The world of shooting and sharing photos has changed a lot in the last 5 years. The size of the screen that you view your photos on is getting increasingly smaller and the line between phone camera and amazing image quality is becoming increasingly blurry. I travel quite a bit and I have constantly been on the hunt for the perfect travel camera, and as loads of mega pixels become more and more portable, I struggle with whether its even worth it to bring a larger format camera or even a point and shoot camera on a trip with me. I took a couple of trips the first quarter of 2013 and decided to do a comparison of the Canon EOSM vs the iPhone 5 to give myself and hopefully you, the reader, a little clarity as to whether or not your smart phone camera is really all it's cracked up to be, and to answer the question, "Is shooting on a superior image really worth it, if at the end of the day people are only experiencing your photos on a 4 X 2.5 inch screen? "
Let's start with the Canon EOSM. The only, and I repeat ONLY, thing I look for when buying a camera is image quality, all other factors are secondary. Why? Because that is the point of shooting photos, to capture the best images possible. While the Canon EOSM may not be a full on pocket camera it packs a massive sensor given its very small size. It is unmatched in my testing by any other mirror-less camera on the market. It does have some pretty major flaws in the autofocus department but that can be over looked when you get home look to at your photos and realize that they came out of a camera that fits in your coat pocket.
This really is my favorite camera Ive ever traveled with for its size to image quality ratio. The auto focus is a really big flaw, but it should be fixable with a firmware update.
Lately, I've really had a hard time convincing myself to carry around a full on camera on trips because my iPhone really does take great photos. I also really like the challenge of shooting on the iPhone. It's easy to make a photo look good with great glass, and a huge sensor, but its much more of a challenge to make something great with your iPhone. That said, the sensor is still VERY! small, and really has a lot of room to grow as far as image quality goes. I think its important to remember that we are talking about a cell phone camera for gods sake. These images are border line printable, not that it matters in 2013, but still, its pretty amazing what your phone can pump out these days. So as far as a travel camera goes and documenting your trips I really do find it increasingly hard to justify carrying around any other camera than whats in my pocket.
Photos taken and edited in the iPhone with Afterglow
This is so low because the EOSM images are obviously, massively superior to the iPhone images.
I have a feeling that in the very near future all cameras will have more of an iPhone style interface and will be able to connect to your various sharing portals instantly, like the Samsung android camera which is a nice step in the right direction. Until then, we are stuck with cameras that deliver great image quality but have an amazingly cumbersome means of sharing your photos. Enter the Canon ESOM. An amazingly portable camera with literally a big fat ZERO on the shareability scale when you compare it to the iPhone.
I am officially giving every single camera that doesn't have access to the internet a zero from now on, because it's really time that this happens.
This is where the iPhone really shines in this competition. Another reason I have not been shooting traditional cameras as of late is because the process to actually share those images takes so long. With the iPhone I can shoot the photo and have it on Instagram within minutes. Any other process demands multiple machines, cords, e-mails sent back and forth with your photos. Basically a bunch of 2005 style bull shit. The other thing I think that needs to be accounted for is screen size. Most of my photos are shared phone to phone now. I'm rarely viewing people's images on a bigger screen than an iPad, unless I'm on a site at work and even still I'm not able to view them at maximum res.
While this, I would say, is the worlds best optimized machine for sharing photos, as a photographer I really don't want my images being experienced on such a small screen. An iPad at the very least would be ideal, but taking photos with your iPad is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.
I am of the opinion that the point and shoot camera market is basically over. Yea there are some really nice ones out there, but do you really need another thing in your pocket? For me, I need options and lenses in a small package. The EOSM comes with a couple really durable lenses as well as a solid body. I just throw it into my travel bag without a case and I'm ready to go. It's basically the size of a point and shoot width wise and you can go as big or as small as you want it to be. Again, I'm not trying to put this in my pants pocket but it's so small that I forget I have it on me most of the time.
I think to date this is really a great portable camera but I do think Canon could make it smaller with better glass.
This is really where the iPhone takes the cake for me. Even though the phone function of the iPhone is pretty much 3rd or 4th on your actual priority list of what you use an iPhone for, it forces you to have it on you literally 100% of the time, every single day. For this reason it is the camera I shoot with 99% of my photos with. It's also where point and shoots can't compete. As the iPhone gets thinner and thinner and the images get better and better than entire point and shoot market will basically disappear except for the high-end photographer who wants something like the EOSM, or the Sony RX1.
The canon EOSM shoots video in ideal lighting scenarios about as good as the original 7d. Which at this point is basically total shit in my opinion. That said I have actually used it in emergency situations as a back up camera and it worked for its purpose. But again, Being able to shoot 7d quality footage in this size of a camera is pretty unbelievable, even though I'm totally jaded as to what good footage is.
For the average traveler you could shoot video and stills of your vacation and really get some solid stuff to show your friends and fam.
Video on the iPhone is complete shit, which is why I did not take the time to make something because it's really not even worth reviewing.
The only reason I even give this any points is because it is producing full HD video and again IT'S A CELL PHONE!!!! ( yes I'm yelling at you right now )
IPHONE Wins By .5 %!!!
I think what needs to be taken into consideration here is that there is no " perfect travel camera "……yet. I read somewhere that if a camera gives you 80% of what you're looking for, that's about as good as its going to get. While I will still bring my small mirror-less cameras with me on trips where I want to capture superior images on, I do think the iPhone and smart phones in general are really getting close to making a lot of cameras obsolete, and to me, that's really exciting. While I don't think larger format cameras will ever disappear, I do think the need for general consumers to have them will diminish quite a bit. Which is good for professionals because having nice equipment a lot of times is what can get you the job over someone who uses pro-sumer grade products, But that's an entirely different post for a different time.
So the lesson here is don't feel bad if all you have to shoot with on a trip is your iPhone, chances are your just going to put your photos on Instagram anyways, and at that point who really cares about image quality if the end-user is only going to see a 2 inch wide version of your photo.