Pro Photographer Using His iPhone To Photograph the Olympics

Pro Photographer Using His iPhone To Photograph the Olympics

Here is something I never expected to see in the biggest sporting event in the world: Guardian's Photographer Dan Chung is covering the Olympics using only his iPhone 4S. When you think of photographers who are shooting events like this, you think of guys with suitcases filled with camera bodies and huge lenses. You think of many D4s and many MK IV aimed on the best athletes in the world. What Dan is doing is truly amazing, and i'm sure all the photographers around him look at him and think he's crazy. Check out his crazy results!

As someone who's photographing many big sporting events - from NBA games to College football or European basketball finals - I always wanted to show up one day bringing only a cellphone or disposable camera and sit next to all the other photographers with their 400mm lenses. I never had the balls to do it. It's really great to see someone who's doing it, and doing it so well. On the biggest stage in the world.

Dan is using his iPhone 4S, Canon binoculars, few add-on lenses, and Snapseed app for post processing.


Check out many more of his Olympic iPhone photos here .

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47 Comments

Simple proof that it's not about the gear, but the mind that peers through it.

Exactly what I wanted to say. Proving that it's not the gear, but the photographer.

However, this does not qualify you to say that using instagram makes you a professional photographer either lol.

The "Instagram problem" is that nobody knows nowadays the difference between a Pro and a Amateur. A difference between Photographers and Pro Photographers. 

Everybody on instagram can call themselves photographers, but only a few are Pro photographers. The ones that understand what ISO, Shutter Speed, DOF, Aperture.. perspective.. and why/how all that stuff works...

Talking about the article.. being true..it's very impressive.. but still 50% the eye, 50% iPhone auto-exposure...

Its always the eye. When you give a cheap microphone to a great singer, is it 50% voice ?

Could make him/her sound worst. But that's a bad comparison because singers dont need microphones to sing...but a bad singer with a good (tuned) microphone can look better than he actual is...

A great guitar player can play any guitar. Better comparison?

Yes, it's a better comparison. But let me give you a better example. Cars. Automatic vs Manual gear. If the car has a great chip inside, the automatic pilots have a huge help, but that's not fair giving him all the credits, if he finish the race in the first place.

Now if we have a pilot with manual gear, it's all "pure racing" where's the car IS THE PILOT.. so, wich one is more fair to be called "the best driver?" ... :)

Good guitar players won't play on shitty guitars... they know it doesn't suit them ! ;)

Actually a bad audience makes a singer look better than reality. We have a lot of that nowadays.

Totally agreed. 

You guys are right... it's not about the gear, it's about the post-processing skill evidently. 

Well, fantastic, in the age when photos are expected to have perfect quality, those shots have the quality of new york times paper from the 90s. He did manage to capture the moments, but gear is really irrelevant when it comes to that.

There are types of pictures you can take with iPhone and others for which you need other equipment.
Personally, I prefer more control then iPhone offers.

Does the camera world not realize what people need?
every reason this guy is shooting with an iphone is so he can post directly to sites/blogs/social networks instantly. he has the first content posted and therefore is the best journalist.

if they made a Dslr with Wifi/3g and apps im sure he'd be shooting on that.

its beyond me why STILL with technology today theres still no great way to tether to your iphone or a camera with a direct iphone dock!

I understand theres Eyefi cards but there is still bugs with those too.

the technology is there! why arnt camera manufacturers going in that direction?

im no photo journalist so i may be way off, but it seems to me like these are obvious reasons for using an iphone.

Karl Myrvang's picture

Well, Samsung recently added a line of wi-fi cameras. As well as a pretty good hybrid with wi-fi compatibility (It also support sending to your phone, so you can post from there.)

I'd like to see higher resolution photos to see how they're coming out. It's one thing to have a great image when it's 3x5 at 72ppi on a screen but a whole other deal to have an image you can reproduce in high quality. It's great to have an eye for photography but i still want to be able to use my images for whatever i want. The iphone captures some great shots, but i'd rather have a DSLR with a bag of lenses.

PatrickLarson.com's picture

Agreed. And I seriously doubt that the arrow photo and other high-speed photos was taken with an iPhone. No one can time the shutter that well with a touch-screen shutter. Sometimes it IS about the equipment.

Its not a touch screen shutter. Just use the volume button. You can def. time this.

It's definitely possible, with either the touch screen or the volume button. It might take 20 attempts to get the timing just right, but it can be done.

Patrick, check out Instagram feeds and you will see tons of images done purely off iPhones and Droids that have impeccable timing. It just takes practice, but it is much more than possible.

Blaming gear in any context shows how much you are NOT an artist.

Noam Galai's picture

Sport photography is not always about art. Its about catching the moment, with as much detail as possible (usually, for newspapers and other publications).

Wow people are getting nasty ... over iphone photos.  

Even though these photos are impressive. As an artist/photographer, you need to appreciate how and why photos are taken. An intelligence of lighting, framing, and composition is something that most photographers nowadays are lacking. Understanding technique is something that is being washed away by technology. Now I understand that "times are changing" but you are still learning and doing a craft that has alot of history and there is many reason and factors that go about when taking a photo. People who are using iPhones and you call yourself a photographer is highly offensive to me and I would assume other photographers. Teach yourself about photography first before you do anything else. Love photography first and lets see if you keep using your phone to take pictures.

Stunts like this are lame..just because you can get away with a few AVERAGE shots under the most ideal conditions doesn't mean you should. I like my iPhone just fine, what I don't like are gimmicks. Are they great for a phone, sure. Is it the future, good chance..but we're not there yet. Please set down the Kool-Aid for a moment..everyone including those who don't do photography for a living know a dslr would be FAR superior in the same situations. If you're only looking at the end product, the image, even a point-and-shoot would outperform the iPhone. The social media crowd wouldn't tout that article tho, their readers likely would bother with it. The Olympics has the best photographers and equipment in the world for a reason. Please stop accepting the gimmick.

..Its not the camera its the photographer.... People LOVE to say this..and to an extent it's true. Its a tool like any other. But its a saying Amateurs love to hear because they don't own pro equipment. ..These days it doesn't cost much to be in the game, even an entry level dslr can create pro results. But if the iPhone 4s could compete with a dslr you wouldn't see working photographers carrying around bags of equipment.

The iPhone can take some good photos, but not better than a new point and shoot and certainly not better than any dslr. Lets all live in reality and stop lying about it.

If the iPhone is your only option in a situation, by all means use it!! (I have.) But understand the photographer in this article is using the iPhone so he could say he used it, so it would sail around the blogosphere as it has. Popularity doesn't equate quality.

PatricioU's picture

1- How many photos did it take to get those? A pro with pro-gear will get near 100% of the shots perfectly right.

2- Show me the hi-res versions, anyone can make a small photo that looks nice.

3-  Still don't look like taken from a top-range Nikon or Canon, the colors and detail give it out.

I refuse to call people who shoot with their cameras "photographers", same with anyone using Instagram. How many of you pretending to be photographers with an iPhone know how to shoot with film and manual exposure and focus?

All this digital garbage is killing the real art of photography.

Noam Galai's picture

just to comment about your 1st point: 100%?! are you kidding me? maybe 25%. if it was 100% or anything close to that i would be much happier... 

PatricioU's picture

If you are shooting a pro Canon or Nikon body with pro-lenses and only get 25% of shots right then you need more practice.

When I started into digital photography I would shoot 1000 frames and get 50 very good photos, now several years later I shoot with a D3s and out of 1000 frames get 950-990 perfectly right shots (right exposure + right composition + right focus). I miscalculate my focus on less than 10 photos every 1000 frames, that's what the right gear with a lot of DAILY practice will get you.

Noam Galai's picture

sharp or in focus doesnt mean good. and of course it depends what are your standards. some photogs will say 100% of their shots are great, some will say 10%. im somewhere in the 10-20% :)

PatricioU's picture

The photography standards have been lowered as a result of too many amateur cameras on the market on inexperienced hands + the popular use of Instagram and other crappy artsy editors.

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