The other morning we awoke to snow.
With school closed, we hit the slopes. Or rather a local field with enough of an incline to have fun on a sledge with.
Keen to have a photographic record of the occasion (only the second day our son has had even a vague opportunity to go sledging in his five years alive) I grabbed the fabulous Ricoh GRD III.
Out in the snowy fields though, the Ricoh wasn’t working out.
I have it set up predominately for contrasty, inky, grainy, b/w shots, mostly of decaying stuff up close. Which isn’t well optimised for spontaneous happy colour portraits of kids playing in the snow.
Not feeling inclined to delve into the Ricoh’s settings for endless experimentation (and not wanting to spend this precious time with a camera instead of the kids) I put it back in my bag.
Instead, I reached for my iPhone, which is always set with a colour filter called “Transfer” by default.
Except for unlocking the phone with my passcode, and opening the camera app, I was in pure point and shoot snapshot territory.
Which is exactly what you need for these kind of occasions.
After editing I came away with half a dozen lovely photos of the kids which are currently on rotation in one of our recently acquired digital camera frames (more on these in an upcoming post).
For this kind of photography the iPhone is pretty much unbeatable.
Always with me, very small and light, quick to set up, simple to use, zero post processing.
As I’ve concluded a number of times before, the iPhone is the ultimate modern snap shot sensation, ready to capture moments where most other cameras would take too long to switch on, set up, capture, edit and process.
Which has, once again, got me thinking about the limitations of my iPhone. Why don’t I just sell everything else and use it full time?
It’s not the lens, or the sensor, or the filters.
The standard camera app is great for snapshots, and if/when I want more control I use Hipstamatic for manual focus, a certain shutter speed, or a greater range of filters.
Even the handling, which leaves a lot to be desired compared with a dedicated ergonomically satisfying compact like the Ricoh GRs or Pentax Q, is fine for snap shot occasions, and can be tolerated for everything else.
No, I realised what really limits me is the fact I get the dreaded “iPhone Storage Full” message far too frequently.
With past camera phones, storage has never been an issue.
My Sonys had some kind of memory card that was upgradeable, the Samsung I had prior to the iPhone used a similar micro SD card.
Buying my iPhone I naively thought that it would serve as my iPod and camera phone, as well as being half a dozen other devices.
But even with on average six music albums, 100 photos and a modest set of apps, I know I’m soon going to be on dangerous ground. Which is pretty pathetic, considering what the phone can do.
So, whilst my iPhone ticks a multitude of boxes, its storage is its Achilles heel.
And why is it supposedly 8GB, but the settings say Capacity 5.2GB, significantly less?
Anyway, because of this, three years later I’m seriously thinking of a replacement. Which won’t be another iPhone – they’re just too expensive for what they are, and even more so to have one with a decent storage capacity.
My attention has turned back to Sony who supplied my camera phones for some seven or eight years previously.
The cameras are well regarded (Sony of course provide sensors for pretty much everyone else these days it seems) and memory is expandable. If I want to explore Hipstamatic type processing/filters then apps like Snapseed have legions of fans.
Or I just take “neutral” photos with a Sony and set up favourites in Hipstamatic on my iPad, as I do for my Ricohs and iPhone.
Plus I’d actually be able to store more than half a dozen albums and 100 photos on it without it maxing out.
Any updates, I’ll let you know.
How much do you use a camera phone for photography? What have you found its greatest strengths and biggest frustrations to be?
Please let us know in the comments below.
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