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Apple iPhone 5s camera shines for National Geographic photographer

post #1 of 57
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Longtime National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson left his DSLR behind on a hiking trip through Scotland in favor of an iPhone 5s, and concluded that Apple's latest flagship handset includes "a very capable camera."

Photos shot by Jim Richardson with the iPhone 5s
Photos shot for National Geographic by Jim Richardson with the iPhone 5s | Source: National Geographic


Richardson took more than 4,000 photos with an iPhone 5s during his trip through Scotland's highlands and islands and showcased some of the images on National Geographic's Proof photography blog. The account was discovered and shared on Twitter by Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who termed it "iPhoneography."

Richardson says that while he initially struggled to make the most of the iPhone's 8-megapixel shooter, he has become more comfortable working with the phone and identifying the types of shots the device is best at capturing.

"Cameras all have personalities. Or perhaps they have visual signatures. To some extent they always lead us around by the nose. Little by little we come around to taking the pictures the camera can do well," he wrote.

"What surprised me most was that the pictures did not look like compromises. They didn?t look like I was having to settle for second best because it was a mobile phone. They just looked good."

Richardson called the iPhone 5s's color and exposure "amazingly good" and said the HDR exposure feature did "a stunningly good job," while singling out iOS 7's new square photo ability as a time-saver when shooting for Instagram.

The photographer saved his most effusive praise for iOS's ability to quickly capture panoramic images ??Richardson wrote that the feature is "nothing short of amazing ? seeing a panorama sweeping across the screen in real time is just intoxicating."

Richardson's work has been connected with Cupertino before ??he can currently be seen discussing Aperture's geo-tagging functionality in an episode of Apple's "Aperture in action" video series.

This is not the first time the iPhone 5s camera, with its new f/2.2 aperture and larger image sensor, has received praise from photography professionals. Burberry used the device to shoot its London Fashion Week spring/summer 2014 show in September. Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer for the British fashion house, praised the iPhone 5s after the show, telling Pocket Lint that the handset's ability and quality as a camera was "remarkable."
post #2 of 57
Just one of the reasons I couldn't wait to get my 5s. Thanks for another great iPhone Apple!
post #3 of 57
I really don't like the square format, it's just me probably, but I don't. Other than that, beautiful pictures for sure ... and yes, it is one hell of a wee camera.
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post #4 of 57
But but the iPhone only has 8mp camera! /s
post #5 of 57

I have put off getting a DSLR for years. And this article may just have sealed it. 

 

One I didn't think I would carry it on hikes, traveling, etc. And two, I didn't want to have to learn a clunky interface.

 

I'm quite happy with my 4s (soon upgrading to 5s) and I'm happy with the photo quality.

 

I take a lot of shots (keep the few good ones) and I try to only take outdoor shots as opposed to indoor shots.

 

I always take landscape b/c they look so much better on AppleTV. Portrait leaves black bars on either side of the photo.

 

AppleTV is pretty much the only place we view our photos anymore.

 

ATV is worth the price of admission just for the photo streaming! I strongly recommend getting ATV for this reason. :)

post #6 of 57
Let's not forget Kevin Russ. He's been doing some amazing things with nothing more than an iPhone and a few apps.
post #7 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I really don't like the square format, it's just me probably, but I don't. Other than that, beautiful pictures for sure ... and yes, it is one hell of a wee camera.

 

I like both. A long time ago I bought my first "professional" camera, a Hasselblad 500CM with an 80mm 2.8 lens. The negatives were 6cmx6cm. I remember Hasselblad literature back then describing how to compose pictures using a square format.

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post #8 of 57
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Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Let's not forget Kevin Russ. He's been doing some amazing things with nothing more than an iPhone and a few apps.

Do you have link to his iPhone photos? I know his works but am not sure which ones are shot by iPhone.
post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I really don't like the square format, it's just me probably, but I don't. Other than that, beautiful pictures for sure ... and yes, it is one hell of a wee camera.

 

Likely because you don't use Instagram.  If you used Instagram previously, you would either have to capture a square pic through the App itself, or take a normal picture and crop it to square in Instagram- hoping you don't cut out certain elements.  The square picture option is very useful if you use that app- which is the app for the 15-25 crowd.  (Once the parents got on Facebook- the kids got off) :)

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post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

I like both. A long time ago I bought my first "professional" camera, a Hasselblad 500CM with an 80mm 2.8 lens. The negatives were 6cmx6cm. I remember Hasselblad literature back then describing how to compose pictures using a square format.

I could be wrong, correct me if I am, but on square setting in the iPhone, the software isn't adding image data to make square rather internally cropping, isn't it? If so, I'd rather retain the full image data. and crop later. If I am wrong, I see I could crop the square to create 2 x 3 or 3 x 4 etc. which you could do with your Hasselblad, but I am dubious this is the case.
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post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Likely because you don't use Instagram.  If you used Instagram previously, you would either have to capture a square pic through the App itself, or take a normal picture and crop it to square in Instagram- hoping you don't cut out certain elements.  The square picture option is very useful if you use that app- which is the app for the 15-25 crowd.  (Once the parents got on Facebook- the kids got off) 1smile.gif

Yep, see my comment to Eric. If the pictures are pre cropped I'd rather make that decision later Instagram or not. Especially if I trekked all over the highlands. Which I have done many times I should add 1smile.gif

To me, it's like folks taking black and white. Why, when you can have both color and black and white if you shoot color? These days you can have so many black and white variations too with digital filters. Why ever limit data capture. With a DSLR I shoot auto bracketed RAW always.
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post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post


Do you have link to his iPhone photos? I know his works but am not sure which ones are shot by iPhone.

 

National Geographic did a similar link up with Nokia on the Lumia 1020, they have a dedicated area on their site with some pictures showing what can be done with 'just a phone'.

 

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/nokia/

post #13 of 57
The main reason I bought the 5s is for the new camera. So far, I've been extremely happy with the results of my photos. As much as I like the new camera, there is no way it can replace the quality of a DSLR. I shoot exclusively in RAW format. I also bracket photos for HDR photography. You can't do that with an iPhone or any cell phone camera. I'm also shooting a lot of wildlife so I need a camera with a good zoom lens. My iPhone 5s has been my go to camera for panorama shots though. I've tested a lot of different phones and the iPhone hands down is the best in this department. 
post #14 of 57
As much as I love my new iPhone 5s and camera it still lacks in long distance shooting compared to others. I was at a baseball game and my friend's Samsung camera took pictures with more detailed objects than my new 5s i.e. faces. I was extremely disappointed to say the least that I could not show him how much better my camera was.
However as far as indoor shots and at those a reasonable distance I am very pleased.
 
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post #15 of 57
The deficiency the iPhone camera has in the lens & sensor size, are quickly made up with its processing power. DSLR's have a few automatic features which allow amateur photographers to look like pro's when they shoot ... However, results are a different story. DSLR's best capabilities are achieved only when the photographer knows how to take over. This is exactly what distinguishes an iPhone 5/5c/5s from DSLR's.

An iPhone is a computer, DSLR's are not. Unless you know how to operate an DSLR (most people that own them don't), many of your photos are likely to be inferior to the iPhone 5/5c/5s.
post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boltsfan17 View Post

The main reason I bought the 5s is for the new camera. So far, I've been extremely happy with the results of my photos. As much as I like the new camera, there is no way it can replace the quality of a DSLR. I shoot exclusively in RAW format. I also bracket photos for HDR photography. You can't do that with an iPhone or any cell phone camera. I'm also shooting a lot of wildlife so I need a camera with a good zoom lens. My iPhone 5s has been my go to camera for panorama shots though. I've tested a lot of different phones and the iPhone hands down is the best in this department. 

Where did you get that misconception? I believe there's some 20+ camera apps on the App store to do just that ^^^^, and (OMG!) Android has a nice one with Camera+ for those "other people".

BTW: if I recall, Engadget (OMG not another pariah!?) among other reviews lauded the 5s camera to be better than the highly acclaimed Nokia 1020... you know, that device with the iPhone Killer 41 megapixel camera? Once again proof that it's not the megapixel count that matters at all; it's the sensor and the lens... and of course, who's behind the shutter release.*

* It's been said (hersay) that monkeys and cats have a pretty good knack and eye towards taking good pictures when they're not the subject matter.

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post #17 of 57

You cannot achieve a true HDR photo without shooting 2 or more photos at different exposures.  The iPhone does not do this.  The 20+ apps use artificial/simulated HDR with a phony contrast range.

post #18 of 57

As an avid android fan, the one thing apple has had that other phones do not is a great camera. The HTC and top line Samsung have good cameras with so fun features that apple do not have, and varying strenthts, when it comes to overal photo quality Apple wins out. The iPhone 4, 4s, 5 all out performed the samsumg or htc phone that was released 6 months later IMO

 

Have not had a chance to play with the 5S or 5C

post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post

You cannot achieve a true HDR photo without shooting 2 or more photos at different exposures.  The iPhone does not do this.  The 20+ apps use artificial/simulated HDR with a phony contrast range.

No - that is incorrect. The iPhone combines three separate exposures to construct the HDR image.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post


No - that is incorrect. The iPhone combines three separate exposures to construct the HDR image.

Yes ... you're probably right.  I have no control over those images though.  I need those separate images to layer as I see fit, NOT IOS.

 

Thanks for the correction.

post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post


No - that is incorrect. The iPhone combines three separate exposures to construct the HDR image.

Yes ... you're probably right.  I have no control over those images though.  I need those separate images to layer as I see fit, NOT IOS.

 

Thanks for the correction.

 

It's true that you don't have access to the individual images, or to the intermediate 32-bit image but, automated or not, it's still HDR, and the result is likely to be better than most users could achieve by manual manipulation of the compression algorithms.

post #22 of 57

Apple PLEASE get me my 5s as soon as you can :) 

 

This is what I want to do once my 5s arrives. I have taken some decent photographs in my time and I want to challenge myself with the limits of the 5s compared to my DSLR. I really think the limit will only be in my ability to set the scenes for the 5s to capture a great exposure. 

 

We'll see just how good I am, or am not :) 

post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post


BTW: if I recall, Engadget (OMG not another pariah!?) among other reviews lauded the 5s camera to be better than the highly acclaimed Nokia 1020... you know, that device with the iPhone Killer 41 megapixel camera? Once again proof that it's not the megapixel count that matters at all; it's the sensor and the lens... and of course, who's behind the shutter release.*
 

 

You appear to recall inaccurately: 

 

Quote:
 Even so, our sample shots still showed more noise and less detail than the same images taken with the Nokia Lumia 1020. The 5s also does a good job of reproducing color, but it's not the best performer in this category, either. Make no mistake, though: the iPhone has been -- and continues to be -- great as a simple grab-and-go camera. It may not be a best-in-class performer, but the vast majority of iPhone users will still be happy.

http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/17/iphone-5s-review/

post #24 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post



Do you have link to his iPhone photos? I know his works but am not sure which ones are shot by iPhone.

 


->> http://kevinruss.tumblr.com
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post
 

You cannot achieve a true HDR photo without shooting 2 or more photos at different exposures.  The iPhone does not do this.  The 20+ apps use artificial/simulated HDR with a phony contrast range.

 

"The iPhone does not do this." I'm not so sure about that.

 

Go to Apple.com and read about the new camera features. If I'm reading it right, the new camera does exactly that for its HDR feature. it automatically takes multiple shots, then selects and combines the best shots, all in the background while you focus on shooting.

 

Something along those lines is how they're promoting it, anyway.

 

You're saying "True" HDR photo. Find out what Apple is doing with their camera app, then say it isn't "true" HDR" it's only 'simulated'. OK. But if there's no functional difference in the end result then….?

 

From the look of their demonstration onsite, they are taking images at different exposures (the others look lighter - over exposed, and darker - underexposed). Not "real" HDR?

 

 

EDIT: A follow up to the other part of your supposition. This 'HDR" multi-exposre functionality is something new to the iPhone. I suspect the 20+ apps mentioned will be getting updates to reflect/support the more powerful device that is the 5s. Let's see what comes after Camera+ releases their update...


Edited by tribalogical - 10/8/13 at 11:41am
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post
 

Yes ... you're probably right.  I have no control over those images though.  I need those separate images to layer as I see fit, NOT IOS.

 

Thanks for the correction.

 

Not so sure about that either!

 

I don't own the new iPHone (yet), but again, from what I'm reading it may very well be possible to keep and use those extra exposures.

 

Again, just from what I'm reading/viewing at the Apple site, the app isn't throwing anything away for you until you implicitly tell it to.

 

If I were you, I'd go through some of the product detail videos, in particular regarding the new camera features. What I'm seeing implies a far more feature-rich environment than you are promoting here.

post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

Apple PLEASE get me my 5s as soon as you can 1smile.gif 

This is what I want to do once my 5s arrives. I have taken some decent photographs in my time and I want to challenge myself with the limits of the 5s compared to my DSLR. I really think the limit will only be in my ability to set the scenes for the 5s to capture a great exposure. 

We'll see just how good I am, or am not 1smile.gif 

As good as the 5s camera may be, if you can't get noticeably better images from your DSLR then something is seriously amiss. The 5s sensor is less than 1/20 the size, working in a diffraction-limited regime, and the images are processed with very aggressive noise reduction. Downsampled to around 2 MP they might be competitive but above that, not even close.
post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post
 

 

It's true that you don't have access to the individual images, or to the intermediate 32-bit image but, automated or not, it's still HDR, and the result is likely to be better than most users could achieve by manual manipulation of the compression algorithms.

 

Do you know for a fact that you have no access to the 'individual images'? Much of the info at the Apple site implies otherwise.

 

In any case, it's a software thing. If the data is being captured, there's no reason an app can't save those individual 'layers' for later use. Even if it doesn't exist today, it will 'tomorrow'. There's always going to be 'an app for that'. :)

post #29 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

 

It's true that you don't have access to the individual images, or to the intermediate 32-bit image but, automated or not, it's still HDR, and the result is likely to be better than most users could achieve by manual manipulation of the compression algorithms.

Do you know for a fact that you have no access to the 'individual images'? Much of the info at the Apple site implies otherwise.

In any case, it's a software thing. If the data is being captured, there's no reason an app can't save those individual 'layers' for later use. Even if it doesn't exist today, it will 'tomorrow'. There's always going to be 'an app for that'. 1smile.gif

No I don't, and I may be mistaken, in which case one could upload them and process manually - or even on the phone itself if there are already apps that have that function.
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post

The deficiency the iPhone camera has in the lens & sensor size, are quickly made up with its processing power. DSLR's have a few automatic features which allow amateur photographers to look like pro's when they shoot ... However, results are a different story. DSLR's best capabilities are achieved only when the photographer knows how to take over. This is exactly what distinguishes an iPhone 5/5c/5s from DSLR's.

An iPhone is a computer, DSLR's are not. Unless you know how to operate an DSLR (most people that own them don't), many of your photos are likely to be inferior to the iPhone 5/5c/5s.

Processing power is not a substitute for a larger sensor or better lens.  I don't agree with the rest either.

post #31 of 57
The iPhone 5S has a great camera. The results are really good but obviously is not comparable to a DSLR or RED camera. Yes it is a compromise.
post #32 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post

The deficiency the iPhone camera has in the lens
Processing power is not a substitute for a larger sensor or better lens.  I don't agree with the rest either.

It's not a substitute, but since the result depends on optical quality, processing, and user skill, it is possible that an unskilled user will get a better result with an inferior optical system coupled with advanced processing.
post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post
 

 

Do you know for a fact that you have no access to the 'individual images'? Much of the info at the Apple site implies otherwise.

 

In any case, it's a software thing. If the data is being captured, there's no reason an app can't save those individual 'layers' for later use. Even if it doesn't exist today, it will 'tomorrow'. There's always going to be 'an app for that'. :)

Here's the issue I see.  An iPhone is a hand held camera, and if it did actually shot 3 completely different images, there would be issues with framing. I think it's actually 1 image where 3 different exposures is post processed.  I don't believe that 3 separate photo actions are taken which one HDR photo is saved on the camera roll and the other 3 are tossed out.

post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I really don't like the square format, it's just me probably, but I don't.

I don't like square either. Which is strange, as old school cameras were 8 by 10. Just this morning I was in a museum where there was a Deardorff on display. The camera, and the resulting pictures (from Koos Breukel, a Dutch portrait photographer). Ok, 8 by 10 isn't square, but more square than 2 by 3. Or in the case of the iPhone, 3 by 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Let's not forget Kevin Russ. He's been doing some amazing things with nothing more than an iPhone and a few apps.

Do you have link to his iPhone photos? I know his works but am not sure which ones are shot by iPhone.

I was told one could filter by camera model, lens type, aperture and all that...can't find it so here's a video...with iPhone photos:
http://vimeo.com/56803464
post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnyishere View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

 

Do you know for a fact that you have no access to the 'individual images'? Much of the info at the Apple site implies otherwise.

In any case, it's a software thing. If the data is being captured, there's no reason an app can't save those individual 'layers' for later use. Even if it doesn't exist today, it will 'tomorrow'. There's always going to be 'an app for that'. 1smile.gif
Here's the issue I see.  An iPhone is a hand held camera, and if it did actually shot 3 completely different images, there would be issues with framing. I think it's actually 1 image where 3 different exposures is post processed.  I don't believe that 3 separate photo actions are taken which one HDR photo is saved on the camera roll and the other 3 are tossed out.

You can't post-process to extract a greater bit depth than the sensor provides. Why do you think it isn't three separate images? That's how most compacts do HDR.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

I have taken some decent photographs in my time and I want to challenge myself with the limits of the 5s compared to my DSLR. I really think the limit will only be in my ability to set the scenes for the 5s to capture a great exposure.

I find creating a good composition the most challanging thing on the iPhone, for two reasons:

1) the photo gets cropped on the display; this is because the sensor is 3:2 and the display is 16:9 (used to be 4:3 and then the bottom wasn't fully displayed) Now it doesn't display the full width:



On the old phone you had to zoom out to see the whole photo.

2) I find it very difficult to look at the display in order to compose. This is so much easier looking through a lens. It also increases camera shake, something I never had to deal with when using a (D)SLR.

Still, a freaking fantastic camera. I was on a cycling holiday this summer and didn't take my camera with me, thought I ought to give the iPhone a try. My friends were in awe after seeing the result, even ordered books online. From a camera phone!
post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post


As good as the 5s camera may be, if you can't get noticeably better images from your DSLR then something is seriously amiss. The 5s sensor is less than 1/20 the size, working in a diffraction-limited regime, and the images are processed with very aggressive noise reduction. Downsampled to around 2 MP they might be competitive but above that, not even close.

 

The best any camera can do is take the proper exposure. Everything else is up to the photographer. I won't be asking my 5s to capture exposures at the same quality as my DSLR, but I will be asking myself to take as compelling images with the 5s as I take with the DSLR. 

 

A photo should move you, give you a sense of place and time. You don't get that with camera specs. I have shot many years with a DSLR and before that I even developed my own film. I can very much assure you, a good photo is due more to the photographer being able to capture a moment, then a cameras ability to capture the correct exposure. 

 

Yes, modern DSLRs are great in allowing me to simply find a moment, frame it and push the little button. And yes, the decrease in those capabilities will be the challenge. But to say the DSLR will get better images is a bit misleading. I've seen people with DSLRs take horrible pictures and I've seen photos of many years back that were taken with much less a camera and they look better. 

post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


I find creating a good composition the most challanging thing on the iPhone, for two reasons:

1) the photo gets cropped on the display; this is because the sensor is 3:2 and the display is 16:9 (used to be 4:3 and then the bottom wasn't fully displayed) Now it doesn't display the full width:



On the old phone you had to zoom out to see the whole photo.

2) I find it very difficult to look at the display in order to compose. This is so much easier looking through a lens. It also increases camera shake, something I never had to deal with when using a (D)SLR.

Still, a freaking fantastic camera. I was on a cycling holiday this summer and didn't take my camera with me, thought I ought to give the iPhone a try. My friends were in awe after seeing the result, even ordered books online. From a camera phone!

 

Exactly and those are the challenges I want to put myself through. Anyone can take good pictures with a great camera set on auto, but it takes a good photographer to take great pictures with less. I'm hoping I'm that photographer. 

post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

As good as the 5s camera may be, if you can't get noticeably better images from your DSLR then something is seriously amiss. The 5s sensor is less than 1/20 the size, working in a diffraction-limited regime, and the images are processed with very aggressive noise reduction. Downsampled to around 2 MP they might be competitive but above that, not even close.

The best any camera can do is take the proper exposure. Everything else is up to the photographer. I won't be asking my 5s to capture exposures at the same quality as my DSLR, but I will be asking myself to take as compelling images with the 5s as I take with the DSLR. 

A photo should move you, give you a sense of place and time. You don't get that with camera specs. I have shot many years with a DSLR and before that I even developed my own film. I can very much assure you, a good photo is due more to the photographer being able to capture a moment, then a cameras ability to capture the correct exposure. 

Yes, modern DSLRs are great in allowing me to simply find a moment, frame it and push the little button. And yes, the decrease in those capabilities will be the challenge. But to say the DSLR will get better images is a bit misleading. I've seen people with DSLRs take horrible pictures and I've seen photos of many years back that were taken with much less a camera and they look better. 

Agreed. My point was just that all other things being equal, a competent photographer (and I'm sure that you are one) can get substantially better image quality with a DSLR. I obviously misunderstood your exact goal when I made that comment.
post #40 of 57
The FUD and incorrect facts about the iPhone camera system is particularly strong with the Fandroids in this thread. Boy are they threatened by the iPhone 5s camera or what?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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