When shooting photos with your iPhone just isn’t good enough

Times when you should use a manual camera.

Digital cameras such as this one can take your photography to a whole new level.

We’ve heard it all — this or that smartphone model suddenly can shoot better photos than supposedly “proper” cameras.

Take Apple’s ad campaigns, “shot with the iPhone”, which constantly feature stunning photos which supposedly, anyone can snap. Even some artists have begun to shoot exclusively on iPhones (see this commercial, for example). TIME magazine ran its recent “Most Influential People” cover story on an iPhone.

Despite the above, these “success stories” are the exception rather than the norm. And we mustn’t forget that the above campaigns are captured by professional photographers with a trained eye and shot over a long period of time.

For consumers like you and me — What, then, are the reasons to upgrade to a “proper” — i.e. manual camera — such as the ones you can rent on Gaifong? Below are a few main reasons.

1. Create stunning portraits with blurred backgrounds

Manual cameras let you control every aspect of your photo, above all two things: the shutter speed (how long your photo is “exposed” for) and the aperture (how much light you let into your camera). The second of these can let you turn the aperture up to a very wide setting, providing you with stunning blurred backgrounds (or what photographers call “depth-of-view”).

DSLR cameras allow you to create stunning portraits with blurred backgrounds.
Wide aperture (left) to narrow aperture (right) — notice the difference in blurring. Photo: petapixel.com

2. Capture Northern Lights, midnight skies, and other night photos

Above, we talked about aperture. The other thing you can control easily on a manual camera is the shutter-speed, which go from 1/32000 secs to 30 secs or more! For example, you can capture stunning photos of night skies — photos that require exposures of many seconds to fully capture the light. Yes, there are some apps that allow you to do this manually, but the process is cumbersome and the results limited. Check out this stunning night photo, which you take with any manual camera mounted on a tripod!

Photo from https://digital-photography-school.com, photo exposed for 25 seconds.

3. Real, optical zoom for faraway objects

There’s a reason the photographers and journalists have long lenses — they allow for photos to be “zoomed in” on the expressions of their subjects without a loss of picture quality. When you pinch and zoom on a smartphone, you are actually creating an illusion of a zoom —what we call “digital zoom”. And thus when you blow it up onto your computer screen, the level of detail is lost.

With a simple telephoto lens from Gaifong, you can capture stunning moments for concerts or sports events.

Optical zoom with telephoto zoom lens — capture faraway subjects without loss of detail.

4. “Streaks of light” effect

Sometimes, photos require a “blurring” effect on purpose, especially light trails.If you’ve ever seen photographs such as the one below, you’ll be glad to know that you too can take these photographs with a manual camera! Just place it on a tripod and, similar to the night skies point above, set the exposure to several seconds. It might take a few tries — sometimes exposing a highway for too long will make for a very messy photo! But once you get it right, the results are magical!

A photo that looks impressive, but in fact anyone can take with a manual camera (set exposure to 1 sec or more)
Another example of a typical shot you can make using a manual camera on Gaifong. Photo: improvephotography.com

5. It just feels so much better!

Everything about using a manual camera — from the weight of the machine in your hands, to the full image you can view inside the viewfinder, to the feeling of twisting the zoom ring — offers a totally different experience for the photo-taker. Indeed, the sound of the shutter alone (the signature ‘snap’ sound of manual cameras) is stated as one of the things photographers love most about taking photos with a manual camera.

As the saying goes, “if a craftsman wants to do good work, s/he must first sharpen her/his tools”. Pick up a manual camera today and be inspired!

Pick up a manual camera today and be inspired! Photo: Shutterstock

BONUS: Yes, I’m ready to go manual. But should I rent film or digital?

This is a debate as old as the stars— is film better than digital? Is using digital “cheating”? But the fact of the matter is, it’s neither. Some situations call for film, while others would benefit from digital. Dunkirk (the Movie), for example, was shot on film because the director wanted to capture the raw, grittiness of the soldiers left stranded on the beach. Others situations, like sports photograph, require thousands of photos so that the photographers preview them quickly on a laptop and send the best ones to headquarters.

A safe place to start your manual camera journey would be to go digital. But if you feel adventurous and want to give film a try, you can of course do that too! Gaifong helps you on both.

As always, on Gaifong, you can your item owners for tips — they’ll be glad to give you a few pointers!

Digital manual cameras

Canon 1200D (find it on Gaifong)
Canon Rebel XSi (find it on Gaifong)
Nikon D90 (find it on Gaifong)
Nikon D5000 (find it on Gaifong)

Manual cameras using film

Nikon FE (find it on Gaifong)
Minolta hi-matic 7s (find it on Gaifong)

Accessories you may need

Telephoto (“Zoom”) Lens (many on Gaifong, for example this)
Tripod (many on Gaifong, for example this)

Did we miss anything in this post? Let us know!