WoMP: iPhone 5

Doin’ It With The Lights Out: While the Nikon D3s isn’t the shiniest/newest camera off the line, it still has class-leading ISO performance.  That’s about as good as it gets.  The iPhone dragged it’s shutter to a half-second in order to get an exposure.  That’s simply too long for handheld, no matter how many shots you try and how steady you hold your hands and how wide your lens is.  I think the iPhone is around where DSLR-sized sensors were 10 years ago in terms of sensitivity.  I imagine that will hold true going forward.  Smaller chips just don’t get as much light; that basic principle of physics isn’t changing any time soon.  Both cameras were shot handheld under identical circumstances.  “Faster” lenses is a colloquialism for wide-maximum-aperture lenses.

Getting Your Picture Off Fast: The past few years have shown us more than ever, that having a camera conveniently by your side is the single most important thing you can do as a photographer.  Although I will say despite the glut of iPhonography and some very good pictures taken on conveniently-within-reach phones, most of the world’s best pictures (I’m thinking Big Picture) are taken with proper cameras.  That’s because more than anything these great pictures aren’t about stumbling-upon points of interest.  They’re about moving your feet and getting out there with purpose.

How Much Action Do You Get? The question here was: How much to ‘help’ the iPhone by using a special app, prefocusing, all that nonsense.  I decided not to.  While in the test we were doing a controlled run over and over to have some sort of statistical sample to use as a comparison (in which case I could have prefocused and exposed), what I really wanted to know was how it would perform in a demanind run & gun fast situation.  If you’re prefocusing, exposing, framing, then the fact that it’s “action” is superfluous, it might as well be a studio shoot.  I wanted to know how it would be taking pictures as you and your buddies skate around, or as you try to shoot a ballgame, when you can’t control everything.  That is where the action is.  The side-by-side speaks for itself.

Is That An Enormous Lens In Your Pocket?  This is self-explanatory silliness,  I would like to point out that the real kings of super zoom ranges are the very cheap smaller chip cameras of the type you’d buy at Best Buy.  Those things have absurd ranges like 20x zooms.  DSLRs, with very expensive zoom lenses on them are what we’d consider around a 3x zoom.  That’s a win for the cheaper stuff (just not your phone).  And yes your phone can zoom, but only digitally.  i.e. blowing it up after the fact.  That doesn’t provide any additional quality/detail, and doesn’t count.

Co-Eds Lookin’ Their Best:  They were shot under identical (hot/continuous) lighting.  I don’t know of a way to use the iPhone with strobes.  It was a struggle to get enough light to make the Hasselblad happy, as I didn’t have any mega HMIs or anything like that.  So we did end up having to drag the shutter a bit more than I would’ve liked for an “ideal” situation.

Retouching Myself:  This is the pixel-peeping section.  Yes, the Hasselbladdecimates the iPhone by every metric of image quality when studying it closely and post-processing the image.  Does that matter?

Picking Up Street Walkers:  No it doesn’t matter.  People honestly had no idea that one camera was a phone and the other was arguably the best camera on the planet.  People don’t really pixel peep.  I think the ISO test, for example, is relevant, because it allows you to get a shot that you otherwise couldn’t get.  But megapixels just don’t matter.  I’ve never seen such emphatic proof that it’s not about the camera; it’s about what you put in front of it.