iPhones Win: this from the Guy Who Made the Canon 5D Mk II Famous for Video

by Hugh Brownstone4 Comments

OK, hang on: he’s talking about stills cameras, and he actually uses the more general term “smartphones.” But before Vincent LaForet was one of the very first professionals to pick up the Canon 5D Mk II back in 2008 for video (he created the seminal short REVERIE), he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning still photographer. So when HE says “…the standalone still camera will disappear from the hands of everyone with the exception of a few high end professionals,” you know something is up. Put differently: iPhones win.

It’s no secret that a bunch of us here at planet5D think Apple is an – no, THE – emerging force in the world of moving image capture (see for example: Apple shot its Oscars ad with the iPad Air 2 or The iOgrapher Comes to the iPhone).

Vincent LaForet may or may not agree with us (we’ve never met), but recently came out with a post which states what is obvious to him (and us too) in the stills world: ubiquity (a smartphone is always on you); software (built-in camera app, pre-set effects, simulated of shallow depth of field and more); and connectivity (always-on 4G cellular networks) make smartphones superior to stand-alone cameras as moment-capturing and sharing devices.

And with Apple's most recent patent, the handwriting on the wall will only become more vibrant.

OK. But the larger point remains.

While Henri Cartier-Bresson used a Leica; Vivian Meier used a Rolleiflex; and Sion Fullana and many in his generation now use an iPhone, it has always been and will forever remain the case that the person using the camera makes the image. [bctt tweet=”LaForet: smartphones win.”]

Prediction: The Age of the Standalone Still Camera is Coming to an End for all but PROS

Via Vincent Laforet:

This is bold prediction, but it’s clear to me that over the next several years, the standalone still camera will disappear from the hands of everyone – with the exception of a few high end professionals.

Professional photographers (if they still exist then… and I think many, or to be honest some will) will continue to make photographs with DSLR/ Medium format and perhaps mirrorless still cameras – but the vast majority of photographers will continue the exodus towards smartphones.

iphones win The smartphones and/or iPhones have already won.

I’ve been a photographer for 25 years now. I learned on black and white film and transferred to C-41 and then Chrome E-6. I was classically trained in a black and white darkroom and in color reversal and cibachrome printing. I was also one of the first staff photographers at The New York Times to shoot with then high-end digital cameras in 1999 – the $22,000 Canon D2000s.

Recently I’ve been working on a project called “AIR” that involves flying over cities around the world and photographing them at night from high altitude from a helicopter and I am LOVING the current cameras out there – they are AMAZING!!! We are working with the best cameras ever made today, that far exceed what film could ever have done. (Outside of 8X10 film for certain uses.)

Just two days ago, a friend (an amateur) and I went out to photograph with our still cameras and our iPhones. He had a Sony A7s, and I had a Leica M9. I also had access to a Pentax medium format 50 MP camera at the time.

Here’s what happened: my Leica M9 and his Sony A7s literally served as extremely expensive STANDS for the iPhones – to prop them up as we photographed a series of time lapses, stills, videos and slow motion videos over several hours.

The key take away here isn’t that iPhones are BETTER than still cameras. Not by a long shot. Let me repeat that again: iPhones and Smartphones are not better cameras by any stretch of the imagination to still cameras with specialized lenses.

Read full article at Vincent Laforet's blog “Prediction: The Age of the Standalone Still Camera is Coming to an End for all but PROS”


Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from Vincent Laforet)


  1. God I hate these posts, been seeing them on like every single blog I visit. If you think for just a second about why you would use a DSLR or medium format over a smart phone you would know that this train of thought is ridiculous. Theres a lot of people out there shooting in between pro’s and the people using a P&S. Those people are always going to want amongst other things : The ergonomics of a real camera, the creative control that a large sensor affords, the dynamic range and image quality that high end sensors afford, the ability to use quality glass in its different shapes and sizes, the ability to fire remote flash units amongst probably 50 other reasons. 
    Can we please stop prognosticating about the future of stupid iPhones? Is it possible to make a nice image using a telephone, Yes. Is it harder and less efficient, Yes. If you are using the latest DSLR and the latest telephone in the same situation is the telephone going to take the better picture? No

  2. RickyPerrone All the same things were said about DSLRs when they came on the market. 

    Change is happening… you either learn about it and change as well, or you become a dinosaur

  3. planetMitch This is silly though, its an exaggeration. To claim that in a few years DSLRs will only be used by a handful of the top professionals. You are insinuating that this aligns with your beliefs. And to claim that there is some sort of exodus to smart phones?! The basis for this comes from the statistics from photo sharing sites. Yes the majority of these photos come from smart phones BUT that is because people have access to smart phones with cameras, its not because of an exodus its because a greater percentage of the public has access to a camera via something that now nearly everyone has…a smart phone. This “exodus” is just a silly interpretation of the statistics. If you really look at the number of people shooting DSLR today vs 2014, 2013 2012. There is no exodus the proportions have just changed.

    This is fundamentally different from the change that was the shift from film to digital.

  4. RickyPerrone planetMitch Exodus?  Maybe not.  Fade out? Yes.  Ricky, perhaps you’d recognize a clearer precedent in the move from view cameras to roll film cameras? Think of the switch from Weegee’s Speedgraphic in the ’30’s and ’40’s to Leicas and Nikons especially in the ’60’s and ’70’s. You might also find Clayton Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” or Richard N. Foster’s “The Attacker’s Advantage” to address your points very directly. Cheers!

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