Those of you who read my rumblings on here will know that I recently got the iPhone 7 Plus to use primarily as a video instrument on our most recent safari. The main reason I wanted the Plus and not the stock standard iPhone 7 was because of the dual camera found at the back of the phone. This camera combo offers 2x optical zoom, and using both cameras together with a lot of complex programming driving them, it can produce some very interesting results (sometimes referred to as "computational photography"). One of these interesting results is the "portrait mode" which can be used to create bokeh effects. The feature is still in beta and even after yesterday's iOS 11 update it is still not quite perfect, but for casual use when creating images for your social media followers, it can create decent results if the edges of the subject aren't that sharply defined.
With the announcement of the new iPhone models comes better cameras and I am guessing that when it finally hits the streets in November the iPhone X will be producing much better bokeh effects than the current model 7 Plus, or even the new 8 Plus. This morning I read an article on Yahoo! news about a pro photographer's impressions of the iPhone 8 Plus cameras and he is saying that the detail and colour is much improved on the 8 Plus.
So, this leads me to the point of my post: will these new smart phone cameras finally topple the consumer camera industry? I think they might very well deliver the final knock-out blow. Taking myself as a prime example, I now never take my Olympus mirrorless cameras out on a social occasion since I got the iPhone 7 Plus. It's too much hassle and I can have fun immediately with the iPhone. If I want to get serious(er) with the smartphone camera I can shoot in RAW and edit the results right on my phone using Adobe's Lightroom mobile app (which is actually free, believe it or not). When I first got the phone I made this image of my wife while we were on a short holiday in the Drakensberg.
The original DNG looked like this:
But after a few taps and drags with my fingers in Lightroom Mobile I had transformed it into this:
My wife thinks I am a genius. It's not perfect but it made her happy and isn't that what taking personal photographs is all about?
When we were on safari in Sabi Sabi I didn't take any small lenses so when it came time to do our traditional group photo I used the iPhone, put it on the selfie stick with the table top tripod feet and used the detachable Bluetooth remote to make the shot. Stupidly I forgot to use the Lightroom app, so this was the standard jpeg from the iPhone app. I wouldn't have dared to do this with my older iPhone 5S.
I think that if smartphones are getting good colour, with great detail and users don't have to fiddle around too much with settings, what's not to like about cellphone photography? I literally didn't spend the $2000 on upgrading my Olympus E-M1 to the Mk II because of the iPhone 7 Plus. I am still very happy with the material I get out of that almost 4 year old mirrorless camera and that's why getting the iPhone ended up being a no-brainer. I didn't have to outlay any money because I opted to take on a new cellphone contract which not only gives me this awesome device, but I also get a data plan and free calls to numbers on the same network. And it's a business expense, not capital expenditure. At the end of the 2 year contract period I will have access to the next level of phone (probably iPhone 12), again with no outlay. By then I expect the camera on the smartphone to be so good that I may not need to even use an ILC on safari. Just kidding...
The knock on effect that this loss of revenue for the camera company will have, when multiplied by enormous numbers of consumers who see things the same way I do when it comes to making happy snaps, can only mean one thing: downsizing and specialising. The end result, which we see happening already, is that the specialist equipment costs much more than it did in the past because those companies have to make up their margins to accommodate the loss of their consumer sales. The Nikon D5 price is an example of this. So is the price of the Olympus E-M1 Mk II. At $2000 it caused me to pause. If iPhone X provides a kick-ass camera, GPS navigation, internet, voice communications, personal assistant and entertainment, why on earth wouldn't people spend the $1000 on it? I would.