Can you shoot an event with just a phone?

Recently, I’ve been asked a question that’s been bugging me for days. I was having coffee with a friend one morning when he started asking questions about photography. Among the questions he asked, the one he stood out the most was “Can a professional photographer get away with using a smartphone?” Could I as a professional photographer, shoot an event with just a phone?

I’m a believer in expertise. I think that regardless of the toolset you use if you have a deep understanding of the processes and techniques used in photography, you can still create stunning photos. It’s not about how good the camera and lenses are, but how good the eyes behind the viewfinder are.

But, could I shoot an event with just a phone? I decided to give it a try!

Caught without a camera

One late summer evening, my friend let me know that there was a small classic car show happening nearby. This was a few days after our conversation, and just after a major event. My camera was basically out of commission as none of the batteries were charged and I still needed to offload photos. Then I thought, “Wait, this could be a chance to test what my phone can do!” This was a chance to test my hypothesis. I grabbed my phone and ran out of the door.

My phone of choice is the LG V30. Back in 2017, the V30 featured one of the best (if not the best) built-in cameras in a field that included the iPhone X and the Samsung S8. I decided to get the V30 because of the camera and its ability to shoot in RAW format. I was always curious if I could get away with using just my phone, so I was excited to finally put the phone to the test of capturing a local car show, in less than ideal lighting conditions. 

Leveraging the phone’s ability to shoot in both RAW and JPG, as well as the ability to modify the viewscreen to show professional-style tools (view grids, histograms, white balance, etc.), I got to work. I utilized all of my regular techniques; like dropping close to the floor for close up shots, pulling in really close for macro photography, and then using the view grid for shot composition. I used my phone as if it was a DSLR camera to make sure I can accurately compare the photo quality to using a DSLR rig.

The results were pretty surprising:

Is the best camera is the one you always have with you?

After processing the photos and making my regular tweaks in Lightroom, the quality of the photos was very surprising! While some images weren’t quite as sharp as I wanted, the majority of my photos were almost indistinguishable from photos shot with a professional photography rig. I think my phone performed better under certain conditions than my camera! So, you can professionally shoot an event with your phone.

This, however, begs the question: should I rely more on my phone camera than my rig? I think the answer is both yes and no. While your phone is an extremely powerful tool that not only allows you to take photos, edit them, and upload them to a microblogging platform, it shouldn’t outright replace your camera and lenses, because a phone camera is more limited in its capabilities. I can’t take my phone behind the fences at Laguna Seca and expect the photos to look the same, can I?

I think the best approach is to use both your camera and your phone in tandem. I’ve often used my phone to shoot photos for my Instagram and used the photos from my camera for my blog. The most recent example of this was when I went to Laguna Seca for the 30th Anniversary Miata Reunion; where the photos from driving on the track were from my phone whereas the gallery photos were from the camera.

In conclusion

In the end, I think the question of shooting events with your smartphone boils down to your skill. There is nothing wrong in my opinion with using your phone as a professional camera for Instagram or blogging. There are set limitations for what a phone camera could do. This is where a dedicated camera will outperform a phone camera.

Until someone makes a phone with interchangeable lenses, I’ll continue using both my phone and my camera. Though, It’s nice to know that I can sometimes leave my camera at home!

Advertisements

Monterey Car Week Galleries published!

Monterey Car Week Galleries
Come see the 2019 Monterey Car Week Galleries!

Monterey Car Week was a once again an incredible experience, and now I’ve added the Monterey Car Week Galleries! Last week, I again had the chance to stay at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and shoot behind the fences! I was close to all of the action for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion! Also, I managed to get into the Concorso Italiano again and come face to face with the awesome DeTomaso P72! I even had time for the Annual Morgan Club Dinner and the new Exotics on Broadway!

This past week I’ve been processing THOUSANDS of photos. I just finished going through the first day of photos from the Reunion Practice Sessions, but I’ll be adding the qualifying and race session photos very soon!

In the meantime, check out the list of galleries below!


Secret McLaren-BMW M5 Wagon Test Car Revealed

Imagine one of these, but with a huge V12 shoved in it! Photo © BringATrailer.com / ygbsm
Imagine one of these, but with a huge V12 shoved in it! Photo © BringATrailer.com / ygbsm

I really love the Mclaren F1. It seems that I’m still learning something new about the development of the world’s fastest naturally-aspirated car! During the development of the S70/2 48-valve V12, the engine was practically shoe-horned into test cars like “Albert”; a Noble Ultima GTR test car. Imagine my surprise to learn that there is a secret BMW M5 Wagon test car with the legendary S70/2 crammed in it!

There’s something really funny about taking a hilariously overpowered engine and shoving it into something like the family grocery-getter. The BMW M5 Wagon is more for the discerning enthusiast with three kids. Despite that, I’m really getting some Paul Newman’s Ford V8-powered Volvo Wagon vibes from this car! But, how did this car even come to exist?

During a recent Collecting Cars with Chris Harris Podcast, Harris was interviewing with former McLaren engineer David Clark. When the subject of testing the S70/2 engine came up, Clark mentioned that there was, in fact, a BMW M5 Wagon test car for the S70/2. Not only there was a test car, but Clark himself had driven it! Clark went on to say that the car still exists somewhere in BMW’s collection, presumably stored next to the Ark of the Covenant. Apparently, this car belongs to a secret collection of BMW test cars that never made it to the road. Maybe it was because someone decided the S70/2 was simply too much engine for someone picking up their kids from soccer practice?

Either way, this is a really cool reveal! It makes me wonder what else might be lurking in some warehouse somewhere?