Apple iPhone 5s camera shines for National Geographic photographer

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Longtime National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson left his DSLR behind on a hiking trip through Scotland in favor of an iPhone 5s, and concluded that Apple's latest flagship handset includes "a very capable camera."

Photos shot for National Geographic by Jim Richardson with the iPhone 5s | Source: National Geographic

Richardson took more than 4,000 photos with an iPhone 5s during his trip through Scotland's highlands and islands and showcased some of the images on National Geographic's Proof photography blog. The account was discovered and shared on Twitter by Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, who termed it "iPhoneography."

Richardson says that while he initially struggled to make the most of the iPhone's 8-megapixel shooter, he has become more comfortable working with the phone and identifying the types of shots the device is best at capturing.

"Cameras all have personalities. Or perhaps they have visual signatures. To some extent they always lead us around by the nose. Little by little we come around to taking the pictures the camera can do well," he wrote.

"What surprised me most was that the pictures did not look like compromises. They didn’t look like I was having to settle for second best because it was a mobile phone. They just looked good."

Richardson called the iPhone 5s's color and exposure "amazingly good" and said the HDR exposure feature did "a stunningly good job," while singling out iOS 7's new square photo ability as a time-saver when shooting for Instagram.

The photographer saved his most effusive praise for iOS's ability to quickly capture panoramic images — Richardson wrote that the feature is "nothing short of amazing — seeing a panorama sweeping across the screen in real time is just intoxicating."

Richardson's work has been connected with Cupertino before — he can currently be seen discussing Aperture's geo-tagging functionality in an episode of Apple's "Aperture in action" video series.

This is not the first time the iPhone 5s camera, with its new f/2.2 aperture and larger image sensor, has received praise from photography professionals. Burberry used the device to shoot its London Fashion Week spring/summer 2014 show in September. Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer for the British fashion house, praised the iPhone 5s after the show, telling Pocket Lint that the handset's ability and quality as a camera was "remarkable."