Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why your iPhone will never replace your DSLR

It's common to hear people asking why anyone still moves around with a 5 pound DSLR when then could just carry their smartphone. You can't blame them for asking such questions especially when they are so busy trying to get that awesome shot using their iPads. I mean smartphones are becoming so good at being cameras that small point and shoot cameras have lost their place in this world.

Smartphones cameras are getting better and better every year. Sensor technology is improving, Photo processing algorithms are improving. New camera module designs are being developed every year. Smartphones have way more storage than digi-cams and best of all can easily share photos to social networks like Facebook and Instagram.

Smartphone manufactures have taken the camera game to a whole new level. Sony have finally come up with an Xperia that actually takes decent photos ie Xperia Z1 which uses some new home grown sensor. Samsung is really good with its processing algorithms that seem to always produce awesome photos with average hardware as seen with the Galaxy S IV. Apple has increased the sensor size in the 5S and have implemented some dual color LED flash.

808 Pure View with a 1/1.2 " sensor

However all that being said, no manufacturer has pushed the camera phone to the limits like Nokia has done. It has the camera phones with arguably the best smartphone cameras with the largest sensors. These are the Nokia N8, The Nokia 808 PureView and the Lumia 1020. These take breath  taking photos and are a must have for anyone who primary smartphone use is photography and can easily push over most low end consumer cameras.

Why does anyone still use a dedicated camera?

To understand this, you need to have a basic idea on how a camera works. Just like the human eye, a camera has optics or lens, a shutter and a sensor. The optics or lens direct light through the shutter onto the sensor. The shutter opens and closes to let light into the camera. The longer it stays open, the more light the sensor receives. The sensor is made of pixels which capture light which is later processed to form the image.

Samsung Galaxy Camera
Smartphones poses awesome cameras but will simply never be better than full fledged cameras. The reason for this is simple.  Cameras do not have size constraints. A camera can be as big as it needs to be. This enables camera manufactures to pack enormous sensors and optics into these devices.

The only smartphone i.e. Samsung Galaxy Zoom  that has tried to get to this level have ended up looking like cameras. Further more cameras are also starting to become smarter. modern cameras can now access the internet without the help of a computer. Example is the Galaxy camera that is powered by Android.

Simple digital cameras may have sensors as small as those in some smartphones but they  have much much bigger optics to capture more light onto the sensor. Mid sized like the Sony RX100 have large sensors with very good optics.

DSLR Camera

DSLRs (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) are the bulky cameras used by professionals. These cameras house huge photo sensors and can accommodate optics as big as a  telescope which are most times detachable. SLR cameras use mirrors and therefore enable the user to see exactly what he is shooting. This is not the case with smaller cameras.

Low Light photography.

Smartphones like the Lumia 920 which poses OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) have changed the low light photography game. OIS keeps the optics steady, allowing the camera shutter to stay open for longer periods of time to allow more light to the sensor.

DSLRs can do this better because of size once again. They can accommodate powerful, large, bright xenon flashes. So night time photos taken with DSLRs are really bright and almost noise free.

Professional cameras will always give you more options to allow you to take good pictures from all sorts of conditions and situations. This is something you don't get from a smartphone yet. Even when the time comes for smartphones to do this, cameras will be far ahead.