Time iPhone coverThe iPhone doesn’t quite out muscle point-and-shoots feature for feature, but you can make an argument that the image quality Apple’s device snaps is a viable day-to-day replacement. We’ve seen content both created and captured by the handset show up in some pretty reputable media outlets — another such notch in the iPhone’s belt was added via a new TIME Magazine cover.

Ben Lowry, who is described as a “conflict photographer,” braved Hurricane Sandy and captured the image you see above with nothing but his iPhone 4S and popular photo app Hipstamatic. It not only highlights the quality of Apple’s optics engineering (even despite that whole purple flare issue), but shows that the camera you have on you — whether it’s your point-and-shoot, DSLR or smartphone — is capable of snapping truly stunning images. You just have to posses the eye for the craft. Make no mistake, owning good tools doesn’t hurt.

Lowry explained to TUAW that the iPhone has become his go-to choice when he needs to snap an unexpected moment, which he encounters frequently. In fact, the device has come so ubiquitous among pro photogs that Lowry said it’s become an acceptable gadget in which to shoot with. “It’s a fast little camera and I do like that on a tough assignment,” Lowry said about his iPhone 4S, which he carries two of (in case one fails) along with Mophie Juice Packs.

Of course, like most smartphone cameras (the Lumia 920 is one exception), Lowry said his iPhone’s low-light performance leaves a lot to be desired, especially at the golden hour, or magic hour (first and last hour of sunlight). Additionally, the inability to control shutter speed and depth of field means the iPhone (and smartphones as a whole) will never truly replace most cameras.

Ultimately, Lowry said, it is the mind of the photographer that defines the quality of the image, not the equipment. But the iPhone has more than proved that possessing good equipment is key to producing memorable images.

[via TUAW]