Do you still need a digital camera?

I recently took part in a photo walk around Wolverhampton (a city in the West Midlands, UK). It was organised by Wolves Photo Fest and in conjunction with Black Country Type.

The aim of the walk was to spot the various signs and other smaller details around the city centre and look at things normally missed by most of the public.

I normally shoot with my Sony a6500, but this event was aimed at purely phone photography. About 15 fellow photographers took to the streets to see what we could find.

Now here is the thing. I normally don’t feel happy with my phone shots – I shoot with an iPhone 7 Plus – not a shabby phone, but my comparison to a Sony with decent glass in front – it feels positively basic. I was well out of my comfort zone.

So with my expectations low and my nerves high, we set out. I decided I’d shoot my images in Lightroom CC on my phone (part of my Adobe CC subscription). This allowed me to shoot in RAW (DNG) format – hopefully allowing me some extra detail in my shots and allow for pushing of highlights and shadows a little more. It also gives me the equivalent of shutter priority mode – I can adjust ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation and more. Much more creative than the standard iPhone camera app.

We walked the streets for about ninety minutes and what became immediately apparent was how liberating it was to not have a massive camera (by comparison) around my neck. I was able to walk around and point my camera at crowds, people and anything that I liked the look of and not a single person looked at me with a disapproving look.

So why? I guess the reason becomes apparent with a moment to reflect. We are all so used to seeing people glued to their smartphones and taking selfies/photos that we have become immune to these type of photos being taken around us. It’s only when a photographer starts taking photos on a “proper” camera that we feel that our privacy has been eroded and people get weary of us.

It’s certainly encouraged me to think a little more about how phone photography will grow in the future. My wife’s new phone has a 5 x optical zoom – impressive on a device that hasn’t grown in size. The image quality is still good and it produces some amazing photos already. So in 5 years time I can only imagine how much better smartphone cameras will be.

Are we at an age where most people won’t need a camera other than their phones? Are we entering the death of consumer cameras? Leaving only higher end prosumer and professional cameras for people to purchase.

It’s an interesting road ahead either way. With more technology and better sensors being developed on all levels I really am excited to see how social photography will change going forward.

Below are a few shots I took from the day, all shot, edited and this entire article written on a smartphone.

What are your thoughts? Do you only shoot on your smartphone. Leave comments below!

If you’d like to see more photos from the walk then click here to view them on Instagram.

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