Smartphones are ubiquitous and virtually always within arm’s reach. And isn’t there the saying that the best camera is the one you have with you? Smartphone cameras allow spontaneous capture of moments without the need for carrying a large DSLR or mirrorless camera. Whether it’s a stunning sunset or a spontaneous social gathering, your smartphone is there to capture it instantly. Smartphone cameras are evolving rapidly, with each new model boasting better sensors, improved image processing, and more advanced features than most “real” cameras. But would any serious photographer accept a smartphone as a legit replacement for a “big” DSLR or mirrorless camera? The answer, at least from my point of view, is “it depends”…..continue reading after the jump for some more insights about the question smartphone or camera?…
Smartphones use sophisticated algorithms to enhance images. Features like HDR, night mode, portrait mode with bokeh, and even AI scene recognition transform what would be average photos into striking images that can rival those taken by “traditional” cameras. These computational techniques can compensate for the smaller sensors and lenses found in smartphones, bridging the gap between convenience and high-quality photo output.
With DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, we photographers used to carry a lot of additional gear like tripods and filters to be able to capture decent photographs in low light situations or when confronted with a wide dynamic range. Any modern camera in a high end smartphone can handle these situation with ease and stunning results.
Then there is the portability. Not only you save on a lot of weight for not carrying a large camera plus a few interchangeable lenses around all day, but you also have much smaller footprint, without the need to carry a large camera bag. Then there is simply the fact that traditional professional cameras are simply not allowed in some venues. For example I would never have been able to take my Leica SL2-S into the Bruce Springsteen concert we visited this summer. But no one will object a smartphone.
Same goes for photography inside some tourist attractions, where indoor photography normally is not permitted, or without the use of flash or tripod. But there seems to be always the chance to take a picture or two with a smart phone. Add the fantastic low light capabilities, and there is the chance you get away with a few great images that you wouldn’t have been able to take with your traditional camera. Also for the avid street photographer, people seem never to object when you hold a smartphone in their general direction, while pointing a large, professional looking camera at them would make them instantly feel wary or uncomfortable.
What is photography all about? In the end, it is about telling a story by visual means. Images need to speak for themselves through the contents. Having a great composition, capturing gesture and putting the story you want to bring across at the center of your photograph is more important than the discussion which sensor, lens or camera body to use. Any photographer can tell a story through a striking image with any device than capture a scene, be it a DSLR, mirrorless camera or a capable smartphone camera.
When I get questions from readers for advice on a good entry level camera, I always ask what the people intend to do with the camera. If it is more about capturing everyday life and striking holiday images, about not wanting to carry a too big of a camera or avoid the hustle of interchangeable lenses, I would always also recommend to think about investing in a smartphone with a capable camera and use this device to its fullest possibilities.
I was more than happy with the images I took with the iPhone 14 Pro from the concert of the Boss. Looking at them, I can still recapture the atmosphere of this great night with great musicians.
So what is your take on the discussion – smartphone or camera? Leave your comment below.
Smartphone or camera – either way, you can find a lot of tips and inspirations around photography in my free Learning Center. Head over and check it out.
Have a great Saturday and hopefully a great weekend of photography!