iPhone · tography

In late 2021 the camera club had an assignment.  Take an image with your phone, convert it to black and white, and share it at the next meeting.  My phone camera is an old iPhone SE.  It was released in 2016 and I bought it in 2019.  It’s outdated at this point, but the phone works fine, and that’s the main reason I have it.  I had occasionally taken snapshots with it to check compositions for my DSLR camera; however, these were never meant to be “developed” as actual pictures.  They were only taken to see if it would be worth bringing out the “real” camera to take a “real” picture.

The image below is one where I did use the “real” camera (Fujifilm X-S10 with an 18-55 zoom lens) after making a test shot with the iPhone.  This stairwell was a dark place and the “real” camera (set at auto-ISO, aperture-priority, and a minimum shutter speed of 1/60 sec) ended up choosing an ISO of 12800. As a result, the image had so much noise that I decided to exaggerate it a bit and make the developed image look like a charcoal sketch.

I still had the iPhone version of the image (a 2.4 megabyte jpeg) and decided to see if it would work for the camera club assignment.  I had never tried to develop these phone images in Photoshop, but had already figured out how to create the charcoal-sketch look for this scene and assumed this approach would work for the iPhone image as well.

Turns out there was a problem, though.  The noise was missing from the iPhone image.  This was immediately obvious.  Does this old iPhone have a good algorithm for suppressing noise?  Apparently so. . . and/or perhaps it didn’t need to use ISO 12800. Regardless, it was surprisingly noise-free, and I wasn’t going to add a bunch of it back just so I could turn it into a charcoal sketch. 

Another surprise was the lack of motion blur from being handheld.  I was holding the phone over the railing and also leaning forward so my feet wouldn’t be in the picture.  If I did this with my “regular” camera and lens, the image stabilization mechanisms, due to their overall weight and my unbalanced position, would struggle to achieve the same results.  However, this old iPhone didn’t seem to have any problems.  I have since learned that the camera in this phone has “optical image stabilization,” so this was likely the reason for the lack of motion blur. The image below is from the iPhone.

Smartphone images can be a creative tool for photography.

It’s clearly a better image than the charcoal sketch (even the composition is better), and since I started from the camera’s .jpg file (2.4-megabytes), it was also a snap to develop in Photoshop. If anything, the image could probably use a little added grain as some parts looks a bit smooth.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  This is a tiny image from a tiny camera that’s only meant to be seen on the internet.  Even a marginal jpeg looks halfway decent when downsized and sharpened for online display.  That was my thought too for the camera club assignment, i.e. they’d never know the difference.  The downsized, sharpened image would likely look good enough to pass inspection on Zoom.

But now I was curious.  What would happen if I tried to enlarge and print this image?  My standard evaluation print is on 13×19 paper (33 x 48 cm).  So, using this paper, the iPhone jpeg would need to be enlarged to 12×16 (3:4 aspect ratio) at a resolution of 360 pixels per inch.  That comes out to 24.8 megapixels, so basically doubling the capture dimensions (12.2-megapixels).  That’s within the range where prints can still look OK, but this is a handheld jpeg from a sensor that has an area of 0.1 square inch (the tip of your pinky finger if you were to flatten it slightly) taken in poor light while leaning out over a stair railing.  Certainly enlarging it is going to be problematic compared to a down-sizing it, right?

Nope!  Not even close.  The print looks perfectly good even when I put my glasses on so I can view it from that unreasonably close distance of approximately six inches that is somehow necessary to “properly evaluate” a print when you’re a photographer.  Even more, it totally blows away the charcoal-sketch print from the “real” camera at any viewing distance. 

So, thanks to a camera club assignment, I learned that a 2.4 megabyte jpeg from an old 12-megapixel iPhone can sometimes produce a significantly better image than a 27-megapixel RAW file captured with a one-year-old APS-C camera at f/11.  That doesn’t seem quite right, so there was only one thing to do:  take more pictures.

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing the last couple of months, though it has been with the iPhone only.  I’ve not been making comparison images with the DSLR.  I wanted to see what it’s like to just use the phone as my “real” camera and what it would do for my photography.  The gallery below is a sampling of various experiments. All were captured with the iPhone SE (29-mm equivalent lens, f/2.2 aperture). Click any image to open the gallery and see larger versions.

Beyond the initial revelation that this camera is fully capable of taking decent images, there was the additional surprise at how well these images respond to Photoshop manipulation. Luminosity masks, sketch actions, zone-mask blending, perspective alignment, burning, dodging, and much more worked fine. I can’t push the pixels as far as I can with the DSLR images, but there are still lots of adjustments that work well. This may say more about the capabilities of Photoshop than it does about the camera, but it does indicate that the camera didn’t significantly limit what I could do in Photoshop, even when using jpeg images as the starting point. The small size images are also a breeze to work with. Photoshop never has to struggle, and this makes processing more fluid and spontaneous. I have also learned how to make a linear profile for the iPhone camera, and this opens even more possibilities.

Summary

I’m coming off decades of using “regular” cameras to take pictures. 35-mm, medium-format, and 4×5 film cameras in the 20th century, and then full-frame and APS-C cameras in the 21st century. Photography has always been a wonderful creative outlet regardless of the equipment, although in the past it was more difficult to separate the two. Recently, however, thanks to the camera club assignment, I’m seeing that creativity is not only possible with significantly less equipment (just a smartphone), but it’s likely enhanced. As the camera shrinks to essentially a hand-held view-screen with a few on-screen controls, I’m able to focus almost entirely on the creative aspects of the art form rather than the physics and physicality of capturing light. In other words, the camera doesn’t get in the way. Instead, it’s more about how the camera collaborates to help me compose subjects and see light, and is less about how the camera is going to capture it.

After using the iPhone exclusively for a bit, I’m not missing the bulky DSLR equipment at all (no surprise). And let’s be honest. Many 21st century cameras are bigger and heavier than their 20th century ancestors. My digital APS-C Nikon D7200 camera, for example, weighed significantly more than my full-frame Nikon FM2 film camera from the 1980s. We’ve “gone digital” with photography, but, unlike most things that have gone digital, photo equipment has gotten bigger, not smaller. It’s only smartphones that have significantly miniaturized the process overall. Yes,there are some compromises, but there is still plenty of image quality with smartphones for both online images and prints.

This article isn’t meant to be an argument to abandon regular DSLR cameras and lenses. They definitely have their advantages, many people are comfortable using them, and I’m certainly not claiming that smartphone images are always better than those made with more traditional camera/lens systems. However, I do think that for a variety of photos and photographers (like me), even an old iPhone might offer more creative possibilities than a new camera or lens. I’ve found that the quality of smartphone images better than expected and they can be enhanced in Photoshop better than I imagined. I’m certainly happy to have (finally) found this creative tool and would encourage everyone to explore some new light with their smartphones. You no doubt already have one in your pocket or purse and it’s likely newer and better than my iPhone SE.

I’m thinking of maybe doing a couple of more posts on “iPhone·tography.” Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts on taking and working with smartphone images.

54 thoughts on “iPhone · tography

  1. I agree that an iPhone can come in handy in many situations when your “real” camera is not by your side. I love to look at clouds in the sky and quite often I take pictures of them with my iPhone. I then import them into LRC and keep them as images to be used for composites or for sky replacements and they are just fine. One instance where my iPhone has disappointed me is when I take pictures of the moon even on a clear day.

    Like

  2. I now use and Iphone 13. The image quality is excellent and I can confirm Tony’s comments. I have made 10×15 prints and quality is acceptable. I have also upsized an image using Gigapixel to 30×45 inches and the quality was astounding. Try it yourself. With the addition of good quality accessory lenses and a few apps, the iphone is an excellent weapon to make creative images. We also have access to raw images now.

    Like

    1. I will admit to a bit of iPhone-envy, Mike. Once I saw what I could do with my old iPhone SE I started thinking that the newer models are probably much better. Am definitely considering an upgrade. Glad to know your experience parallels mine.

      Like

  3. I agree, Tony. Almost very time I use my iPhone camera, I’m impressed. I don’t think it will replace a camera with a larger sensor and bigger lenses, but it certainly is no slouch, especially in decent light. I’ve gone entire trips with only the phone for my camera and rarely missed what my “real” camera might have captured. Thanks for the inspiration. Cheers!

    Like

  4. Your project on iPhone is very interesting and I encourage you to do it. It seems to me very necessary to learn to handle the iPhone well if you always carry it in your pocket. My suggestion is that in addition to jpg files you could start from raw images.

    Like

    1. I loaded the Lightroom app on my iPhone SE, Roberto, and its camera outputs DNG files that I think are RAW data from the sensor. I was able to make a linear profile from the DNG, so that leads me to believe it is the RAW sensor data. So even with iPhones that don’t have native RAW files, the Lr camera provides an additional resource.

      Like

  5. I recently purchased an iphone 13 pro max, which can shoot in raw (Apple’s proprietary Proraw format), unlike the SE which only shot jpegs. The raw file captures an impressive dynamic range, resulting in a file size of about 20-30 mb’s. The raw file can be processed in lightroom (right on your phone) or camera raw (as a DNG file) and is accessible through icloud in your photos app on your mac desktop or laptop. Yes, I totally agree with Tony’s assessment; I’ve used dslr’s and now mirrorless cameras for years and the iphone images are comparable- or superior in many cases. The newer iphones have some added features that make them work in low light situations even better, producing little noise (e.g. night mode). I’ve handheld night shots for 3 seconds or more with little to no motion blur. The only thing you can’t control directly is depth of field (except for portrait mode). You can use apps (e.g. lightroom mobile) to control shutter speed and ISO if you like (to get long exposure effects, ICM, etc.). If I don’t tell anyone that the image was shot with an iphone they can’t tell the difference in most cases. And, as Tony said, you spend more time being creative with the shot, than fiddling with settings. The iphone does have limitations (e.g. bird photography being one). However, you can buy lens attachments to overcome some of them. The possibilities are pretty endless for all sorts of photographic situations.

    Like

    1. It sounds like you are way ahead of me on all this, Bob . . . but I’m looking forward to catching up. I have used Photoshop’s “Depth Blur” neural filter to create a depth map from an iPhone jpeg, not perfect, but not bad either. Maybe it would be better working with RAW data instead of a jpeg. The depth map can be used to quickly create in-focus and out-of-focus areas in the image.

      Like

      1. Tony- You could try an inexpensive iphone app called focos before getting too complicated in photoshop – to create a depth blur. I find the app works pretty decently if there’s a good separation of subject and background.

        Like

    2. So true Bob Shor. I have the same iPhone. I seem to take better photos with my iPhone than I do with my mirrorless. So many setting on my mirrorless something always seem to be wrong. I hadn’t turn my touch screen off so every time I touched it while taking a photo some setting would change. Frustrating. iPhones are great for street photography because people aren’t as bother by being photographed with an iPhone as with a camera. Then you can airdrop a photo to them and they are really happy. I did this while shooting the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca.

      Like

      1. That’s also a good point, brewbarb. It took me over a week to set up my Fujifilm APS-C camera. Just understanding all the possible settings is at least as daunting as actually setting them. Yes, I understand that the different settings can be useful, but drilling down 3 or 4 different levels in the menus in order to make changes makes even finding the desired setting quite a task.

        Like

      2. For street photography with my iphone I’ve been using a wireless remote so I am even less obtrusive (it doesn’t look like I’m taking a picture because I’m not pushing the shutter button on the phone). Also handy if you ever want to use a tripod with your phone. Also, lets you move the position of the phone alot more easily without having to press the shutter (you can hold the phone up high or down low and not have to press the shutter with your other hand). Cheap on amazon.

        Like

  6. Great post, I would love to see you do more with your IPhone. I just recently upgraded to an IPhone 13 Pro max and I am loving it’s capbilities. Amazing camera in handheld low light situations. I am currently exploring the ability to take long exposures with the phone using an amazing app called, Even Longer app. You should look into Snapseed as for doing basic edits on your Phone. It’s a pretty powerful app with alot of features and it’s FREE.

    Like

    1. A camera club member uses Snapseed so I’m aware of it to some degree, but haven’t tried it myself. Right now I’m really just thrilled with what I can do with these images in Photoshop.

      Like

  7. Hello dear Tony,
    thank you for posting your ideas!
    They are interesting and there is so much to learn…
    Did you try taking photos with your iphone via LR?
    LR offers to make adjustments and take DNG photos.
    And there even is a timer so that you can put your iphone on the ground and have some time to step aside instead of lying on the back …smile…
    Have a good time and enjoy!
    Ingrid

    Like

    1. I have indeed worked with the Lightroom Camera, Ingrid. I used it to get a DNG to make a linear profile for my iPhone camera. I still prefer to edit my images in Camera Raw and Photoshop on my main computer it has a calibrated monitor and I can make prints from the computer, but am using the Lightroom Camera to do all my iPhone captures now.

      Like

  8. I was recently caught out without my Nikon Z7 when a magnificent storm cloud appeared over the ocean, and so I captured it on my iPhone 12. I upscaled it to 20″ x 17″ with Gigapixel AI, processed it with Photoshop and printed it on my Epson P800 and the result is as good as I would have got with my Nikon Z7. I am 80 years of age and looking for any way I can to lighten my camera pack. I think I have found the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I’m appreciating the images I’m getting with my iPhone, leaving behind the camera, camera case, lenses, and tripod when I go out to take pictures is equally appealing to me. It looks like you could almost fit an iPhone through the lens mount on the Nikon Z-series cameras. Certainly a case of up-sizing when it would seem that down-sizing is the new rule. I’m glad to hear your iPhone saved the day and got the picture you were looking for. Sounds like you had a similar come-to-Apple moment like I did.

      Like

  9. I used to carry an RX-100 with me everywhere, but no longer, and especially now that I have upgraded from an antique 4S to a 13 Pro, with its 3 excellent cameras in one package. The macro capability is most impressive, I find.

    There are several apps that can export RAW files, although I often find that the iPhone’s processed files are a better starting point for moving into Photoshop than I can easily manage in Lightroom.

    And always: the camera you have with you is worth much more than one back home on the shelf!

    Like

  10. I’ve recently become involved with digiscoping with my new iPhone 12 Pro. The closeups you can get of wildlife are amazing. I haven’t tried printing anything yet but I’m sure they’ll turn out great!

    Like

  11. Unfortunately, using my Nikon gear has become increasingly difficult for me over the past 20 years. Following a serious motor vehicle accident in late 1997, I have had a series of health problems – including, but not limited to, the loss of vision in my right (dominant) eye and severe neck, shoulder and upper back pain – further complicated by severe headaches.

    As I continue to age, symptoms are slowly devolving and are increasingly limiting my photography. This could have been a much different and more tragic story, however I bought my first iPhone, a 4s, in 2011. As a combination photographer and tech geek with a love for personal organization workflows, I quickly fell in love with my phone.

    I have been studying and practicing iPhoneography ever since…and am constantly amazed at the power of this compact little device! Now with the new Apple Pro RAW format I can actually edit my RAW images in Lightroom Classic and ACR!

    Every now and then I am tempted by the latest Nikon Z body, however a quick shoot with my D850 and a 24-120 f/4 remind me why I have grown increasingly fond of my iPhone camera. I am forever grateful to Apple and their employees for creating this amazing device that allows me to continue following my passion!

    As the saying goes, “the BEST camera is the one you have with you”!

    Like

    1. Thanks for your story, Randall. Sounds like the iPhone came through for you when you needed it most. In my opinion, this is one of the roles technology should play, to make our lives easier and to support us in whatever we want to do. While they are more advanced than ever, DSLR cameras are still a body and a lens, and about as cumbersome as they were when they first came out, maybe even more so when you consider the menus that you need to wade through. I’m keeping my APS-C Fuji camera, for sure, but it will be interesting to see how much I use it compared to the iPhone in the future, especially if I get a newer model.

      Like

  12. I have resisted the temptation to use my dinosaur iPhone 11 Pro but after reading Tony’s experience and some of the comments here I am excited to take the plunge. I have never even shot a pano on it, which everyone says is a very cool feature. I still love the feel of a camera in my hands and before my eyes (I shoot with a Canon R5 which has taken me 8 months and counting to try to figure out), I am intrigued by the over the top technology which is beyond confusing a times, But being in the “getting older and not liking to carry a lot of weight” category like someone this thread, it is exciting to try using the iPhone and maybe getting some of the add-ons (apps, lenses) to go along with it. New technologies are so exciting and challenging! So, thank you Tony for writing up your experiences with your iPhone, and, absolutely, you should continue to experiment and pursue this in your columns.

    Like

    1. As you can see in the gallery I posted, the images are mostly “fragments” from a larger space. I know you do much more inclusive scenes, Frank, and these would likely prove more challenging, at least for my old iPhone SE. Still, I think it would be easy for anyone to have a good experience with smartphone images by treating them like traditional camera images and not just snapshots to share with friends and family on social media. Taking your phone’s camera seriously changes your perspective on what it (and you) can do.

      Like

    2. For me, one of the keys to accepting the iPhone images as legit photographs (as discussed in the article) was moving them from the phone into Photoshop and then being delighted at how much better they were as both online images and prints than I expected. It made me realize that if I take this easy-to-use iPhone camera seriously, it can produce some seriously good images.

      Like

  13. Tony, wait to see what you can get with an Iphone 12 or 13. low light images with virtually no noise, deep fusion HDR images that blend 8 or 9 exposures instantly that look natural. I was loving my iphone 7+ images shot with the LR mobile camera, especially the HDR images, then my wife got an iphone 12 last yr. and she could take noiseless low light images, while my shots were impossibly noisy. This new generation of iphone photography is going to put a world of hurt on traditional serious photography equipment sales, whether full frame, APS-C, or micro 4/3 . Its that good.

    Like

    1. Yes, I’ve definitely heard about how much better the newer iPhones are than my 2016 model and will be moving there eventually, I’m sure. But it’s still fun learning and experimenting with this current model. Plus, this iPhone SE weighs less than 4 ounces, and all the newer phones are significantly bigger though still very small by DSLR standards.

      Like

    2. I do get the sense that phone cameras are advancing as rapidly now as digital cameras did when they first came out. Huge leaps in quality from one model to the next. I think that’s part of what makes this an especially exciting time for smartphone photography right now. Things seem more incremental with DSLR cameras at the moment. They had their “growth spurt” and are somewhat mature compared to smartphone cameras, which still seem to be developing rapidly.

      Like

  14. It’s like analogue and digital. The feeling and the look of an iPhone and a DLSR or Mirrorless are completely different.
    I find that I often prefer the “look” from my iPhone 8 over that of my Sony A6000 — and trying to reproduce the iPhone look from a Sony image is almost impossible.
    I also have an older Sony A350 with a 50mm 1.4 lens that gives me yet another ‘look”.
    And of course, I occasionally use my Olympus OM1 (when I have the inclination to spend money on film and developing!).
    I don’t have the cash for multiple iPhones but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 6 / SE / 8 / 13, etc all presented different ‘looks’. I’ll borrow my wife’s iPhone 11 and see how it compares.

    What I really don’t like about an iPhone is the compression ‘structure’.
    The images end up with a stained glass look when enlarged.
    What looks amazing on an iPhone or iMac screen falls apart when printed at A1.
    Maybe the RAW capability of the iPhone 13 improves this?

    Like

    1. That’s an interesting perspective, Stephen. I guess the iPhone prints do a look a little different from my Fuji DSLR, but I’m not sure if it’s the camera or the different subjects I’ve been shooting with the iPhone and the new ways I’ve been playing with the iPhone images in Photoshop. But I’m sure the phones camera factors in their somewhere. I will say that while I worked with .jpg files from the iPhone originally, I switched over to Lightroom Camera DNGs after a few weeks and these also have a different look and feel than the iPhone jpegs, which isn’t surprising.

      Like

      1. Your article has definitely sparked my curiosity.
        I’ve tried LR DNGs and will experiment again (sort of moved away from them as I still preferred the image quality from my Sony).
        I use your linear profile for my Sony and have just downloaded the same for the iPhone 8.
        I’m heading out there to see how my Sony and my iPhone really compare.
        Looking forward to more blog posts about iPhone images.

        Like

  15. Hi Tony, My name is Rafael and I am a amateur photographer and the proud owner of a Canon set up with multiple lens. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel and photograph some phenomenal sites. At minimum I would carry one camera and two lenses. I gotta tell you that by the end of the day I am dead tired of carrying all that equipment and was no longer enjoying my outings. In the last 5 years I discovered the “Moment Lens” (not promoting just mentioning) These are excellent glass lens that fit on my iPhone. Cinema, fish eye, wide, macro lens. They all fit in my pant pocket and all of a sudden I started to enjoy my outings. I have since upgraded to an iPhone 12 Pro Max and I am one happy camper. I could go on but I think you get the just of my change of heart. I no longer use my Canon set up unless it’s really necessary.

    Like

    1. I recently heard of the “Moment” options for iPhone but have not explored these yet. It sounds like you’ve found the ideal phone/accessory combination for you and I can appreciate taking a hike with less gear is significantly more enjoyable. I’ll be honest that I’m a little afraid to leave my DSLR behind at this point, but it probably won’t take much to convince me to try.

      Like

      1. Hi Tony, I too had the same delima. What? Leave without my toys? Totally unacceptable!!
        But then I thought, well, if I revisited a location and reshot it with only my iPhone and moment then I could make a fair critique of both formats. There are several factors that went into this process, one of them being that I have way too too many paper photos. Photo albums are coming out of my ears.
        I just don’t know where to store all these albums.
        From a digital approach, the IPhone photos look just great. No, they will never be as good as the DSLR format to the trained eye but 90+% of people that I share my photos with are normal lay people.
        When I have a formal event to shoot, I will undoubtedly breakout my DSLR gear, otherwise, it’s IPhone/Moment all the way.
        Photography is not my livelihood and I do understand those of you who are dependent on top quality photography for your paycheck. It has to be great!

        Like

  16. Interesting! I do a lot of photography with my mobile phone. However, I use the OnePlus6T, which is 4 generations old. I must change it because I smashed the screen 6 months back. But I detest the iPhone completely. I would have gone for the Google Pixel phone, but their service capability in India is abysmal

    Like

  17. Tony, loved this post. I shoot iPhone 12 pro and have EOS R with lots of EF glass from my journey with Canon over the last 12 years. It’s all up for sale now. The future lies in smart phone devices.

    My 12 pro has 512 memory. I have iMac and iPad. Apple has an environment that works seamlessly in my lifestyle. I shoot more pix now that ever. At age 78, living in Montana, my iPhone has given me new photography inspiration. And Apple technology has outpaced Canon. You’re right, my camera gear in pack pack is almost as heavy as it was when I had my 5D.

    I can only imagine what the iPhone will do in the coming 5 years let’s say.

    I have your TK 7. Plz consider an iPhone TK!

    Love your posts, and you passion and dedication to photography.

    Like

    1. From the comments here, I feel I need to upgrade my first-gen iPhone SE to really appreciate the latest advances in iPhone cameras. Definitely something to look forward to eventually. BTW, TK8 is now available. Contact me using the contact form on my website for more info.

      Like

  18. Hi Tony: I’ve been using my iPhone(s) to capture “snapshots” of friends, family our parrot and the occasional sunset when the Nikon isn’t readily available for a few years now. I’ve sometimes used the editor program included with the phone but the results were never very good and I often struggled with banding etc. It was my assumption that image quality was the problem. Will have to revisit this thought.

    Many thanks, looking forward to more in this vein.

    Cheers, Gord

    Like

    1. I’ve not experimented with in-camera software for developing iPhone images yet, and am so comfortable doing this on my PC with a calibrate monitor that I’ll probably continue along that route. As I mentioned in the article, I can’t push the iPhone images as far as I can the RAW files from my APS-C DSLR, but I can still do quite a bit with them. However, I do find smooth areas in an image, like the sky, less smooth in my iPhone images and find them more sensitive to adjustments than non-smooth parts of the image. It hasn’t been a major issue for me yet, but I can imagine that it might affect the amount of drama I’d like to add to the sky sometimes.

      Like

  19. Hi Tony,

    I enjoyed your post on iPhone photos. I recently viewed a short demo video by Dan Steinhardt, Epson Marketing Manager, on using Epson Print Layout to print photos directly from an IOS device, and the result knocked me off my chair. He took an iPhone photo and made an 13×19″ print, sending it directly from the IOS device: No Photoshop, no image upsizing, no output sharpening — just the iPhone file sent directly to the printer. I would never have believed you could get a print that size and that quality directly from that type of capture. Thought you might find this interesting as you continue to explore iPhone photo possibilities. I’m a big TK-8 user and fan, and appreciate all you do to help us take our photography to a higher level.

    Like

    1. Thanks for that information, Michael. That is all new to me. I had no idea there was this device-to-printer option and that it can achieve such good results, though I’m already surprised at what my old iPhone can do. Given how fast phone cameras are currently advancing, this all seems quite plausible. Also was completely unaware of that interface shown in the video. Just wow! I have an Epson printer and might have to try this eventually, although I still like working on my images on my PC with a calibrated monitor. Not really ready to switch to editing on my iPhone yet.

      Like

  20. Hi Tony,

    Thank you very much for this article. I subscribe every line you wrote about iPhone (smartphone) photography.
    Some years ago I sold all of my Canon DSLR stuff, the lenses, tripod, flashes, reflectors and changed completely to Smartphone and since 11 Pro Max to Apple, now with 13 Pro Max, and a tripod again 🙂
    Incredible Landscapes, tricky perspectives of architecture and casual travel photos, almost nothing is impossible. Ok, long focus length and bokeh, I admit, are sometimes problematic, but search for suitable subjects can fix a lot.
    And with some of the newer long exposure Apps, amazing clouds in landscapes or the galactic core at night are possible.
    I’m shooting almost always in Raw, since 12 Pro Max in Pro Raw.

    With best wishes from Berlin; Germany
    Daniel

    Like

    1. Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like you’re way ahead of me on the iPhone stuff, but I’ll catch up eventually. Now that I see what’s possible and know I can achieve good results, even with my old iPhone SE, I’m inspired to keep moving on this. That and the fact that photography is just so much more fun with a camera that’s so small and always with me. It does impact one’s overall perspective of what’s possible considerably.

      Like

    1. I’ve not use the Halide app for iPhone, but I have tried the Lightroom camera on the iPhone, which, I think, produces a DNG of sensor data like a RAW file. I then use that in Camera Raw as my starting point and can even use a linear profile with it. I somewhat prefer to work with these as they still allow initial development and profile application before moving to Photoshop. Apply has a number of algorithms that can be used to process images, but even if they work well, I still prefer the working with that initial option to develop in Lr/CR. Likely a hold-over from years of working with full-frame and APS-C digital camera RAW files.

      Like

  21. Hi Tony!
    Such an inspiring post! I have used my iPhone pictures and developed them in LR, but never even considered to import them to PS and/or even print them. This shows me how we restrict ourselves, by not giving a second chance to obvious things.
    Thank you for inspiring me and making me try out new things, as well as for the linear profile!
    Greetings from Barcelona!
    Inés

    Like

    1. I certainly fell into that category of “restricting” myself, Inés. Yesterday I made a 12×16 print from an image where I had tried zooming in with my iPhone. The image was just 5.5 megabytes after the crop, but prints perfectly fine. I had actually forgotten about the crop until I went to make the print and was sure it wouldn’t work when I saw the small dimensions of the original image, but that was me self-restricting again. It did work, and quite beautifully. I think in the past this might have been an issue, but Photoshop’s enlarging capability has improved, and now we can do more than ever. At think we’re at the point where we need to lean in an see what technology can do for our images instead of relying on past paradigms about what it couldn’t do.

      Like

  22. I have also noted the incredible improvements in the Apple iPhones as well. I have been comparing the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone13 Pro, and the Nikon Z-7. For my shot selection it was a simple scene with grass and large trees. Frankly, I would not have believed it until I pixel peeped myself how good the iPhone images compare to the Z-7 until I tried my experiment. One thing I did note was the images were cleaner and a better starting point for processing taking the RAW images via the Lightroom mobile app. It’s quite evident the Pro Raw images have some Apple processing baked into them. Hard to explain unless one sees it, but the ProRaw has more specular highlights compared to the Lightroom DNG. Also, it had more sharpening. However, with the Lightroom DNG, both iPhone models had great detail, tone, and color. The Z-7 images did have less noise and better detail. With some of the great apps for reducing noise and smartly increasing sharpness, that is not as much an issue for me. Of course, the concern is if one is printing a larger image with the smaller file size of the iPhone images. I tried Gigapixel and it did relatively well, but I did notice it introduced some distasteful artifacts. I haven’t use On1’s Resize to know if its upsizing is better than Gigapixel.
    This all said, I didn’t want to leave an impression the iPhone cameras were better or even equal to the quality of the Z-7. But to be that close in comparison is astonishing.
    So, yes, Tony, I would like to see more information from you on this topic! Holy cow, if I could take an iPhone backpacking rather than lugging my DSLR gear, wow would my old legs appreciate that!
    Cheers!

    Like

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Ken. I too expected my old iPhone to be clearly inferior to my newer DSLR, but that’s definitely not the case. Nikon, Canon, Sony, or Fuji and the rest have basically ceded the small camera market to Apple at this point, I think. It’s hard to even think that Apple is better at making cameras than the big companies that have been synonymous with cameras for decades, but that might be possible. Wonder if they’ll follow in the footsteps of Kodak eventually? Thanks for the info on the different RAW formats. I like my Lr DNGs too. Gotta give Adobe some credit for making these possible.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s