Kudos to Dan Chung of the UK’s The Guardian for creating fantastic images and the great coverage of 2012 London Olympics, which you can see on Guardian.co.uk website. So what’s so special about his images? He took all those great action photographs on an iPhone. Dan is a professional photographer and photojournalist and uses an iPhone 4S, a Schneider lens, a pair of Canon binoculars and Snapseed for image processing. Certainly he has a terrific eye and great composition. But more amazing to me is the conditions in which he shot these. Who would have thought he could so effectively capture action indoors as well as in low light with a camera phone.
Would he take better technical quality photos with a big professional DSLR? Of course. Did he use special equipment beyond a standard iPhone? Sure. But three things strike me about this experiment in iPhone sports photojournalism.
1. You hear this all the time but it is ultimately the photographer that matters the most and not the equipment. The way he frames the shots, captures the emotions and artistically uses a slow shutter is a mark of a fantastic photographer. You need that eye and skill and using a Canon 1D X or Nikon D4 is not going to help you there.
2. The image quality depends on the intended destination. If you are posting on the web and at smaller sizes, lower quality and grainy images will still look good. There is no doubt that some of Dan’s shots taken indoors are going to look horribly noisy when shown at larger sizes. However, when shrunken down to 460×276 pixels, they look fine. So for all the pixel peepers out there (myself included), think of where and how your images are going to be used. Even at these smaller sizes, these images convey a feeling and tell a story. Has his Olympic coverage suffered because he uses a camera phone? I think not.
3. Using a decidedly non-traditional sports camera has made Dan more creative. By using some external optics and a binocular, he has creatively extended the capabilities of the base hardware. No doubt, the way he took the photographs and the available angles were also done to maximize his equipment. I would argue that his limited equipment forced him to become more creative. I mention this because a couple of posts ago, I talked about a bogus graphic that Canon created positioning their new EOS M camera. On the Canon chart, they basically equated more expensive = more creative. Here is real proof this is untrue.