Technology Rising: The iPhone 7 Plus for Photos

The iPhone 7 & Hipstamatic can be a creative tool

By Steve Huff

Hey all! I have been traveling for the past few days (New York for business) and hence, the lack of updates this week to the site. Should be back to full steam ahead in a day or two because while I am back home, I have been very busy with behind the scenes work! That takes more time than the web updates most of the time. While in NYC I was looking at my aging iPhone 6 after hanging out at Grand Central Station for a few moments and discovering the Apple Store there.

In the heat of the moment I decided to upgrade my iPhone 6 to the 7 Plus, especially after having a beer with fellow photographer, Kevin Raber from Luminous Landscape. Kevin said he loved the 7 Plus and after seeing some of his work with it, the bug hit me. My iPhone 6 was all paid for and I was eligible for the upgrade. The larger screen, the waterproof design, the new camera…all seemed good to me. I have been an Apple guy since 1998 and am locked into the Apple infrastructure with my Macbook pro, iMac 27″, Apple TV and so on.

So I upgraded from the 6 to the 7 plus. I downloaded Hipstamatic which is an app I used LONG ago and even wrote about it here on these pages many years ago, in 2010 to be exact.  I was happy to see it is still around and still delivering unique shooting via smartphone.

iPhone 7 front facing camera and the Hipstamatic App

When shooting with the iPhone 7 Plus I was reminded of how far we have come in this world with technology. Not only do I have in my hand a phone, it is also like a computer in my palm. My email, web browsing, music streaming, gaming and just about any modern tool one can think of. To many, it is a miracle device and we can see this by how many all over the world have sort of become addicted to their smart devices. WE ARE living in the future. 

As I shot quickly and easily I was thinking..“Now I clearly see how the point and shoot died”. I also see how this is coming for more serious cameras because each year the cameras in these devices get better and better, and the technology gets faster, and more advanced. Imagine if we had a time machine and went back  to 1982 with an iPhone 7 or Samsung S7 Edge. We would be locked up and would be accused of being aliens with alien technology.

Back then we had film, and the huge car phone in a bag was being developed. We had cable TV and computers looked like something of ancient times when we look back at them today. If we wanted to call a friend, we used our land lines. No texting, no worldwide internet yet and hence no wifi or as teens of today put it “Signal”. I would love to see some teens of today go back to 1982. They would never survive 😉

Grand Central Station – IPhone 7 Plus – Hipstamatic

Now, of course I am under no illusion. While a smart phone like the 7 Plus can create great and fun photos, even serious photos with the new Portrait mode that seemingly and magically brings us shallow DOF in the right circumstances…it can not replace a Sony A7RII or a Leica M or a Fuji Xt2. It does have limits today but I feel in 5 more years, a camera phone will have multi fast aperture lenses, ISO capabilities to crazy insane levels, and crazy good image stabilization. We will see more and more serious apps for serious photo editing and possibly a way to send the display of our phone to a large desktop display for even more serious editing. (is this possible yet? It may be but I do not know).

Portrait mode adds a shallow DOF effect

So for now, these phones are fantastic all in one devices but they still can not replace that tactical feel and performance of a higher end serious camera. It’s part of why I wrote my post last week, about the future of digital cameras and the bigger, faster and stronger NICHE market. Here is what I see for 2017…Sony will lead the way this year, Leica will make a dent, Fuji’s Monster is almost among us…NICHE will be where it is at for 2017 and the camera game. Even flying drone cameras like the DJI Mavic pro and Phantom series. Next level stuff for us enthusiasts and camera geeks. I use a drone for other video and photo projects I do from time to time, a Phantom 4. It’s amazing and SO SO simple to fly and use.

But for the masses, the phones will rule the day. Soon, photo classes will be based on smart phone cameras and apps instead of starter SLR’s. Soon, many photo blogs will turn more and more to phones if they want to keep readers and grow. Times are a changing, and technology will never be stopped.

I will always be a photo geek and I will always love the feel, the build and the tech that goes into a nicely made camera. I think 2017 will bring some serious tools for those of us who are like me. It’s going to be HUGE. Remember that..HUGE! 😉 I will also use this phone more and more and use it where I would have normally used a smaller camera. It’s that good, and good enough for most things in life, but most of you here already know this 😉

Enjoy your day my friends! Get out and shoot if you are bored, it can energize the mind and soul!


    • Some may not understand why many take shots that look sterile and crisp. It’s all about what the individual likes, and to tell others what to do with their images is a bit odd. Some like perfection and some like character. To some perfection is boring and to some filters are degrading the image. Some of my fave images ever were shot with more character than perfection (not my images but others).

  1. What excuses will the UFO sighters and Loch Ness Monster viewers – to say nothing of Big Footers – have now ?

  2. Beautiful shots. I have recently upgraded to a 7 Plus, but need to spend more time taking photos with it.

    I have heard good things about the camera on the Pixel, but my employer doesn’t support that phone (yet).

  3. Always interesting… I’ve been into iPhoneography since 2009-2010, but recently gave it up. Hipstamatic, the VSCO apps and Snapseed apps are amazing and you can create literally anything from them (and about 500 others) instantly, but I just don’t see and think the same way with a phone as I do with a real camera. Could be training and encroaching geezerdom. It’s just not as satisfying when it’s so easy and perishable.

  4. Steve–Can you (or anyone else) comment on the usefulness/quality of the 2-lens telephoto implementation on the iphone 7? I’m very curious about it. Some examples would be helpful. I use my phone quite a bit but am always frustrated by how wide the lens is. Everything looks small. Hard to compose on a strong subject, and composition is everything on a lower-IQ camera.

    • The longer lens on the iPhone 7 Plus comes coupled with a smaller sensor though, and I don’t think the lens is as good, so there is a slight compromise on IQ. Then again if you’re pixel peeping iPhone shots you’re not gonna be happy anyways.

  5. Steve,
    What are your thoughts on the size of the bigger Plus compared to the regular sized iphone? I’d love to have the dual lenses, but have some doubts about carrying around something that large in my pocket all day.

    • It’s HUGE! If you wear tighter or slim fit pants, there will be no where to put it. I came from the normal 6s to the 7 Plus (though I did used to own a 6 +). It’s larger than I would like for carrying purposes but then again, its much smaller than any camera I have here. 😉

  6. Nice phone of course and nice photos. But to tell you the truth I was really thinking your were testing the new Leica M behind the scenes and carry it around in your new Wotancraft Ryker 2017 model……….and to tell you the truth I still think you are, but ok we will find out in time or at least let’s hope so………

      • I was too. Not anymore. Broke too many and was really disappointed. I went back to SE bec Im sure it is better. So far so good. My other phone is S7 now. Dropped it a few times and still working great.

  7. Nice! A great batch of fun and creative shot – I especially like the first one and definitely think there should be a Huff Paranormal comic book! Great work with the iPhone Steve!

  8. I had the same conversation with my 35 year old son recently. I speculated how I would describe my iPhone (only a 6) to my grandfather. He died in the late 1970’s and was an engineer. He fought in WW1 so was in his late 80’s. He would have never seen a cordless phone, never mind a cell. A camera had film. Computers were not something the public accessed and the concept of a GPS!, well I’ll leave you to imagine that conversation. Watching a video on the LCD screen? Well he had a 14 inch wide black and white CRT tv. Access to knowledge of everything by internet!!! I have truly lived in exciting times, and hope to for a while yet. Think what the next 50 years could bring.

    • I was thinking about the other day after playing with my HTC VIVE at home. It is so cool. VR is big. AR is bigger.

      Now, let’s imagine Facebook or AI with the interface of a virtual person in VR. Since Facebook knows what you like (from all your clicking), this virtual pal will speak to you and communicate with you as your best friend. Sooner or later, your sons and daughters will have virtual girlfriends and boyfriends. All those who get bullies at school would rather hide in that virtual world with their virtual friends.

      Then AR kicks in. We will have robots that don’t look like real people but robots. But AR will dress them up like any supermodel you like. So you and your other (virtual) friends will also see them as supermodels. With the AI I mentioned above, they are your real physical pals. Sooner rather than later, we will have legal marriage with our virtual pals.

      Your sons and daughters will ask you, “why can’t I marry my virtual friend?” They won’t cheat on me, and they can accommodate me better than anyone.

      Imagine that.

      • The nightmare that Sci-fi, book and film, builds many a script on. I am 65, my grandson, aged 3 and a half, can operate the Smart TV and his fathers iPad already. The concept of FaceTime rather than voice only phone call worries him not, although I still appreciate being able to see my grandkids grow up 60 miles and a 2 hour drive away. (UK traffic!) As a avid reader all my life I love my Kindle and the whispersymc that allows me to take up the story on my iPad, iPhone or Kindle whenever I am stuck in limbo waiting for the wife to emerge from a shop. Whilst the overall concept of the WWW / Internet is enormous, its the small functions such as this that provide the greatest joy. Man can be such a wondrously inventive animals sometimes.

  9. Thanks for showing what it can do. Point and shoot died? Killed is a more appropriate word. And that’s not all that were killed- are being killed off. Repairman came to my house to fix a leak in the ceiling. He needed a flashlight, but simply used his iPhone. Less sales of small flashlights. Someone else can others to the following list since I don’t have too many apps: flashlights, compasses, watches, travel alarm clocks, stopwatches, paper books and newspapers (of course), small photo frames for your table top, small appointment books, pocket notebooks, calendars, calculators, iPods (gone?), . . . what next? DSLR’s someday, in spite of what we now think is possible? This may seem trivial at first, but a lot of small and large companies used to make a lot of money manufacturing each one of those small items. Travel alarm clocks, for example, must have been a bustling business at one time. You had to have one. The one next to my bed is gone as well: just touch you phone in the dark. This amounts to a substantial amount of manufacturing and job replacement and destruction . . . hence, killed off by a singe predator, that as you illustrate, keeps taking better and better photographs. In 1982 we might have just thought it was a small Polaroid camera and ask where the paper comes out. That’s back too, and perhaps Kodachrome film as well. It’s pretty clear now where this is leading us. Finland is experimenting with a universal guaranteed minimum income of $600 per month…for everyone, no strings attached, very little bureaucracy. Just automatic transfer . . . hmmm, directly to your iPhone for quick shopping. Add credit card and train tickets to that list above. Add the portable solar panel and you can add batteries to the dying list. Someone does make or used to make all of those items. Mind boggling–each one, but all together?

  10. Hi Steve I wish you may try and make article about Huawei P9 which has 2 cameras which one has mono sensor like Leica monochrome. I am also apple guy but I really like this phone and camera outcome.

    • If it is android, no can do. I can not use android as I am very deep into my Apple iOS with everything form my TV, Desktop, Email, Watch, Macbook, iCloud, etc. No way I could move to android but that phone looks amazing!

  11. a way to send the display of our phone to a large desktop display for even more serious editing. (is this possible yet? It may be but I do not know).

    As mentioned by another commenter with the iPhone 7 you can send RAW files to your desktop for editing in LR or other.

  12. The iPhone 7+ is indeed amazing! Have you tried a VSCO app? Maybe it’s not that fun as Hipstamatic is with all it’s lenses and film, but the results are amazing. And it’s also free with the base base pack of filters.

  13. Got my free iPhone 7 Plus a few days ago (work pays for it). I’m very happy with it and the camera is quite a bit better than my old iphone 6. It’s a lot of fun to use in all ways…not just the photography aspect.

  14. I wish someone will invent a camera that is also a phone. Something the size of an LX100 or similar, with all the stuff the LX100 can do. Then I could leave my phone at home instad of leaving the camera.

  15. I have the 7+ and am blown over by headroom I have in post when shooting in raw. One quick grab shot with the highlights almost completely blown was relatively easy to fix in C1 and PS. The best camera remains the one you have with you.

  16. Yep. Phones are taking over and together with the fact, that they are 99% with you – they are getting more and more useful for photography. If I had to say in which area phones are left behing comparing to cameras – IQ wouldn’t be in top of the list – ergonomy would be.
    Im cursing every time, then I’m lying on the ground while trying to take some insect / mushroom / plant low angle shot, trying to keep phone steady, holding it, adjusting exposure and making effort to fire phones camera shutter. 🙂

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