Photos Stats

For my main Photo library, I use Adobe Lightroom Classic. It does everything you would want, and does it really well. But I only use it for my photographic photos. That is, photos that have a bit of thought put into them, the kind of photos that are taken with a tripod, or a circular polariser. I also use Apple Photos as my everything-ever-taken library, so all my phone photos, all my photographic photos, all my holiday photos, random snaps, and everything in-between.

Apple Photos has become a really powerful photo library management tool and image editor. It seamlessly syncs across all my devices, as well as iCloud Photos, which makes it a really useful part of my backup process.

As a managed library, there is a database that holds all the information about the photos and videos in the library. This database is an SQLite3 database, a very popular open source database that has plenty of tools to query the data held within. The only tricky part is figuring out how the data is structured.

In this post, I'm showing a few picked highlights from my Apple Photos library. This is not an exhaustive report, but given the dataset, it does show a good overview of the photographic equipment I've used over the years, and how my photographic style has changed to reflect this. There's quite a lot of data to make sense of, and this is a mostly un-edited dump of stats.

Camera Makes

Most of my cameras have been Canon DSLRs, Canon M series, and Apple iPhones.

Canon: 28903

Canon Cameras have been my go to choice ever since I bought my first DSLR, the Canon 350D. I've never felt the need to try other systems, with Canon there's a well stocked used market, as well as the biggest ecosystem of lenses and other accessories, as well as a vast selection of second hand choices. I almost exclusively shoot still photographs, and for me, Canons image quality and colour science have always enabled me to produce photos I'm proud of.

Apple: 5989

I've been an iPhone user since the iPhone 3G came out in 2008, and I currently have the latest generation iPhone 15 Pro.


All Kodak photos were taken using the first digital camera our family owned, the Kodak DC280. It was released around 1999, with 2 megapixels, a maximum usable ISO of 400, and almost no creative controls what so ever.

Camera Models


Again, this is the first digital camera our family had. Although the ISO performance was terrible, and the battery was equally bad, it did show a glimpse of the future where you could be editing a photo with minutes of taking it. This might not sound impressive today, but bear in mind this was a time when film cameras were still the goto choice for amateurs and professionals.

W610i: 1; W900i: 17

Mobile phones before the iPhone had cameras, and yes, they were terrible.

iPhone 3G: 358; iPhone 4: 364; iPhone 5: 1020; iPhone 6: 1030; iPhone 7: 1678; iPhone XR: 1258; iPad mini: 14; iPhone 15 Pro: 98

These are all the iPhones, and iPads, that I've owned, and show the general purpose usefulness of having a good camera with you all the time.

Canon DIGITAL IXUS 500: 2005; Canon IXY DIGITAL 25 IS: 993

These Canon Ixus/Ixy cameras were my secondary cameras, my backup cameras, and my easy to pocket and take on holiday cameras. They were tough and had great performance.

Canon EOS 20D: 755; Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL: 4915; Canon EOS 40D: 2432

The Canon 350D was my first digital camera. A great starting camera. The 20D was my dad's camera around the same time. The 40D was my second camera, which I upgraded to whilst travelling in Japan.

Canon EOS M: 10217; Canon EOS M5: 6828

I switched to the Canon EOS-M just before my wife and I spent 6 months living in and exploring Bulgaria. I wanted to cut back on the weight and bulk of the 40D + EF 28-135mm. The original EOS-M was a good little camera with all the features of the DSLRs, but lacked physical controls, and required a lens adapter to continue to use EF lenses. I've not heavily invested in EF-M lenses, but I have had the 22mm F2 since day one, and owning that lens pretty much justifies the EOS-M ecosystem. Since then, I've upgraded to have two EOS-M5s, one of which has been converted to a 720nm Infrared camera, but I've continued to purchase mostly second hand EF lenses, due to the availability and cost for performance that the vast EF lens catalogue gives you.


Canon EF / EF-S / EF-M

EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM 2413 EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM 7656 EF-M 22mm f/2 STM 3941
EF 28mm f/1.8 USM 876 EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II 421
EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM 1286
EF 40mm f/2.8 STM 487
EF 50mm f/1.8 II 3407
EF 50mm f/1.8 STM 1963
EF 70-200mm f/4L USM 994
EF 75-300mm 1206

I've had many Canon DSLRs and mirrorless cameras over the years, and in that time I've been able to try out lots of different Lenses. It's worth point out that all of the cameras have been crop sensors (1.6x), so I've never use the EF lenses at their native focal lengths. However, Canon have always had excellent adapters for mounting EF lenses on to their crop sensor bodies, which allows me to purchase reasonably prices second hand lenses. Stand outs from this collections are:

EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM: This is my main carry lens. The image quality is good, the stabilisation is good. It's a good lens, but it weighs a ton. As my cameras have been crop sensor, I should really be looking for a better crop sensor carry about lens.

EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM: I've had this lens a very long time, It's my oldest and longest lived lens. The image quality is good in the centre, but drops off quickly in the edges, but that 10mm field of view means it'll always have a place in my camera bag.

EF-M 22mm f/2 STM: This is an amazing little lens. it's tiny, but has excellent image quality. If you have a EOS-M series camera, you basically want to have this lens. 20mm on a crop sensor camera is a general use focal length, F2 is bright enough to capture night shots, and it's tiny, two tiny that it makes the camera pocketable.

EF 40mm f/2.8 STM: This is a new lens in my collection, and it's mostly used on my infrared M5 conversion, as it has excellent Infrared performance. It's also the sharpest lens I have, the resolution it can project on the sensor is, in my opinion, L series level sharpness. It's also tiny, and works a great compliment with the EF-M 22mm.

iPhone 7 back camera 3.99mm f/1.8: 1663; iPhone 7 front camera 2.87mm f/2.2: 11

I've had many iPhones before the iPhone 7, but I'd say the 7 is probably when the cameras got good.

iPhone XR back camera 4.25mm f/1.8: 1195; iPhone XR front camera 2.87mm f/2.2: 16

The iPhone XR has been a stalwart of a device for me. It's happily lasted many years, and only really got upgraded due to an unfortunate accident in a hot tub. the 12 megapixel back camera was good, not great, but certainly good enough for daily snapshots. As with the iPhone 7, I don't really take selfies, so the front camera gets virtually no use.

iPhone 15 Pro back triple camera 2.22mm f/2.2: 34; iPhone 15 Pro back triple camera 6.86mm f/1.78: 39; iPhone 15 Pro back triple camera 9mm f/2.8: 25

I've only just upgraded to the iPhone 15 Pro, and the camera usage is still very low. However, I do seem to be using all three of the lenses at about the same rate.

About the Stats

All this data is pretty much the raw unfiltered data directly from my Apple Photos SQLite3 library database. The SQLite3 database is a single file contained within the /Users/user_name/Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary package. In the database are tables for each asset in your library, as well as an extendedattirbutes table that contains all the data related to camera models and lenses for each asset. Explaining the database here is beyond the scope of this post, and I'll go over it in a future post, but for those interested, I'm creating a tool to automate the process on my GitHub account

GitHub: phil/photos-stats

About the Author

Phil Balchin is a full-time software developer at Zendesk, previously at Heroku/Salesforce, and Kyan, as well as a part-time photographer living in Guildford, Surrey, UK. | | | | |
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