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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48 Comments

Jason L. Bohannon's picture

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

Humza Mehbub's picture

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.

Int3nsive's picture

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...

paul jay's picture

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

Int3nsive's picture

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...

paul jay's picture

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

Int3nsive's picture

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?" ... :)

Mr Blah's picture

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

paul jay's picture

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

Int3nsive's picture

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.

Deleted Account's picture

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.

Lear Miller's picture

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.)

Chris Embardino's picture

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.

paul jay's picture

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.

Ryan's picture

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.

paul jay's picture

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).

emrldctyshtr's picture

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

Eddie Soto's picture

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.

David Tribby's picture

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.

Mike Kelley's picture

lol no kidding. no journalist is keeping 100% of the shots he takes, or anywhere near there. i'd bet less than 10% make it to be published in any sort of public capacity.

PatricioU's picture

It's not about publishing 100% of the shots, because no one does that; it's about your own capacity to not miss the moment your are being paid to photograph.

The better your equipment is + the better you know it + the more practice and experience you have = the higher the chance you won't miss "the money shot".

Noam Galai's picture

so shooting a gymnast jump 10fps is 100% success rate for you because you got the right frame? or is it 10%? :)

Alexandre Guys's picture

 You miss the main purpose of photojournalism and it is not art... it s about witnessing an event and share about it. History proves that the fastest in this profession are the winner.

In your first point the exact terms would be " anyone who knows his gear well would get near 100% of shots perfectly right"... anyone here can buy an expensive camera, and get a professionnal license number ... and still do crap.

You should do a little research on this site to see the iPhone photoshoot and other related videos...

PatricioU's picture

Art and photojournalism aren't mutually exclusive, they fit perfectly together.

The problem is what passes as photojournalism these days, it has fallen a lot since the introduction of entry-level DSLRs. Now you see often a journalist with a Nikon 3100 (fully on auto mode) making a blurry photo for an article because the newspapers want to save money on paying a photographer to go with the journalist like it used to be. The collapse of printed newspapers has led to many newspapers to fire their photographers and just give a cheap DSLR to the interviewer.

A lot a photos being printed today would have ended in the garbage bin 50 years ago.

Of course, I know what you say about having the most expensive gear and still making crap: I've seen other photographers working next to me with top cameras and still using the wrong camera settings and wondering why their photos don't look right.

Frank Vasterling's picture

The only difference between pro and amateur photographer is the size of his dustbin :-)

HoMan Cheung's picture

These shots are stunning for an iphone, and while i wouldn't make large prints of these files, they look great on a newspaper print or gallery.  I won't argue that this is going to replace an SLR (it really doesn't) it certainly is capable in many situations, but an SLR is certainly more practical, specially for us/those that can't get to close 

Jeremy Cupp's picture

He did better than that silly fuck who took the worst shots in Olympic history. :)

Cliff Workman's picture

Some of those shots are really tight. Wonder how he was able to get in that close to the athletes with his iPhone??

Noam Galai's picture

add-on lenses

Jon McGuffin's picture

Hmmm..  So all this really tells me is that had these photos been posted and I didn't know they were taken with an iPhone I would probably "why are these photos even posted?"  The reason is that they simply aren't really that great.  I view this, shrug my shoulders and say "nothing special".   A few are blurry and the color in quite a few (despite obvious post processing) are poor...

Since these photos really aren't great in their own right, they are only impressive because they were done on a phone...  and if it's a "gear doesn't matter" message, than the entire point of this post falls a part because these do nothing but show even a great photographer with a $500 phone, probably $1000 worth of addon lenses, can really only produce a mediocre set of images....  Great, for the price of that phone and the addons he could have had a DSLR with a kit lens and probably destoryed these..

Looks like he wasted his own time and ours... (Ok, kind of harsh but seriously... those pictures wouldn't grace the cover of any legit mag in this country)...

George Socka's picture

I agree with the comment that the iPhonne hs the ability to publish a photo instantly. In 2012, yesterday's photo isn't news anymore. A perfectly lit/composed/focussed photo that does not reach its audience is not the worth taking. Not sure why Canon / Nikon havent figured out how to add instant upload capability without needing some other computer device to make that happen. But there is hope - they just figured out how GOS works. And Canon has face tags on it sPS...

PINCPN's picture

Would have liked to see more on the how he took these captures with the equipment he had...

steve smith's picture

Cracking pics - just shows you how well lit these events are for being able to use an Iphone!

Mr Blah's picture

Good enough for online.

I would not want to see this printed full spread in SI on the times... But who reads print in 2012 right?

Nathan Hamler's picture

i wanna know how he got such high shutter speeds in low light....i'm a little skeptical..... 

Lily_Jo01's picture

I could do this with my iPhone.. Nastiness because of the fact that you don't have to be a professional photographer to take great pics with it, of course its to do with the device AND everything else - the free apps to download, enhance, make it more vibrant which gives the stunning colour, sharpen etc..clearly it helps the photographer make it this perfect.. also bear in mind the excellent timing in these pictures.. It ALL works TOGETHER... Right down to the software... Stop feeling so threatened guys.. :)

Maria Martinez's picture

It amazes me how defensive people get because someone chooses a piece of equipment over another. I am a photographer but I use my iPhone most of the time. I understand all it takes to take a photo with my DSLR. I in no way get offended when someone using and iPhone calls themselves a photographer...why??? Because there is not one person in this world who has a right to tell someone who has the passion and drive that they are not photographers! There are different levels, but don't under mind or belittle people for getting creative with their camera phones, that just shows your ignorance. I've seen photos taken with iPhone/Samsung that are quite spectacular. Because I do not have full manual control, I have to learn and be even more creative with lighting and timing which has actually sharpened my skills. There are apps now where you can manually control ISO and Shutter, obviously not the Aperture because it's fixed, White Balance, exposure etc. etc. (which I use), I also have some attachable lens for macro shooting which come out amazing.

To be honest, I applaud those who can master the art of using a camera phone to do their photography because it takes a lot more concentration etc. And the majority of DSLR photographers do post processing, so there is nothing wrong with those that do when they use their camera phones and use an app for post processing, it's like using Photoshop or Lightroom on a computer.

So when I'm out taking a Sunset photo with my iPhone enjoying the moment of peace and smiling about it because I chose not to carry my DSLR that day and then get laughed at my someone who has a DSLR and told that's not real photography and my moment gets crushed, I quickly rebound and say to myself it is those types of people who live inside the box in their world who will not have the chance to fully see and experience the beauty that all types of photographers bring to the table and appreciate the craft that it is meant to truly be, and with that, I have sympathy for them, and just smile.