iPhone XS selfie

iPhone XS Max Camera Review for Photography

I just tested the new iPhone XS (Max) camera for photography — and a huge fan. Here are my thoughts as compared to my prior iPhone XS (normal) review.

When is bigger better?

iPhone XS selfie

For the most part, I don’t like bigger devices. But with the iPhone XS max it is different:

Having a bigger LCD screen for photography seems to be beneficial.

What I mean is this:

When I see a scene that I want to photograph, and I have the massive ‘electric viewfinder’ of the iPhone XS max (the screen), I gain deep joy from seeing all the wonderful colors, tones, and contrast of the scene.

Vivid filter rocks.

While in Denver (my new favorite American city) I shot everything in the vivid preset (default in iPhone). Super impressed with the colors — all are straight out of the iPhone XS Max without additional processing (only vivid filter):

iPhone XS vs XS Max?

The camera is the same, but I prefer the XS Max because the photos look bigger and more gorgeous both while you’re shooting and also after the fact.

Thus if you’re looking to get an iPhone to shoot photos and want the best device for photography, choose the iPhone XS Max over the standard iPhone XS.

iPhone XS Max or Pixel 3 or Huawei P20?

Practical suggestions:

  • Google Pixel 3 for black and white photography
  • Huawei P20 Pro for color photography (I think P20 Pro has better colors than the iPhone XS)
  • iPhone XS Max for color photography and general use as mobile computing device, and everything else.

Phone cameras are like the new digital compact point and shoot camera

At this point I see phone cameras as the new digital point and shoot cameras. Quality isn’t as good as a RICOH GR II or other standalone digital cameras, but they are like the new pencil for photographers — good for sketching images, keeping our visual acuity sharp, and for us to constantly practice shooting and creating new images.

The ultimate seamless/streamlined solution

Also with phone cameras— you got the ultimate streamlined experience. You can shoot, select, process, and publish your photos all from one device.

Honestly, the more streamlined/frictionless we can make our lives — the better. The less friction you have, the more you can creatively output and flow. And generally speaking, the more creatively productive you are, the happier you will be.

iPhone XS Max or RICOH GR III?

I played a bit with the Ricoh GR III the other day (shout out to my boy Anthony) and I really like the new GR 3 a lot.

If your primary focus is to output photographs you consider your primary visual artwork, get the GR 3. If I had an option between the iPhone XS vs the RICOH GR III, I would choose the GR 3 in a heartbeat.

My rationale:

The RICOH GR III is only 20% bigger/heavier than the iPhone XS Max, yet the image quality seems to be at least 10x as good.

#ricohmafia for life.

Next steps

I’ve been living phoneless for the last 2+ years, and I prefer it this way. Fewer distractions, and more focus.

Currently happily making new photos on my old and busted RICOH GR II, and having tons of fun shooting with the flash, in jpeg with positive film preset, and processing my photos on my iPad Pro 10.5 inch.

Will keep making new photos, sharing new ideas on art and technology, and beyond. More turbo thoughts to come!