My last visit to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah was in pre-iPhone days. My, how things have changed. I went to Bryce on a landscape shoot this week with my usual semi-pro equipment: Canon 5D, Manfrotto tripod and the usual gaggle of batteries, timers and other esoterica.
I was especially interested in seeing if people were toting different equipment in the age of the smartphone. I expected to see Android and iPhones snapping away, while the pros and semi-pros were hanging on to their expensive DSLRs.
It wasn't quite what I expected. I saw a lot of iPhones in the crowds of people gathered at the rim of Bryce Canyon waiting for the sunset. I saw a couple of Android phones, but there could have been more. I walked up to a large group of young girls from Tennessee and asked how many were using iPhones? Every hand went up. I asked them if they were still using their old point-and-shoot cameras, and everyone had dropped them for an iPhone. The main reason? Instagram and other photo sharing services. No one mentioned Apple's Photo Stream. You just can't get photos to friends with a point-and-shoot. None of those girls were into editing photos, it was mostly shoot and send.
I asked about the iPhone HDR feature. The most frequent answer was "huh?". More marketing needed by Cupertino. I showed some of the people up there how easy it was to activate HDR, and let them compare the results. Sunset at Bryce Canyon is the perfect place for HDR. All were amazed, so I helped create some new converts.
The biggest surprise were the pro and semi-pro shooters. Many had iPhones, which they would take out of a pocket for a moment, usually to shoot a panorama. One woman with a big Nikon said she loved her camera, but there was nothing like capturing a quick panorama with the iPhone. Easy to do, plenty of megapixels, and easy to send. A guy from Georgia with all kinds of pro equipment told me the same thing.
So here I was at one of the most beautiful scenery in the world and iPhones were everywhere. Young, old, novice, semi-pro and some pros.
It's amazing that a company trying to make a better cellular phone has had such an impact on photography. Planning or accident? How about you? Have you dropped your point and shoot for an iPhone? And those of you with DSLRs, are you tempted to haul your iPhone out at times too? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.