I pre-ordered an iPhone 11 Pro this morning in green and immediately felt buyers remorse. The purchase feels extravagant. Surely I could have gotten by a little longer with my iPhone 7, and it’s cracked screen. The screen protector I bought the last time I repaired the phone after a drop onto the parking lot floor is keeping the glass from shredding my fingers and keeps the phone usable. But Phil Schiller is a masterful weaver of the Apple Reality Distortion Field (ARDF). I wanted the iPhone 11 Pro. I haven’t felt this kind of lust for an iPhone since the metal and glass iPhone 4. I still have mine in a box somewhere.
Part of that feeling that I “spent too much money” is probably because I purchased more iPhone Pro that I can use. My iPhone 7 has 128GB of storage, of which 63GB is free. I’ve had the iPhone 7 for over two years which I think is enough time to fill the storage with apps, music, and photos. 128GB of storage was too much, but 64GB of storage was not enough. Unfortunately the iPhone 11 Pro comes in storage sizes that created the same dilemma. The 64GB version may not be enough, but the 256GB version is undoubtedly too much. Does Apple do this on purpose?
My wife and I talked about it, and she will inherit our eldest child’s iPhone 6S, which is an upgrade from her now end-of-life iPhone 5 SE. She’s not happy about the larger sized iPhones. The eldest child will take my iPhone 7 after we get the screen repaired. It’s not much of an upgrade from an iPhone 6S. Our youngest already has a newer iPhone 8 we bought this spring, a college graduation gift. We don’t expect to be making any more large Apple purchases for the next few years. I thought that would help me reduce that sting of my purchase but it was only by a little.
Most people use the word professional to mean something different than the dictionary definition. The phrase professional refers to someone whose primary source of income is derived from a specific activity. A professional carpenter makes money doing carpentry. A professional photographer makes money selling their photography services. Nowhere in the definition is the skill of the person pertinent. There are skilled professionals, and as anyone who has hired a lousy plumber knows, there are shitty professionals.
For some people, when they use the word professional, it is meant as a compliment. They see your art – your photography or painting or bookshelf you made – and they something ridiculous like “this is professional work”. What I think they want to say is “your craft is excellent”. I wish they would say that so that I don’t have to say, “No. I don’t do this for a living. This is a hobby”.
Of course, others think that since professionals use specific tools, that if you use that tool, you must be a professional. Often people will see my Fuji X-T2 and comment, “I like your camera. I shoot a lot on my iPhone, but I want to get a professional camera like yours”. There is no such thing as a professional camera, just like there is no such thing as a professional basketball shoe or professional saw or hammer. But many companies make millions of dollars selling people on that notion.
I am sure that there are people who make money using their iPhones. Some probably make money selling iPhone photos. But I think the Pro designation on this camera is just marketing signalling for “This is the best iPhone we make”. It has nothing to do with professionalism.
The iPhone 11 is the capable, all-around iPhone. Apple started from there and is suggesting that if you want to go
super deluxe, you can choose the more expensive and feature-packed iPhone 11 Pro. It’s smart marketing.
So why did I decide I wanted an iPhone 11 Pro? Why not just upgrade to an iPhone XR or XS which are both available at reduced prices? The ARDF has convinced me that the cameras and computational photography features of the iPhone 11 Pro have value and are worth the expense. I certainly hope so, and I hope I can extract all of that value.
On many occasions, I have taken my Fujifilm X-T2 on a family outing for dinner or field trip in Philadelphia or New York City and regretted it. The Fujifilm camera is excellent for a dedicated photography field trip but gets in the way, especially on a dining table, when out on personal trips, trips where a capable point-n-shoot camera, something small enough to get out of the way when not in use, would be a better fit.
The new wide-angle lenses have a field of view (FOV) of 120º, which in 35mm full-frame terms is about 13mm. That’s wider than the wide end of my Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR which at 16mm has a FOV of about 74º. The 120º FOV is excellent for capturing expansive city views of parks, pavilions, bridges, etc. I can imagine the cityscape and the bridges at DUMBO around golden hour, sunset, and blue hour. A pocket Manfrotto tripod, and my iPhone 11 Pro would be the smallest kit I would need. If the Night Mode feature and battery life are as good as Apple claims, the iPhone 11 Pro would be a great day-trip walk-about camera kit for me.
The standard camera on the iPhone 11 Pro has a FOV of about 65º, which provide a 26mm full-frame equivalent FOV. That FOV is excellent for street photography and small group portraits, the kind you take when you are out with another couple at dinner or with your adult kids when you visit them on campus.
I take few self-portraits or portraits in general, but the 52mm full-frame FOV equivalent lens would be useful for photos of my beer glass when I visit craft ale breweries. It almost nearly matches the FOV of the traditional 35mm format nifty-fifty 50mm lens.
Yeah, I know, that sounds frivolous to me too. But what I do now is weird. I bring my Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens with me to bars and craft ale taprooms so that I can get shots for my Untappd check-ins. I am a regular at a few local places, and the breweries and several patrons know me as the guy with the “serious” camera. They only see me taking photos of beer glasses. I sometimes get weird looks from patrons who don’t understand.
I have some ideas for how I might use the “slow fire” – I hate the word already – feature. At the end of a recent movie, some of the actors were filmed in slow motion with water balloons bursting against their faces. I think that would be a cool thing to capture with the slow fire feature. Also, little slow fires of my young nephews doing goofy things.
When my kids were younger, we would spend a day at Great Adventure. I recorded a lot of photos and video on my iPhone from those and other trips. Then I stopped. Perhaps because editing anything longer than just a few seconds on iMovie on the iPhone was challenging and would drain the battery. Maybe I’ll start doing more video again. Maybe. I don’t know.
Before the iPhone 11 Pro announcement, I had considered purchasing a second camera, a Fuji X100F, as a second camera. It would be for those personal trips into Philly or “The City” where the Fuji X-T2 would be too cumbersome. But the X100F is expensive, and I debated with myself whether the purchase was prudent. The iPhone 11 Pro is costly also. But if it fits the “want” for a capable walk-about camera, perhaps in time I’ll feel better about the purchase. I’ll know in October when my phone is delivered.