How good can a smartphone camera be?

480
IMAGE: Lachie Durling. Canon EOS & Sony Xperia

We pit a smartphone against old-school DSLR to find out which camera reigns supreme.

With a new range of smartphones coming out this year from all the major manufacturers, the competition is on to see who can get the best battery life, highest resolution screen and best camera in the lightest case.

Challenger brands such as Oppo are just entering the Australian smartphone market, making their devices stand out by including high quality camera and lens systems. Their flagship model – the r9s plus – boasts a 16 megapixel camera with a Sony-designed lens system.

This begs the question, do I really need a DSLR? It’s one many find themselves asking – and, unless you’re planning on going pro, the answer is probably no.

A DSLR is a big investment, and it may be unnecessary if you’re not planning on becoming an amateur photographer. Most brands start at $500 for a basic camera and lens kit; then add on an SD card, camera bag and possibly the extended warranty if you really don’t trust yourself. All of this pushes the final spend up towards six or seven hundred dollars.

“It is not as simple to say ‘is it worth investing in a DSLR camera?’ because photography is different things to different people”

I decided to put this to the test using the most basic Canon DSLR on full automatic (or point and shoot) mode, and a Sony Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone. The brands aren’t necessarily important, as we’re focusing on the specifications mainly.

IMAGE: Lachie Durling DSLR Image
IMAGE: Lachie Durling Smartphone image

These above images show a minimal difference, with the smartphone showing brighter, richer colours with no editing taking place.

The 23 Mega-pixel camera on the phone trumps the 18MP in the DSLR, however a lot more effort has gone into the design of the sensors and lens of the DSLR. Overall, both performed fairly similarly, with the DSLR being able to provide a greater depth of field and a clearer picture when you’re zoomed in.

IMAGE: Lachie Durling DSLR Image
IMAGE: Lachie Durling Smartphone image

Of course there are hundreds of apps you can download that will give you options to blur and enhance photos, making up the difference for the phone not having a high quality lens. I decided to ask Deakin photography lecturer Sean Loughrey for his take on this – having worked with both analogue and digital photography.

“It is not as simple to say ‘is it worth investing in a DSLR camera?’ because photography is different things to different people,” he said

“I was most impressed when I saw the film maker Jean Luc Godard using an iPhone to shoot sections of one of his more recent films. On the other hand, I love the fact that young people are having a go at Polaroids.

“We live in a pluralistic society which means we can embrace the past technologies and the present technologies simultaneously. “

Mr Loughrey said the debate over what is he best equipment is about more than megapixels.

“These days full frame sensors are common and are the equivalent to 35mm film size. The larger the (sensor) format, the more image and resolution,” he said.

“Artists seek good quality DSLR documentation. If you just want to document the stuff you sell on eBay, then grab the phone”.

So keep your cash to spend on concerts and trips, DSLRs aren’t worth it unless you’re getting serious about your photography.

Photography lecturer Sean Loughrey gives you some tips to get the best from your DSLR in point-and-shoot mode:

  • A tripod in low light will always help.
  • Don’t expect to control depth of field.
  • The thing about having a DSLR is to utilize what you have paid for.

See the full gallery below

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here