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Kilts, Braveheart, and haggis, photographing the Scottish Highlands using only an iPhone 5S

National Geographer photographers are no strangers to new technology. When it comes to advances in photography, the magazine is one of the first to embrace them. We recently spoke with Stephen Alvarez about his work with Nokia on using the Lumia 1020 to shoot a special advertorial, and now photographer Jim Richardson has written about his experience using Apple’s new iPhone 5S to capture the Scottish Highlands.

Richardson is hiking across Scotland from Edinburgh to the country’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. The photographer, who usually uses a Nikon, is equipped with just the iPhone 5S.

“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,” Richardson wrote in his article for National Geographic’s new photo-centric website, Proof. “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 – seeing a panorama sweeping across the screen in real time is just intoxicating. Best of all it shoots square pictures natively, a real plus for me since I wanted to shoot for Instagram posting.”

Although Richardson wrote that he struggled at first with the iPhone 5S, he eventually discovered its strengths and focused less on what the phone couldn’t do. “What surprised me most was that the pictures did not look like compromises,” Richardson wrote.

While professional photographers like Richardson probably won’t ditch their DSLRs anytime soon, experiments like this show that smartphone cameras have come a long way and are only going to get better. Once derided for their less-than-perfect image quality, new devices like the iPhone 5S are quickly overcoming that weakness.

Richardson is documenting his journey via Instagram. You can follow him to check out the photos the iPhone 5S is capable of taking.

(Images via Jim Richardson/National Geographic)

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