I just finished reading The Smartphone vs The Camera Industry by Nasim Mansurov, on Photography Life. He argues that the camera industry is done for, and that photography is moving to smartphones. It’s a good read and it matches my experience.
I bought a new camera back in 2013, with a 17mm lens. It took gorgeous landscape pictures and pretty good portraits. I loved it! However, when I switched from the iPhone 6S to the iPhone 11 back in 2019, I realised that the pictures this new phone was taking were better. They weren’t much better, but they were still better. Dramatic skies, glowing fields, flower closeups, they all looked great. Portraits were pretty good. Zoom was useless, but my “real” camera didn’t have a zoom at all.
That changed in 2017 when I bought a 75-300mm lens. Now I had a zoom but I ended up never using it. My hands are too shaky and I wasn’t bringing a tripod along; birds in flight were far off and hard to track and focus; other animals were hard to see; distant mountains were disappearing in a blueish haze. I wasn’t using it much. I used it at the zoo. The animals were close, and I have enough time to fiddle with the settings and the focus.
Two years later, however, it really paid off. We went to the Galápagos; the animals here are not afraid of humans so you can see them up close. And if they are close, and don’t move, and I have a zoom, then I can take wonderful portrait of these animals. Check out the Galápagos albums. Those marine iguanas… 😍
Now that I’m back in Switzerland, though, I once again have little use for the 75-300mm lens.
This year, I started taking a lot of pictures of flowers using my iPhone 11. So beautiful! I loved those details. I wondered: would the pictures be even more glorious if I had a macro lens? I bought a 35mm macro lens and gave it a try. And it’s true. You can get a little bit closer. The depth of field is very small. So small in fact, that I often wonder whether it would be better if I were using a different lens and just cropped the image. Or used the smartphone. Or bought a new camera with multi-focus image fusion.
See where this is going? It’s what Mansurov means when he talks about the “big camera complexity problem”. If you just use a good smartphone camera, your landscapes and your portraits will be excellent, your closeups will be good enough… and you probably don’t need a zoom unless you’re going to the zoo. At least that’s my take by now.
Practically all the pictures I share on Mastodon (@kensanata) are made with the smartphone. It takes too much time to wait until they’re transferred to the laptop, processed there, and sent to the phone. The immediacy of being somewhere, taking pictures, and posting about the experience is lost.