Review

Street photography with the iPhone SE – «Not that easy but it seems promising»

Thomas Kunz
Zurich, on 16.09.2020
Cutter Armin, video producer Manuel and I (photographer) have something in common. We all want to see what the iPhone SE is capable of. It's the cheapest Apple smartphone and it only has one camera. Challenge accepted. In the first part of this series, I tested out street photography in Biel. Read on to find out what happened.

You can get your hands on an iPhone SE for 429 francs. Compared to top of the range models, that's pretty cheap for an Apple smartphone. The main place where they seem to cut corners is on the camera. Rather than the traditional three cameras you see on top models, the SE set-up only features one camera on the back. Armin, Manuel and I have some fun taking a closer look at the device. The best bit is you get to decide what we do with the smartphone.

 Street photography with the iPhone SE

On 22 August, I asked our Instagram followers what I (as a photographer) should test out on the iPhone SE. The options were portrait or street photography. And the latter won. Thanks for voting. A whopping 74% chose street photography. You can find that video above.

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Verdict

It wasn't that easy. In the two hours I spent in Biel, I got a couple of nice photos. But I didn't manage to achieve the profound, striking street photograph I was looking for. I started with the Apple camera app. It's good for snapshots but it's not designed for fine tuning. Your only options are making the image lighter or darker using the exposure control. That means I have no idea what's going on with the shutter speed or the ISO. What's more, the camera app on the iPhone SE doesn't let me take any RAW photos. On the iPhone 11 Pro, the app is just as weak and anything but pro.

Apple's camera app
Apple's camera app
The Adobe Lightroom app gives you a lot more flexibility and options.
The Adobe Lightroom app gives you a lot more flexibility and options.

I supplement the standard app by downloading Adobe Lightroom. You also have to set up an Adobe account but the app is pretty much free. The Lightroom app has a shooting and editing mode. I like it. It also offers so much in the free version. And for what I was looking for, it had enough features. If you upgrade and pay for the app, you'll unlock more editing options.

Meanwhile in Biel, it was a slightly cloudy day. I'd have liked some harsh sunlight. Culture-wise, Biel has a lot to offer. And with Biel local Kevin with us, we quickly found interesting places to shoot.

Take a look at some of our unedited photos below. Next week I'll be editing the images in the studio. Then you'll be able to vote on which of the edited photos we should have blown up and printed.

Next steps

Follow my author profile so you don't miss the edited photos and the invite to vote. Next up we've got video producer Manuel filming a bike action video on the iPhone SE. And then Armin will be cutting the 4K footage on the SE. Not to be missed.

The first of the unedited photos

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Thomas Kunz
Thomas Kunz

Photographer, Zurich

As a photographer, human being and dad, I tell stories as close to life as possible. With all its corners, emotions and uniqueness.

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