The iPhone 6 Plus as a Serious Camera

Ephemeral Wetland at Sunrise (iPhone 6 Plus)

Over the past few months I've been going on leisurely morning walks of 3-4 miles. When the opportunity presents itself, I typically make a few photographs using my new iPhone 6 Plus, then post the images to either Instagram, Facebook, or both. It's been a fun exercise in learning the capabilities of the phone camera, while also encouraging me to be more spontaneous and intuitive in my photography.

The technical quality of the images coming out the phone are shockingly good, particularly when using the HDR mode. This new mode mostly overcomes one of the major drawbacks of tiny sensors - limited dynamic range. At first I didn't believe my eyes, but the proof is in the files: the dynamic range I'm getting with the new iPhone in HDR mode rivals the dynamic range I'm getting with my full frame Canon 5D Mk II.

Obviously, for print output at gallery sizes, the 8 megapixel JPGs from the iPhone can't compete with the 21.1 megapixel raw files from the full frame DSLR. But, when carefully processed through Lightroom and viewed at screen sizes of up to 2,000 pixels, the iPhone files look every bit as good as the Canon files, even when pixel peeping at 100%. This is astounding to me, and has me once again wondering whether DSLRs have a future outside of a few specialty niches such as action sports and wall-sized gallery prints.

I'm not yet ready to give up my Canon gear (particularly the wonderful L series lenses), but the excellent files I'm getting out of the new iPhone do have me thinking about using it as a more serious tool. Whereas in the past I mostly thought of phone images as throw away snapshots, going forward I will be looking at them for consideration as part of my more serious work.