When I started packing for DevDays, I planned to bring my point-and-shoot camera with me, but as my packing got underway, I realized that the charger for that camera had gone missing. I was really bummed at first. After some swearing and several “it could be there” moments, I gave up. I decided that it would be a worthwhile experiment to pack only the camera I have with me every day: my iPhone.
And seeing as I was putting silly constraints on myself anyway, I would not only take the photos on my phone but also edit and share them from the phone. Time to put device convergence to the test.
First and foremost, my iPhone 3Gs. I don’t think a lot of the image processing would be tolerable on older hardware. And, after a bit of informal research, the following apps:
- Best Camera
They cost about $10 altogether, so no big investment there if you decide you want to play around. For the super cost-conscious folks out there you can get by with just Best Camera and Photogene. ColorSplash and TiltShiftGen have much more niche uses, but they are pretty fun apps and can produce some cool results.
A Few Tips
After shooting, editing and tweeting for a few days, I ran into a few snags that can be overcome with some settings magic.
- Make sure that Best Camera is set to save a copy of the original image to your photo library (Settings > Auto-Save Original > On)
- Set the “Working Size” to “Original Size” in Best Camera (Settings > Working Size > Original Size)
The first setting allows you to completely replace your iPhone camera app if you are planning on shooting and editing at the same time. If you are shooting first and editing later, stick with the built-in camera app, it’s a bit snappier. The second setting ensures that your edited photos save at the same resolution as your originals. This is important if you plan to use them for something other than display on your iPhone, or sharing via Twitter.
Just to give you a better idea of the quality using default settings, I am using the on-phone compressed versions of the images in the gallery below. In general, the uncompressed images are better, but I haven’t synced all of them with my computer just yet. So, that show-and-tell will have to wait.
The limitations of the camera made me think about ways to get closer to my subjects, and I wound up with some pretty interesting photographs. The on-camera editing meant instant gratification whereas some pictures have languished on my compact flash cards for weeks before editing. It was kind of a game to take, edit, and share the photos (via Twitter) as quickly as possible. The prize being getting feedback from people that liked the photos just as quickly.
I was also more engaged with my surroundings. I find the when I have my SLR, I spend a lot of time looking through the lens and framing shots, adjusting settings, and just thinking about photography ‘stuff’. The act of taking a photograph engages a lot of the technical bits of my brain, and I lose some of the sense of being present. That was mitigated in a noticeable way shooting with a one button camera and editing with my thumbs.
The limitations of the iPhone took some of the pressure off and made for some happy accidents (the lights in the picture of the Pike Street Market). I did miss the fidelity of a really good camera for some of the photos, as well as the flexibility that good glass can bring to low-light shooting. In general though, I was happy to pay that price. In fact, I am seriously considering doing this again for my next trip to San Francisco to attend the Business of Software conference.