Pro Photography vs iPhone camera

Pro Photography vs iPhone camera

Some of the basic reasons why shooting only with iPhones is a bad idea:

Depth of focus – sometimes known as depth of field, this is one of the biggest visual tells that trick our brain into thinking ‘portrait’. The ability to separate a subject from their background can be controlled to a degree by the aperture, which many iPhone camera apps let you access. But, and this is a huge but, aperture means next to nothing on an iPhone when it comes to depth of focus. The microscopic distance from the objective lens to the sensor in the iPhone means that you always get a hyper-deep field of focus. Everything is relatively sharp, from the focused foreground all the way to the deep background where someone is standing and picking their nose or what have you. In some extreme cases, like macro, you can get this look on an iPhone — as well as accessories like the Photojojo mount can help — but this just isn’t something you can force to happen. That’s why Instagram includes the super hokey and nasty looking ’tilt/shift’ blur, to fake the kind of selective focus that makes portraits look like, well…portraits.

Wedding Photo Sisters at wedding

Wedding Photo Sisters

Light sensitivity – the light gathering capabilities of the tiny photo receptors of the iPhone’s sensor are also paltry compared to any SLR. And, unlike an SLR, you can’t choose not to have the iPhone’s image processor amp up the gain to get you a better exposure in low light, there’s always some mucking about going on and it results in grainer images in any light, but especially poor light.

Dynamic range – the dynamic range of the sensors in iPhones pales in comparison to those in even low-end DSLRs like the Canon Rebels. The sensors see further into the light and dark areas of your image, regardless of whether or not you shoot RAW, which extends your choices significantly.
Color gamut – the sensors of an SLR or high-end compact 4/3 camera also excel massively when it comes to the color they can reproduce. This is related to dynamic range, but instead of lights and darks it’s how far into the red or blue or whatever spectrum it can recognize and reproduce accurately. If you’ve ever shot an image of a bright red or purple object with any Bayer array (the kind found in any of the cameras you own) sensor, you’ve probably noticed that the colors will block up or ‘go solid’ quickly. This problem is related to the fact that it contains twice as many green receptors as others, but it also relates to the quality of the sensor. Images taken of a bright red flower with a DSLR and an iPhone in identical fantastic lighting will look massively better and more accurate on the larger sensor.

Mass – small and light cameras like the iPhone are mostly fine for shake when they’re mounted, but even then they’re problematic. When hand-held, the lighter weight means that every shake of your hand is transmitted mercilessly to your image. The size and weight of SLRs have the converse effect, dampening down small nerve twitches or finger brushes.
Photoreceptor size – the size of the capture elements on the iPhone’s CCD are quite small, leading to light falloff at the edges of the frame as well as incredible susceptibility to ‘camera shake’ or ‘blur’.


Transposed from & more in-depth information on using the iPhone as your only camera: