At the start of 2018 I took the plunge on a new iPhone X - opting for the 256GB silver version to replace my iPhone 6. The camera specs were definitely something that interested me and gave me some thoughts on using my iPhone X more as a camera than I had previously with the iPhone 6. Would it be what I expected? That is the question.
When considering the iPhone X verses the iPhone 8 or 8+ from a camera perspective the choice came down to either the 8+ or X - both with dual lenses but with the difference of the telephoto on the X being ƒ/2.4 with image stabilization instead of ƒ/2.8 without image stabilization on the 8+. I wasn't entirely sure those features would make a significant difference on a phone camera, but I did think the image stabilization on both lenses seemed worthwhile and better specs should be better, right? The screen, phone size and general coolness of the X prompted me to shell out the extra cost for the X, and the camera extras were more of a bonus.
Knowing that I would likely use it more as a camera than I had with my iPhone 6 and would be able to shoot Raw format images (with 3rd party apps - for some odd reason not with the native app) I also figured it was worthwhile to get the larger capacity storage - jacking the cost up even more.
The basic facts - iPhone X Camera specs:
- Dual 12MP wide-angle and telephoto
- Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
- Telephoto: ƒ/2.4 aperture
- Dual optical image stabilization
- Six‑element lens
- Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
- Panorama (up to 63MP)
- Sapphire crystal lens cover
- Backside illumination sensor
- Hybrid IR filter
First impressions of using this phone as a camera were good - considerably better than my previous iPhone. And it is pretty much always available to use as a camera - what's that expression? Your best camera is the one you have with you. Indeed. But there is more to it than that glib response. I realized that I actually had to learn how to use my phone as a camera and to adjust my approach to photography from what I am used to doing with a camera - be that my Canon 7D or Sony DSC-RX100M4. My interest had definitely been piqued on iPhoneography after listing to an interview with travel photographer Austin Mann on an episode of the podcast Mac Power Users. He had been using iPhones for photography since the original iPhone release ten years ago and his enthusiasm was infectious. It was from listening to this podcast that I understood I needed a change in my thinking on using a phone as a camera. It was enlightening. I also enjoyed looking at the work that Austin Mann displays on his website - with quite a bit of it being photoshoots with iPhones.
My iPhone camera story doesn't end with just switching to the iPhone X; it extends to some accessories and apps to enhance the use of a phone as a camera. This is more of an introduction to my experience with iPhoneography to be followed by a series of product reviews. The links to those reviews will be activated as I post each of them on the WHITEonline Blog. The epilogue to this series of posts will be some comparative photographs using the accessories and apps in my iPhone camera toolbox.
My iPhone Camera Gear
I must say that Mac Power Users is a podcast that costs me money: hearing about some cool things on that podcast that I've ended up buying. The Mac Power Users podcast should come with a warning/disclaimer. The start of my iPhone camera gear investigation and eventual purchasing came from the same episode with the Austin Mann interview. Here is the gear I currently have in my iPhoneography collection.
Please Note: the links will active as the reviews are posted.
It was during the Mac Power Users interview with Austin Mann that I first learned about Moment lenses - designed to work with smart phones to enhance the capacity of the phone as a camera. I watched plenty of videos and read lots of reviews on the lenses and was sold on the idea of adding them to my camera gear bag. I think they are awesome.
Using my iPhone as a camera raised the issue of being able to mount it on a tripod. There are plenty of options available ranging from very cheap to quite expensive. It took me a while to settle on the right choice for me - which was the Shoulderpod S2. It wasn't that easy to find sellers carrying this Spanish made grip and the best I could do on price was through a camera store in Brooklyn, NY selling via eBay.
One other thing I wanted to get was a lightweight and small tripod that I could use with the iPhone and Shoulderpod. There are plenty of options for this. My choice in the end was Pedco's ultra-pod II. They did have a newer version available that was a little bit lighter, but on balance I preferred the older model. Am pleased with my choice.
Leef iAccess 3
Even with 256GB on my iPhone X, I knew I needed to have an efficient way to get images off the phone - especially if I was planned to shoot a lot of Raw images with their much larger file size. With the iPhone 6 I had used a Leef iBridge but that was getting more than a bit dated - slow and limited capacity. My choice for replacement was a newer Leef product without the space limitations: a Leef iAccess 3.
My iPhone Camera Apps
I had looked at 3rd party camera apps long before I purchased my iPhone X. It started with watching some YouTube videos created by photographer Serge Ramelli. On one of his videos he identified an app he used to shoot Raw images on his iPhone: ProCamera. At the time I could have used the app on my iPhone 6, but the Raw image feature wouldn't work on it - that feature required a minimum of an iPhone 6S/6S+. With that being the feature I most wanted to try, I didn't bother with the purchase while I still had the iPhone 6. Once I had the iPhone X it was the first camera app I purchased - and since then I've been on a bit of a hunt for MY perfect camera app. Here are the apps I currently have and use.
Please Note: the links will active as the reviews are posted.
ProCam 5 is currently my most favourite camera app on my phone. The layout and the access to the controls makes sense to me. It is well designed and has the ability to save files in Raw format - a must have feature in my opinion.
Pro Camera was my first camera app purchase and is still one I use for some shots. I would say at the moment it is my number 2 choice as an iOS camera app.
After reading some other reviews I decided to give Hydra a try. I do use it mostly for one feature: a Hi-Res option that takes up to 60 images that are combined into a single 32MP jpeg image. That feature alone makes it a worthwhile app - it comes in handy.
Halide was another app I purchased on the strength of some online reviews. The interface is quite different than my go-to camera apps, but it has some nice features that make it useful.
I have a few other camera apps installed - but haven't really used them enough to formulate an opinion. Perhaps I have by not using them. I will add them to the list if I do try them out.
Stay tuned for the reviews and some comparison photographs.