Every so often, someone at a traditional media outlet discovers that the iPhone takes photos, and uses their newfound insight to declare the death of every other camera out there. This week, it’s the Wall Street Journal’s turn (“Is the iPhone the Only Camera You Need?”). Far be it from me to knock the iPhone for its photography capabilites,* but I hardly think that a camera phone — no matter how much it’s improved — is a match for an SLR or even a Micro 4/3 camera in terms of versatility or image quality. This isn’t some kind of elitism on my part; it’s simple physics, especially now that phone makers are trying to squeeze more pixels onto very tiny imaging chips. For all author Kevin Sintumuang’s breathless prose (up to and including that the iPhone will make you feel like “Terry Richardson and Ansel Adams rolled into one.” After all, it’s got Hipstamatic), saying that the iPhone will replace everything out there is like saying the George Foreman Grill is a more than adequate substitute for a Weber.
In the meantime, Byte — which, unlike the WSJ, tries to stay au courant, if not somewhat ahead of the curve — seems to have decreed the iPhone passe (“Lytro: The Next Big Thing in Photography”). Todd Ogasawara has an in-depth review of the camera, which combines minimalism and simplicity with the innovation that it allows you to choose the focal point in your photo after the fact. That’s the good news. Among the bad news: as Ogasawara points out, this is still very much a “1.0 product.” Some of his gripes come off as trivial (he doesn’t like the squarish aspect ratio of the photos), but some of the others are anything but (like the fact that PC users are, for the time being, left in the dark).
Wired unplugs for a feature on a small Indiana newspaper whose photojournalism can and does go toe-to-toe with the big guys, all while resisting an online presence (“Small Paper Prioritizes Photography, Wins Awards“). At a time when many local papers — including those with national readership — are struggling to get back into the black, author Jakob Schiller notes that “[…]a strong local readership and the family structure of the paper have prevented a precipitous decline. Rumbach says the paper has had no layoffs and has given the staff a raise each year.” While I don’t think that photojournalism, even when very well done, as seems to be the case here, is a panacea, it’s certainly encouraging to see a paper with strong local ties fall back on solid local reporting rather than puff pieces, and seeing that commitment rewarded in the bottom line.
newjerseynewsroom’s Wendy Ekuah Quansah reports that Temple University student Ian Van Kuyk can be added to the long list of photographers arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights (Temple student photographer arrested for snapping police). The lesson in this, as it’s been so many times before, is twofold. Know your rights as a photographer. Just don’t expect that the police will know, or honor, those rights.
Finally, from the Not Necessarily the News desk: The Huffington Post features a piece by Canadian photographer Peter Carroll (Creativity Exercises) that’s a great tool for breaking out of the periodic slumps that beset us all as photographers. While longtime readers of this blog (both of you) will recognize some of the advice given, there’s plenty of wisdom there, alongside some lovely photos.
*I’d much rather knock it for the trail of dead in its wake