DSLR cameras should become iPhone docks

“If you just want to take a picture, you use your iPhone. But what if you want great quality? Not ‘great for a phone,’ but plain great? You shoot with a DSLR camera,” Ilya Birman blogs.

“Unfortunately, DSLRs are painfully outdated. With them you can’t tweet or email photos, you can’t crop or adjust them and you can’t organize your library. And to get your photos anywhere, you’ll need a cord or a compatible card reader,” Birman writes. “This is ridiculous given that it’s 2012.”

“Adding all these features to cameras, on the other hand, seems unrealistic,” Birman writes. “It will take years of work and the UI will be terrible. Doubt it? Just look at your current camera buttons and menus and imagine setting up a twitter account on it. It’s crazy, no one would ever do this even if they had the feature.”

Birman writes,” The solution: remove everything from the back side of the camera and make it an iPhone dock.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]


  1. Different tools, different jobs. All that is needed is the ability for a camera to have bluetooth or wi-fi capabilities to transfer images out of the camera memory card wirelessly. It’s a TOOL, not a toy.

    1. memory card with WiFi exist – but: I can connect my Canon EOS 450 by USB to my Mac and fully remote control it from there… So, why not make an app using this functionality, connecting the SLR to the iPhone or iPad by the USB camera adapter? I will buy the first one!

    2. The wi-fi option exists – it’s called Eye-fi.

      I don’t have one, and I have read conflicting reports as to how good they are, but the basic technology exists.


  2. If you understood the properties of light, focal length, f-stop, CMOS capture surface area, you wouldn’t write such fanboyish nonsense.

    If picture quality is of no concern to you and you value convenience over quality, by all means be my guest and use an iPhone to take photographs.

    If you feel creativity, picture composition, low light photography are important, then a DSLR is the perfect tool for the job. How difficult can it be to transfer photos across to your computer or iPad?

    1. It would only use the iPhone as the user interface and it’s advanced electronics, not the camera itself.
      Smart phones are mini computers far more capable than the electronic guts inside DSLR cameras.
      Maybe for economical prosumer cameras, but I cannot see professionals having any interest in this.

    2. Spoken like a true non-photographer.

      With an iPhone, you can take pictures at a party and post them while you’re still walking around in it. With an iPhone, you can capture a news event and send the images anywhere while it’s still happening. With an iPhone you can emulate countless effects and styles with a few swipes.

      There is no reason that DSLRs should still be so antiquated. There’s no reason for that stupid mirror flipping around. There’s no reason for such a giant, blocky body. DSLRs are still trying to be SLRs, and that’s the only reason they still look the way they do.

      1. Totally. How many times do I wish my 5D had the touch screen capabilities built in. However, I saw a prototype of a future Canon DSLR, white in color, with exactly the features the iPhone carries today… touch focus, touch zoom and wifi. All controlled comfortably by your thumbs. Canon says the unit release is about 3 years away.

        1. Canon and Nikon are going to be caught flat footed if they don’t put a wiggle in it. They still want to sell 20th century tools. As soon as an electronics company like Apple can lure away a few great optical engineers, it’s going to be all over for the old guard. Unless they can innovate.

      2. Absolute NONSENSE. That mirror flipping around provides the FASTEST autofocus system possible. NO mirrorless camera has autofocus speed that comes close to a top notch phase detect autofocus system. Fact.

        1. Exactly. Slrs are professional tools. Canon and Nikon don’t have mirrors and a chunky body to look cool or retro; they’re there for a purpose. iPhone cameras are great for what they are, and dslrs need interface work for sure, but they are absolutely better at taking high quality photos. I would never dream of doing pro work on a point and shoot like an iPhone. The results would be embarrassing.

  3. NO!!!!!

    Idiots running the media..

    Simpler solution, apple licence AirPlay/airdrop for dslr to iOS.
    Some cameras already have wifi built in, for ad-hoc.

    Next thing they will want all dslr to have a USB port.

        1. So instead of taking a picture and doing whatever you want with it on the spot with the iPhone+DSLR dock, you suggest we take the DSLR, take a picture, wait a second or two for it to transfer (they are big, you know…), put the DSLR away, take your iPhone, AND THEN use it?

          Read The Fucking Article [2]

          1. yeah… Cause EVERY pic you take you want on the iPad etc.

            Go to the pics on the camera, select the ones you want to send.

            Your way, all the iPhone becomes is a memory card… With a touch screen.

      1. one more thing, the airplay the article speaks of.. Is sending it FROM the iPhone with AirPlay.
        I’m talking sending the pics/video TO the iOS device with AirPlay/airdrop. No cables required, no physical dock either. (the article wants an actual dock.)

  4. Oh dear, that is not a good idea.

    1. Mid to high end cameras have fairly good weatherproofing. The iPhone is not weatherproof.
    2. The iPhone changes design every couple of years. If you don’t want to update the camera every time you updated your phone, you would need to rely on adapters similar to BMW Snap-ins. They are often expensive.
    3. Touch screens are not great in extreme conditions and a good photographer knows how to set his camera up fairly quickly. If you find the controls / menu difficult then it’s not the camera for you.

    Although I can see where the author is coming from, DSLRs and iPhones are really not a good match.

    1. Exactly. The simplest solution would be to just have a dock connector to micro/macro USB cable that would let you download the pictures onto your phone directly from the camera. Anyone that uses a DSLR for serious photography wouldn’t worry about any of the benefits that this writer lists. They’re more worried about composing the shot than whether or not they can upload it to Twitter.

      And can you imagine if you’re trying to photograph a sporting event and you’re about to shoot a spectacular play that’s unfolding in front of you….and you get a phone call. Whoops.

      1. “They’re more worried about composing the shot than whether or not they can upload it to Twitter.”

        Of course, moving photos off the camera is of no concern to a real photographer. There’s no reason the person shooting that sporting even would want to get a shot directly to the paper. Of course not.

  5. There’s a tool for this…it’s called eye-fi…it’s a wi-fi transmitter on the memory card.

    Unfortunately it is an incredibly poor product. It simply does NOT work. Or rather is poorly designed, slow, lacking in support, and has an incomplete and confusing UI. It’s chock full of half baked and oddly labeled elements and looks simple but drops the ball several places in the explanation of how it works..literally suggesting steps that don’t exist or don’t show up in the sequence it recommends. This is an opportunity in the market …big time.

    1. The eye-fi worked extremely well under snow leopard. Grabbed the photos, put them where I wanted them and transferred to Aperture all hands off. When I downgraded my computers to Lion I never got it to work correctly with a MAC ever again. It is great with XP, however.

      Apple – It’s just FUBAR!

  6. I use DSLR’s and iPhone. The answer is simple. Provide the DSLR with the ability to be seen on the wireless network your computer is on. I am sure it wouldnt take that much more space on the camera. A RAW file might take a while to transfer, but I still wouldn’t mind the option.

  7. There is a tool for this.
    It’s called a Birman.
    Since he can’t do any of what he complains about, he should remove his shorts, bend over and get docked.

    DSLRs forever.

  8. I think muddygun has the right idea. Trying to dock an iPhone with a DSLR is just daft, but a proper wifi capability built into the DSLR that can talk to an iPhone, or better yet an iPad, allowing the use of apps to do set-up of the camera, with direct download of photos to the phone or pad, would be very advantageous, although not appropriate for sports or action photography.

      1. I got one (Eye-Fi) that came along with a used DSLR I bought. The crappy thing uploads it to their website- not a target device on your LAN or private server.
        Unless this has changed it’s a POS.

        1. The card can go into direct mode and create a wireless network between the camera and an iPad to show pictures at a higher resolution than the camera LCD.

  9. Ya’all are missing the obvious. The Retina display kicks the butt of DSLR displays. Don’t give me the crap about all the camera needs is wifi to get theimages to the iPhone, that isn’t the problem….

    Most cameras don’t have wifi, so the iphone could become the wifi hotspot, the hi-res display, the programable multiple long exposure timer, the link to live display to customers on iPad, quick, fast, easy to access and understand custom programable functions, GPS, sunrise/sunset and moon calculator, and probably a couple dozen more I can’t come up with off the top of my head.

    Chrissyone, sorry, an electronic viewfinder (EVF) may have a place, but I still want a 100% optical viewfinder. DSLR aren’t trying to be SLRs, they ARE SLRs, and should continue to be so.

    1. I understand that functionality behind the iPhone is a lot better than any DSLR out there…but its all about tools of the trade. You aren’t going to put a wide variety of lenses on an iphone, nor are you going to get uncompressed images(just yet). The DSLR is going to be used over an iphone in many professional situations and that will continue to stay as far as I can tell. I guess an analogy is…you could cut a tree down with a swiss army knife, but you would much rather just use an axe.

    2. I wear glasses, so a viewfinder has always been a bit of a bitch for me. Shooting low angle and sticking my head on the ground is also a bit of a pain. I DO NOT CARE about optical viewfinders if I have a good live view (with exposure settings and a live histogram to boot). Get rid of the mirror, the mechanism, the shake, and the size. We don’t need them any more.

      1. Here-here!

        I’m in complete agreement, Chrissy. Indeed, let’s get rid of that stupid mirror. If it weren’t for their puny sensor sizes and other issues, I’d be selling my D300s right now and getting something like the Lumix camera. But they and even Nikon’s J and V series cams are just not up to the same level as even the D3000. I don’t think it’d take much for Nikon or Canon to make this change but maybe they have too much money invested in the manufacturing of the mirror and shutter mechanisms.

      2. @ChrissyOne and The Mac That Roared,

        The mirror is needed in order to get a full frame sensor. Without the mirror, the camera would be even larger if still using a full frame sensor.

        The full frame sensor in higher-end DSLRs or even the APS-C sensors, give more control over depth of field, and more dynamic range over the Four-Thirds.

        That’s not to bash Four-Thirds…You can get great results with them, but they aren’t always the right tool for the job, especially in low-light situations.

        This is just one reason why they’re positioned between P&S and DSLR categories. There are others, such as the size allowing for more dedicated controls and less morse-code interface, along with better battery compartments, storage options, etc…

        Sorry, I incorrectly attributed the viewfinder quote to you.

        1. Sensor size has nothing to do with whether a camera has a mirror or not. The mirror is just there for the optical viewfinder. The Leica M9 has a full frame sensor and no mirror and is smaller than a DSLR. The Sony NEX cameras have APS-C sensor and no mirror and compact bodies.

      3. Re C1
        Diopter correction does just fine for a viewfinder.

        I have found the rear LCD display is a nuisance, a distraction and something expensive that could easily get broken. My latest camera has an articulated touch LCD that is just that much more vulnerable.

        Your mileage may vary depending upon what kind of shooting you do. Mine is more backcountry nature, scenery and street shooting.

    3. “The Retina display kicks the butt of DSLR displays. ”

      Where did you come up with that? I have a Canon 7D which has 920,000 pixels on a 3″ display, which compares to 614,400 pixels on the iPhone. Others have the same or better resolution than the 7D.

      “Chrissyone, sorry, an electronic viewfinder (EVF) may have a place, but I still want a 100% optical viewfinder.”

      For now, you may have a point, but very soon, this may not be the case. They’re cooking up microdisplays that will provide better imaging than an optical viewfinder (possible since an optical viewfinder only allows you to see visible light).

      As for all the other functions… Ya, that makes sense, but that goes back to having the iPhone off-camera. Give the camera connectivity and allow the user to walk around with an iPhone/iPad. There’s already an app for that, but unfortunately requires the camera to be attached via USB to a computer (which actually works pretty well in a studio).

  10. i have a canon eos rebel and i like it a lot after finally giving up film a couple of years ago. but there are so many buttons on it you can hardly grasp it without triggering something. it challenges a t.v. remote for unnecessary complexity.

  11. Its called the camera connection kit and it already exists for iPad. Except it sucks because iOS and even iPhoto still suck royally with respect to photo managment & organization.

    BTW you don’t need a DSLR to beat the iPhone’s image quality. My tiny Canon S95 “prosumer” class compact camera blows it away.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.