Smartphone Camera Vs DSLR – Who is Winning?


Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything `
Aaron Siskind.

Photography has Evolved in last 2 Decades

Photos are time machines. They might not be able to transport you into the future but can take you back in time. What is now just a matter of seconds was nothing short of what would seem like preparation for time travel. Years back photography meant much more than “say cheese.” A dedicated studio, a room with multiple backgrounds and most importantly a professional photographer. Every decent picture captured needed to have all these.

Westerdok-District,-Amsterdam-DSLR-imaging
Westerdok District Amsterdam

Don’t most of us have that family picture shot in a studio with vivid backgrounds? I consciously use the term ‘shot’ rather than ‘captured’ because photos were clicked with subjects being more conscious & less candid. Whether it was due to lack of review mechanism post clicking and pre-developing of pictures, or limitations due to the camera roll; subjects posed more consciously for photos.

Evolution of DSLRs

With the advent of digital cameras, photography became a much sought after profession as well as a hobby. The comfort of carrying a digital camera and reduced limitations on no. of clicks due to digital storage opened new avenues to the world of photography. As per BUZZFEED, today the no. of photos clicked every 2 mins is as much as pictures clicked over the entire 1800s.

Forests-Russia-dslr-photography
A Forest in Russia

Though DSLRs brought in more creativity and fewer limitations to aspiring photographers, it was still an exorbitant hobby. The high priced DSLRs and the not so cheap lenses would cost someone their savings. DSLRs still needs professional guidance or training for use.

The new DSLR models were less technical and more user-friendly. Even less expensive than their higher professional counterparts. DSLRs became a common sight at tourist spots. Although carrying a DSLR was always extra luggage, it still seemed a good payoff against decent snapshots & a cult image.

In the recent years, Digital cameras like the Sony alpha 6000 or alpha 6500 are way more portable compared to the older cameras like the Canon T5i or Nikon 60D.

Tianzi-Mountain-(China)-image
Tianzi-Mountain-(China)

Also, the best camera is that you have at the right time. I find myself using my Samsung S7 over the Sony a6000 on several moments that otherwise will be missed if I try to fetch the DSLR.

However, the smartphone camera cannot step into the shoes of DSLR when it comes to clicking professional, detailed photographs.

Here is an image shot of Samsung S8 and the Sony Alpha 6000 at night in Mumbai. It is a handheld shot from both devices.

Smartphone Camera Vs DSLR
South Mumbai
Smartphone Camera Vs DSLR
South Mumbai

Advantages Smartphones

Alongside digital cameras, another technology was making its way up, more like a dark horse (though only for DSLRs). Yes… Smartphones!! Since their inception smartphones have always endeavored to be a comprehensive tech-buddy, but the evolution of cameras in smartphones & a ‘selfie-obsessed’ generation, the whole camera experience in smartphones has grown by leaps & bounds.

Shot on iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera

The picture quality of DSLR, riddance from the extra effort of carrying a kit & tripod & the comfort of carrying it in your pockets; all these features led to the DSLRs taking a backseat for the non-professional clicking crowd.

Additionally, the use of Dual cameras on smartphones or the recent addition of AI (artificial intelligence) to create bokeh effect makes them unparalleled.

Moreover, why do we mostly click pictures?

Mostly, to share them with friends and family on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook. You can directly upload an image from a smartphone to any of these apps. Even, you can add effects and edit photos and selfies in apps like Snapseed or photoshop express in a minute.

On the contrary, digital camera images take effort. You need to transfer to a PC or laptop, maybe compress and edit in a specialized software like photoshop and then upload to social media. For most people, former is convenient.

Residential-Area-Hongkong-photography
Residential-Area-Hongkong

In fact, DSLRs manufacturers have been ridiculously slow in adding new tech to the DSLR cameras. The features I wish they should have added to entry range DLRS are – WIFI support, touch screens, 360-degree mobile screens. Also a lot of inbuilt effects and filters, an image compressing option, faster processing, and support for uploading on social media accounts directly.

All these are modern consumer needs that can make DSLRs more convivial to use in day-to-day life.

Many smartphones came with 4K support way earlier, even a Rs. 55,000 Sony Alpha 6000 lacks it. DSLRs are fantastic but added features at entry level could have ensured a better consumer response.

Are DSLR’s dead… or the Smartphones taking over?

The recent closing down of the Nikon factory in China is quite evidently proving the DSLR industry is declining. In fact, the camera factory was mainly producing point and shoot camera’s that are gobbled by smartphones. Nikon’s Jiangsu based factory started in 2002 and is recently shut down. The management is blaming smartphones for the shrinking sales.

Digital-Cameras-Sales-2007-to-2017-decline (1)

The industry that saw a sharp rise in the previous decade, has diminished to a mere 10% of its peak sales. The graphs are facing downward with an expected 24% fall in the current year to a 28% projection in the forthcoming year. 

With stalwarts like Google Pixel 2, iPhone X and Samsung Note 8 making their mark in the fields of camera phones, more people are using phones for most of the needs. Be it the portrait mode feature or adjusting to outdoor lighting, smartphone cameras can do it all.

Captured-with-ILCE-7R-&-SEL70200G-dheeraj-paul
Rajasthan India Clicked by Dheeraj Paul (Sony 7R)

Whether for detailing with colors & undertones or customizable photo features; these 3 smartphones are the best buys in the market ranging from INR 54,000 to 83,000. 

On the other hand, there are digital cameras like Sony A7r II or the Canon 6D Mark II that are incomparable.

What is the right Choice for You – Smartphone Camera Vs DSLR?

To sum up, there was a time when the Gap between image quality from a DSLR and smartphone camera was huge. Now the gap is closing, at least for high-end phones Vs. Entry-Level or mid-range DSLRs.

Undoubtedly, professional photographers still need digital cameras with all the paraphernalia (prime lenses, lights, tripods, etc.). If you want to learn photography, click better images a good mirrorless DSLR is still the top choice. Notably, it comes with a learning curve and takes time and persistence to become a better photographer.

Contrastingly, if you are not into photography and don’t have time to learn, the aforementioned phones are excellent for all your needs.

Image source 1, Image Source 2.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here