The Camera You Have With You - Counterpoint

Posted by Justin Case — 6 Jul 2012

I came across a blog the other day, written by Marco Arment (the creator of Instapaper and former lead developer of Tumblr).

In his blog post, entitled "The camera you have with you", Marco took something of a counterpoint to a line in a recent post by our own Cathaleen Curtiss, in which she stated:

Years ago in photojournalism school I learned, "The best camera is the one you have with you."

Now, to be fair, that post was about so much more than that phrase, focusing on making images with whatever equipment you have and will take with you... making sure that you don't miss the shot for lack of a camera.

Marco's point, though, was that - as much as he loves his iPhone - it is great at making images, but mostly NOT images meant for high-resolution viewing beyond a 3.5" screen (or printing?).


In his post, he laments:

As part of my 2012 computer-setup shuffle, I also replaced my laptop with a Retina MacBook Pro, and the first thing it screams for is a high-resolution desktop wallpaper. Great, I thought, I'll just use one of my photos. (On my desktop, I use a solid gray background, but on my laptop, I like to have a bit of fun. And it would be a crime to put a solid gray background on that screen.)

Almost nothing I've shot since 2010 is usable.

The Rebel photos look decent. The 5D Mark II photos look great. But photos from the iPhone 4, and even from the 4S, don't hold up. They look fine on a 3.5-inch screen, but they look terrible on my big desktop monitor and abysmal on the Retina MacBook Pro.

Most of my favorite photos from the last two years only look good on small screens.

I strongly encourage you to read his entire post, as there's a great highlight of his progression from a Rebel XTi, to a 5D Mark II and then the iPhone 4 and 4S.


He concludes with:

For me, this is a wake-up call. I'm going to try carrying the 5D with me a lot more often... and when I'm in the house, I'm going to reach for it instead of my iPhone much more often than the current rate of "almost never".

Because as fun as it is to share iPhone photos conveniently on Instagram, that can't be my only photography: I also need some photos that won't look like shit when I look back on them in the future.

I think that the reality is, we all need to know what we want out of the cameras we carry.  I know that I, for one, only shoot my phone camera when I have nothing else on hand.  I carry my DSLR when I know I want to have solid shots (kids' sporting events or school programs, vacation shots at tourist destinations, etc.).  When the DSLR is too much to carry, I have a great little Canon point-and-shoot that does great and has a decent zoom. Great pocket camera that still grabs very nice, high-res shots.  My phone cam gets pulled out when I'm caught empty-handed of otherwise more capable equipment.

We're interested to hear your thoughts on this... sound off below!

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