light with reflectors.

    I don’t know whether they specifically came out and said it, but clearly, it was all about creating good light. As a fan of all three, I am positive none of them would say a camera phone should replace your pro camera. It should be clear to everyone that pro equipment is vital for professionals. I think the point is simply, learning photography will help you take good photos regardless of what camera you use.

    I just watched the SLR Lounge video again. They specifically stated, “shoot in harsh sunlight… so we can show you how to deal with it.” Funny that you hate on these photographers showing great photos with an iphone, while you post your own link to iphone photos where it says “as evident here.”

    You are perplexed with them, to be honest, I am perplexed with this post. What is your point? Because I don’t think any of us were under the impression that we should sell all our equipment and take an iPhone onto our shoots. Can you explain?

  2. Here is a quote from the SLR post

    SLRLOUNGE We rescheduled this shoot to ensure that we didn’t have any nice, photography-friendly overcast skies. We wanted to shoot in direct harsh sunlight so we can prove that this is possible regardless of the weather.

    The only one that mentioned light was the photofocus post, in fact the harsh light used contributed to the quality of the photo, ask yourself why. I would love to see how the phone shoots on overcast skies!

    But my point really was on what the focus of the shoots were, I really do not see the constant need to continue this argument it really is pointless. It may be better to focus on how to properly use gear and what the gear is for, which I think is a really the problem.

    I also think you need to read the article again, before you go accusing me of hating anyone!

  3. Sorry man but you proved the post I wrote was necessary – you missed the point entirely. That’s evident because you said “the iPhone is not a professional camera.” Really? What exactly constitutes a “professional” camera? The point of my post was that there is NO SUCH THING. Only pro photographers.

  4. With all due respect to you great sir I got your point, I also stated why I thought that the iPhone was not a professional camera: “Professionals rely on the tools of their craft to make sure that they can deliver a quality product consistently and it can meet the demands of work environments. I don’t think the iPhone can deliver that.”

    I drive a pretty good Toyota fast too, but I’m not going to run it in a Grand Prix or even call it a race car for that matter! A professional relies on his craft to pay is bills, and he can only do this if he can deliver an efficient and reliable product and service on a consistent basis under any conditions.

    I do not believe the I phone can do this! Do You?

  5. Scott Bourne with all due respect, if I were a race car driver, I would not take my mommy van to to the races in hopes of winning. Professional cameras are made to give a desired result consistently. I like to think the Pro Camera is like your assistant, taking your direction on lighting, giving you its point view through the lens and generally making up for the things you did not remember because even though you are a Professional you are human.

    Mr Bourne please do not encourage the Phone Industry I really do not like paying $700 to &$800 for a phone, no matter how many gadget that I may never use is on there, your endorsement many encourage them to raise the price. LOL 😉

  6. I like your answer to Mr. Bourne and by the silence I’m guessing I’m not the only one.