You’ve probably heard the quote:
The Best Camera Is the One That’s with You
This quote became ubiquitous when Chase Jarvis used it as the title of his 2009 book on iphone photography. His goal was to legitimize mobile phone photography. The idea being that it’s better to take a picture with your phone than to miss out on capturing an image because you left your bulky DSLR at home.
I like the idea of capturing images using my phone. In the past, I’ve even challenged myself to only capture toy photos using my phone. But honestly, I prefer my bulky DSLR with its dedicated macro lens. This is my comfort zone, this is what I’m used to.
So image my surprise when last week I ended up on a beach with a backpack full of toys, accompanied by friends, no rain in sight and no CF card in my camera.
I briefly thought about jumping in my car and driving to the nearest store to grab a new card. Who cant use an extra card? But the weather was brisk and it was threatening to rain again. I knew we wouldn’t be out long. So I opted to pull out my phone and use it instead.
If your best camera is the one with you, then I was going to have to use my phone.
Why do I always forget how much fun it is to photograph toys with a phone? Phones are compact, you can get low to the ground without actually being on the ground. And if you like to be stealthy, its the perfect camera! Yes, I was very pleased with my decision.
The Fine Print
Sure the best camera is the one thats with you is true. But it is also true that the results you get with a phone will not match what you will get with a full sized DSLR with a state of the art dedicated macro lens. The results are different. Not better or worse, just different.
Its no secret that I love to create images with a narrow depth of field. I love how the backgrounds get all swirly and feel like a painting. You will not get that effect with a phone without using a photo application like Big Lens. On the plus side, mobile photos tend to have a lovely infinite focus that you can learn to use to your advantage.
I’m pretty certain this is not an image I could have captured with my DSLR. For one I’m not sure I would risk it that close to the water. Second I would have been tempted to set my camera’s aperture to 3.5 – 5.6 which would have created a very different result.
The biggest irony of this image is that I have been trying to recreate a similar image for several years now with no luck. The original image was taken before I discovered the RAW setting. The image is too small to enlarge for my purposes. So here I am with a great candidate to replace that image, and it was taken with my phone. I don’t know if I should weep or celebrate. I have a great image, but its still too small for a good enlargement. So it goes…
More Fine Print
There is a reason that Instagram and similar apps have handy built in filters. Photos taken on mobile devices can often benefit from a little editing or a judiciously applied filter. I have fun playing with filters and this time was no different. Here are the unedited versions of two of the images I took so you can see what I did to create images I felt good about sharing.
Yes, the best camera is the one you have with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a phone or a state of the art full frame DSLR. The point is to get out there and create some magic with your toys. Have some fun while you’re at it! You might surprise yourself, like I did.
A big thank you to Dave who’s review of Ahch-To Island inspired me to buy the set. Thanks Dave! Because what I need is a little more LEGO in my life. 🙂
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