Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

What is your appeal to the art of photography?

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

Photography has evolved a lot in ages and it now reached a time where it is having more influence on people than ever. Especially due to social media platforms like Instagram, 500px and many more, which gave people a platform to show off their photos. (you can count facebook and twitter too!)

“Life is not about significant details, illuminated a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.” 

Susan Sontag, On Photography

But the biggest reason for the increasing popularity of photography is due  to the device sent by the great Gods from Valhalla. (just kidding, it’s your phone.)

We are just a tap away from capturing the moment we think should be preserved for the rest of life. The controls are easy to use. But the real question is, are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs and other digital cameras. Is it the time when your smartphone takes over a digital camera.

Before we start searching for the answer to this question we need to take a look at how photography changed the world and how the world is changing it now.

There was a time when there were no digital screens to view photos. Photos were only available as printed pages There were no memory sticks in cameras to capture and store the images. A film roll helped us to do so.

Photographs As Printed Pages

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs
Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

I remember when I was a younger we had a canon camera which used to run on two AA batries. we used film rolls instead of sd cards. But that’s not when the story of photography started, it goes way back to 11th century.

When it started

History of printed photos can be checked in the embedded book mark.

The basic concept of the art of photography has been since 5th century B.C.E. The camera obscura was born in11th century, all it dose was to project images on a wall(that too inverted).

The first permanent image was created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He used a portable camera obscura to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light. This is the first recorded image that did not fade quickly.

Then came emulsion plates and dry plates led to small cameras which can be hand held.

Coming of kodak

Photography was only for professionals and the very rich until George Eastman started a company called Kodak in the 1880s. they came up with a flexible roll film that did not require constantly changing solid plates. The film was still large in comparison to today’s 35mm film. It was not until the late 1940s that 35mm film became cheap enough for the majority of consumers to use.

War was a game changer. Many photojournalists started using 35 mm cameras, photos taken at that time got public attention and helped galvanised the people like never before.

In 70s and 80s the film was still large in comparison to today’s 35mm film. It was not until the late 1940s that 35mm film became cheap enough for the majority of consumers to use.

In 90s the cameras were able to store images electronically convreting the term slr to dslr (digital single-lens reflex camera)

And started taking better photos by adjusting shutter speed, apurture and focus controls available in there SLR(or DSLR) cameras.

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

What heappend next you know better than me. If you want to dig into the history more deeply click here, here.

Impact of photography

Though cameras have changed a lot but photography remains the same. An art of capturing the moment forever. It has become a way to convey your message to the world without being a master.

Photography is an art form admired by a many and has developed itself a lot overtime. Different kinds of images can be created by firing up your creativity.

Using different techniques, compositions and light major things one needs to master it. Most of it depends on what you can think different and pleasing to your eyes.

Instagram has provided the biggest boost ever. I myself got into photography after watching people like “Peter Mckinnon”, “Allen Palander” and “Becki and Chris”. Seeing people like Allen provides me a lot of motivation to do something different being a creative artist.

Even the world of journalism has seen a change, creating a way for people to actually see what’s going, rather than just hearing about it.

We still have not yet touched the topic, “Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs”

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs
Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

In 2010 over 110 million units of compact digital cameras were sold which decreases to 11 million in 2016.

 The above stats show a drastic decrease in the sales of digital cameras (DSLRs). This is probably due to better camera phone available in the market. 

These stats raise my curiosity to the top asking myself again and again – “Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs” The answer is complicated but worth knowing.

Let’s get into some technical details.

Phones have came a long way when it comes to photography.

Sometimes they may perform better than traditional DSLRs but do they really beat them.

Pros of phone cameras

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs
Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

Better dynamic range:

Smart phones are able to perform better in this benchmark.

What is dynamic range?

“In photography, the “dynamic range” is the difference between the darkest and lightest tones in an image, generally pure black and pure white.”

According to – how to geek

Which means that your camera is able to produce photos with better color range just in a second as you click the photo (before editing).

Rocks auto mode:

it’s a very important topic to take a look at.

For someone who just wants to get started, and aspire to get their hands dirty, jumping into the world of photography without going through any courses or training on how to use a camera, Phone is the best option. You don’t need to know iso, aperture, shutter speed, or any other technical stuff to go out and play with your creativity (though its ok if you want to stay inside too! you can take better photos anywhere).

No need to choose the right lense or anything. Its already set out of the box.

Even when it comes to computer power, phones are way ahead of traditional cameras.

Phones are able to work better adjusting to the best setting they can. With AI in place, phones understand images to a greater extent.

More convenient:

Biggest advantage phones have over cameras is their size.

Being so small and handy, compared to buky cameras, phones win this section without a doubt. Now that phones have become so important part of our life we carry them everywhere with us. So whenever you need an instant click you don’t need to set up a camera, you can just take out your phone and take a picture.

99% of the phones these days have a camera shortcut on their lock screens for the same reason. It makes photo taking process much faster.

Capturing moving objects on phones is really easy. you don’t need to prepare for every photo as many times you don’t have time for the perfect photo.

Good at macro photography: phones are able to take better macro photos then DSLRs out of the box but you can get better photos in a DSLR using suitable lens.

Pros of a DSLR.

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs
Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

Depth of field:

You must have noticed the wow effect when subject in the photo is sharp and clear while the background gets defocused as we go farther. This is called “depth of field”.

Depth of field is the distance between the closest and farthest objects in a photo that appears acceptably sharp

According to  photographylife :

Bookey effect or shallow depth of field is achieved better on DSLRs. This is due to the variable focal lengths we can achieve by using different lens modules on DSLRs. As phones have a single lens with fixed focal lengths its difficult to achieve the quality as on DSLRs.

Though phones are coming with dual camera setups and lens mounts available in the market. The photos are not as good as the DSLRs (AI powered software is used to create this effect, but the results are not as good as DSLRs)

Performs better in manual mode:

Though we already saw how phones work in auto mode, there is no match for the manual mode in a DSLR.

If you are someone who understands the basics of a camera (aperture, iso, lighting, or which lens would work best ), you are better off with a DSLR than a phone. The different kind of setting and options available on your DSLR are way better than your phone you set the camera as you want, if you want a long exposure or a wide landscape photo or potrait of your cat. you can do anything.

More accessories are available:

The number of lenses, tripods, and other mounts available for DSLRs is far greater than the phones.

Which makes things easier. Traditional DSLR cameras have been in the market for a longer time and the market is filled with options for them. And dosen’t matter if you bought a different model this christmas, you can use your gear won’t become obsolete. You can use your old gear with your new camera. Even though you change your brand you can use adapters if needed.

Bigger sensor:

DSLRs have bigger sensors than phones.

Bigger sensor size help in getting more light into the camera, which helps in exhibiting less noise in low light situations, getting better shallow depth of field and capturing the brightest and darkest areas in the frame at once. Simply saying – better quality pictures.

Though computational photography is helping small sensors to imitate the effects of a large sensor. There is yet time to come when they will defeat large sensors.

When it comes to professional photography, with no doubt you would choose a camera with a bigger sensor which can take more light to produce some high quality images.

For more on this check out dpreview

Shoots in raw:

What is RAW format and how it’s different from JPEG?

Raw is a file format which captures all the image data recorded by the sensor as you take a photo. While in jpeg format the infomation is compressed and lost.

Raw images are not stored as images but as pure data. We need software to decode that data and get the information out of it.

JPEG files are pre-processed by the camera to apply all the setting, make corrections and changes wherever possible.

JPEG stores files in a 8 bit format with 256 levels of brightness but RAW is a 12 or 14 bit file with 16384 levels of brightness. which means we are able to manupulate a raw image to a greater extend than a JPEG file. Be it exposure, highlifhts, brightness , shadows etc

Some of the phones do offer to capture in RAW but there very less options.

(RAW file occupy more space than the normal JPEG files).

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs?

Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs
Are smartphone cameras better than DSLRs

At the moment phones are doing pretty well, but when it comes to quality DSLRs win. I’m not trying saying that you can’t use your phone as your main camera. Obviously, you can. 12mp_me is a great photographer with great content on Instagram, he only uses a Google Pixel to take photos, no DSLR. For taking great photos you can use the device of your choice, what matters is how much creative effort you put in.

Smartphones are really powerful devices, which make the photo-taking process easy. But they are not going to surpass DSLRs at the moment. They will remain the compact tool that you keep in your pocket most of the time, helping you capturing the moment

If you feel like your smartphone is restricting you and you make photography as a career option you should go and buy a decent camera to play with it.W

I have not taken mirrorless cameras into account here. (which is a topic for another post)

What are your thoughts on the subject? We will love to know, drop comments below or mail me at [email protected]

I’m abritpal ( at Twitter and Instagram

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