Why are so many people picking on the quality of iPhone photos, and of any smartphone for that matter? Everybody says the photos are just not good enough for print or to show them on large format. Well, let’s talk about that for a minute…
I bought my 1st digital camera back in 2001. I took it with me on vacation to Hawaii and shot this photo of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor with it.
The Olympus E-10 that I had back then, had a 3.7 megapixel sensor. Compact Flash cards cost a fortune. So I shot in what was called HiRes JPEG on that trip to get the most out of my memory card. Effectively, this photo is 1600 x 1200 pixels (that is a mere 1.83 megapixel).
This photo is hanging on a wall in my office, printed at 60cm x 40cm (23.6″ x 15.7″) behind plexiglass. After 15 years, I still love it. And I can promise you I will not take it down from my office wall anytime soon.
If you look real close at the print, it is grainy and a little soft. The people on deck of the USS Arizona Memorial are nothing more than multi-colored blobs. And you can see some grain in the clouds too. But when you look at it from the right viewing distance, it is a stunning photo that brings back quite a few memories.
Now consider this: my iPhone 7 has a 12MP camera, plenty of memory, shoots RAW and I can edit my photos in Lightroom Mobile right on my phone. So why should it produce photos that are inferior to that 15 year old photo I like so much?
Well, it doesn’t! The other day, I was in Antwerp attempting a long exposure shot of the new Port House, the Antwep Port Authority HQ designed by architect Zaha Hadid.
While waiting on the sun to set, I flipped out my iPhone and shot and edited this photo of the building in Lightroom Mobile. On my iPhone! Guess what? It holds up to that 15 year old photo of the USS Arizona Memorial. And if that one was good enough to print at 60cm x 40cm, the iPhone photo should be good enough for print too.