The Great Debate: Why Use a Camera When Your Phone Takes a Pretty Good Picture?

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Okay, I admit it. There have been significant advances in phone photography, and people are using them to create some great content. But it's still a fact that professional camera systems leave phone cameras in the dust. Cell phones are fine for social media or casual snapshots, but try to blow up a photo from a phone file and things quickly degenerate. It has to do with the size of the sensor and the quality of the lens. Cell phones rely on software tricks to achieve a desired result from a tiny sensor. By comparison, the sensor in the Leica S camera is 50 times larger than the sensor in an iPhone.

And then there’s the limitation of the phone's small, single focal length lens versus the professional camera's various lenses dedicated to specific tasks. For instance, the situation might call for shooting at a slightly wide 45mm for a true-to-life perspective and to enhance the look of the model while taking in some of the background, or shooting portraits with a super-fast 100mm with vivid image sharpness and a gentle blur gradient, thereby preserving skin tones and isolating the subject from the background. In these situations, a phone's camera simply isn't going to deliver the results you want.

By all means, enjoy your phone's camera for its convenience and accessibility. But if you're looking for professional results, whether for your family photos or to promote yourself or your business, you'll be much better served by the advanced capabilities of a professional camera system.

The Leica Look: Why I Exclusively Shoot Leica Cameras

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Since that first Kodak, I've had decades of experience with many of the top camera manufacturers. I shot Minolta for 10 years, Nikon for 20 years, Canon for 15 years, and Leica for 20 years. I also shot underwater with a Nikonis for 10 years. After all this exposure to some pretty terrific systems, I've transitioned exclusively to Leica within the past two years. I currently have three Leica bodies -- a medium-format S, a full-frame SL, and a full-frame Q. Between the S and the SL, I have 12 lenses. (The Q has its own built in, non-interchangeable 28mm lens.) With focal lengths of 300mm, 180mm, 100mm, 70mm, 55-110mm, 45mm, 35mm, and 24mm for the S, and 90-280mm, 24-90mm, 55mm, and 16-35mm for the SL, this collection of Leicas prepares me to handle any subject in any shooting conditions.

Why all Leica? This system produces what photographers commonly refer to as “the Leica look,” which is absolutely unmistakable. Leica produces high-contrast images that are extraordinarily sharp from corner to corner and that have a smooth, natural look and superior color capture. Leica cameras and lenses are hand-made in Germany, and are the finest and most highly regarded available in the world.

One of the benefits of Leica glass is that the results coming out of the camera are naturally strong and require minimal post processing. In fact, I sometimes find that making changes to an original Leica image does more harm than good. Leica cameras have been producing beautiful images for more than100 years; indeed, it was Leica which invented the 35mm camera.

You’ll know a picture shot with a Leica when you see it. It’s the one that gets attention.

My Photographic Journey

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I was 10 when I got my first camera (a Kodak Instamatic), and I've had one in my hand ever since. My friends used to make fun of me because I was never without a camera; now they all want copies! Photography has been and continues to be my life-long passion. Combining creativity, vision, skill, and technology to create art never gets old to me, and I'm still as excited about photography as that 10-year-old boy was all those years ago.

The pursuit of photographic excellence has been my goal for decades, and I'm proud of my success -- although I still learn something new about the art form every day! I started winning blue ribbons at the fair when I was a teenager, and I also shot for my middle and high school annuals. I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that had a professional darkroom, where I spent countless hours learning to develop film, and to have a classmate whose father was a photographer for the New York Times, from whom I was able to absorb important foundational technique. I pored over magazines and books and visited camera stores (including every camera store in New York, Chicago, and L.A.). I shot for my college annual and have continued to explore and shoot at every opportunity.

Nationally, I earned a third place finish in Nikon’s Picture America Contest, and another third place finish in Popular Photography’s Annual Compact Camera Photo Contest. Twentieth Century Fox bought my original photo Code Talker, which can currently be seen on the set of its hit show The Resident, airing Monday nights on Fox. I regularly post to Instagram where a larger body of content is on display. Over the past several years, I’ve visited 46 states and continue to capture images of the people and places I encounter from coast to coast.

I doubt my parents had any idea how profoundly that long-ago birthday present would shape my life, but that little Kodak is hands-down the most meaningful gift I ever received.