I know I may step on some toes here with this article, because I have a lot of friends who take a lot of photos with their smart phone cameras.  And, I agree that they take pretty good photos.  I, too, have taken pretty good photos with my smart phone camera:

winter photo 4-1518586019260

Of course the ones that come to mind are the ones that I recently posted from my recent round of winter photos.  These photos turned out really good, and I was impressed.  To me, these needed a little post production work to get the exposure right, and that is ok.  But, there are still things in photography that you cannot do in a smart phone (for now) that you MUST have a “real” DSLR camera to do it right.  And I think this is where the serious photographers will always come back to.  Let’s review some of those important things about why a photographer will always get a real camera to do their work over a smart phone:


I mentioned this in a previous blog, but, I want to emphasize this even more here again.  And a camera only does this right.  A smart phone camera was never designed to add lenses.  There are manufactures on the market now that have designed lenses to clip onto your smart phone now to do the work of some lenses, but, can I be honest?  They are ”CRAP”.  So, just to show you again the different amount of lenses that Nikon, or Canon, or Pentax, or Sony or many of the other camera manufactures have created you would go……


WOW !!!!!!

Every lens here was designed for a specific purpose in photography.  Whether one lens was meant to be a special lens for wildlife, for sports photography, for macro work, for low light photography, for portrait photography, for portrait – low light photography, for an all-in-one zoom lens, for whatever, they create it for the photographers request.


I don’t know of a serious photographer who doesn’t have a collection of filters in their bag.


Shown above are just a few of the various types of filters, but, there are so many to choose from.  It must be time to spend a session on filters.  But, they can help the photographer in so many ways.  And I know there are “colorization” helps in some smart phones, that totally change the color of the photos.  That is kind of “hokey” to me.  Filters weren’t meant to change the color, they were meant to help the photo.  Not change it. Does that sound like I am contradicting myself?  Well, let me explain myself a bit.  The first and most used filter I have in my collection, and I use it all the time when I am doing scenery photography is a polarizing filter.  A polarizing filter does not change the color of your photo.  It’s technical purpose is to stop reflection of the light from anything that reflects the light, except metal objects.  What could be reflecting light?   Just simple things in the sky, like dust particles in the sky, and the leaves on trees, and grass, and dirt, and water, etc.  Here is an example of how it will only improve your photo, not change it’s color:


Notice the sky gets more blue, the trees get greener, and the cement even got more richer in color, and the white puffy clouds got more white.  Can your smart phone do that?  NO.  They do not make filters like that for your smart phone.

The second most popular filter used in the camera bag is the Neutral density filter:

nd filter The neutral density filter is a neutral color.  Let’s start with that.  It does not change color either.  It only darkens your exposure for the lens.  This allows you to cut down the light and force you to shoot slower shutter speeds (hmmm, sounds like something else you cannot do with your smart phone).  And the results are breathtaking:

neurtal density photo

Almost anyone who shoots water will use a neutral density filter, along with their tripod, to be able to shoot at such a long exposure.  Nice touch, right?  Or of course, the famous waterfall photos are incredible too:

waterfall 2


This important kind of creativity cannot be done with a smart phone.


This is another thing that I love about my camera that I know you cannot get on a smart phone.  And, let me explain this one.

Without further qualifications, the term bracketing usually refers to exposure bracketing: the photographer chooses to take one picture at a given exposure, one or more brighter, and one or more darker, in order to select the most satisfactory image. Technically, this can be accomplished by changing either the shutter speed or the aperture, or, with digital cameras, the ISO speed, or combinations thereof.


I have often gone into a very contrast lighting situation, and totally did not rely on my light meter to give me the best shot.  And I had one shot to give it my best.  So, on my DSLR camera, I have a setting called:  Exposure Bracketing.  I can set it to shoot three shots all at once.  One photo will be under exposed, one photo perfect exposed according to the meter, and one photo will be over exposed.  And I can regulate how far over and under exposed I want it to be, like 1/2 over or under exposed.  And when I get done shooting, the camera has given me 3 shots, not 1 of different exposed settings to choose from.  I can then pick which one I like the best.

Your cell phone cannot do that.


tripod zomei

Oh, is a tripod that important?  If you are a serious photographer, it is.  You cannot take all your serious photography during the day.  And even if you did, take a look above at the information about the filters.  Do you not see that one of those photos was taken in the daytime with a shutter speed at 30 seconds?  ON A TRIPOD.   Your smart phone cannot do that.



I need a camera that can shoot my kids sports games at a fast shutter speed, like 2 to 3 frames a second or even faster, without worrying about missing anything and have stop action so I can see their expressions on their faces.   Yes, my DSLR camera shoots about 4 frames a second, and the autofocus will keep up to it.  And it will not hesitate to give you perfect, sharp photos of your kids during the game.  Your smart phone will not do that.



You know, I love my smart phone.  Until I get outside in the sun.  They only give me one option to see what my picture looks like as I take the photo.  But, out in the sun, I can’t see what is on my screen !!  It’s so bright outside, I can’t see a thing on that nice screen.

Sometimes I have the same problem on the back of a camera’s screen:

LCD viewfinderThat screen on the back of the camera is the same type of screen that you have on your smart phone, so, I can’t see a thing on that screen either on my camera.  But, wait  !!! They thought of everything:

regular eye viewfinder

They have the option of looking into a regular viewfinder on all cameras, where I can put my eye up to this viewfinder, and it wraps around my eye and I can see everything that I need to see just fine.  No worries at all.  I can see the exposure information, and see if it is in focus as well.  Plus, they have put a diopter on the back so I can adjust it for my eyesight as well.    You can’t do that on a smart phone.


I have gone over this in a previous blog, but will go over this again.  A 12 megapixel sensor from a smart phone camera is not as sharp as a 12 megapixel sensor in a DSLR camera.  And in the same token, a 12 megapixel sensor in a DSLR camera is not as sharp as a 12 megapixel sensor in a large format camera.   It is the same as film.  For those who live through film:   a photo taken by a 110 camera will not be as sharp as a 35mm camera.  And 35mm camera will not be as sharp as a 120mm  film camera.  It is a matter of what happens to the pixels as you blow them up to a 30 X 40 Print.  Here is the graph again:


The blue square is the size  of the sensor in your smart phone.  The orange color square (the APS-C) is the size of the sensor in a Canon Camera or a DSLR.  And the largest one, marked 24mm, is the size of the new large format digital camera like the Hasselblad or Fuji Professional size camera.  Can you see if you blow these up to a 30X40 that the image will be better on a larger sensor?  Well, of course, in today’s market, the camera manufactures not only have larger sensors, they have been putting in sharper sensors now as well.  So, the new Samsung S-9 Smart phone camera, has a sharp 13 megapixel sensor in it.  Where the new DSLR camera from Canon or Nikon  that uses the APS -C format not only is larger, but is around 24 Megapixel now.  And of course the bigger  large format camera from Hasselblad is now using around 70Megapixel in their cameras.  So, the larger the format, the better the picture.  PERIOD.

These are just some of the basic differences in the standard DSLR cameras vs.  a smart phone camera.  The professional DSLR cameras will have even more differences, but, those cameras are meant more for professional use, and are meant to have much more differences.

Nikon pro camera


My point is:  Even though the cameras seem to be getting better in smart phones, you are still very limited in what you can do with them.  So please don’t think you can become a serious photographer with your smart phone….. YET.


Article written by:  Lanny Cottrell for 123Photogo




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