Dream Designs & Photography | Can you really take great pictures with an iPhone?

Can you really take great pictures with an iPhone?

July 15, 2015  •  1 Comment


I’m alternately amused and irritated when I see those big, beautiful, glossy ads for the iPhone 6. You know the ones—where there’s a breathtaking photograph of an erupting volcano in outer Kamchatka, or an incredible close-up of a rare caterpillar crawling along the stem of a carnivorous plant in the Amazon. I imagine the disappointment of all the people who buy that phone thinking they’re going to take pictures like that—and then blame themselves when they finally realise that National Geographic will not be calling any time soon.

What the ads don’t tell you

The fact is, while those photos probably were taken with an iPhone, there are a few other pieces of equipment that are not mentioned in the ads. Like high-end, professional quality lens attachments, often costing hundreds of dollars. Lighting equipment and reflectors strategically placed around the subject by skilled technicians. Special tripods and shutter releases to eliminate vibration, and all manner of other gear that the average person will never use.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like phone cameras and the iPhone has a good one. But the whole point of that camera is not to shoot magazine quality pictures. It’s to grab fun shots of you and your friends at a party, pictures of your new car, or some photos of your kids at the playground. If you’re arty and you choose subjects that are suitable for the focal length of the phone’s lens, you can get some pretty cool shots.

Some examples of good phone photos

Here are a couple of cool pictures I took on my iphone 5 and edited using Instagram.

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When to use your phone camera

The most important thing about using a phone camera is knowing when not to use it. If you can’t get within 10 feet of your subject, for example, the lens of a camera phone is probably not capable of producing a picture with enough detail to be interesting. Think of sitting in an arena watching a concert. Any picture you take of the band is going to show a few silhouettes against a background of coloured lights. You will definitely not be getting close-ups of Birds of Tokyo. This is a situation where a small digital camera with a zoom feature will come in handy. You still may not get up close and personal with the artists but you might get a shot that shows their faces.

You will also want to avoid situations where the lighting is dim. Phone photos taken without enough light are usually grainy and dull, without much colour saturation. In low lighting, the best camera to use is an SLR, which lets you adjust the aperture (lens opening) to let in more light. There are trade offs, though, such as shallow depth-of-field, when you open the lens really wide.

The bottom line

If all of this talk about depth-of-field and aperture is more than you want to know, just remember this: Phone photos are great for casual snapshots of family, friends, flowers and pets. And they’re good for experienced photographers who want to work within the confines of a camera phone to produce interesting art photos. For more challenging pictures, a camera with more functionality is your best bet. So if you’re planning a trip to Kamchatka, pack accordingly.


Do you have questions or stories to tell about your experience with phone cameras?
Share them here in the Comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Dee xx




supreet khanna(non-registered)
Hi Dee great tips regarding When to use your phone camera i like it and found very useful information
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