Call me a narna if you will, but I just don’t get it! What’s up with iPhones and photography!? Or “iPhonography” – which is an abomination of a word, and coincidentally therefore well-suited to my point.
Before I go any further, this is not some nerdy I-have-a-Samsung-Galaxy-Cell-Phone-and-therefore-iPhones-suck rant, nor is it a technophobe’s frustrated lash at evolution. It’s a poke at common sense, which once again seems to have nodded off and is perhaps in need of a bit of a stir.
OK, so, truth be told, I love the fact that my cell phone has the same number of megapixels as my DSLR. It means I’ve (usually) always got a camera with me to snap those things that are not quite DSLR-worthy, or that are better suited to the fast-paced-share-everything-you-see-and-eat-on-Twitter culture that we’ve suddenly found ourselves in. …or for when I just couldn’t be bothered to be carrying around my bulky camera rig!
Fantastic! Cell phone cameras rule! And for many reasons, they are not merely a luxury, but for anyone who has a glimmer of interest in taking pictures, they’re now indispensable. So let’s tick the box that reads: “Design cell phones that take decent quality photographs”!
There! We have it. The human race has crossed yet another technological threshold! Pat on the back. It is done. What’s next?
But, no…. Some people have to take it a step further by designing (and of course selling and making lot of money out of…) additional gadgets that consumers can attach to their iPhones to get a number of “advantages” over and above the simple straight-out-of-the-box iPhone.
One can now buy additional lenses to shoot wider angles (like a regular camera does), or to shoot narrower angles (like a regular camera), or close-ups (like a regular…ok you get where I’m going with this.). One can buy housings that have contoured grips and dedicated shutter buttons to make the iPhone easier to hold while shooting and make it feel and look more like… you guessed it – a regular camera. One can even buy attachments that allow iPhones to have huge SLR lenses attached to them so that one can get DSLR-like optical performance (and bulk!) from them.
So what exactly are we trying to prove here? Because, I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it at all. On one hand, you have a really nice, sleek phone that can send and receive e-mails, play music, browse the internet, tweet and burp the baby. It also takes really-not-bad-at-all photographs. Plus it fits in your pocket so that you have a little piece of every other proper gadget that you might own with you at all times. Basically – sad to say this – it’s the Modern Man’s Swiss army knife.
On the other hand, if you want something done properly, and you’ve got the proper tool available to you, why wouldn’t you just use that instead? I mean, yes, I could probably renovate an entire Victorian Mansion by MacGyvering everything from the electrical system to paving the driveway using nothing more than my trusty Leatherman, if I had to. But, really? Where are my power tools? Give me a hammer, a drill and staple gun and let’s get this job done properly.
Ok, you buy your iPhone – so now you have a really cool phone for 500 bucks. Fair enough. Then you buy Will.I.am’s (Stupid name!) new iPhone attachment, the V.4, for a further $480 (I kid you not! Check it out.) and you can transform your iPhone into a funky look-at-me camera and carry it wherever you go, and photograph everything, and share it with everyone so that you stand out from the crowd, just like all your friends.
Let me dial back the sarcasm a bit; let’s give credit where credit is possibly due, and assume that you purchase such a gimmick… I mean “genuinely practical photographic accessory”, because you are in fact serious about your photography, attach it to your iPhone, and start shooting away in earnest.
…and then your phone rings.
Erm… now you have no choice but to wave goodbye to that once in a lifetime Pulitzer-prize-winning moment as you watch your screen’s display turn from the instant before your first-born enters the world, to the call-answer screen, which has a picture of your mom on it, who is calling to ask you how it’s going.
You have two choices: forget the shot and take the call, in which case you’re now holding your flashy camera to your ear, talking to it and getting a lot of weird looks, and possibly being approached by concerned looking orderlies. Or you might choose to forgo this scenario by keeping the phone and the housing separate at all times until you need it to take pictures; in which case you’ll then be carrying around your iPhone as well as an otherwise useless, bulky, $480 compact-camera-sized attachment at all times.
In case I have to spell it out, it makes better sense to simply get a decent compact camera instead. Yes, by all means, get an iPhone – they are brilliant. But why, oh why, would one want to make it less brilliant, compromise one’s picture-taking opportunities, and complicate one’s life by trying to turn it into something which it is not? Get a real camera instead! You’re guaranteed to get better results, and probably at half the price too. You’ll have twice the gadgets to brag about, and you’ll never have to look like a prat while you miss shots to take calls on your camera.
In this era of absolute freedom of expression, especially in the word of fashion, we’re encouraged to believe that we can have and be whatever our hearts desire, and that the lines between things are really all quite blurry. There’s the notion that, therefore, there really is no difference between one thing and the next, and that it will all become merged in some way: men can dress like women, women can dress with men and anyone can sleep with anyone else.
While that might seem to be the case sometimes, back in the real world, things actually work a bit differently. There are reasons why we don’t build television sets into car steering wheels, and why it’s unlikely that your lawnmower will ever be able to receive faxes. Some things are simply poor combinations. Other combinations might work well to a certain extent, but then no further. I’m guessing this is why Apple themselves have never brought any of the photographic accessories onto the market. Being of sound mind, they’ve simply developed an all-in-one cellphone camera that is as good and as versatile as is practically possible, and left it at that.
It is the innovative inventors of gimmicks that are filling the gap between those who are looking for something which is “fun and quirky” and those who are stupid and naïve and will probably pay anything to buy something which has no real value, simply because a musician put their name on it.
But then again, I just don’t get it. So maybe I’m missing something.
What do you think?
Image credits: Photographs by Gerald Gonzales/The Telegraph
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