Value of iPhone telephoto lens?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MacDevil7334, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. MacDevil7334 macrumors 65816

    MacDevil7334

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Location:
    Austin TX
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    Sorry in advance for the long thread, but I have a few questions that would benefit from inputs from actual photographers and enthusiasts. Here’s what’s happening: my fiancée’s iPhone 6 is on it’s last legs and also suffering from only 16 GB of storage. She wants a new phone but doesn’t care at all about technology and is fine taking my iPhone 7 and letting me upgrade instead. We will be getting married and going on our honeymoon in 6 months and I would like to have the best possible cameras for the trip. I currently have a Nikon D5500 that I will be coming with us along with the 18-55 mm kit lens and a 35 mm f/1.8 fast prime. I’m also considering buying a 70-300 mm as well. So, I will definitely have a nice camera for the trip. However, I’m not sure I’ll want to carry it with me everywhere and I imagine there will be times I only have my iPhone with me. So, I’d like to have the best camera possible with me there as well.

    Last year, I downsized from the 6S plus to the regular sized 7. I had always found the plus sized phones awkward to hold and didn’t really feel the extra screen size added that much. The improved battery life of the 7 over the 6S and OIS in the camera also helped ease the transition. However, I have always been envious of the dual camera on the 7 plus (and now 8 plus and X). Though the small aperture on the zoom lens and the lack of OIS convinced me the zoom features would be next to useless in low light and I wasn’t actually missing out on much.

    Now that I’m going to upgrade, my question for those of you who have used the 7 plus is: how valuable is that second lens in real world use? I’m still not that excited about portrait mode. (I’ve played with it several times and have never been that impressed with the fake blur effect. It has a particularly hard time with edges of hair, making a lot of pictures look fake). But having a 2x optical zoom on my phone would be really nice. How does the telephoto lens perform in low light? Is the lack of OIS an issue?

    Basically, I see my upgrade options as the following:
    • iPhone X - Obviously the best camera of the bunch. But I still don’t know how much value that second lens really adds. The rest of the phone’s design is also untested and it’s expensive ($1000 is a tough pill to swallow). The camera is really the only thing attracting me to the X over other options (the OLED screen is nice but not a must this year for me). If it’s really that much better, I’d pay for it. Assuming I can even get one before my honeymoon that is...
    • iPhone 8 Plus - I don’t love the plus form factor, but have dealt with it before and could again. I played with this phone in the Apple store for a bit and the glass back definitely helps with grip. The extra battery life also would be nice for a trip. I would like the dual cameras, but am wondering how useful the second lens is without OIS.
    • iPhone 8 - Compact, reliable, with a solid wide angle camera. Doesn’t add much over the 7 I’d be giving up but definitely does everything I need it to. I find the 4.7” form factor to be most comfortable. Also, the money I’d save here over the X would pretty much pay for that 70-300 mm lens for my Nikon.
    What do you guys think? Am I better off getting the best possible camera that would be everywhere with me on my trip? Or is the second lens not that big of a deal? Maybe I’m better off getting the extra lens for my Nikon and a very light case for bringing it and an extra lens on day trips from the hotel?
     
  2. SoN1NjA macrumors 68000

    SoN1NjA

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2016
    Location:
    the pool
    #2
    Your DSLR should be the camera you want for all of your shots, and your iPhone serving as a backup

    If it were me, I would buy the extra lens for your DLSR, and keep your iPhone 7
     
  3. v3rlon macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Location:
    Earth (usually)
    #3
    This.

    If you want good pictures, bring a good camera. I love my 7+. but it is not my go to camera. Your honeymoon is ideally a once in a lifetime thing. You don't want just any snapshots. You could get an 85 1.8 (G, not D) for <$400 US. On an APSC sensor, you could try for a 50, 1.4 lens or one of the Sigma ART lenses for crop sensors and get far more than you could with the iPhone X, unless you just want an X.
     
  4. MacDevil7334 thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDevil7334

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Location:
    Austin TX
    #4
    Thank you both for your feedback! My 7 is definitely going to my fiancée and I’m not a big fan of deliberately buying older tech, even at a discount. That is why I am focusing on the 8/+ or the X as my upgrade options. But I absolutely agree with what you both said about my DSLR being far superior in all cases. I mostly was just trying to figure out whether the telephoto lens offered enough additional benefit to make it worth dealing with the extra size of the Plus or the wait and extra cost of the X.

    After doing some additional reading about the 8 Plus, I think the telephoto lens is still too limited to make the larger phone worthwhile due to the small aperture and lack of OIS. Probably the times on the trip that I’m least likely to be carrying my DSLR are when we will be out at night when the light will be low. In those cases, the telephoto will basically be useless. As for the X, it is tempting. But I’m not sure I want to deal with the craziness that is going to surround the launch of this phone. The drip drip drip of continued production delays does not sound good and I’m not sure I want to pay the extra cost just to get stabilization in the telephoto lens (the camera is really the only feature drawing me to the X at this point).

    I’m thinking I will probably just get the 8 and put the money saved toward an extra lens for my Nikon. I would still be interested in any thoughts from people who have owned the 7/8 Plus as to how useful that telephoto lens really is though!
     
  5. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #5
    I had the 6+ and 7+. Like others have said my go to camera is a Nikon D750.
    I was attracted to the phone for the larger size.
    Most of the photos I take are for things like serial numbers at work etc. There the telephoto is very useful as it saves me bending down!
    But probably not worth it in your case.
     
  6. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Sunnyvale
    #6
    LOL. Irrefutable logic.

    To the OP, I'd say it all depends on how you currently use your iPhone camera vs your DSLR. If you do whip out the DSLR more often than not, then focus on that.

    Which 70-300mm are you considering? I used to have the cheap old non-VR version and it was basically you barely get what you pay for. Too slow to be really useful. Perhaps the VR version is better, but it's also heavier and costlier. You might think it would compliment your kit lens well as far as focal length is concerned, but after a while changing lenses can get pretty annoying.

    I have the 18-200 mm lens and it's mounted 99% of the time (the rest being the very fishy 10.5mm). I ditched almost all my other lenses because rarely have the motivation to swap them. Again, that very much depends on your preferences and habits. Personally, I love it.

    I would not get the 50 mm for crop sensor. I have it and don't feel like selling it because it was so cheap to begin with, but I rarely use it because it's just the wrong length to be versatile on a crop sensor. You made a good choice with the 35 mm :)
     
  7. MacDevil7334 thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDevil7334

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Location:
    Austin TX
    #7
    I was looking at the VR version for sure. All the reviews of the non-VR version said it was basically useless without it and the VR version was a no-brainer at only $50 more. All that being said, I really had not given much thought to the 18-200 and now am very intrigued. I’d have to decide if it is a better value even though it’s almost double the cost of the 70-300 VR. But, it might be an easier pill to swallow if I can find it on sale around the holidays and maybe sell my 18-55 to pay for some of the cost. Thanks for the tip!
     
  8. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Sunnyvale
    #8
    You can probably pick it up used for a rather good price. Adorama has a bunch. The newer VR II version is not significantly better than the original VR version, so if that saves money, I'd get it instead. Despite what the name suggests, the VR tech is identical, optics are the same too. The II version adds a zoom lock which is supposed to prevent lens creep - personally, I think it's useless, because it only locks at 18 mm.

    It's not a lens for a perfectionist photographer so there is good supply of them on the used market from people who prefer to carry more glass in exchange for sharper images.
     
  9. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #9
    I have the 70-300mm lens, and despite owning a lot of superior glass, it still gets some love as it is small and lightweight for a lens of that reach. Makes it an attractive option sometimes.
     
  10. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #10
    I wonder about the joy of taking a DSLR during a honeymoon. Sure, you want great pictures, but during the moment, will you be enjoying your honeymoon or fiddling around with your DSLR? I have a mirrorless Sony NEX, and even that is getting cumbersome during travel. My compact RX100 is getting more mileage nowadays simply because at least it doesn't get in the way too much during my trips, and even then sometimes I wish I can just enjoy my trip entirely with less stuff in my bag/pocket.

    Ideally, I would rather hire a 3rd person to take the pictures... :D

    I do fancy the dual lens setup of the 8plus/X, but I'm waiting for next year when Apple trickles down the X camera into the regular iPhone. Note that the telephoto lens of the 8Plus doesn't have OIS, while the one on the X does (more reason to wait next year).
     
  11. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #11
    I can't speak from iPhone experience - I haven't owned a Plus (I have a 6). I expect I will own an X, and while it's not my primary interest in the X, the wider aperture and OIS of the "telephoto" is one of the determining factors.

    When is a telephoto not a telephoto? When it's roughly equivalent to the old 50mm "normal." I never found it a particularly helpful focal length back before the days of the kit zoom, and for the most part, I rarely use that portion of a kit zoom's range. Yet as much as I love working with a wide angle lens as "normal," a 2x is better than nothing. There will undoubtedly be times when I'll be glad to have it in my kit.

    iPhone photography has taught me, over and over, that the best camera is the one you have. Considering this camera is jammed into a Swiss Army Knife... sure beats the plastic magnifying lens that comes in some pocket knives. Each camera and each lens affects the way I see the world, and how I capture that world in images. Even when I have my "good" camera with me, there are times I'll pull out my little second camera to take advantage of its particular characteristics.

    But we're talking about how experienced, serious photographers might use this camera, but the OP plans to put the thing in his wife's hands. I'd ask whether she's the type to use these capabilities, or not? All the various shooting modes that come with these cameras can mean her "take" on your travels may be very different than yours, and that can be a very nice thing. Or, she might end up wasting its potential. Only you know the answer.
     
  12. Hughmac macrumors demi-god

    Hughmac

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    #12
    If money or space is tight you could also consider the 55-300mm VR - smaller, lighter, still sharp but more slow to attain focus if trying to track moving subjects ;)

    Cheers :)

    Hugh
     
  13. MacDevil7334 thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDevil7334

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Location:
    Austin TX
    #13
    Yeah if only I could just hire a photographer!

    I do think you have a point about wanting to stay in the moment on a trip like this. I’ll still probably brink my DSLR along though. But the responses in this thread have gotten me thinking more about picking up the 18-200 mm lens. Seems like that would cover all the zoom range I would want on vacation and would keep me from having to worry about changing lenses at all. Might be a good compromise!

    I definitely am not planning to put my DSLR in my wife’s hands! But this is one of the main things pushing me toward the 8 over the X. The 2x zoom from the X camera is not that much. And I’d imagine I would probably be the only one who uses it. If she were taking a picture with my phone (a much more plausible scenario than my DSLR) or if we were getting someone to take a picture of the two of us, the wide angle lens would almost certainly be what is used. So, if I’m the only one who would be using the more advanced features of the iPhone camera and I would probably choose to use my DLSR in those situations anyway, is it really worth the extra money to have them? I just keep feeling the number of situations where I’m going to want the 2x zoom and not have access to my DSLR are probably going to be few enough that the extra $300 I would have spent on the X would be better spent on an extra lens for my DSLR.

    Yeah I’ve looked at the 55-300 but keep coming back to the 70-300 because of the faster focus. The 55-300 does seem to go on sale a fair bit so that might be another good option if I can find a good price though!
     
  14. IP8 macrumors newbie

    IP8

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2017
    #14
    Can anyone share sample photos to compare the same scene taken with both wide angle and telephoto lens without moving from the spot.

    I believe to make sure you are only using optical zoom and not digital you will need to use either a manual camera app that lets you chose which lens to use or to cover one of the lenses to confirm which one it is using.
     

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13 September 25, 2017