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Camera Phone v Camera

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

We all know the cliché that “the best camera is the one that you have with you”, and that is very true. No matter how articulate and descriptive you may be with words, then they are never going to paint an exact picture. Over the years, as technology has advanced then the image quality that our camera phones are capable of producing has improved beyond recognition. No wonder then that the best selling camera in the world isn’t a Canon, Nikon or Sony, no it’s the camera in the IPhone. The cameras on our phones will have undoubtedly introduced more people to photography than ever. Anyone can now take a photo and share it online with just the few clicks of a button.

The question is though, will a camera phone ever replace our beloved film cameras, dslr’s or mirrorless cameras and will they ever be able to produce the types of images that these cameras are capable of? Some may argue that they already have and do.

I have printed iPhone images up to A3 size and unless you are looking at it with a magnifying glass then you can’t tell it wasn‘t taken with a ‘real’ camera. I have also taken images in portrait mode on my iPhone where the background is totally out of focus just as if I was shooting On f2.8 or quicker. Ok, so granted achieving this effect is done with some clever algorithmic programme in the phone but do you really care? Finally let’s look at the image at the top of this blog. Yep it was taken on my phone and would have been virtually impossible to take with my R5. Why? Well for a start the rainbow lasted for about 60 seconds and the rain itself was blowing straight into my face. With my phone i was able to take it out of my pocket, quickly put it into pano mode, take 3 images, wiping the lens in between each image, review them and move slightly to the right to create a better composition, removing a distraction, all before the rainbow disappeared. With my camera, I wouldn’t have even had the time to level the tripod let alone take 1 image.

When teaching, I now tell a lot of my clients to get their phones out before they even think about getting their camera out and putting it onto a tripod. The reason, that you can see you composition more clearly and can understand where you need to position you camera when you do start using it. Try this for yourself and I am sure it will improve your workflow.

So am I going to sell all of my camera gear and simply have a phone camera? Of course not, the truth of the matter is that the image quality will never be as good. The sensors aren‘t anywhere near being on par , sure some trickery in the phone can enhance images. The glass will never be as good and ultimately you don’t have the control with a phone that you do with a camera. Who knows what the future will bring but for now, my phone is part of my photography arsenal, it has a time and place but it will never replace my cameras.

Technology will continue to advance and as it does more and more people will be introduced to photography, some of whom will invest in a real camera. The trick will then be to help them shoot in manual and understand how to get the most out of their cameras, without relying on it to do everything for them. That’s the big difference.

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