We just returned from a wonderful vacation during which we visited Barbados, then took a cruise aboard the S.P.V. Royal Clipper. The Royal Clipper is a magnificent sailing ship, the largest passenger sailing ship ever built. It's a modern version of the classic clippers ships built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Please check it out in the February 2012 Royal Clipper & Barbados gallery.
Although most of the photos taken on our vacation were shot with a Canon D-SLR, this trip marked the first time that a significant number of photos were taken with my phone. Since getting my iPhone 4S, I've been very impressed with the quality of it's built in camera. The iPhone camera actually has higher resolution than my old "point and shoot" standby, my trusty Canon SD1000.
There are times when it's just not practical to use a D-SLR. For example, when flying on an airliner, my "big guns" are safely packed away so they are inaccessible. I usually don't carry my big camera bag with me when we go to dinner at a fine restaurant. However, those may be occasions when I want to take a photo. Having a small compact "point and shoot" is essential. After all, the best camera in the world does you no good if it's not with you. And if your phone is all the camera you have, it's your best camera.
Accordingly, I've been pleased that my iPhone has really taken the place of my old point and shoot. Not only is it a decent little point and shoot, it's processing capability gives it almost as much capability as shooting RAW in the D-SLR and processing it with a computer. After all, that's essentially what's going on in there. The native output from the iPhone camera sensor is available to the phone's software and processor. The various photo apps available allow endless manipulation of photos, just like with the big toys. You can get very creative, all in the palm of your hand.
The other great feature of the iPhone as a camera is, well, that it's a communication device. With a 3G signal or a Wi-Fi connection, photos from the iPhone can be uplinked as soon as they're taken (or processed). This makes posting to a website or to a social media site almost effortless. Photos can be shared "on the go" rather than waiting 'till the voyagers have returned home.
I wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would think of his 1867 telephone invention today if he could see how it has been combined with a camera, a computer and a radio, all of which fits into a pocket. I wonder what the next 145 years will bring.