iPhones 6s captures China’s beauty (and liberates Nat Geo photog)

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The new camera on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have already been put to the test in the fashion world, and on the baseball diamond, and now ahead of the device’s release tomorrow, National Geographic is showing fans what the new 12MP sensor can do when it replaces your entire camera bag.

National Geographic sent Mark Leong to the Chinese city of Sanjiang to retrace the first road trip that set the tone for his career as a professional photographer. Instead of lugging around his DSLR and suitcase of extra gear though, Leong was only allowed to shoot with the iPhone 6s Plus, which he says turned out to be ‘incredibly liberating.’

Take a look at some of the stunning images he captured:

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When taking night shots, Leong says he only used the iPhone 6s Plus and tripod combined with an app called Slow Shutter Cam.

“When I prepare for an assignment these days, my knees and spine quietly complain about the toll of heavy gear and awkward shooting positions,” writes Leong. “So—having gradually expanded from shoulder bag to backpack to roller suitcase to assistants schlepping along all the photo stuff I have mostly just in case—carrying only an iPhone has been incredibly liberating.”

Leong first took pictures of Sanjiang in 1989 as an amateur photographer. His shoulder bag at the time consisted of two-second hand Nikons, three lenses, and eight pounds of Kodak black-and-white film. The area, as well as Leong’s photo gear and technique have changed a lot since then though.

“I peep at each frame seconds after I take it,” Leong says. “What happens before I press the virtual shutter, though, may be the biggest difference between then and now. In 1989, I just went up to people and started photographing without saying anything.”

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You can check out Leong’s full gallery of iPhone 6s Plus pictures over at National Geographic, and read more about his journey of photographing China.