Are Digital Cameras Still Worth Buying? – Check this post before buying premium mobile phones during holiday seasons – thanksgiving day.
Smartphone launch events are all pretty much the same these days. They’re like there are a handful of things that it seems like they’re all required to have by law some magical or game-changing features. Some sticker shock a couple of lame scripted jokes from the presenter and the implication that no this time for real the camera is so good that you can snap photos just like the pros do with minimal effort.
But how much truth is there to this?
There’s obviously a lot more to becoming a good photographer than just having the right gear but is a smartphone can it be the right gear? Has image quality on modern flagship phone cameras rendered stand-alone compact digital cameras irrelevant or obsolete?
Well digital camera sales have been declining for some time now, at least at the lower end of the market. So a lot of people apparently don’t feel the need to carry them around anymore but are they making a big mistake for a long time. Pocket cameras clearly outstripped their cell phone counterparts for a number of reasons.
One of which was the size of the image sensor, the main takeaway though is that larger image sensors can capture more light which means your camera’s processor has more information about your surroundings to work with ultimately leading to better looking more detailed photos with less noise.
These days though image sensors and phones are starting to catch up to standalone cameras although there’s currently still a limit to just how large a smartphone image sensor can get because smartphones are small highly integrated devices that needs space for all the other stuff that’s inside.
Many phones though do pack sensors close to the size of what you’d find in a mainstream point-and-shoot camera though we’ve also come a really long way in
terms of processing power in smartphones which not only allows you to play 3d game and multitask with ease.
It also helps your phone make sense of what it’s camera sees turning it into a sharp looking image with accurate white balance and colors instead of the smeary mess that we were used to on the camera phones from 15 years ago.
Combine these factors with the fact that modern smartphones make it ludicrously easy to share your pics on Twitter or Instagram and it becomes clear that separate compact cameras oh they are just for pros right? wrong!.
Actually despite the convenience of camera phones standalone compacts still offer some important advantages many mainstream compacts except for some of the ones at the very low end of the market allow you to change critical exposure settings like aperture and shutter speed.
Although some camera apps say they can do the same in pro mode or whatever. The truth is that smartphone cameras use fixed lenses without mechanical parts so these aperture and shutter speed settings on your phone are really just software simulations of the same settings on a separate camera which won’t come close to giving you the same flexibility and picture quality in situations where you’re trying to photograph fast action, fine-tune your brightness or get your depth of field, just right for the effect that you want.
If you are trying to take a shot of a fast-moving subject the quick autofocus available on nicer separate cameras can really help your shot come out correctly something that many smartphones lack. Another massive advantage is in the optics in the same way that phone sensors need to be shrunk down so do their lenses bigger and better lenses give especially DSLRs.
But even consumer grade cameras the ability to gather more light for the sensor achieve that desirable depth of field effect or bokeh and even optically zoom the image so you can capture a subject as though it were closer up without losing any image quality most phones lack some or all of this functionality and what they do have often comes with assessing artifacts or other compromises.
Another issue if you’re an absolute video and photo taking fiend you’ll already know that your habit can quickly cause your phone’s battery level to plummet the average compact camera can take many hundreds of photos before calling it quits.
With all of that said if your main concern is having a straight forward camera experience without the need for any fine-tuning, that shiny new smartphone in your pocket will probably serve you just as well if not better than $100 point-and-shoot thanks to other creature comforts like automatic backing up to the cloud.
However there are still a number of enthusiast level compacts on the market with much larger image sensors powerful image processors and lots of options to fine tune exposure and focus preferences that smartphones currently can’t touch and that’s without even trying to compare the camera on an iPhone or a Google pixel to a four figure DSLR with expensive detachable lenses.
Let’s just put it this way I’d be pretty surprised to see professional sports photographers trade in their pricy telephoto lenses for Samsung galaxys at least for now.