iPhone Street Photography

I found myself using my cameras less and less since I got the iPhone 4s.

The iPhone 4s did not produce better quality images than any of my cameras, but it’s fun to use and convenient to carry around. Those were the reasons for me to decide to shoot the Lunar New Year Celebration in Los Angeles Chinatown last weekend with my iPhone 4s. The only limitation I found shooting with the 4s was its short life battery. With the battery fully charged—3G, Audio Equalizer, WiFi, background apps, Notifications, Ping, Fetch New Data, Push Mail, Bluetooth turned off and Airplane Mode turned on—the 4s allowed me to snap and edit close to 100 shots in tadaa app.

The ability to apply filters to photos with apps like Instagram, tadaa and Hipstamatic was probably the most appealing feature of the iPhone cameras. The look of old antique film cameras, frames, scratchy and bw effects made the iPhone a fun camera to use. However, the immediacy of the tadaa app made it a more suitable app for street photography.

By default, the iPhone 4s had an inaccurate color profile. Its color profile seemed to be exaggerated to draw out the most striking colors in pictures rather than being true to life. I noticed that it enhanced foliage green, lilac, teal, burgundy and purple colors. This wasn’t my main concern since I mostly used desaturated filters or shot in black and white.

The 4s couldn’t give razor sharp photos, but they’re a lot crisper than some point-n-shoot cameras out there. Its tiny, f/2.4 fixed 35mm equivalent lens, was decently bright by compact standards. The new lens performed quite well at sunset and under artificial light. Shadow and highlight details were significantly improved comparing to its predecessors. I believed there were no other cell phone sported better lens and larger aperture than the iPhone 4s at this moment.

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

• Five Tips

  • Full Battery
    Regardless of what Apple affirmed about iPhone battery longevity, I say its battery life sucks big time when the iPhone camera is constantly in use. Depending on the app you use, how bright you set your screen and how long you keep your screen on, you’ll find your battery last somewhere between 1½ to 2 hours. To preserve the battery life, I recommend you to set the screen brightness to auto, close all the apps which ran in the background as well as turning off Ping, Fetch New Data, 3G, Audio Equalizer, WiFi, Notifications, Vibration, Push Mail, Bluetooth and turning the Airplane Mode on. Since iPhone uses more power in areas with low or no coverage, it’d consume more battery when coverage is bad. By enabling Airplane Mode, it helps to consume less battery.
  • Keep the Lens Clean
    Even a small smudge or a fingerprint on the teeny lens will effect the quality of your photos. To clean the iPhone’s lens, do not use Charmin or Kleenex in spite of how soft they claim their paper is—you don’t want to risk scratching and permanently damaging your precious lens. I use the microfiber polishing cloth that comes with my iPhone.
  • Shoot Where the Sun Shines
    The camera app on the iPhone 4s is pretty much automatic. It only allows you to control some shooting parameters, so adjusting ISO sensitivity is out of the question. Although the noise performance is pretty decent on the 4s, I suggest that you avoid using the iPhone 4s where lighting condition is bad—especially, when you shoot color. Remember, “Darkness is your camera’s enemy.”
  • Shoot on “Release”
    The iPhone 4s will only capture the shot when you release its shutter. A feature that I find most useful for candid shots. You can also use the volume on your headset to trigger a burst shot with the iPhone’s camera. Any Bluetooth device that allows you to control the iPhone’s volume would give you the same effect.
  • Walk by Shooting
    With the shutter button press and hold, get closer to your subject and release the shutter to capture a better candid shot. Don’t afraid of blurry images. iPhone camera app is known for unusual wave or jelly like movements when you move the iPhone while taking photos or taking photos of moving objects. Be creative, take this as an advantage and create some interesting effects with your photos.

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

2012 © Optical Collimator

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About Kris Phan

I'm not a photographer. I'm a camera user. View all posts by Kris Phan

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