Camera Gear: Just Because You Can, Do You Have To?

A few days ago my buddy Glyn Dewis tweeted a link to a story about the “first wedding ever to be shot entirely with the iPhone 4”. In the article, the photographers in question are quoted as following:

“We proved that the iPhone technology is advanced enough to handle an event like a wedding, and simple enough that it doesn’t take a lot of experience or extra equipment to shoot high-quality video and pictures,” said Adams. “The user still has to have some creativity and a good eye, but this gives them a great tool.”

At the end of the article, they pose the question: “Would you rather have a great photographer shoot your wedding with an iPhone 4, or a mediocre photographer shoot using professional gear?”

This has two questions popping up in my mind. Firstly, do you really have to do everything because you can and secondly, what is this even good for?

I’ll leave the first question more or less as a rhetorical question and tackle the latter one. I find it quite fascinating that the gear debate has come down to this. While this “experiment” might prove that the iPhone actually has a camera, does it say much more? Even if you could shoot a wedding with an iPhone 4 does not mean that it is even remotely a good tool for the job. All it is, is a tool for the job.

The concluding question in the article is questionable. It is not relevant to ask whether you would rather have a professional use an iPhone 4 or a “mediocre” photographer with professional gear. The statement implies that the only important role in photography is the compositions and not the actual image quality. Weddings in particular are difficult situations that require much of the camera gear.

In the end, I think the gear discussion has wound up properly off-track in this case. Just because you can shoot a wedding with an iPhone 4 does not mean it is even relevant to begin making the points that it is a good tool for the job. Something worth thinking about.

2 Comments

I agree – just because you can, does not mean it is a good idea.

Like you, I am fascinated by the evolution of technology, and the fact that for instance an iPhone 4 is capable of taking as great pictures as is the case. Still, when I am hired to shoot a wedding, everyone expects a professional photographer with a certain amount of gear, and the knowledge to use it. If I was to turn up with three iPhones, I would be fired on the spot.

The ability to shoot RAW, use DoF creatively and to have a larger sensor will make me reach for my DSLR any time (as things are today). To have 100% control over the settings in the camera, ensuring that the image will turn out as I want it too, is key to me – and a thing I currently don’t trust a smartphone to do. For video, it might be very useful for weddings, since they are small and everywhere.

Am excited to see where things stand in a few years, but as a photographer I need to know that I am in control of the camera – not the other way around.

Agreed. For me it is not as much what gear the customer expects (although that is undoubtedly important as well) but fully about the fact that it isn’t a good tool for the job. In fact, the iPhone has a rather poor performance in what you can achieve with it in terms of creative freedom in the photo moment itself.