What’s in my camera bag? Part 5: iPhone 6s

Ok, I’ll admit it. This one’s more often in my pocket than my camera bag itself, but like most people nowadays my smartphone follows me wherever I go, and, like most people’s, sees frequent use as a camera and camcorder.

Despite the shortcomings of its operating system (and boy, what a shortcoming getting photos from Windows Phone onto a MacBook really was…), the move from Nokia Lumia 930 (with its 20mp Carl Zeiss Pureview lens and optical image stabilisation) to iPhone 6s (12mp with digital image stabilisation) was essentially a downgrade (see examples below for comparison), but considering I reach for my “real” analog and digital cameras for more serious photography bits and pieces, reserving phone cameras for capturing impromptu adventures on the fly, or while out and about doing other things (such as on dog walks, at social events, anywhere larger cameras are unwelcome or impractical, or while doing sport [though it has been superseded by my action cam for all things extreme since shattering a pocketed Nokia on a failed flat bar boardslide]; see examples below).

 

 

It never ceases to amaze me when I think back to my first “camera phone”, a touch over a decade ago, and how far we’ve come since. Perhaps it’s the old-school’s fear of the unknown, a marketing push from manufacturers of digital cameras, or some photographers’ fear that our beloved art form is being “cheapened”, but I have noticed that many act as if photos taken on a phone are somehow less of an art and more of a function. But, differences in hardware aside, I would argue all forms of digital photography share the same (potentially) artificial and/or disposable nature; whether DSLR or mobile phone, we can now edit photos more drastically, quickly, and easily than ever before (and, in the case of a phone, often from within the camera itself), and take an essentially limitless number of photos in the blink of an eye for that “perfect shot”, simply discarding the ones we dislike later.

Whilst in my opinion, as you’ll know if you’ve read the rest of my camera bag series, digital cameras just can’t replace the satisfaction of unwrapping a new roll, (in some cases) manually winding film, being limited to a certain number of shots (making choosing when and what to shoot as much of an art as composition), the exciting wait to get shots developed, and ultimately being able to enjoy the physical fruits of your labour: your negatives and prints. But aside from the pleasure I gain from these almost fetishistic rituals and ability to obtain a particular aesthetic authentically and without the need for post-processing (don’t get me wrong, it’s undoubtedly an art form unto itself, just one I have little time for), I personally think the photo, not the camera, should do the talking. After all, people said something similar about synthesisers, yet music hasn’t died; television, yet radio hasn’t died; and most relevantly, digital cameras, yet here we are, still talking photography in 2017, some time (42 years) after Kodak developed the first digital camera in 1975…

 

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What’s in my camera bag? Part 1: Overview

Like many people, I like to carry a bag with me almost everywhere I go. Beyond being pretty handy for carrying reading materials on long train journeys, a raincoat (oh the joys of living in Blighty), or stowing away purchases while out shopping, my favourite rucksack (with its well hidden laptop slip, very large central compartment, and two outer pockets) also lets me carry my entire photography kit with me wherever I go.


Left to right: 2011 MacBook Pro (still going strong!), Canon Powershot A590 IS, “Explorer Nocturne” Diana F+ (1 of a Lomography special edition run of 1000) and flash with colour filters, mini telescopic tripod with phone and action cam mounts, notebook (by Muji; for camera settings and photo locations, dates, and times), Akaso EK7000, iPhone 6s, chest mount harness (with action camera, mobile phone, and camera tripod head screw options; action camera mount pictured).

I am sure many will be quick to notice the absence of a (D)SLR (often so bulky that one can easily occupy a similar amount of bag-space to my entire current kit combined): an absence that is not just practicality- or financially-motivated, but also personal choice formed over a decade of photography, but more on that later. Whilst some items (the notebook, tripod, and mounts) need little introduction and even less discussion (though the value of a notebook, particularly for analogue photography, should never be underestimated), over the course of the coming post series I will be going into depth on each part of my kit and how I like to use them, illustrated with examples of my work.

 


Apple iPhone 6s – Nami (with adjustments using Apple’s in-house editing tools).

 

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Canon A590 IS – Nami (no post-processing).

 

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Diana F+ – Nami (400 ISO colour-negative 120 film with blue flash, no post-processing).

 

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Akaso EK7000 – Gloria (no post-processing). I very rarely use the photo mode on this camera due to its fish-eye lens, the lack of any kind of zoom, and the very limited camera settings, but it does step up to the plate in dirty, sandy, and wet environments (the worst enemies of a typical photo camera).

 

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