Point and Shoots / Smart phones are not as good as DSLRs

Here’s some news for many of you. Regardless of what manufacturers of point and shoot and phone cameras say, those devices are not as good as a DSLR with a good lens on it. As of the time of this post, point and shoots (this is meant to include smart phones) are inferior. All point and shoot cameras are inferior to high end cameras, especially DSLRs. They may produce images that people are willing to live with, but when compared to a good DSLR they are inferior. A 40 megapixel sensor on a phone is just a marketing gimmick. Phones have poor quality lenses. No amount of pixels can make up for that. A 6 megapixel DSLR with a good lens will produce a much better image than any phone with any amount of pixels.

Apple has been very successful at marketing the iPhone and convincing people that it is as good as any high end camera. It’s not. It’s not a bad camera and certainly better than having no camera at all, but smart phones have limits. As long as images taken with smart phones are viewed on the smart phone or at small sizes on a large monitor, they look good. Stretch a smart phone image out to something closer to full size however and it starts to show it flaws; noise, blur, lack of sharpness.

Don’t misunderstand my intent. I use my smartphone for photos frequently. This isn’t a rant about point and shoot cameras being bad. It’s a rant about reality. Look at the photo below.

Joe Whitten Photography

That shot was reasonably easy for me to capture with a DSLR equipped with a remote and a good flash mounted on a separate tripod so I could experiment with light angles and power settings. Go ahead and try something like that with your smartphone or point and shoot. Your shutter response will never be fast enough, there is only a slim chance you will ever get the lighting correct, and I doubt if your fixed lens is fast enough or sharp enough.

Next, look at this image of an osprey with a fish. The osprey was fairly high above me and flying at a good speed. I had a total of about 6 seconds to find it in my viewfinder, focus, and shoot. Even if you you had a point and shoot with a good zoom, there is a very slim chance that you would have been able to get it focused fast enough to catch a shot like this. With a phone camera odds are pretty much zero.

Joe Whitten Photography
Osprey with lunch

These two photos should be enough to prove what I am trying to say. Point and Shoot and phone cameras have limits. They can both take good photos in the right situations, but they are not even close to being as good as a DSLR system with a bigger sensor and a fast focusing lens.

If you intend to take nothing but photos of people on the street or other such scenarios, a point and shoot might serve you. If you like to take photos of your baby every day (who wouldn’t?), your phone is likely your best choice. Just be sure to get some nice high res photos now and then with a better camera. If your going to hike through Iceland don’t make the mistake of thinking that a cheap camera will do justice to such a magnificent landscape. Use the right camera for the situation. Don’t spend the rest of your life wishing you had made a better decision about your camera gear.

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