Author: Garey Gomez
Smartphones these days come with absolutely incredible cameras built in. The amount of technology packed into these tiny cameras in our pockets has gotten so good, that in many cases, the quality of the images produced with smartphones is nearly indistinguishable from our "real" cameras upon first glance.
Real estate photographers have to pull out all the stops (pun intended!) with lighting techniques, HDR processing, Photoshop compositing, and using every bit of data available to us in our high-megapixel RAW files to tame the high dynamic range when photographing interiors. It's a skill most of us have worked really, really hard to acquire; and practice has made us pretty efficient at it, too. The result of our expertise and our niche skillsets is a final image that is pretty (hopefully) and worthy of representing a property accurately and with a little sparkle and charm to attract potential buyers.
Every time a new smartphone is announced however, there is a buzz in our community expressing concerns about how the camera technology in the new phone could be the beginning of the end of our job. Today, the new iPhone 11 has been announced, and I have read 3 different threads in two different Facebook groups to that effect. I'm here to say: You can relax... your job is safe.
Here's why a good real estate photographer can't be replaced:
If you look at the images shared on the iPhone 11 website, what you'll notice is a lot of really great compositions in the perfect lighting conditions. While the phone's camera itself is capable of achieving a high quality with nice color reproduction, I would venture a guess that the images used to market the camera's impressive tech specs were shot by professional photographers.
I'm happy to see this tech!
This tech is GREAT for us! Imagine, as this technology starts trickling down into our cameras, similarly to how WiFi and GPS have become more common features on cameras. At some point, our cameras will be able to capture the entire dynamic range in one frame and unlike our current smartphone options, it will be done in a single RAW image with no computational wizardry needed. This will make our post-production a lot easier; making us more efficient and saving a lot of time. I consider this a plus.
Let's imagine for a moment that the image quality truly is equal; meaning that an iPhone's camera is pixel for pixel 100% equal to your full frame current camera. Non-photographers will still likely have poor compositions, and shoot in the "wrong" light, and our photos will still be subjectively better more often than now. This is the result of, in many cases, years and years of practice and day-to-day hands-on experience.
It is my position that this new smartphone camera technology only makes our talent and skill all the more apparent to non-photographers. When most non-photographers take a good picture with their phone, it's usually by accident--a really happy accident. Now, ask them to do it again with the next shot and see what happens...