Camera technology has evolved a lot over the past few years. More and more people nowadays rely on their smartphones for their photography and these cameras have high quality and are better than ever before.
But are smartphones actually going to replace professional cameras? Are we going to see more photographers leave their DSLR or mirrorless cameras behind and just focus on their cell phones? Read more to know the smartphone vs camera debate.
Evolution of Smartphone Cameras
Over the past few years, we have come leaps and bounds from early smartphone photography. Earlier, the phones could barely deliver observable photos, unlike today’s smartphones which can shoot in 4K. To put this evolution into perspective: the first camera phone released in 2000 which had memory to store about 20 images, each image capable of 0.11 to 0.35 MP resolution. Users had to physically connect their phones to a device to display the pictures.
A few years later, mobile photography advanced to include flash, self-timers, large sensors, and zoom capabilities. By 2010, we started to see technologies that bring life to the modern camera technology: video capabilities, touchscreen, panoramic photos, and the emergence of built-in software features for image editing, and filtering. The advanced smartphone cameras of 2018 had dual-camera setups, the ability to shoot in wide-angle or telephoto, and include features like low-light functionality, super-fast autofocus, and optical image stabilization. Such features were once reserved for heavy, expensive DSLRs — but today, they're available in the palm of your hand.
Why choose smartphone cameras over professional cameras?
The big question posed here is whether or not smartphone photography will be good enough to replace professional cameras such as the DSLR or Mirrorless cameras. Here are a few reasons as to why this a likely scenario:
Mobile phones are light and small: Size and weight are crucial factors for photographers, especially if you are planning to go on hikes and adventures. There is a reason why professionals switched to mirrorless cameras when they were launched. And there is a chance that the same people might switch to smartphones when the camera quality actually matches the professional cameras.
Mobile phones are easy to use: Smartphones are accessible for a huge chunk of the population and deliver great high-quality images, we have seen it do a crossover. Further, being able to share the image instantly after photography is an important reason to choose this mode. Many apps also offer a professional look to your picture in no time, making the process easier.
Mobile phones are cheaper: Some may complain that the smartphones are too expensive, but the top models cost almost the same as a semi-professional DSLR camera. But the best thing is, your smartphone brings a computer, telephone, and camera in one device saving the cost of others.
Pros of Professional Camera
While many say smartphone camera is going to take over, experts say professional photographers still rely on professional cameras. Though weight and size are vital concerns, serious photographers still want the extra flexibility of working with professional devices that offer high-quality, ultrawide, and larger sensors.
However, these are a few reasons why smartphones won’t take over professional cameras:
High quality and sharper images: Though the quality of smartphone photography is improving, so is the quality of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. In addition to this, the clarity and quality of images via professional cameras cannot be compared with smartphone cameras.
Great zooming capabilities with larger lenses and sensors: Any professional photographer knows the importance of high-quality lenses and sensors. You’re much more flexible when using a camera and can use different lenses for different purposes such as zooming capabilities. A camera is a more professional tool than a smartphone.
Choice: In the camera vs smartphone debate, a camera offers more options. When buying a smartphone you’re most likely going to buy the one which is easy to use, has all the apps you need, has a good camera, and runs smoothly. But the best camera phones aren’t necessarily the best mobile phones. Between iPhone vs DSLR, both have different functions. But, when you choose between a DSLR or mirrorless you can choose between many models and find the one that best meets your requirements.
Top smartphones leveling up their camera game
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best camera phone you can buy. It comes with an ultra-wide camera, large sensors, and image stabilization. Apple’s photography capabilities such as the Deep Fusion system, LiDAR sensor, and Smart HDR 3 deliver well-balanced photos in challenging lighting conditions.
- Samsung Galaxy Ultra S21: This is the best alternative to iPhone. It is equipped with a pair of telephoto lenses - one with 3x optical zoom, the other with a 10x. It supports 100x digital zoom, can records 8K video, and has a laser focus sensor complementing the main 108MP lens. However, the story isn’t just about hardware, it also features software tricks that help you get more creative with your photos.
- iPhone 12: While the iPhone 12 Pro models set the benchmark for smartphone photography, iPhone 12 isn’t that far behind. While it doesn't have the optics of the Pro phones, it has features like Night Mode, Deep Fusion, and Smart HDR. It can record 4K HDR video and is much sharper than anything the current Android flagships can produce.
- OnePlus 8 Pro: The OnePlus 8 Pro packs so many features into a phone that costs less than premium flagships. A gorgeous display with a fast 120Hz refresh rate, four rear lenses, and wireless charging match what the best camera phones have to offer.
Will phone cameras ever win the race?
Looking forward, today’s smartphone photography makes it possible to capture practically any scene. In choosing between smartphone vs camera, much comes down to your expectations in terms of image quality, versatility with settings and lenses, and, eventually, your photography goals. Smartphone cameras are now more than good enough to create stunning images. If all you needed was a compact camera 10 years ago, then a smartphone is all you need today.
But remember, the DSLR and mirrorless cameras are here to stay. There is still huge demand among professional photographers who want high-quality and versatile pictures. So, it would be foolish to expect professional cameras to be out of the race.