You have been warned… This post is likely to contain a rant. I’ll try to keep it brief, but I’m in a particularly ‘ranty’ mood today. Maybe listening to Dragonforce while writing isn’t the best choice for a soothing soundtrack…
Well it’s September, which means that it’s time for the masses to spend lots of money on the newest iPhone, the iPhone 7. Conveniently launched on the 7th day of the month, there is plenty for the average consumer to get excited about. First, the iPhone 7 adds a new color to the lineup. Apart from the standard black, silver, gold, and rose gold, Apple has introduced a glossy black option for the 7 and 7 Plus. Sure to be a hit amongst those always looking to be on the bleeding edge, I’m still holding out for a carbon fiber inlay… at which point I don’t care how many organs I have to sell; if it ever happens it is sure to be a huge upcharge in typical Apple fashion, but I’m a total sucker for carbon fiber. Just ask my assistant.
My wallet and glasses… These were just the two I had on me. I think I might have a problem…
Other notable features include an A10 quad-core processor which promises faster performance and better power efficiency, coupled with a longer-lasting battery. Much to the chagrin of the general populace, the rumor of the 3.5mm jack’s exclusion has indeed come to pass, but an adapter and a pair of lightning port headphones are included with the phone. For the wireless fan, I must admit that the optional new Air Pods headphones are insanely cool. Perhaps among the most notable is the inclusion of an IP67 water resistance rating, which many other phones have had for years. Now if they could just sort out the easy-to-shatter screens with standard Sapphire glass, and the jury is still out as to whether or not we will see a return of “Bendgate”.
The iPhone 7 released on Sept. 7th? You think you’re soooo funny, Apple…
Those who have already been keeping up on the press release will know that I have left out one huge new feature. I am talking of course about the substantial upgrades to the 7 and 7 Plus’s cameras. The 7 receives a new six-element lens, a maximum f/stop bump to 1.8, optical image stabilization, a drastically updated flash, a host of image-enhancing software wizardry, and an all-new front-facing camera so we can be forced to endure duck-face selfies in even greater resolution and bit depth. The 7 plus receives all of the above plus the long-rumored dual-lens camera, which gives the iPhone its first-ever optical zoom, up to 2x.
I couldn’t find a free stock photo of a duckface selfie, and was obviously not going to steal one from a facebook friend… So here’s a picture of a duck.
I warned you at the beginning that there was a rant coming… Well, here it is.
My main issue can be found in the very first sentence of Apple’s page on the new camera- ” iPhone is the most popular camera in the world”. It’s true that Apple has brought imaging technology of rapidly increasing quality to the iPhone for the past nine years for a relatively low price, but this has serious implications for those of us who spend thousands upon thousands of dollars and years upon years of practice and education to make a living in the visual media industry. Under perfect lighting conditions, iPhone and other smartphone cameras can deliver image quality that is nearly indistinguishable from that of professional cameras. I have a photographer friend from college who has a collection of “#iPhoneOnly” photos on his website, and to be quite fair, they’re often stunning. It’s not just us pros who are picking up on this… I hate generalizations, but it seems that ‘everyone’ is turning first and foremost to their iPhones for capturing all manner of important images, often with very good results considering that they’re essentially free. There’s a mindset of ‘it’s just an iPhone camera, but it’s good enough to not hire a professional’, which hurts those of us who know that when an iPhone camera hits its technical limitations, it hits them hard. It hurts those of us who know that there is more to capturing compelling images than having a camera of acceptable technical quality. This is the issue that professional photographers have faced for many years now, and the fight to remain relevant to potential clients has become harder with the release of this new iPhone.
One of these is a quick ‘n dirty JPEG from my D700, and one is from my iPhone 6. To make your lives interesting, I’m not telling which one is which.
Apple has also spoken of a new “Portrait Mode” that will be coming in a soon-to-be-released iOS update, which will use software trickery to give photos a shallower depth-of-field. Handy to be sure, and useful for teenage girls’ hourly ‘Instagram Specials’, but those of us who can properly define depth-of-field will also know that no software will ever replace the power of true optics like those in a “Nifty Fifty”, a telephoto, or tele zoom like my 70-200 f/2.8 for true shallow depth-of-field effects.
For those wondering, it’s the amount of distance on the Z-Axis, extending in front of and behind the point of critical focus, that is judged to be in acceptable focus. For those not, it’s “that cool blurry background thing”.
In summary, there will definitely always be a need for the experience, artistry, and even the expensive gear that a professional photographer brings to the table. It’s up to us as business owners to educate our customers as to these differences. There may be light at the end of the tunnel, however. I predict that in time, as ‘iPhone professionals’ rise to total ubiquity levels of market saturation, and the economy continues to turn around, savvy business owners and consumers will be able to see the difference and justify the cost of hiring those of us who have dedicated our lives to excellence in visual media.
Wait, I lied. I thought videographers were safe for the time being, but in a ludicrous and surely market-driven turn of events, it seems that the iPhone 7 now shoots 4K? Well I can tell you what that will look like… It’s a four-letter word that starts in S and ends in T… and it isn’t Soot.
Break a lens,