It seems lately that mobile phone manufacturers have been stepping their game up when it comes to quality and performance. One major improvement over the last 5 years has been the development of the phone’s onboard camera. Many people are opting to buy a nicer phone with a good camera rather than paying the high price for DSLRs these days. Some phones, like the iPhone X, offer multiple cameras and lenses, making the DSLR argument even tougher. There will always be a place for high-end photography and equipment, but the ever advancing tide of technology is enabling the normal consumer to capture previously unobtainable images. This past weekend (Sep 7-9th, 2018) I had an opportunity to volunteer at Laguna Seca raceway to help raise money for the CSU Sacramento Formula team, Hornet Racing FSAE, during IMSA. The Le Mans 24 hour race is now part of the IMSA series, a race that has been a favorite for drivers and fans alike for its demanding conditions and technological innovations. The IMSA weekend at Laguna Seca featured several classes of high performance, purpose-built race cars and I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to test out the performance and capabilities of the cameras on my iPhone X (seen below).
The iPhone X boasts a pretty mean camera setup. Apple has developed a camera with a 12 Megapixel sensor, capable of delivering 4K videos and high resolution photos with a minimum aperture of f/1.8 for the standard camera and f/2.4 for the telephoto camera. The telephoto camera has a tighter, fixed focal length where the normal camera is considered wide angle with zoom for recomposition. I am quite impressed with the capabilities of these two cameras, and the Selfie Mode o the front and rear cameras can make for some cool effects. Below is a gallery of images from my weekend at IMSA. All of the images were taken with the iPhone X and also edited with standard issue Apple software available on any iPhone.
I have to say that the most impressive thing the iPhone X did happened long after the race was over. The team was back at camp, we were talking and sitting in a large circle of chairs when someone suggested that we turn out the lantern and gaze up at the night sky. Millions and millions of stars, dust clouds and satellites jumped out of the darkness the instant the lantern went out. I pulled up the camera app on the phone and was blown away. It not only captured the following image, but the processor and sensor were powerful enough to be able to detect and focus on the stars properly. Initially I was impressed that 4 stars showed up prominently in the image, but after scouring the image with the screen brightness on full and a little editing trickery I could make out at least 20 starts. Impressed doesn’t come close to how I felt after seeing this image captured by the iPhone X, with standard hardware and software.
I was impressed by both the cars and the phone’s ability to capture them. The dynamic range of the camera, combined with the dual camera/lens versatility made for an enjoyable experience that was easy to capture and share with others. I also need to point out that the ability to capture a photo or video in a split second was a convenience im not granted with the big bulky DSLRs that I typically use. The phone has a feature on the lock screen that enables the user to whip the phone out of their pocket, press a button and snap a photo. The entire process, for an experienced used, takes less than 2 seconds. When considering a camera for trips, parties or events, the iPhone X’s speed and ease of use is very persuasive and for the modern day consumer it may replace the traditional camera altogether.