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iPhone 5S shines in National Geographic's shots of Scotland

National Geographic veteran Jim Richardson was tasked with shooting a trip across Scotland using the iPhone 5S. After some initial problems, he loved it.

The iPhone 5S is the latest camera phone to attract plaudits from serious professional photographers. Jim Richardson, who's contributed to National Geographic for nearly 30 years, was tasked with taking great shots with Apple's latest mobile and sharing them on Instagram.

Richardson is documenting a trip across Scotland for Proof, NatGeo's online photography site, and found using a phone rather than his usual Nikon took some getting used to.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't struggling to make pictures," Richardson writes. "Walking down the Royal Mile [in Edinburgh] surrounded by all things Scottish nothing seemed worth a picture. Out of desperation I took a few glib shots. Awful! Surrounded by great subjects I could see nothing."

Over time, however, he learned what it could do and what it couldn't. "With intense use (I've made about 4,000 pictures in the last four days) I've discovered that the iPhone 5S is a very capable camera. The color and exposures are amazingly good, the HDR exposure feature does a stunningly good job in touch situations, the panorama feature is nothing short of amazing," he gushes.

"Nothing visually profound is being produced here, I would have to say," he adds. "But it feels good, and I even noticed some of the folks on our tour putting big digital cameras aside once in a while and pulling out their cell phones when they just wanted to make a nice picture."

The company does not disclose whether there is any commercial relationship with Apple, which I would expect them to if there were. It seems reasonable to assume the site wanted an interesting piece about smart phone photography and settled on the iPhone 5S because it was new.

See, for example, this partnership with Nokia, in which pro snapper Stephen Alvarez uses the 41-megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020 on a ten-day trip across the American West. The photos are, I think, even more spectacular, but the piece is clearly marked as sponsored by the Finnish company.

Apple's latest camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.2 aperture. In his full review of the iPhone 5S, Andy found its snapper much faster than the iPhone 5's, with better contrast and clarity. Here's a sample shot he took (click it to view at full size):

Andy's reviewing the Lumia 1020 as I write, and will include great dollops of test shots for you to drool over.

What do you make of the iPhone 5S' camera? Do you think it's worthwhile for important photography sites to engage with Instagram and other online trends, or should it stick to more serious shooting? Give a snapshot of your thoughts down in the comments, or on our photo-packed Facebook page.

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