Photography

Beautiful evening light on the Apple iPhone 12 mini

Great light on an evening walk

I took a walk after work the other day, the first time I had poked my head outside all day, and was pleased to find excellent golden light. I made a number of photos on that walk with my phone.

My new Apple iPhone 12 mini

I had recently upgraded my phone to the new Apple iPhone 12 mini. My iPhone 6s no longer held a charge all day, even after I replaced the battery early in 2020. Also, thanks to Apple’s planned obsolescence, my phone had taken its last major iOS update. In time, the apps I use would stop updating, and some would stop working.

A small rant: I was happy with my 6s. It did everything I need from a pocketable Internet device. I did not want a new phone. Apple’s latest iPhone features are interesting, to be sure, but I don’t need them.

I briefly considered chucking it all and getting a Google Pixel, a capable Android phone at a reasonable price. I also considered buying an iPhone SE, which has the same basic body as my 6s with up-to-date innards at a not unreasonable price. But then my carrier offered me a surprising sum to trade in my well-used old phone on any iPhone 12.

That brought the iPhone 12 mini into play. I dislike large phones — my one gripe with my 6s was its size. It took up my whole front pocket and could not be used entirely one-handed. The 12 mini is noticeably smaller than my 6s (though larger than my old iPhone 5) and is more comfortable to carry and use. It’s also less expensive than the full-sized 12 and the plus-sized 12 Pro.

Great light on an evening walk

But back to my walk. Whenever I unexpectedly come upon something lovely, I’m always grateful to have my iPhone in my pocket. All three of my iPhones have had smashingly good cameras — not perfect, but what camera is? As long as you have at least decent light and don’t mind its wide-angle ways, you can get the photograph.

Great light on an evening walk

You can pinch the screen to zoom the iPhone camera, but it’s a digital zoom. At phone screen sizes the zoomed images look all right, but at larger sizes fine details can be lost. I haven’t used my iPhone 12 mini enough to be sure, but it might yield better zoomed photos than any of my previous iPhones. The camera app now shows how much you’ve zoomed; this photo is at about 2x.

Great light on an evening walk

Here’s the same scene at 1x.

Great light on an evening walk

The iPhone 12 mini has a second camera with an even wider lens. The camera app shows it as “0.5x.” I’m sure this camera is most useful to photograph large groups of people. It’s hard to tell what the subject is in this photo, but at least the sky is dramatic.

Great light on an evening walk

I’m confident I could have made equally good photos with my 11-year-old Canon S95, and probably even better photos with my wife’s newer Sony RX-100. But neither of those compact cameras are as pocketable as my iPhone.

Great light on an evening walk

This photo has color that reminds me a little of classic Kodak color film. The iPhone 12 did a pretty good job of capturing the details of the branches.

Great light on an evening walk

Apple has improved its cameras, sometimes massively, with each generation of iPhone. I expect my 12 mini to get shots my 6s used to struggle with, especially in low light.

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27 thoughts on “Beautiful evening light on the Apple iPhone 12 mini

  1. I am right there with you on the phone thing. I have a Samsung Galaxy that is about 4 years old. Battery life is ok but not great, but I know it and like it. I know the day is coming when it will either stop being supported or will suffer some massive failure. I dread that day.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    Funny you should mention size. I just had a conversation with my brother who is holding on to an older iPhone because the newer iPhones were too big. He told me he was looking at the new mini as a possible replacement. Gotta say about your photos, more proof that the Mac photo algorithms, are far superior to even a lot of camera brands. I noticed years ago with my sisters phone, that my professional level Nikon on “auto everything” didn’t look as good as her iPhone just doing what it wanted to do.

    • iPhones are fantastic snapshot cameras. Unbelievably good. But don’t blow up your image much more than 5×7, 8×10 at the very outside — you won’t like it.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        Still, probably a perfect size for those Instagram Chatbooks. I have a few friends that just automatically get their phone photos printed to Chatbooks, and then put them in a box like old photo albums, put the Date on the cover.

  3. Lovely light and photos! Looks like a fantastic walk!

    I have an 8 which isn’t holding charge well. It suddenly has been acting up and even autocorrect throws out super weird words at times. Coincidentally, they have been subjecting me to heavy marketing every day for the last three months.

    The conspiracy theorist in the back of my mind is shouting that it’s no coincidence! Lol. Sometimes I think they intentionally do things to force us to upgrade.

    I’m not attached to Apple and think they’re overrated but am lazy about researching a new phone so it will likely be a 12 mini for me as well. Sigh.

  4. I have an 8, and like it fine, especially since I am closing in on 20GB of downloaded music (big jazz fan). I never thought much about the camera other than it saves my having to carry a dedicated one.

    My wife has an iPhone 11, and I never gave much thought to the camera until I tried Night Mode. To test it, I took a picture of myself in a completely dark room with only very dim light from my iPhone 8 illuminating my face from about foot away. I snapped the shot, and the image came out sharp with perfect light, shadows and colors. I was stunned.

    I bought the 8 to store music files. I’ll wait another year, or so. But the next iPhone I’m buying for the camera.

  5. Darts and Letters says:

    The light was really pretty, what a great time to be outside. Same boat here, iPhone 6 that won’t hold a charge whatsoever. The mini size (which frankly doesn’t seem as mini as I’d expect) looks like it’s right up my alley. I’ve always had the smallest phone possible. Happy Wednesday, Jim.

    • It’s not as small as the iPhone 5 was. I still have my 5. I plan to write a comparison post, probably for my tech blog (dev.jimgrey.net). But it’s smaller than the 6 at least, and therefore more pocketable.

  6. I’ve owned an iPhone for a couple years (an 8) and can see why they’ve pretty much killed the casual digital point-and-shoot market (and digging at the heels of the higher-end digitals as well.)

    I got my first smartphone back in 2012. It was cheap and unremarkable, but it took pics. The pictures were never “great”, pretty lo-res, but if dressed up with filters they looked okay, especially on the screens of other phones. I still kept a “better” compact zoom digital for when I wanted to make “better” photos, like on a bike tour.

    Then in late 2018 I was gifted an iPhone 8 by my girlfriend. And the difference in photos to the whatever smartphones I had before were night-and-day. Plus, the increased memory on the iPhone 8 meant I didn’t need to do the deletion dance every couple weeks to prevent my phone from malfunctioning because of “too many photos”. And the image quality on the iPhone 8 was to my eyes just as good as I got with my digital compact zoom, with the same resolution: 12 MP. There didn’t seem to be much point keeping around the compact digital anymore, so I sold it and bought a film camera. :-)

    Still, I know that the days of my iPhone 8 are limited. I’m expecting the notice in the next year or two that the phone and apps will no longer be updated. Well, at least it’ll still take good photos!

    • It’s really not the end of the world when Apple stops supporting your phone – it will keep working with old versions of the OS and old versions of many apps for quite some time. It’s because of what I do for a living, and that I do some of that work on my phone sometimes, that I need to keep more current.

      • True. Though eventually certain important apps will just stop working. I got an iPod Touch in 2010 (my first taste of a digital device like it), and I think they stopped updating in 2013. I still use it since it has a pretty decent music library on it (great for the van when you can’t “stream”). But I haven’t been able to use it for email for a good three or four years. Amazingly the flickr and WordPress apps still work, though very clunkily.

  7. I didn’t know the 6s won’t be getting any more updates. I thought it would be supported for longer. My battery charge doesn’t last long and cold weather kills it very quickly. I could trade it in for a newer model, but I don’t want to spend money on that right now. Anyway, if the phone and the camera work then I don’t really need anything else. My wife is still using the iPhone 4 I gave her when I bought my current phone so I can probably keep my 6s for a while.

    • I got out my old 5 recently, reset it to factory, and have been using it around the house. It’s mostly fine. Some apps I need for work don’t appear to function. Apps I use for fun are on old versions and lack some features.

  8. That is some really nice light! If I had encountered it I would have been really glad to have a real camera with me and not some meager ‘smart phone’. Ah well, you do the best you can with what you’ve got, right? LOL

  9. These pictures are absolutely gorgeous! And I’m with you on phone size. I recently switched to the smart flip phone and absolutely love it! It fits into every tiny little pocket! :)

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