The camera market has never been so stacked. There are DSLRs that pretty much see in the dark, thanks to astronomically high ISOs, and svelte mirrorless cameras with giant sensors and huge megapixels that pump out ultra-detailed pictures that regularly grace the pages of this magazine.
I’ve shot with many of those cameras and love that the technology has gotten so good. But the camera I use the most, even with access to all this high-end gear? My iPhone 6s. That’s not shocking to most people since smartphones are so convenient and always in your pocket. But for me, there’s an important distinction.
Until the 6s came out, I still carried a heavier, more powerful camera because I wanted the higher resolution. The 5s and 6 just didn’t cut it. Backcountry skiing, hiking, riding, or watching the birth of my kids, I always carried heavier gear because I didn’t trust the phone to lock in on the moment with enough detail.
With the 6s however, a new 12-megapixel sensor passes the threshold. There’s enough resolution there to make a beautiful 8-by-12-inch print to hang on my wall (an important bar for me). Thanks to 50-percent more pixels plus other features like a better sensor, the images are also significantly sharper and crisper (something you can really notice when you post images on the web or Instagram). Normally more pixels means colors start to bleed together and you get noisier (read: grainier) photos, but Apple uses something called deep-trench isolation, which keeps the colors to themselves and the noise down. If you have the 6s Plus, you also get optical image stabilization, which helps keep photos in focus when you’re shooting in low light.
Some people might call me a photo snob for being so picky. But I have my reasons. For years, I worked as a photojournalist and still consider myself a photographer (even though I edit more words now than images). Capturing the world around me for posterity was my job, so I always reached for the best tools. I still have my Canon DSLRs, and I use them for editorial jobs, but otherwise, everything gets recorded on my iPhone (and yes, other smartphone makers make nice cameras, too).
Here’s the best part—the technology is only going to get better. We just learned that iOS 10 will include RAW shooting support so you can snap uncompressed photos. And this fall we’ll likely see the iPhone 7, or whatever Apple chooses to name it. If rumors are true, we could see a version with two built-in lenses (where one is standard and the other is a wide-angle, maybe?) and a sensor with bigger pixels for improved low-light performance. Apple is of course totally mum on what’s coming, but either or both of those advancement will only solidify my choice, and I’m sure it will do the same for others.