The best camera is the phone you have with you.

There’s an old photography adage that ‘the best camera you have, is the camera you have with you’. In other words, it’s no use bemoaning the fact that you don’t have your $5,000 camera as a Yeti rides past on a Segway…you need to use whatever you have at your disposal to capture this moment!
For the last 10 years this ‘camera you have with you’ has been a phone camera, and over the last 10 years the phone camera has evolved from ‘if you squint you can kinda see what I was trying to capture’ to ‘this is only half as bad as I would have done with my proper camera’. But last weekend I went for an overnight hike with my family at Wilson’s Prom, and my iPhone got promoted to ‘this is the only camera I need!’
So I thought I’d write a quick blog post about how it felt to take my proper camera gear with me…and never take it out of its case.

‘So I just push this button?’

There is a very specific feeling of dread that happens when someone offers to take a photo with your camera. Invariably this will be when you’re taking a group shot, and someone will say ‘Hey, do you want me to take the photo?’ Sadly, societal norms mean that you can’t respond by saying ‘That depends…are you going to f*&# this up?’ So instead you will switch all your settings to ‘auto’ and say ‘Just press this button. No, not that button…this button’. Then they will hold the camera at arm’s length as if it’s a feral cat that’s trying to maul them to death…will press a button other than the one that you told them to…will frame the photo so that it’s only your upper-bodies and 3kms of sky above you…and when you look at the photo, while everyone else is smiling, you have a look of ‘WTAF are you doing?!’ on your face.
But put a phone in their hands, and people will happily snap a series of in focus, nicely framed images where you are actually smiling…like this one!

About to embark on our first family overnight hike

‘OK guys…just hang on a second, Dad’s just going to take a photo’

You had best believe that any time this sentence is uttered…the response is a series of groans.
Worst of all, these groans are 100% justified. Because the translation of the sentence is actually ‘Hang on for five minutes while Dad breaks any momentum that we’d generated so that he can unpack his camera, then decide he needs to change lenses, then get increasinly angry as no-one is able to re-create the happy scene that had inspired him to take out his camera five minutes ago’. But with a phone, you can simply take out the camera as you walk and get the shot.

On the way to Sealer’s Cove
On the boardwalk pt 1
On the boardwalk pt 2
Bowl of porridge…and a bowl of coffee. Camping done right!
Zero fear of wading through water to take the shot.

Yes, but Chris, I’m an artist!!

Of course you are! And you will not be able to take epic landscape shots that you can blow up and print for your wall…or take tack-sharp portraits…but DAMN you can get pretty close!!!

Wide-angled black and white. Would I have loved to have had a dancer creating a similar shadow next to this branch? Yes…but dancers were very thin on the ground at Sealer’s Cove
Pano mode in the morning
Crystal clear reflections
Trees and reflections of trees
More early morning shots. Pano mode with the wide-angle
The old ‘get them to stand inside a burnt-out log and look towards the sky’ shot.
The morning sun was breaking through the foliage in this one spot, so exposing the shot for that bright light made everything else fall off into darkness…or I carried a softbox and strobe for the entire hike in the hope of getting this shot. You decide.

Photos on the run

There may be times when I decide that it’s worth carrying the extra weight of my proper camera on a hike or bike ride…but there is NO chance I’m carrying a camera when I’m out for a run. Because I simply don’t need to make that any harder than it already is. But at the same time, I tend to do most of my running in the early morning as the sun comes up, and there have been many times that I’d wished I had a decent camera with me. Now I’ve got the best of both worlds. Now I can carry my phone, listen to podcasts, and if hypothetically speaking, there were an incredible sunrise…or a wallaby…or I see that the rest of family are about to paddle of up a river…I can take a shot!

Up the creek…with paddles
Pretty sure I’m being watched
Sunrise over Tidal River
Never pass up an opportunity to get a photo of a wombat

So there you go. I don’t intend this to be an advertorial for any phone in particular…nor am I about to sell my Fuji gear. But what a time to be alive when I can get these sorts of photos out of the same device that I can also ignore your phone calls on!

One thought on “The best camera is the phone you have with you.”

  1. But does it have XLR inputs?

    Jokes aside, I couldn’t agree more. We are pretty much at the stage where phones have taken the place of many video cameras too.

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