What ‘Shot on iPhone’ Means to Me

The Featured Image demonstrates some of iPhone 13 Pro‘s photographic limitations. I used the telephoto lens for this pic of surfers and the San Diego coastline from Ocean Beach Pier, today. The small sensor simply can’t capture crisp detail the way a real camera can. For comparison, consider this surfer shot, which I took using Fujifilm X100F on April 1, 2017; see post “A Day at the (Pacific) Beach“.

The X100F packs an APC-S sensor and my Leica Q2 a full-frame, which capture greater detail, more light, and superior dynamic range. Apple promotes “Shot on iPhone”, which is a clever marketing campaign. Unquestionably, capable hands can produce some stunning photography from the smartphone. But the physics favor the cameras. Biology is analogy enough. Someone 2 meters (6 feet, 6 inches) tall could easily outplay someone my height—1.7 meters (5 feet, 6 inches)—on the basketball court. Height and reach are advantages, like larger electronic sensors.

So while the 77mm focal length of iPhone 13 Pro is useful, on different days I got better results from the X100F’s 23mm (35mm film equivalent) lens and cropping in when editing. That said, I am not dissatisfied with what the Apple device made so much as being more satisfied using Q2. Better to capture something than nothing at all, and Apple made the day.

I absolutely will continue to shoot with iPhone but more often will favor the camera. Each tool has its place, and with time and practice—to learn limitations and idiosyncrasies—maybe I can produce worthy iPhone 13 Pro art. Someday, perhaps.

Photo vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/1179 sec, 28mm; 12:37 p.m. PST.