DSLRs vs. Smartphone Cameras: Relevant To Compare?

A smartphone camera is convenient. You always have one in your pocket. DSLR is not and can’t fit in your pocket.


NO, and YES

Has This Ever Happened With You

Although smartphone cameras have advanced to a point where they take much better pictures than they used to before they are nowhere near what a DLSR can do. I see people bragging about their iPhone camera portrait mode. But if you look closely at the pictures taken by these so-called dual-camera smartphones you will see that they are not perfect. The bokeh effect created using these smartphones is usually done by software and hardware processing which is not natural. While in a DSLR all the magic is done with their big and wide lenses.

iPhone X Camera

Here are some advantages of a smartphone camera

  • Uncomplicated and easy to use
  • Smartphones can shoot good quality 4k videos
  • Images are immediately usable
  • Lightweight and fit in your pockets
  • Uncomplicated and easy to use
  • Images are immediately usable
  • Available with you at all times

Which Camera Solution is Right for You?

 If all you ever do with any camera is put it on auto and take a snapshot of what is in front of you, then your smartphone will do a fine job.

Your camera is nothing more tool to capture light and like any tool, there are good and bad ones, versatile ones, tools that are better for specific tasks, etc. And photography like any other trade has professionals, enthusiasts, and amateurs many of whom spend years of study in order to understand how to use this tool to get the very best from it.

If you think of a professional photographer (by which I mean one that makes a living from it), you would never use a smartphone for client work, for many reasons, since your livelihood depends on it, you have to have equipment that is reliable, robust and will (sometimes under the most extreme) conditions “get the shot”, by this I don’t mean the camera takes a “great” photo, that’s the photographer’s job, I mean take the photo without missing the focus, failing to fire, captures a vast number of shots quickly, all without crashing or getting a Facebook message or phone call in the middle of it 😉

So assuming you don’t mean professional photographers then the question becomes why would anyone bother with a dedicated camera?

Type of photography:

If all you ever do is take are street photos, landscapes, selfies, plane wings, and hot dog legs, your smartphone will do a pretty decent job, however, this represents a tiny fraction of the types of photography you can do.

Sensor size:

It makes a big difference and your sensor in your smartphone is tiny, however, this is a technical and soporific topic, so let’s just settle on:- sensor size is important and even the best low light photos (high ISO) suck on your mobile as does the dynamic range. You might think they look great and if you do, you’ve not seen a modern high ISO, high dynamic range camera in action.

If you find yourself wanting to get shots at the moment and they don’t need to be professional then a smartphone is the convenient option, and still capable of producing a level of quality that is more than acceptable for prints.

Picture Quality

The picture quality of a DSLR is much higher than that of a smartphone camera. This is due to the fact that there is a large sensor in DSLR. Smartphones have a very small camera sensor which prevents them for capturing more pixels. When a smartphone company brags about their camera they are usually comparing it with other smartphones and not any DSLR. Even if they compare it with DSLR they are just bragging. 😛

Let’s take it this way

A DSLR is like a sports car – it packs a serious punch, but the amount of fun you can have with it is directly proportional to your driving skills. The camera on a smartphone like the Note 8 or the iPhone x, on the other hand, is akin to a limousine – it can’t win a rally, but it rides with grace and in style; all you have to do is lay back and relax as your driver takes you to your mansion.

A DSLR camera is way better than any mobile phone camera in a number of ways:

  • Much more light enters the lens of a DSLR than a mobile, just because the DSLR lens is bigger. And it allows having shots with way better color representation and contrast.
  • DSLR allows you to change the lens to get an artistic impression or focus length/depth that you’re after.
  • Usually, you can make way more shots per second with a DSLR.

Phone cameras can only take decent images when conditions are just right. Otherwise, they’ll struggle. Take a good light and a static subject and you’ll get a nice mobile phone shot. Take a dark or less contrasty situation, a moving subject, and a busy background, and you’ll probably be disappointed.

Smartphone vs. full-frame DSLR sensor sizes.

In conclusion

It’s hard to deny that today’s smartphone cameras are amazing. Of course, if all the conditions favor them and the photographer is competent they take beautiful photos, however in comparison to a decent camera they are still lousy. However they will always be this way since, design, size, weight, cost, heat, and physics mean compromise and different use cases. Just because they are popular does not make them superior.

Like everyone else love them, even as limited as they are. The fact that they here and have opened up photography and allowed us to capture life as never before is something we should all smile about.

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