Apple’s keynote last night featured some very worrying words for me. It had nothing to do with the phone, but, again, the attitudes toward the photography industry. It’s something that’s been overlooked from any commentators I’ve seen, and perhaps I’m blowing it out of proportion. Though, in reality, it was not really that much different than Marissa Mayer’s comment about Flickr and professional photography. Simply, I didn’t like what I heard…

So, last night at 4am, I was watching yet another boring Apple keynote. Everything was as expected, as leaked over the previous six months. A 5C plastic phone was released. A 5S phone with a fingerprint scanner and the normal incremental upgrades was also released.

I am writing this piece for two reasons.


Firstly, the camera:

Apple’s new camera, if it performs as well as it sounds it will, will be rather nice to say the least. To improve the camera’s ability to deal with low light, the phone features a sensor that is 15 percent larger than the iPhone5, with bigger pixels measuring at 1.5 microns, and also has a lens with an aperture of f/2.2.

It also features the ability to perform continuous burst mode with a cracking 10 frames per second, before offering you suggestions of the best shots, and a new “True Tone” flash, the first in mobile phones, trying to help remove that stark effect of using camera phone LED flash.

The software also provides various filters (ala Instagram and a plethora of other apps), square crop, plus the returning ability to pan your camera and capture automatically-stitched panoramic images.

On top of this, the software also provides new auto-image stabilisation, slow-motion video (120 frames per second at 720p) and live video zoom. All very handy features.

I won’t lie, I’ll likely be continuing my fan-boy trend and getting the 5S. The camera alone sounds great.


But the main reason I wanted to write this piece was to highlight a throwaway line from the Apple keynote that has been widely overlooked. I have no doubt that I’ll questioned about this, and perhaps I am just reading too much into it. But it was a comment that jarred with me when I heard it. It was a comment that I didn’t believe I heard (and expected to hear more about today).

Phil Schiller introduced the new camera in the 5S this way (at 46minutes into the Keynote):

“The camera system. People love taking photos with their iPhones and its iSight camera and it does a phenomenal job. We wanted to get smarter and better at helping us take phenomenal pictures. It used to be the way you took better pictures is you learned to be a better photographer! You get bigger cameras, bigger lenses, you learn about all the techniques of light metres and gels and filters and you can spend your lifetime studying how to take advantage of this and make it work for you. And for the people who want to do that, that’s great. But for most of us, we just want to take a picture and have the iPhone take a better picture for us.”

He went on to outline all the new fandangle features of the camera in the iPhone 5S. Most of which I ooh’d and ahh’d over.

But that introduction sat in my mind as I dozed off to sleep after 5am and stuck with me all day.

To me, he was saying “You COULD study to learn to take great photos. Or just buy an iPhone; it’s much easier that way.”

It was, in my mind, with everything going on, another sharp dig at photographers everywhere, undervaluing what they do. To be a better photographer, just buy a bigger camera and bigger lens (and, lastly, learn some techniques…) or, instead, just buy an iPhone and instantly be a great photographer.

The irony being that, in the background, you hear dozens of frames fired off from dSLRs.

Admittedly, technology is advancing, particularly with the iPhone — image stabilisation, auto-white balance, advanced algorithms to choose the best photo you took out of a bunch rattled off by the camera, better sensors/flash/lens all make things ‘easier’ when it comes to taking photos on a camera you ALWAYS have on you.

With attitudes like that, it is little wonder that everyone else wants photographers work for free.

Just remember that, because you buy the gear, just because the gear does something, you still need to tell the story, create the scene, and make it beautiful. No camera can make an image; it just snaps a picture at a point in time.


Peter Bower Bio PicPeter Bower is a mixed bag of tricks. He is a professional photographer, published writer, English academic, award winning poet, hater of soup, website manager, social media guy, ginger, and creature of the night. He is the Founder of VOTogs. When he’s not working, he is a semi-serious competitive gamer and lover of live music, bad movies and action novels. You can find more of his work at his website and ‘like’ him on Facebook. You can also say hello to him on Twitter @OeterB.


3 thoughts on “The Ripest Fruit: Apple’s New Camera Phone

  1. I think that “And for the people who want to do that, that’s great. But for most of us, we just want to take a picture and have the iPhone take a better picture for us.” is the most important part of it.

    He’s addressing the 80%* of people who’d never be going that far into photography anyway.

    It’s just a sales pitch. “Now you can be Spider-Man too!” ;)

    * = Totally made up. But “Most of us”.

  2. I think you’re spot on in the last paragraph. I have a friend who just allowed people to take smart phone photos for their wedding, and they were disappointed. For some moments, there’s nothing like a professional, even if you have a great smart phone camera.

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