Home Opinion iPhone 8 Plus: Is it the best camera you can own?

iPhone 8 Plus: Is it the best camera you can own?

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  The iPhone 8 Plus (left) is already a great photographic tool as Raymond Wong of Mashable finds out. On the right is the smaller iPhone 8 with a good, but less capable camera
The iPhone 8 Plus (left) is already a great photographic tool as Raymond Wong of Mashable finds out. On the right is the smaller iPhone 8 with a good, but less capable camera

Raymond Wong of Mashable ignored his Sony A6300 system on a recent trip to Japan. It stayed in his luggage while he spent his time shooting with the new iPhone 8 Plus. It is, he says, now his favourite camera:

“….The iPhone — more specifically, the iPhone 8 Plus — is more than just a “good enough” camera. Apple’s team of a 1,000+ working on the iPhone’s cameras have finally made a photo and video powerhouse that convinced me to leave my real camera and its superior image quality in my luggage.

“By the end of the trip, I had taken about 700 distinct photos and videos with my iPhone 8 Plus over 11 days compared to the 30-or-so I did with my Sony. One thing became very clear as I soaked in Japan: The iPhone 8 Plus is now my favourite camera to shoot with.”

Raymond cites the small size and weight, the excellent image quality, speed of processing, low-light excellence as primary considerations. In addition, he points out that the 8 Plus is so much better at shooting video. Not much about sensor size, but maybe we obsess about that too much. Raymond sums up:

“I could go on and on in detail about all the small ways the iPhone 8 Plus is a more convenient camera — like how it fits in places regular cameras can’t, or how much better battery life is, or how great it is to be able to edit photos on the go — but I’ll spare you. I think you get the point.”

I do, Raymond, I do. I don’t have an iPhone 8 Plus (I’m waiting for the iPhone X) but I do have the 7 Plus and even that makes a superb camera. From a purely personal aspect, however, I’ve never felt able to use it in place of a standard camera — it’s mainly the form form factor and the hold-from-the-face viewing which doesn’t come naturally to me. I suspect, though, that the thousands of smartphone users who now fancy themselves as pro photographers would disagree. It’s probably the only form of photography many of them have known. As far as I’m concerned, a smartphone is fine in emergency and the results can undoubtedly be impressive, but for me a smartphone couldn’t replace a camera. I’m open to persuasion, of course. 

   The portrait mode of the new iPhone 8 Plus does a great job at simulating the results from a fast full-frame lens, but is it a suitable replacement for all your expensive camera and lens gear? Image Raymond Wong, Mashable
The portrait mode of the new iPhone 8 Plus does a great job at simulating the results from a fast full-frame lens, but is it a suitable replacement for all your expensive camera and lens gear? Image Raymond Wong, Mashable

While I agree with Raymond’s contention that the point-and-shoot camera market has been murdered by the smartphone, I happen to believe that the smartphone is the best thing that has happened to photography in the past fifty years. Far from killing off cameras, smartphones are creating a whole new generation of budding photographers who are flattered by the results they can achieve so easily.

Their next step, I believe, is to invest in some “proper” camera gear in the hope that it will improve the skills they’ve sort of acquired by accident with their iPhone. There’s truth in this and it has to be good news for the camera industry, in particularly the mirrorless offerings in micro four-thirds and APS-C. 

Do you think the iPhone 8 Plus — or a similar smartphone — is all the camera you will need in the future? 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Mike – good post (and great blog – really appreciate your efforts). I’m in alignment with you in that an iPhone will not replace my cameras. They are are two separate paths to photography, and I came to photography though cameras around 12 years ago. I still love the tactile nature of using cameras and as part of the photographic workflow.

    That said, it’s fantastic that the iPhone camera is so good. I do use it, both for snapshots and more serious work. I should use it more often because it’s there! And I do use it for video since it is so effortless, and not really being a video guy it’s all the video equipment I need.

    One thing I do wish, though, is that camera makers made apps/software that make it effortless to share between your camera and phone. Some do that, but it still feels clunky.

    • You are right Andrew. Everywhere you go, 95% of photographers are using phones. The ordinary (non specialist) photographer wants to be able to send photos immediately to their sister in Australia or their cousin in Aberdeen as soon as the image is taken. Solutions to date from camera manufacturers have been rather ‘clunky’ to say the least. Meanwhile the images from smartphones continue to get better all of the time. This is not Brownies v Leicas this time around, but a whole new paradigm about social communications. I am not part of the new paradigm myself, but I can recognise it. As I write this, I am about to load some film into a camera made in 1926. Each to his own, but ignoring what way the market is going is just not very intelligent.

      William

  2. Great post Mike.
    I have recent purchased the Iphone8 Plus and what I have discovered is that the 4K 60FPS video combined with the 4K Apple TV is stunning.
    The new compression standard with IOS 11 gives smaller file sizes.
    However handy the Iphone8 Plus is my preferred camera is the M10 anyway.

  3. In the digital world it seems to me that the lens is no longer the most important part of the camera, instead it is the software. Clever software can correct all sorts of lens issues, recently Apple have introduced software to mimic bokeh, next we will be removing flare or adjusting focus and depth of field after the fact. I am willing to bet that we will be able to print computer enhanced large prints if we want, despite relatively small sized sensors.

    There is rapidly opening, a distinction between film photography and digital photography and that distinction becomes much clearer when one considers the capability of digital sensors and software to construct an image out of nothing (Sony A7S). There is a visual distinction too which cannot be measured but most people can see it, and it is related to a sort of hardness that extreme resolution seems to engender.

    So much so, that we can now reduce the power of our M10 by adding a new "Thambar", to mess things up a bit. 🙂 Such things will be doable with an iPhone, if someone writes the app, and it won’t cost anywhere near 12K!

    I love the iPhone, I only have the 7, might graduate to the X next year, I reckon that Raymond Wong is right, you probably don’t need anything else.

    However, us blokes like something to fiddle with, and for that, you need a camera, one might even get all arty with it too!

    The fun thing now is not to seek perfection, but to introduce limitations in the form of old glass, film and chemicals and see what happens.

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