Guardian Photographer Shooting Olympics with His iPhone

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When Michael Phelps was qualifying for the Men’s 200m butterfly at the 2012 London Games this week, Dan Chung was there to capture all the action for the UK Guardian.  And looking at his shot to the right, he caught what sportscaster Jim McKay would call “the thrill of victory.”  Did he capture it using a Canon 5D Mk. III or a Nikon D4?  Nope.  He’s shooting exclusively with an unlikely camera platform … the iPhone 4S.  And he’s getting gold medal winning results.

“2012 has been the year that smartphones have started to dominate the world of still photography. Kodak has fallen apart, the cheap digital camera market is in decline, Facebook has offered $1 billion for Instagram. How would a smartphone camera in the hands of a professional photographer perform during this year’s biggest sporting event? Follow Guardian photojournalist Dan Chung as he captures the London 2012 Olympics using smartphones” – Dan Chungs Smartphone Olympics

Chung is catching the action all over the Games with a pair of iPhones, the photo app SnapSeed, a clip-on Schneider lens and his  Canon binoculars to get up close and personal.  And the shots are amazing (see a few examples below).

And it clearly shows what every photographer is learning, the iPhone is not only the best smartphone camera out there, but it’s also a pretty darned good backup camera for professionals who need to snap a quick shot.  Even Annie Leibovitz calls it the “the snapshot camera of today.”

But to rely solely on it to shoot images on sport’s largest stage is not only gutsy, but it shows just what is possible in the hands of a seasoned professional with a trained eye and a custom app.  And Snapseed allows for one button editing and color correction, and then share them immediately to via email, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, or your own photoblog.

The iPhone 4S camera has a completely redesigned 5 element lens and processes it through an 8MP 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor made by Sony.  It can not only shoot stunning photos like Chung is capturing, but it also can make a pretty impressive video camera that shoot 1080p HD video (and according to EOSHD, it can actually shoot 4K as well but doesn’t due to power and heat issues).

But the only drawback is that it has no optical lens options.  For the average shutterbug, or even the guerrilla filmmaker, that isn’t really an issue, but for a sports photographer who can’t get as close as he’d like, it would help to have some firepower there.  Course, he could’ve bought a franken mount, like the one at PhotoJoJo that takes Canon DSLR lenses, but he’s getting just as good results with his clip on wide angle and his Canon binoculars.  So I say more power to him!

But you have to wonder.  If he can get such great shots using a smartphone, how long before Newspapers are eschewing paying for photo journalists altogether in favor of shots they see on Flickr or even just telling their reporters to grab a quick shot and email it in?

Source – The Verge, UK Guardian

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.


  1. How exactly does he use his binoculars? Any pictures of the setup?

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