It’s been some 3 years since I wrote one of my most well-read ‘how-to’ posts, entitled Blogging 101; in that article, I focussed on my camera selection as a part of what makes FitnessOnToast so much fun to create, and a way to differentiate your own creative pursuits. Time has moved on, as has technology, and now I have professional-grade photography integrated in my smartphone. After visiting Cupertino for the recent launch of the Apple iPhone XS, I’ve been test-driving one of their golden phones for the past fortnight, and this post is the result of my creative experimentation. Shot almost exclusively on the iPhone XS (all except for the 2 shots of the phone itself), these images were captured around Hampstead Heath in the glorious late-summer British sunshine. Click MORE for a full look at the new Camera capabilities and my full perceptions…
I’ve spent quite some time evaluating the quality of these images with my photographer. We usually shoot on a main rig which has been updated since the ‘Blogging 101’ post, and are currently using a Canon EOS 1DX Mark 2 and an array of their superb L-series lenses. That is an unrivalled, exquisite suite of kit, but it requires an entire suitcase to lug around, weighs as much as a freight train, and leaves a deep score on the shoulder of whoever’s strapped into it! With the notably-more-portable iPhone XS, sure the results are simply not technically comparable because the two devices don’t even pretend to compete in similar categories, but there are material advancements in the ‘mobile photography’ category which have been made here, and must be shared.
The dynamic range is most observable for its improvement, such that highly-exposed daylight backgrounds aren’t blown out with under-exposed subject foregrounds suffering at their expense. There is a balance to the imagery, which typically requires ultra-sophisticated chipsets and plenty of post-processing in the DSLR world, but is nicely adjusted in-camera with the iPhone XS. That’s a user-friendly feature that most people probably won’t ever consider, but it’ll be one fewer problem they notice with their captures – and it’s a significant one too, in my experience of travel photography. I’ll look forward to trying this out on beaches and around highly-exposed landscapes.
Depth of Field – that beautiful blurriness – has ever been a huge differentiator of DSLR imagery. My Canon 50mm F1.2 lens generates such a gorgeous background blur (a.k.a ‘bokeh’) when wide open, that it’s hard to imagine anything getting close. Today however, software can simulate this effect quite convincingly, and in the iPhone XS, the combination of improved dual cameras, and a slider to control (in post processing) the amount of background blur to the desired level, is a big leap forward, to my mind. The new chipset’s Neural Engine makes it possible even around the dreaded ‘frizzy hair zone’, so that almost all the shots we took were highly convincing rivals to a DSLR – but with all the convenience of handbag-sizing.
Colour too seems ultra rich, as does sharpness of imagery; subjects always seem to stand out in the shots we took. In Portrait Mode, the more-tightly-cropped framing simulates the effect achieved by a 50mm prime lens, whilst in wide mode, one can achieve a towering sense of perspective, width or breadth, whilst losing none of the sharpness around the edges. Knowing that I have access to that diversity of capture is reassuring.
For too long, mobile shots have looked (surprisingly) pixellated, but I believe that is a thing of the past – an advancement which means travels armed with just my iPhone are now possible. There is of course no suggestion that it will be replacing my ultra-sophisticated main rig, but for those many occasions when it’s just not feasible to carry the big-rig, there is now a reliable, high-quality solution, which just happens to sit in my pocket all the time. That is a big step forward. Give it a shot…
My entire autumnal outfit is by the classically-Swedish brand, Gant, who’s softness of colour palette and softness of cashmere touch I have grown to love over the past 10 years.