iPhone 11 Pro: All that and a bag of chips?

words & photos:: Todd Lawson

iPhones are obviously everywhere these days. Lovers and haters and everyone in between utilize their modern-day magic for an infinite number of reasons. But this post is about one thing — the camera. Full disclosure. I was lucky enough to be one of the first Canadian photographers/content creators to receive the new iPhone 11 Pro.

The new stuff I was most interested in testing were the Ultra Wide (13 mm) lens, the new Night mode, and Portrait mode with five different lighting styles. But why shoot with iPhone instead of a DSLR in the first place? First and foremost, it fits in your pocket. I enjoy the ‘run and gun’ style of documentary and/or war photographers, who care more about the moment than precise technical elements. f8 and be there, right? 

Another big reason is the editing process. With a ‘big’ camera, it’s a long process with many hours behind a computer. With iPhone 11 and its myriad of in-camera editing apps, I can shoot and edit in one fell swoop. I like that. And you’ll have plenty of time to indulge in that bag of chips.

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But the biggest reason for shooting with iPhone? SHARING. I used to be admittedly anti-smartphone. But when I finally put aside my ethical reasoning and used my iPhone more regularly for photography, the thing that really converted me was the ability to instantly share my images with my friends and family. I’m not a huge Instagrammer, but having the ability to send a photo or video of my daughter playing in the forest to her Grandmother is priceless. I definitely miss compressing a scene or shooting wildlife with a 200mm, f2.8 Canon lens — the iPhone can’t compare with that. 

“No matter what iPhone you are using now, if you are serious about shooting photos with your iPhone, this is a year to upgrade, “ says professional photographer Austin Mann (@austinmann). “Apple had some serious catching up to do and as a result, this year has brought a tremendous leap in camera capability. Night mode and the Ultra Wide lens will change how we tell stories and express ourselves as artists using our iPhones. Now is a really good time to jump in.”

I agree with Andy, but don’t buy a new iPhone unless you really need it. If you are hell-bent on shooting really good photos in any kind of situation, you may want to keep it in your jeans at all times. Just remember to send them to Grandma 😉 

Here are a few recent examples using various camera modes. 

Night Mode

Daniel Ceasar live at Radio City Music Hall. This is hand-held at 6 seconds. Impressive when viewed on a 4-inch LCD, but apparent noise when viewed on a larger screen. After the show I saw him eating popcorn, not chips.

Portrait Mode

My daughter in the forest, shot in Portrait Mode and edited with different light modes.
We ate a bag of chips for lunch after this shoot.


Fall Reflections. Above image— Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture, 120° field of view.
Normal 1x ‘wide’ angle. Note tack-sharp from reeds in the foreground to building in the background.


Telephoto 2x.
No chips were harmed in the making of these photographs.


Black bear at 10x digital zoom. Not many wildlife photographers are using iPhone to make award-winning images…but maybe in 10 years? I won’t hang this on my wall, but I’ll send it to Grandma! (please note: I did not feed any chips to this bear.)