“You’re part of the problem now.” is what a friend jokingly told me when I sent him a post the Phoblographer made on Instagram recently. We showed off product images of the new Vinta Type II backpack since we received a prototype in the mail. During my testing, I decided I’d try something totally new and different: shooting product images with my new Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Now, I’ve shot product images with phones before but I never thought they could really compete with dedicated cameras at all. Part of that is due to the way flash and lighting work. Even natural lighting couldn’t do enough justice to the product images we shot. But cameraphones have had a very long time to mature and these days I think that, with the right light, they’re incredibly capable. In fact, they’re so capable that the iPhone finally gave me product images I’m seriously content with.
To create these images, what I did was use the iPhone 8 Plus’ portrait mode and adjusted the lighting setting. For the most part, it did the best job by on the natural lighting setting. The iPhone told me to be around eight feet away from my subject and to just shoot. Then it did what it does to create that faux bokeh effect which works well enough in this case. After shooting the images, they were ported to RNI Films, edited a bit, and sent off to Instagram. I should also mention that NYC’s two hour long golden hour is also a big help when shooting photos like this.
I sent a message to a number of journalists and friends of mine, who all agreed that the iPhone did a pretty good job. Almost 10 years ago we never could have imagined that a phone could take photos this great. But 10 years previous to that, we almost could have never imagined that digital photography would have been that good either. Many years prior to that, large and medium format photographers scoffed at 35mm small format film, but it became the standard.
Now does this mean that I’m going to shoot all our product images with an iPhone? No, not at all. It all depends on the creative needs. For one, I genuinely dislike constant light, and any chance that I get I’m trying to overpower it to give me the look I want and not the one it dictates. iPhones have wireless flash triggers, but I have yet to really test some of them out.
If you’re still against using mobile phones to create better images, I highly encourage you to start changing the way you think.