I take a lot of photos on my iPhone. It's a fantastic camera for it's always with me and it takes great pictures. Over the years, the quality of the iPhone camera has grown so much on me that I could well consider it my only camera.
For a while, however, I have been the owner of a Fujifilm X100T and as a "photographer", I wouldn't want to live without it. It's purist at first glance - fixed lens, no zoom, small body - yet it is amazingly powerful. It can make your big-ass DSLR obsolete. I finally bought it last year after ages of consideration since its first iteration (the original X100) came out. Better late than never.
It's a beautiful camera with outstanding capabilities and it has reinvigorated my spirit for photography in a sense that I never thought it would. I am emotionally attached to this camera and I haven't regretted the considerable amount of money I paid for it.
You know how they say it's not about the camera that makes the photographer? Don't think that you can just buy your way towards better pictures or that new gear will solve your problems. But as much as I love my iPhone as a camera, there is a certain timelessness and immediacy to the X100T that the iPhone just doesn't provide. Like me, many photographers hold onto their traditional cameras for the iPhone - as good as it is today - still has a long way to go.
However, the more gadgets you use, the more friction you introduce.
Lately, I've been writing about my transition from OS X to iOS as my primary operating platform. These days, I am working from a 12.9 inch iPad Pro or my iPhone 6s Plus while my 13 inch MacBook Pro is sitting idly on a shelf.
Betting on iOS is betting on the future. Is it capable to replace the traditional computer in photo management, yet? - Here is my short answer: You bet it is.
iOS is strong at handling not only my iPhone pictures, but also the images taken with my X100T. I no longer need a Mac for this.
I used to make a big thing out of post processing my digital images. In deed, the pictures I took were never quite ready after I pressed the shutter. They were merely a starting point. Raw material.
Like many overambitious amateur photographers, I clung to the notion that you have to shoot in RAW format when using a dedicated camera. "You're losing data if you don't, aren't you?" JPEG are processed, compressed and just not pro, was what I thought. Only that this is utter BS if you own a Fujifilm X100T.1
After about a year with my X100T, I can say that I prefer shooting JPEGs over RAW any day now. In fact, I no longer shoot any RAW, not even RAW+JPEG where you supposedly get "the best of both worlds". Why bother with RAW if the quality of the JPEGs straight out of camera is outstanding? Why spend hours in post instead of sharing your photos and telling your stories?
Using the X100T in JPEG mode is as close to analog photography as digital can take you. Choose a built-in film preset and shoot. It's like picking your film in the old days.2 The image you get is - at least somewhat - final. To me, this re-emphasizes the art in photography in which it's more about taking the shot than fixing it in post.
For this reason, I do very little processing these days - if any. Most of my images are straight out of camera JPEGs. I jot the SD card in the Lightning-to-SD dongle (or turn on the built-in wifi on the X100T for file transfer) and here they are on the iPad.
iOS still can't properly handle RAW images. "So what?", is what I say.
Most JPEGs from my X100T and my iPhone don't need any post processing at all. A few benefit from auto-enhancement or subtle adjustments inside Photos.app. Sometimes, I like to develop my iPhone photos with the outstanding VSCO app. If unwanted distractions or artifacts have to be removed from a shot, I turn to the great Pixelmator3 because who needs Photoshop, after all?
And that's about it.
I used to carry around countless image editing apps in different folders on my iPhone. Most of them I never used and that's why I meanwhile batch deleted most of them. Only a handful have survived my latest app purges.4
The less I fiddle in post, the more I can focus on the stories and memories behind my photos. That's what they're all about in the end.
In particular, shooting JPEG has helped me cleanse my photo workflow from Adobe's software. To me, this is another giant step forward.
After the demise of Aperture for Mac, I have turned to Adobe's Lightroom as my main image processing and organizing software. I believe it has been the omnipresent marketing force of Adobe within the photographic world that has lured me into Lightroom. I was never happy with this decision. I started regretting it after only a few months in.5
Truth be told, the one tipping point that pushed me into Lightroom have been VSCO's Film presets. I love the timeless looks these presets provide and they make batch editing in Lightroom a breeze. Pretty much everything else about Lightroom itself - from its photo organization to its editing tools - has never resonated with me. Lightroom on OS X is a UI and UX disaster. It's slow and rigid. The mobile version of Lightroom and Adobe's cloud solution were yet another complication to my system that already suffered heavily from segregation between cloud storage options.
I stopped using Lightroom and fully switched over to iCloud Photo Library instead. It's been a welcome decision.
Since it's introduction, iCloud Photo Library has never failed me. It has worked great on iOS and its implementation has boosted my confidence to leave OS X for an iOS-only setup.
However, Photos.app on iOS is still lacking some of the features of its OS X counterpart.6 One of these is face recognition which today can only be done on the Mac and only later accessed by Siri on iOS. I love to ask Siri for pictures of family members, however, I can only name-tag photos on the Mac. Further, Photos on iOS could benefit from the more granular editing options that it's OS X counterpart provides, especially on the iPad.
The nitpicking aside, since switching to an iOS-only photo workflow, I now enjoy my images in a profoundly new way. I no longer have to juggle between multiple photo buckets in the cloud and elsewhere. Great pictures that used to be buried inside Lightroom or in a forgotten folder on my Mac are now always available to me wherever I am. I have them instantly accessible on my iPhone and my iPad. None are lost in the editing process or on an external hard drive stored in a drawer.
The real joy I get from my photos these days isn't in editing and archiving. It's in sharing and reviewing. With friends and family. Or just with myself.
If you take away anything from this post, let it be these 3 ideas:
- It's ok to shoot JPEG with a great camera.
- Do less post processing and more shooting.
- Simplify your photo workflow with fewer devices and less apps.
- It's probably BS as well if you own a comparable camera of any quality brand. ↩︎
- In fact, on the X100T you choose from Fuji analog film emulations that are based on classic films like Fuji Velvia or Astia. ↩︎
- The repair tool is my favorite function. ↩︎
- Among those are Snapseed and Black. ↩︎
- Have you realized that there is a fine to be paid if you intend to cancel your Adobe CC subscription early? ↩︎
- I hope the gap between the implementations will even smaller with iOS 10. ↩︎