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Smartphone Cameras Vs DSLRs - Which Is Better?

Here, we discuss the pros and cons of smartphone cameras and DSLRs - which is better?

|  Camera Phones
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Words by Liz Pekler

smartphone screen

Image Sourse: Pixabay

It wasn’t that long ago when people had to use high-end digital cameras, such as DSLRs, to capture professional-quality photographs. However, smartphones have gradually caught up with DSLRs and many of the latest high-end smartphones (like the iPhone 6S) now boast the kind of superior specs which once could only be found on high-end digital cameras.

The surge in smartphone camera quality is slowly killing the point-and-shoot market. More surprisingly, many professional photographers and shutterbugs are ditching their heavy, complicated DSLRs in favor of more compact, lightweight smartphones. Nowadays, it’s quite common to see sightseers at popular attractions using their iPhones to take photos, leaving their expensive DSLRs dangling around their necks.

Many renowned photographers have ditched their professional gear and now work exclusively or almost exclusively with smartphones. Kevin Russ, the professional iPhone photographer, uses nothing more than an iPhone and a handful of creative apps to shoot dynamic, high-quality images which he then uploads to stock photo websites. Benjamin Lowy, the award-winning photojournalist, has documented conflicts using an iPhone and the Hipstamatic app.

With so many endorsements from such notable figures, does this mean that DSLRs have become obsolete? Can smartphone cameras now outperform DSLRs?

 

The Cold, Hard Truth about Smartphone Cameras

While it’s true that high-end smartphones now boast incredible specs, they still lack the versatility and functionality of DSLRs. The iPhone 6S, for example, has a 12-megapixel rear camera and the ability to shoot 4K video. Despite these advantages, DSLRs, like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, win hands down when capturing a variety of photographic scenarios. Generally speaking, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II takes sharper portraits, works better at capturing subjects with an external flash, and performs exceptionally when shooting in low-light situations.

But wait - does that mean you should ditch the iPhone 6S camera and run back to your neglected DSLR with tail behind your legs? Before you commit to your primary camera, consider the pros and cons of smartphone photography.

 

Pros of using a smartphone camera

 

cold capture

Image Source: Pixabay

1. More portable, less bulky, and less noticeable than a DSLR

If you’re going for a night out with friends or going on a first date, it makes sense to leave your bulky and heavy DSLR at home and record your precious moments with your lightweight and portable smartphone. Bringing along additional gear like speedlights, extra batteries and a camera bag will only make things harder for you, and you’ll certainly look awkward in social situations where professional photographers aren’t expected.

Moreover, it isn’t safe to bring expensive and very noticeable DSLRs to some tourist destinations. Pickpockets and vendors are more likely to target affluent tourists with $3000 cameras strapped to their necks than tourists who hide their smartphones discreetly in their pockets.

 

2. Allows you to share your photos easily with contacts

Your smartphone was designed to help you communicate and share information with your contacts. If your main activity is shooting and sharing photos (whether it’s through text, email, chat, or social media), then the smartphone is your best ally. Armed with a smartphone camera and a great editing app, you can shoot, edit, and share polished and interesting photos with your target audience.

On the other hand, while older DSLRs lack Wi-Fi connectivity (requiring users to transfer photos from the camera to their computers before they could be shared), some newer models like the Canon EOS 6D are Wi-Fi enabled, allowing users to connect their DSLRs to their smartphones or tablets for easy editing and sharing.

 

Cons of Using a Smartphone Camera

 

1. Limited versatility and functionality

DSLRs are interchangeable lens cameras, meaning they allow users to change lenses in response to different photographic scenarios. Smartphones have built-in cameras that don’t accommodate lenses, severely limiting their functionality.

Portraiture

With a DSLR, you can choose a 50mm macro lens for portrait photography, enabling you to capture highly detailed portraits. In contrast, the iPhone 6S’ front-facing camera is only 5 megapixels - which means you shouldn’t expect your phone to take portraits worthy of the National Portrait Gallery.

Low-Light and Flash Photography

Shooting in low-light situations or with the iPhone 6S’ flash is also problematic, resulting in poorly illuminated night shots and a red eye effect. In contrast, DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II can accommodate an external flash with many settings. Users can control the light more precisely which, in turn, leads to better low-light shots.

Zooming

DSLR photographers who want to photograph something far away can use a telephoto lens to zoom in on a subject and capture it sharply and clearly. The iPhone 6S, in contrast, does not have the ability to zoom, and only gives the illusion of doing so. All it does is enlarge a portion of the image, resulting in reduced clarity and sharpness.

 

Solution: Add a Clip-On Lens or Lens/Sensor Attachment to Your Smartphone

According to this helpful article from Adorama Learning Center (ALC), smartphone users can compensate for their smartphones’ limitations by adding clip-on lenses or lens/sensor attachments.

 

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens

The Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens for the iPhone 6 and 6S can be attached to your smartphone camera. Its 4-in-1 lens design consists of two macro lenses (10x and 15x), one fisheye, and a wide-angle optic. This handy clip-on lens is optimized for front-facing FaceTime cameras and enhances the user’s field-of-view beyond the iPhone 6 and 6S’ built-in camera. These features allow users to shoot more expansive selfies, capture panoramic landscapes, and get crisp close-ups.

Check out the Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens’ zoom capabilities (courtesy of the macro 15x lens) in the pictures below:

Olloclip

Image from Olloclip.com

2. Limited battery life

Despite the rave specs found on the iPhone 6, its short battery life has been described by reviewers as “frustrating”. If you’re using your iPhone 6 as your primary camera on your next exotic vacation, consider bringing a power bank or you’ll soon find yourself with a smartphone that’s out of commission.

In contrast, most new DSLRs have impressive battery life, and users can go for days without needing to charge their camera battery despite almost constant use.

 

Which Camera Type is Better? The Choice is Up to You

Both smartphone cameras and DSLRs have unique strengths and drawbacks. Photographers need to consider them carefully according to the bulk of their needs before they decide on the right camera. Go for a smartphone camera if you want to capture, edit, and publish photos in real-time. DSLRs, meanwhile, are great for professionals in a variety of fields who need to produce technically accomplished photographs.

As for which camera is “better,” it helps to remember that talent and skill matter just as much as the tools. It is possible to take a clumsy shot with a high-end DSLR or an award-winning photograph with a smartphone, depending on the photographer holding the camera. In other words, the person behind the lens is just as important as the camera and its specs.


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Comments


25 Mar 2017 5:43PM
Well you have wrote it briefed. Yes it's difficult for Cameras to take photos with ZOOM they lost their quality and clarity. Biggest problem. Otherwise it's pretty fine to take some extra ordinary photos with high quality camera phone.

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