Why I Replaced My Camera With an iPhone 14 Pro

Why I Replaced My Camera With an iPhone 14 Pro

I have been very vocal about phones never being able to replace cameras for professional work. But, as photographers, we also indulge in casual photography of things that simply look good. I looked for a camera for such work for the past two years now, and now I found one. It is the unlikely star: iPhone 14 Pro. 

As a fashion and beauty photographer, I take a lot of care about the images I deliver. Cameras that can do that include my trusty DSLR fleet, as well as bodies that I rent for special jobs. Yet, photography is not a 9-5, it is a 24/7. As someone who constantly takes pictures, I need a camera that can come with me everywhere. That camera might be the new iPhone 14 Pro. It has everything I was looking for in a camera to use daily for casual photography: small size, good memory, raw, and much more. As an added benefit, it is always with me, because my camera is also a workhorse of a phone I use for everything from calling family to signing contracts.

The pros of conventional cameras are not enough to outweigh the cons. The largest one is that conventional camera take up some space in the bag and are not always easy to bring along. This is especially true when traveling. I used to take my 5D to both work and leisure trips, at one point even having hiked with a 5D and three lenses for three days. It was an adventure, but a rather unnecessary one, as far as picture-taking went. The trip was supposed to be a challenge for my physique. Bringing a full photography setup to do casual photography did not make that easy. If anything, it made it way harder. I could not bear carrying this much gear in my bag, and when the time came to take the camera out, I was too exhausted to even think about it. Just imagine how one feels after a day of hiking with not only hiking equipment but also photography gear. I was not alone. The group I was with had no other photographers. Asking 10 people to stop for me to spend time taking a single frame was uncomfortable. This is not what casual photography is about for me. Causal photography should be easy.

There came a time when the camera became a tool that I did not pick up unless it was for a job or personal project. Perhaps it is a sign of burnout, but I did not feel so. I had the will to take photos, but I did not have the ability to do it with ease. Why is that a problem? Let me explain.

I enjoy working out, and I tried going to a better gym where my gym buddy went. That gym was far away from my office and apartment. That became a problem after the initial rush. I started to slip out of the habit and skipped more and more days. Despite every ingredient being there, it simply required too many actions from me. Humans are naturally lazy, and by increasing the number of steps I had to take to do a good thing, I decreased the number of steps I had to take to do a bad thing. In other words, it required too much effort.

If you are so remarkably disciplined that these rules don’t apply to you, well done, but for most of us, the fewer steps it takes to do a good habit, the better. Casual photography is a good habit, but if it requires taking a lot of gear, I won’t do it. Even if the production is on location, I will send out a larger estimate. When it comes to casual photography, you can only imagine how much I want to get a 5D Mark IV with a 24-70mm out. This is why I replaced my Canon 5D Mark IV and a 24-70mm with an iPhone 14 Pro.

The iPhone 14 Pro has a fantastic camera. I did not plan on buying this phone, however. The purchase was rather unexpected, but it was a good one. I won’t go into reviewing the phone itself, as that was done before and everyone knows the specs by heart already. What I want to talk about is how easy it is to use this for casual photography. I always have my camera with me, it is always charged, and I can always share the images instantly. As far as casual photography goes, this is the perfect rig. The fact that it takes pictures at 48 megapixels in raw is also incredibly helpful, especially for someone who is used to shooting everything in high resolution. I think I compose more when cropping than when taking the actual photo.

I take all sorts of photos with my phone, from landscape work to street photography, to behind-the-scenes, to random snapshots. I even tried to use the iPhone with Profoto flashes to take fashion images. In fact, there are some photographers, such as Russel Preston Brown, who take images only with iPhones and Profoto flashes. The results he achieves are genuinely incredible, and his work is worth checking out. My personal experience with the Profoto Camera App has been more for causal photography otherwise done with the staple of Gen Z: a disposable camera. I used the C1 Plus flash in combination with iPhone 12 as well as the 14 Pro to take party pictures, portraits, and even headshots.

Closing Thoughts

So, I replaced my DSLR with an iPhone for casual photography. Instead of spending money on a film camera or a Leica, I simply bought a better phone that will do the job almost as well. Such photography is just for fun. It is not professional or serious. The point is to take a picture of something that looks cool. You really don’t need a separate camera for that. Besides, how many times did you not take a picture because you didn’t have your camera? Just don’t be afraid to use your phone next time. 

Log in or register to post comments
46 Comments
jim hughes's picture

So all that stuff about ergonomics turned out to be just one big "never mind". Lenses, too, I guess. What fools we've been.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Well, as I said, it won't work the times when I need such features, but it works just fine for casual photography where the shot matters more than anything else.

jim hughes's picture

Of course, you'll get pushback on this article, it's become a touchy subject for many. But hey, just let fly, no harm done.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Yeah, this is one of those times haha. Thanks for your understanding.

Mike Shwarts's picture

Does anybody proof read these articles? This one starts off with a clickbait title. The author did not replace his camera with a phone. He decided to use the phone for casual photography. Not the same as replacing the camera.

Then there is this. "The trip was supposed to be a challenge for my physique." Followed by "If anything, it made it way harder. I could not bear carrying this much gear in my bag..." So it was supposed to be a challenge, then you complain about it being challenging.

Glen Grant's picture

I'm going to agree with you here. Certainly not a well-written article of thought process articulation, and the composition is somewhat contradictory of itself.
All of us as photographers use phones, be it Pixel 7, Samsung S22, or the latest iPhone, but in no way would it be considered a replacement.
I have a Nikon Z7II and I do a crap of casual stuff and I can't see the burden to it with a 24-70/ F4 coming to task against my S22 not if its meant to be a keeper.

Jay Jay's picture

This site is nothing but clickbait titles and articles that dont even hide the fact that they're product advertisements. I pretty much stopped reading and believing most of whats on here years ago

Desmond Stagg's picture

Yes, it looks very much like Fstoppers have had their hey-day and are now past their best before date.
Used to be very good in the past, but now? Their move to South America didn't help them at all!

Illya Ovchar's picture

Mike, I apologize for not being clear in the article. To me, replacing a camera with a phone means that where I would use a proper camera, I now use a phone. This is true for all of my work that is outside of my genre. I used to take a DSLR to do casual photography, but now I take a phone -- hence my camera was replaced.

The trip in question was designed to be challenging for someone who was not bringing a full camera setup, by bringing my photography gear, I made it unnecessarily difficult, and this is what I am unhappy with.

Mike Shwarts's picture

I appreciate you taking the time to clarify what you are saying. But, I still think somebody at fstoppers should change the title for accuracy.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Useless article. Why do i even bother.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

So someone is using a point & shoot camera for his snapshots. And that is worth an article?

Buy a small slingbag, buy a modern aps-c mirrorless camera and put on a modern superzoom and you can drop the phone again.

You don't have to settle for a phone, even for your snapshot.

Illya Ovchar's picture

A camera for casual photography(for me) is something that I don't need to spend extra money on. Sure, I could go for a Leica, or go with your suggestion, but I would have to invest in a camera system. Undoubtedly, the experience will be better, and more like "real photography". Because I have to buy a phone in any case, I could spend a bit more and get some camera functionality from a device that I have with me at all times.

Klaus .'s picture

When I recognize Mr. Ovchar as the author, I no longer even read the first sentence. Provocative, know-it-all statements, partly without foundation (Dunning/Kruger?). I've been watching this for the past few months now. I use my time more wisely, I'd rather stick a finger up my nose and stare at the air. Sorry, but I had to get rid of that.

Jason Frels's picture

I can't wait to read February's version of this article.

Kurt Smith's picture

I wish people would stop writing clickbait like this, and so many are written; we all use our cell phones in a pinch or casually. Articles like this only perpetuate the myth to cell phone users that their cell phone will take as good photos as a high-end DSLR or mirrorless. The author gets loads of clicks wherever the article is promoted, and the rest of us have to explain to some smug misinformed cell phone user looking for a debate why cell phones, as excellent as they are, don't compete with a professional camera.

David Pavlich's picture

When I see this sort of title, I go directly to the comments to see if the article is worth reading. Sure enough, it was the right thing to do.

Heratch Ekmekjian's picture

Thank you. I enjoyed your article.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Glad you did! Thanks for reading.

Mike Ditz's picture

Heck I have a Sony RX100 that used to be my carry around snapshot camera, but that has been "replaced" by my I-phone. Now that camera is in the center console of the car 98% of the time. So I get what he is saying...but sort of a clicky-bait title.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Exactly! There does seem to be more hate toward the title than for the topic.

Jan Steinman's picture

You don't appear to have reached 40 yet.

When you survive long enough to achieve presbyopia, let us know how that LCD screen is working for you.

Illya Ovchar's picture

Glad you noticed I am not 40 haha. I understand what you are getting at, though. One of the reasons I don't use a mirrorless for my professional work is because of the LCD. It hurts my eyes.

Jason Frels's picture

Why I replaced my iPhone 14's camara with a sketch pad and art pencils!

Illya Ovchar's picture

I only wish I could draw haha.

Marc J Wrzesinski's picture

Clickbait nonsense.

This is the type of article Fstoppers needs LESS of in general.

Billy Walker's picture

I enjoy reading Fstoppers most of the time... why not all the time...? Clickbait titles - In addition, their business-related articles, once money comes into the conversation, seems to center on statements such as "I made "X" amount of dollars" - Look, if you're running a business you don't "make", you have Gross Revenue" and you have "Net Revenue" - The fact a writer can't use the correct terminology is absurd - Photographers with little to no business experience may be ok with "make" but anyone running a business immediately understands the so-called meant-to-be-educational article may contain useless information as you can't determine whether the writer is discussing Gross Revenue or Net Revenue and whether it's pre-tax revenue - Shame on Fstoppers allowing such nonsense on business-related articles - C'mon guys... if you're going to put out so-called educational content please verify the terminology prior to publication - And please stop allowing clickbait headlines... they lower your branding efforts.

Sam K.'s picture

agreed!

Sam Sims's picture

Loads of ILC owners use a smartphone for casual snapshots. This is nothing new. A phone is something you can have on you all the time when carrying even a small ILC is too much bother like a trip out with the family or a evening out with friends.

Desmond Stagg's picture

Interesting, but how much is Apple paying you to plug the iPhone for them?

Anyone turning up at e.g. a wedding with an iPhone to photograph same, would not be taken seriously.
iPhones are for amateurs and teenies.

Mike Ditz's picture

All righty then...
A friend of mine has been covering the Ukraine/Russia war. He has a small Sony kit but a lot of his pictures are taken with his IPhone mostly to be unobtrusive in dangerous areas, and he can upload to his editor quickly.

The photo world is more than weddings..

Illya Ovchar's picture

Absolutely agree with you on this one!

Dimon Dimon's picture

Clickbait stuff for fools

Mike Ditz's picture

...and you commented on it.

(so did I)

Paulus van Aken's picture

One big Apple advertorial.
And what's worse, it's complete nonsense.
So many pictures you can't take with whatever phone. I tried e.g. a spiders web in the sun., Impossible..
Only real Pro is the fact you have it with you all the time.

Illya Ovchar's picture

It would be nice if it were true, but Apple has nothing to do with this.
The functionality of a phone is not nearly as good as a camera, but there are many cases when it is enough.

David Moore's picture

Yay your phone has a camera, you get a cookie. These need to stop until someone writes "I replaced my phone with a camera":

Jan Steinman's picture

How 'bout, "I replaced my transistor radio with a phone!"

That's all I use it for. Listening to CBC every night. Perhaps a half-dozen texts a week from my family. A couple calls a month. Thank goodness I only pay ~$2.50/month for it!

Ed die's picture

End of last year I also replaced my camera with my phone - for casual photography. On my first trip without a "proper" camera, I was pretty anxious. What if I was in the perfect spot with the perfect light and didn't have my camera with me?

Turns out, traveling without a dedicated camera is extremely liberating. Camera, lenses, batteries, charger, filters, camera bag - it all adds up to quite a lot in the end.

Also, up until this point, I didn't realize how much I've been screwing my travel companions with the constant waits.

Image quality is definitely worse. Coming back, I can definitely feel it when looking at the photos at home. The iPhone 14 is incomparably worse than even an Olympus E-M5 III.

So would I go on a trip around the world with an iPhone 14? Probably not. But if I'm going someplace where I know I'm not going to be able to do any proper photography (family trips, skiing with friends, etc, etc) then I'm looking forward to not bringing my camera.

Jan Steinman's picture

"traveling without a dedicated camera is extremely liberating. Camera, lenses, batteries, charger, filters, camera bag - it all adds up to quite a lot in the end."

What if… you just brought your camera with one superzoom, and left all the other paraphernalia at home?

All those things you didn't bring presumably didn't affect your phone photography, so why let it interfere with your "real" photography?

If I think camera gear will "get in the way" of a trip, I bring only a Pen F with the 14-42 EZ pancake zoom. It will fit in a coat pocket.

Mike Ditz's picture

I go on work trips (or intentional photography ventures) with cameras and fun trips with an IPhone.
I used to bring a camera and a couple of lenses but never used them, I just lugged them around worried about them being left in a car or hotel...

Illya Ovchar's picture

Absolutely! Dropping the camera for casual photography is liberating. Also, yes, people do get annoyed so much when they have to wait for you to take a picture.
The quality is worse, but sometimes it is not about the quality. Personally, if it's not a campaign or portfolio piece, quality is the last thing I am worried about.

mark connelly's picture

For casual photography, I use a Panasonic point and shoot that can fit into a pant pocket. They came out with one 5 years ago or more that was like 13 mp and was descent enough for all but landscape photos. I have a few prints at 13 x 19 that came out good. The only bad thing with the small point and shoots with retractable zoom is that the zoom will eventually jam. Repair is expensive. I get about three years out of them before the zoom lens starts having issues.

This link has a shot taken with the point and shoot. https://seedyphotos.com/SelectedImage.aspx?ArtworkID=142

Timothy Gasper's picture

When I do photography, professionally, I use my camera(s). When I do casual photography, I use my ...camera. When I make a phone call I use my....no, I use my phone.

Joo Chung's picture

It’s incredible how far phone cameras have come. Stoked to see what we will get in the years to come.