Moving from dedicated camera to iPhone 11 pro

Moakesy

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Mar 1, 2013
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Following the lead of the OP, I've decided I'm going to jump and sell the camera.

This is not the right decision for everyone of course, but it's works for me. Main reasons were....

- Reading the comments from the OP have been a big influence (thanks for the thread @lifeisepic )
- I went to the Apple store and tried the camera out as best I could was seriously impressed
- Some of pics I've seen posted on various forums on here help convince me just what a leap the camera is this year
- My current camera (Sony A7iii) works very well, but is left at home far too much. I'd already gone from a D850 to the A7iii, saving a tonne of weight, but still wasn't taking it out.
- Selling my camera + lenses and buying the phone will leave money left over

Even if I upgrade the phone every year (unlikely), as long as I sell the previous model I reckon it will take me about 3 years to have spent the cash left over. This means I'm good until iPhone 14 or so. That in turns means I have roughly 4 years of having the latest phone cameras on the market, which will go with me almost 100% of the time.

If I keep the Sony for the same period of time, I'll have a still very good, but quite outdated camera which is worth little by the time I sell it. Most of that time it will be sitting at home when I wish I had it with me.

Therefore, an iPhone 11 Pro purchased this morning, and camera + lenses will be up for sale within an hour.

As I say, this won't be the right decision for everyone, but it seems to fit my use case and I can live with the compromise made in outright image quality vs having a decent phone camera with me at all times. I'm away in beautiful Yorkshire this weekend, so plenty to shoot and we'll see how it goes!!
 
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LiE_

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Glad you found the thread useful @Moakesy 😊

I've already started accumulating photos and videos of occasions I would have missed as I didn't bring my camera.
 
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r.harris1

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Feb 20, 2012
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It's great that @akash.nu , @lifeisepic and @Moakesy spent the time and consideration to decide what was right! The process was certainly interesting to watch and it's interesting to see what people need and value. We all have different points of view but enjoy making images in our own idioms. I love that we're all spoiled for choice in tools. The advances in large and small sensor photography over the last decade is certainly stunning.

An iPhone will certainly always play some sort of part in my toolkit.
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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I’m wondering when sensor-shift sampling will come to smartphones. My G9 can take an 80MP picture with a 20MP sensor, as can many other mirrorless cameras. From what I gather, Pixel 4 sorta does this, as Google encourages you to “zoom then take,” versus “take then crop” for best results.
 

Ledgem

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Jan 18, 2008
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I’m wondering when sensor-shift sampling will come to smartphones. My G9 can take an 80MP picture with a 20MP sensor, as can many other mirrorless cameras. From what I gather, Pixel 4 sorta does this, as Google encourages you to “zoom then take,” versus “take then crop” for best results.
It probably won't. My understanding of the current image stabilization is that it's optically-based. In order to have an in-body image stabilizer (IBIS), the type that is being put to use to shift the sensor for increased resolutions, you would need space to shift the sensor around. Given how smartphone space is already at a premium, it seems companies would rather continue to slim down and/or add more lens-sensor stacks than to implement an IBIS mechanism.

From what I've read, Google's solution involves taking multiple exposures and using those to reduce noise and increase detail (image averaging, I think it's called). Supposedly Apple's night mode and deep fusion might do something similar, but I don't think anyone outside of Apple knows for sure.
 

r.harris1

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Feb 20, 2012
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I’m wondering when sensor-shift sampling will come to smartphones. My G9 can take an 80MP picture with a 20MP sensor, as can many other mirrorless cameras. From what I gather, Pixel 4 sorta does this, as Google encourages you to “zoom then take,” versus “take then crop” for best results.
It seems to me that right now the major smartphone use cases, whether stills or video, wouldn't be focused on the ultra-high MP side of things. And even with sensor shift, that's still even somewhat specialized in the dedicated cameras, at least from the perspective of which scenarios you can actually use it. As @Ledgem also points out, there'd need to be a solid IBIS to make it work. All that said, maybe there's an ability to offload something like Topaz's AI Gigapixel to the smartphone GPU to do that sort of work.
 

soulreaver99

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Aug 15, 2010
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So final update.

I've decided to keep the iPhone 11 pro and no longer use a dedicated camera. The iPhone 11 pro takes some really good photos and most importantly captures the moment. I would say 95% of my photos are of my family and our adventures, I just don't do "photography" unless there is an opportunity on one of our outings.

The video on the iPhone 11 pro is stunning, I've found myself using this quite a lot to capture something instead of having to use photos.

I always have my phone on me so I feel like I can always capture what I need to and be happy with the output. Phones will always be getting better each year and I'll be more likely to upgrade where as I cannot invest money into a camera I barely use.
I did the same. I had the Sony RX100 V which I really loved but after a few trips in taking that camera... it took amazing photos when I made the effort to bring it with me, remove from camera bag, power on, adjust settings, and snap a photo. However, because it was sort of an inconvenience especially when on vacation and also having to worry about one more thing that could possible get stolen, most of my photos were taken from an iPhone X or Xs Max which were satisfying enough.

Come this year with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, I was not even planning on getting it and was going to stick with my XS Max and RX100 V but after seeing and experiencing how awesome night photos were, it was an game changer for me. Sold the RX100 V, sold the XS Max and bought the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

I am still keeping my Sony A6300 with all my lenses because I've invested way too much in that ecosystem and I use that to help my wife take real-estate photos. Also being to take 24MP photos shot in RAW is still something the iPhone can't do. Maybe in a few years!
 

akash.nu

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May 26, 2016
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I’m going on a 3 weeks trip from the end of the year to early next year and will be crossing through Doha, India, Hong Kong, Australia. My only camera is going to be the 11 Pro, the only addition to my gear is a small tripod for extra awesome night shots. That’s it. Hopefully will bring back some good shots for you guys to enjoy.
 

mollyc

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Aug 18, 2016
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I’m going on a 3 weeks trip from the end of the year to early next year and will be crossing through Doha, India, Hong Kong, Australia. My only camera is going to be the 11 Pro, the only addition to my gear is a small tripod for extra awesome night shots. That’s it. Hopefully will bring back some good shots for you guys to enjoy.
you always do!
 
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Ledgem

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I could possibly make my own thread about this, but didn't want to do a huge write-up and just figured I'd tag along with the last few posts detailing the iPhone 11 Pro and whether it can be a viable replacement for a dedicated camera.

My brief take on it is: it can't.

To be fair, I just picked up my iPhone 11 Pro today and only used it for a few hours. I do have manual camera apps that produce RAW files, but I stuck with Apple's native camera app for this one. I used it in middling to poor lighting, which is what my dedicated cameras routinely deal with and where most of my photos are made. iOS 13.2, which enables the "deep fusion" neural processing that is supposed to help in this type of lighting specifically, was installed. It's being compared against an Olympus E-M1 Mk2 (a high-end, 20 megapixel camera from Olympus that uses a µ4/3 sensor, which tends to be trashed amongst the photography enthusiasts for being on the smaller side and exhibiting more noise in images) and Olympus' highest-grade lenses; and a Fujifilm GFX 50S, a 50-megapixel medium-format camera that is professional-level and accessible to enthusiasts (Fuji's medium-format lenses are not classified into high-end or low-end; all are regarded to be about as high-end as you can get). Both cameras use sensor technology that is now about 4-5 years old, but still very relevant today. With both cameras I shoot in RAW and process the images myself in order to get the maximum imaging capability out of each.

So first, the good: it's definitely an upgrade over my iPhone 7 Plus. The 7 Plus displayed a mixture of luminance and color noise in poorer lighting, whereas the 11 Pro seems to just have luminance noise. Out of the dozens of shots that I tried, including an incredibly dim scene that utilized a three-second "night mode" exposure, I couldn't find any color noise. As far as details go, my 7 Plus was capable of some impressive detail in perfect lighting, but detail quickly dropped off in any poorer lighting than that. The 11 Pro seems to retain the impressive detail in slightly less than perfect lighting, making it more usable.

However, the amount of noise and the smearing of details and skin tones - issues that made me start reaching for my dedicated cameras far more often over my iPhone 7 Plus once I recognized them - are still present. Deep Fusion was supposed to improve detail on things like hair and fabric, and I think it's working for the fabric; for hair it's a bit mixed. However, skin tones are the big issue that I care about, and there's not much that seems to be done for them. It's less apparent if your photo subject is small in the frame; if you're filling the frame with a face then this problem quickly becomes obvious. Similar to my 7 Plus, the "telephoto" lens option is the worst offender when it comes to noise and loss of detail, which makes sense. As telephoto lenses are more vulnerable to the movement of your hand, the iPhone is probably using higher ISOs more aggressively with the telephoto lens; higher ISO = more noise = need for a stronger noise filter to make it less apparent = less detail.

Overall operation is faster and more pleasing compared with my 7 Plus, as one might expect, although I've found a weird glitch in which the wide-angle lens inconsistently adds output from the ultra-wide to the viewer (and not perfectly, either... despite "photos outside of the frame" being disabled) - probably a software glitch that will be ironed out later. Portrait Mode is more viable to use without as much planning, although I'm not sure how it'll fare against my toddler who is frequently in motion. (Only one of my two cameras, the action-oriented Olympus E-M1 Mk2, can reliably keep up with him when he's moving about.) Night Mode still had a ton of noise but it honestly impressed me that the iPhone was capable of producing such a photo at all. I anticipate that the photos in perfect lighting will be just as good as the 7 Plus, if not even better. 4x6 prints wouldn't be a problem; depending on how things go, larger prints are a possibility. However, the most demanding use I have for my photos is using them as a desktop background on my 27" "retina" monitor, and the iPhone photos won't cut it. A large part of it is a limitation of being 12 megapixels in resolution; that's just a size that demands too much. Even the 20-megapixel E-M1 Mk2 doesn't always provide images that can stand up to that.

I wouldn't have upgraded my phone if it weren't for the addition of a third lens in the form of the ultra wide. I do have an ultra-wide lens for my dedicated camera, but I don't use it as often as standard- and telephoto-length lenses. It's kind of exhilarating to have ultra-wide capabilities on the phone, but there are some caveats. The aperture is smaller (more sensitive to lower light levels). Someone on this forum also posed a question about whether the lens is actually a fixed-focus lens, meaning that it doesn't actually adjust focus. Based on my testing that does seem to be the case: they're relying on the fact that the depth of field is so wide that almost everything will appear to be in focus at all times. The thread discussing this pointed out that images appeared a bit softer from the ultra-wide compared with the other two lenses, and that could be why. Additionally, the ultra-wide didn't receive any image stabilization, likely a choice made because the shakiness of our hands is less apparent with a wide angle of view. Perhaps being able to be focused, and having image stabilization, are features that will be added in future iPhones.

The #1 usage for my iPhone camera app - and an area where the iPhone is pulled out over my dedicated cameras - is for video. Video looks nicer with the dedicated cameras (there's that cinematic appearance associated with a shallower depth of field), but while my cameras are stuck encoding video in H.264 the iPhone encodes in HEVC (H.265), which practically cuts the file sizes of video in half with no perceptible loss in quality. Video is also a lot more forgiving when it comes to loss of detail and image noise (particularly as I stick to 1080p instead of 4K). Having the ultra-wide lens option adds a lot to video; there were many, many occasions with my 7 Plus where I'd have to hold the phone to the side of my head or at my shoulder, half-guessing if I was getting the right thing in the frame, because the lens wasn't wide enough to fit everything that I wanted. With the ultra-wide angle lens option, I can now comfortably hold the phone in front of me and get it all, and more. There's the characteristic distortion associated with the ultra-wide, same as on any camera, but that's OK.

Overall, I can say that I don't regret the purchase. It'll give me more capabilities with my videos. As far as photos go, I'll be tempted to use it a bit more if I don't have my camera with me, but I don't think this will make me feel any better about leaving home without one of my dedicated cameras. Carrying a camera around isn't a hassle for me, and it actually feels easier for me to quickly round off a shot with my camera than to bring out the iPhone, fumble to open the camera app (despite using the gestures, and now the dedicated button), and then get to it.

If you have an entry-level camera and only use the lens that came with your camera, if you have a dedicated camera and only shoot in JPEG mode, if the vast majority of your shooting is in brightly lit situations, and/or if your primary use for photos is mostly sharing in text messages and on social media, then I could certainly see how the iPhone 11 Pro would represent an opportunity to kick a dedicated camera to the curb. Even if you do more with your camera, I absolutely agree with the saying that the best camera is the one that you have with you. I favor the ergonomics and image output of my dedicated cameras compared to the iPhone, but even the best dedicated camera does someone no good if it's just sitting on a shelf at home. No matter what camera you have, the iPhone is bound to be more portable, and it's true that we all carry our phones on us at nearly all times... but few can make that claim about their cameras, including me.

iPhones still have a long way to go, but it's quite impressive what they're capable of now. It feels like their rate of advancement is faster than the pace of dedicated cameras. I'm not sure that they'll ever fully be able to catch up, but with computational technology padding the way, I wouldn't bet against them.
 

Moakesy

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Mar 1, 2013
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iiPhones still have a long way to go, but it's quite impressive what they're capable of now. It feels like their rate of advancement is faster than the pace of dedicated cameras. I'm not sure that they'll ever fully be able to catch up, but with computational technology padding the way, I wouldn't bet against them.
I think this just about sums it up perfectly.

it’s less about where camera phones are now, but more about where they’ll be in 4 or 5 years.

For me, this is the first iPhone that is worthy of comparison to any dedicated camera. It is like a boxer just making their way up the ranks, showing great potential but not quite ready yet.

Shots on the new phone are great and images will only get better over the next few years.
 

kenoh

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Jul 18, 2008
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I’m going on a 3 weeks trip from the end of the year to early next year and will be crossing through Doha, India, Hong Kong, Australia. My only camera is going to be the 11 Pro, the only addition to my gear is a small tripod for extra awesome night shots. That’s it. Hopefully will bring back some good shots for you guys to enjoy.
Looking forward to it. You have been kicking my butt for years with "just a phone"
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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You know, this topic seems to come up quite often, especially on tech blogger sites. There is one in particular that reviews every new flagship phone (as well as other tech), constantly in search of the best smartphone camera. In a completely unintended way, this blogger’s quest seems like complete torture, as he’s constantly swapping sims and setting up his newest phone. He takes vacations and only uses his smartphone, out of “convenience,” but I don’t think it has ever occurred to him that his quest is probably way more stressful than just lugging a decent dedicated camera. Every new phone he gets is all about the camera, but in my opinion, he’s splitting hairs every time he declares the latest champion. Even then, sometimes the best camera is paired to an otherwise mediocre or buggy phone! It’s almost feels like it has become his Moby Dick.

That isn’t to bash people’s choices on cameras, but it seems like a warning to me. The sad thing is, I don’t care for the photo samples this blogger posts, so it makes his quest all the more puzzling. Unless you’re a pro, photography should hopefully be fun for you and also hopefully get you the results you are hoping for. Buying new stuff can be fun, but is it rewarding in terms of results?
 
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r.harris1

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I think this just about sums it up perfectly.

it’s less about where camera phones are now, but more about where they’ll be in 4 or 5 years.

For me, this is the first iPhone that is worthy of comparison to any dedicated camera. It is like a boxer just making their way up the ranks, showing great potential but not quite ready yet.

Shots on the new phone are great and images will only get better over the next few years.

To me, perhaps the larger point is that there's an image taking instrument to fit people's needs all over the spectrum. Large sensor, small sensor, it's all good as long as you can buy into the constraints that a particular platform puts on you, be that cost, ergonomics, image quality, field-of-view or any of a whole host of parameters.

Everyone is advancing so-called computational photography, not just smart phone manufacturers. Sony, Nikon, Phase One, Fujifilm - most of the larger sensor manufacturers/users are doing some amazing things. So in the next few years, I'd see higher quality choices for everyone's tastes. It's a great time to be an image maker.

Ultimately, each system is bounded by costs, laws of optics, physics and consumer taste. For example, it's not my personal desire to have my phone also be my camera. Convenient yes, but I hate the ergonomics and I don't particularly want to take a phone call or text on my main camera. :) Personal taste, obviously, but you get my point.
 
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LiE_

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Mar 23, 2013
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Update time!

The iPhone 11 Pro has been really good in the short time I've owned it, but as expected it has some short comings.

- Photos look really good on my iPhone, but as soon as I look at them on my 24" LG UltraFine 4k they don't hold up well. Noise, lost detail and lack of sharpness are the biggest issues when viewing on a larger screen.

- In any less than ideal lighting situations the photos start to degrade in quality quite quickly. People's faces look a bit of a mess. Again it's less noticeable on the iPhone likely due to the size of the screen and the PPI.

Some things I'm enjoying:

- Videos are exceptionally good.

- Having access to a "decent" camera all the time is very convenient. It results in a collection of photos from most events I go to that aren't completely rubbish.



That said, I keep looking back at my photos taken on my Fuji and there is something very special about those photos. Each photo was hand crafted with care and attention. Where as the photos taken with the phone feel less satisfying, just snaps really. I am debating whether to get another Fuji and just have both iPhone and dedicated camera for the best of both worlds.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Sep 26, 2017
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Update time!

The iPhone 11 Pro has been really good in the short time I've owned it, but as expected it has some short comings.

- Photos look really good on my iPhone, but as soon as I look at them on my 24" LG UltraFine 4k they don't hold up well. Noise, lost detail and lack of sharpness are the biggest issues when viewing on a larger screen.

- In any less than ideal lighting situations the photos start to degrade in quality quite quickly. People's faces look a bit of a mess. Again it's less noticeable on the iPhone likely due to the size of the screen and the PPI.

Some things I'm enjoying:

- Videos are exceptionally good.

- Having access to a "decent" camera all the time is very convenient. It results in a collection of photos from most events I go to that aren't completely rubbish.



That said, I keep looking back at my photos taken on my Fuji and there is something very special about those photos. Each photo was hand crafted with care and attention. Where as the photos taken with the phone feel less satisfying, just snaps really. I am debating whether to get another Fuji and just have both iPhone and dedicated camera for the best of both worlds.
Appreciate the update. A phone can do a lot, and can be really handy. I’ll be honest, when I sell on eBay, I usually use my phone for product photos. It’s the more meaningful stuff where my dedicated camera gets the call. I guess it’s more about the craft than the immediate result sometimes!
 

soulreaver99

macrumors 68030
Aug 15, 2010
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Southern California
Update time!

The iPhone 11 Pro has been really good in the short time I've owned it, but as expected it has some short comings.

- Photos look really good on my iPhone, but as soon as I look at them on my 24" LG UltraFine 4k they don't hold up well. Noise, lost detail and lack of sharpness are the biggest issues when viewing on a larger screen.

- In any less than ideal lighting situations the photos start to degrade in quality quite quickly. People's faces look a bit of a mess. Again it's less noticeable on the iPhone likely due to the size of the screen and the PPI.

Some things I'm enjoying:

- Videos are exceptionally good.

- Having access to a "decent" camera all the time is very convenient. It results in a collection of photos from most events I go to that aren't completely rubbish.



That said, I keep looking back at my photos taken on my Fuji and there is something very special about those photos. Each photo was hand crafted with care and attention. Where as the photos taken with the phone feel less satisfying, just snaps really. I am debating whether to get another Fuji and just have both iPhone and dedicated camera for the best of both worlds.
I think you nailed it when you say the difference is visibility on a screen outside of a smartphone. I love the iPhone 11 Pro Max camera. It’s convenient, it does a great job, and photos look fantastic on the iPhone and everyone else’s smartphone. Most importantly 90-95% of the photos I take are from the iPhone because it’s with me all the time and captures all the important moments.

But when I edit on my 35 inch display, that’s where the shortcomings are obvious. There’s no comparison between editing in RAW from photos shot on my Sony a6300 and JPGs from the iPhone. For me, there’s a time and a place for which camera I should use. When I do real estate photography, or really want to capture a special scene in particular, I use the bigger camera to shoot in RAW. Otherwise everything else is on the iPhone. What I really admire is people who are brave and confident in bringing $2000+ camera gear to take on vacation, especially in 3rd world countries and take phenomenal shots.
 
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ericgtr12

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Mar 19, 2015
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I don't think anyone can question the strides made by digital cameras in phones over the last few years, it's an excellent device for every day pics and documenting things. However, when it comes to serious photography it still falls well short of an DSLR (or mirrorless), which has a far bigger sensor, the ability to use real lenses and dedicated manual settings/hardware modes.

These cameras may not be for the average iPhone user but if you want to take photography to the next level it's necessary to move to the right equipment.
 

LiE_

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Original poster
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Another update!

The past couple days my wife and I have been going over photos to print for some frames at home, all shot with my Fuji. I realised while doing it how each of the photos is leagues ahead of anything I could take on an iPhone. As you know I've been debating whether to get another camera... well I just put an order in.

Fuji X-T30 /w the 18-55 kit lens for £764.10 from Fuji refurb store. Usually £849 but they are doing 10% off the refurb store, so pretty good price I think.

https://shop.fujifilm.co.uk/digital-cameras/refurbished-digital-cameras/compact-system-cameras/fujifilm-x-t30-kit-xf18-55mm-lens-refurbished

I've used the 18-55 before and it's a great versatile lens for family photography. I may get another lens next year if I feel I'd benefit from it.
 

Ledgem

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Jan 18, 2008
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Thanks for the update, and welcome back to the world of "real" cameras! My time with the iPhone 11 Pro mimics yours: I'm really impressed with the types of scenarios where the phone can take a photo at all, whereas previously it was impossible, but overall quality still falls apart rather quickly in anything less than perfect lighting and conditions.
 
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