Smartphone Cameras: A Good Option?

17 Dec

Hello! It’s been a while! I won’t bore you with the details but in quick succession, here’s what kept me from writing for a while.
Out of work since the middle of November and looking for work, getting rear-ended by another car a couple weeks ago and losing my internet connection for a few days. At this point the internet connection is on and off. Might take a few cycles to get this blog written. Not the best holiday season thus far for me – lol. But in comparision to others with more troubling circumstances, I am blessed. I truly hope this holiday season has been your best yet. For people like myself who trust and believe in the Carpenter from Nazareth, this season is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. I can only speak for myself but were He not a part of my life, my life would be different and not for the better.

Three blogs ago, I shared a couple of images that were taken with my iPhone 8+. For many of us, myself included, we are never without our smartphones. While my DSLR is my go-to camera even at 10 years old and counting (though I’m looking forward to the day I can upgrade it!), I still use my iPhone regularly.

This may or may not mean anything to you but my DSLR is a 15 mp (megapixel) camera. My iPhone is a 12 mp camera. Essentially, in terms of the quality of images just using pixel count, it is almost a wash. Now don’t get me wrong. My DSLR is going to be able to meet my demands in ways my iPhone cannot. But just take a basic image on each, display it side by side and you won’t see much difference between the two. Keep in mind this is not a professional studio image but just an image shot in my office so there is no intentional control over the lighting, etc. Also, it is harder for me to hold my DSLR steady like I can with my iPhone. I always shoot my DSLR using a tripod for maximum steadiness. Without the tripod, my DSLR is going to be a little less sharp than the iPhone for comparison. Having said that, the differences are small. Here’s the two images….

Canon T1i

Canon T1i

iPhone 8+

iPhone 8+

As you can see, the quality is very similar between the two cameras that I use. I did not do any editing to either of these other than cropping the iPhone 8+ image to better match the closeness of the Canon image. Smartphones have a much smaller sensor than full-frame or even crop sensor DSLRs. Simply put, when you are standing at the same distance to take an image, the phone is going to look as if you are standing further away from the image you are trying to capture.

I talked earlier about my DSLR being able meet my demands more than my iPhone. Newer DSLR cameras and the options they provide will put my DSLR to shame. Quality overall is better (though quality is only as good as the person shooting the image; one still has to do the work of composing for the best possible outcome). Dynamic range is better – meaning the camera can perform better in high contrast scenes (scenes with light and shadow). The list goes on and on.

So why even bother with a smartphone camera?

1. Portability. Again, we all tend to have our smartphones with us. If an opportunity presents itself, we have more of a chance to capture it if you are not one who always has their DSLR close by or even has a DSLR.

2. Ease of use. DSLRs do have a learning curve. You need to know the camera and all it has to offer to make the most of it. Most smartphones are much easier to learn, manage and control.

3. Apps. There are all sorts of apps for smartphones to add “power” your camera. Some offer controls beyond the normal “stock” controls on a smartphone camera. Some offer creative presets and filters. Some apps are for those that shoot DSLRs primarily and want those advanced options when using their smartphones. You name it; there’s probably an app for your want or need when shooting images with a smartphone.

These are just 3 reasons for using a smartphone as your camera. There are many reasons and the list continues to grow longer as developers create better cameras for smartphones and apps to go with them.

Speaking from my own opinion, it’s important to understand that using a DSLR does not, in and of itself, make you a “professional” photographer. On the flip side, using a smartphone does not, in and of itself, mean you are not a “professional” photographer. I’ve seen images taken with smartphones that are incredible. I’ve seen images taken with DSLRs that are “meh”. It’s all about how she/he uses the camera to shoot the image. For a lot of us, it goes even beyond that and into post-processing work via photo editors and/or apps if one shoots in a format called RAW. JPEG images are automatically edited within the camera itself when you shoot an image with a DSLR or smartphone. That’s why they come out close or spot-on to what you saw with your eyes. As a general rule, RAW images require post-processing. It rarely comes out looking like what you saw with your eyes. So why shoot in RAW then? A good question….but not to be answered in this blog. I encourage you to google “RAW vs. JPEG” or something like that to bring up many great articles on what each is and the pros/cons of each. Here is one article to whet your appetite.

RAW vs. JPEG

Smartphones are a great option for shooting images whether you own/desire a DSLR or not. No matter what type of photography you like to shoot, you can’t go wrong with a smartphone camera. Daily life, special events, travel, nature, sports and more are all able to be captured well using a smartphone. Having said that, do your homework. Know what you want in a smartphone camera. Read reviews. Compare cameras in stores by shooting the same thing and see how they look. Talk to people who shoot a lot with their smartphones. See what they like and don’t like. Once you’ve made your decision, buy that smartphone and don’t regret it. There is always going to be something you wished after the fact. There is always going to be something new that just came out with a better lens or better quality or better feature or….. That’s just Murphy’s Law. Love what you have! Learn the ins and outs of it! Use it! The more you shoot and learn what works and what doesn’t work, the better you will become at using your smartphone camera! To quote an oft-repeated saying, “there is no better camera than the one you have”.

Here are two recent images I shot with my iPhone 8+. I happened upon these photo opportunities when I only had my iPhone with me. Ideally, for this first image, I would rather have used my DSLR for the night-time shot. I personally feel DSLRs handle low-light shooting better even with the advancements of smartphones and apps in low-light situations. That gap is closing fast though. I was able to bring to realization what I saw by shooting in a format called RAW, using a couple photo apps on my iPhone after shooting the image and finishing it up in Lightroom Classic CC on my desktop. For me, my usual artistic vision is to have the image look as close to what I saw as possible. For others, artistic vision may be vastly different and involve creative touches that completely change the original shot. And that’s ok. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your own “style”.

IMG_9471

This second image is one I took when I was leaving a chiro appointment for my accident. I’m always on the lookout for photo opportunities no matter where I am. My favorite opportunities are out and about in nature, far away from the cities and suburbs. I’d live in the “boonies” if I could. But since I live in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, I actively keep an eye out wherever I am. I am drawn to more “intimate” images, a scene within a scene as I like to call it. Often, I see it in the most mundane of places. They can be easy to miss because it’s not spectacular at first glance. At a larger glance, this scene was close to a sidewalk. Across the street was a fairground with a lot of pole barn buildings. But when I looked closer into the scene, I saw another scene. I saw rime-frosted, spiky grasses that were peeking above the snow from the recent temperature rise. I saw the edges of these grasses highlighted by the early sunrise. I saw beauty in the mundane. And I saw a photographic opportunity. To me, it was an intimate scene of splendor and grandeur.

Early Morning Rime Ice-1

To end this blog, I want to share with you a few camera/editing apps that I use more than others. These are simply my preferences and I do use them. There are many out there. Some are great; some shouldn’t exist at all in my opinion. Start with what I share and then do some research on your own for apps that will help define your images as a photographer. My list below is in no particular order of preferences; it’s just what I use. Some I use often. Some I use sparingly or for one particular purpose. Some of these apps might not be available to you. If you use an iPhone, then you can find them all on the IOS App store. If you use an Android-type phone, then there may or may not be an Android version in the Android store. More than likely there will be an app in that store that will do the same thing, maybe even better.

Camera apps (apps for shooting images): Apple Camera (an app preloaded for iPhones), Camera+2, ProCamera and LR CC Mobile

Editing apps: All of the camera apps listed above as they also provide editing capabilities, Snapseed and Retouch (great for removing distractions that you missed when shooting the image)

I’d love to hear your comments on DSLRs vs. smartphones. Do you use one or both? Why or why not? What brand(s)/model(s) do you use? What apps/editors do you use? I’m always open to trying new ones I’ve not heard about. Comments and thoughts regarding the blog and/or image(s) are also welcome. Feel free to share them below in the comments section. Thanks for allowing me to share with you “images from a quiet world”.

Interested in the last two images for your home/professional environment? Clicking the links below will take you directly to the gallery page where you can order them.

Christmas Lantern

Rime-frosted Grass

8 Responses to “Smartphone Cameras: A Good Option?”

  1. Baldy December 21, 2018 at 9:19 am #

    I use my phone and DSLR, and although both are around 20 Megapixels, the DSLR is better picture wise.

    However, for convenience, the phone is much better – its also easier to carry on a hike, than the DSLR.

    Both are fantastic tools, in their own right. It all depends on how you use them, and what you want out of them. One can compliment the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steve Hadeen December 21, 2018 at 9:26 am #

      I agree Baldy. Both do compliment each other. I’ve found where I might not be able to position or angle just right with the DSLR, I can often do so with the phone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Hadeen December 21, 2018 at 9:39 am #

    Another tip I recently discovered with the phone, though I have no idea why it took me so long to figure it….shooting upside down gives me another lower perspective

    Like

  3. Sue (Mac's Girl) January 1, 2019 at 8:00 am #

    An interesting post, Steve! I only use my phone for pictures when I’m desperate and there’s nothing else available. I prefer using the camera. Pictures taken with the phone seem to be very hit or miss, at least with mine, but then it is an older model. I love the perspective on that last picture. Well captured! It sounds like you’ve had a rough time recently so I hope things go better for you in this new year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steve Hadeen January 4, 2019 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Sue! I, too, prefer my DSLR. However I don’t hesitate to use my phone when needed. Even when I have my DSLR, sometimes the shot can be composed better with my phone.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dr. Luis Camillo Almeida March 5, 2019 at 11:05 am #

    Sure. The smartphone of today is the 35mm of the past. 🙂

    Like

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