Camera or smartphone?

Camera or smartphone?

Hi there and welcome to another mini rant about photography.

In today’s blog post I will talk about the main things to consider when comparing cameras and phones for your daily pics or for your holidays.

I will start the article with a blunt statement. If you don’t own a camera, you will be missing a lot of things.

But do you really need those things? Do you need the burden of a camera, a lens, a small bag, a battery, etc?

Well, let’s find out.

For the purpose of the article I will use my own gear for demonstration.

I own a Huawei Mate 10 Pro and as you already know I own and am a huge fan of Fuji for my cameras.

My Huawei Mate has a 20MP camera whilst my Fuji X-T1 has only a 16MP camera.

And while it is of no use to ask or tell you about ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, being able to shoot in RAW, etc there is one thing that matters.

Where will you view your photos and… Will you print them?

I have taken the picture bellow in Pisa with my Huawei and I have printed this picture on a A4 size print(21*30 cm) for an album I made with the pics I enjoyed most this year.

And let me tell you one thing. It printed out just fine.

And that’s because it was a simple picture. Everything was close, I didn’t need no huge depth of field, no dinamic range, etc.

These are the kind of pictures that you can take with your phone and actually print to a reasonable degree.

For a direct comparison, the Fuji X-T1 or the Fuji X-T20 can print safely 20*30 prints. in centimeters that would be 51*76. The difference is more than double. And we are not talking only about size but also about picture quality.

Have you tried taking a night picture or a landscape picture? And actually print it?

These are the types of shots where image noise, depth of field, dinamic range, etc come into play.

Side by side my 16MP Fuji will kill my Huawei. So the MP count is not that important when it comes to clean, sharp images.

The Huawei phone has a major advantage when it comes to its Pro mode. What this Pro mode does is allow you to shoot in RAW, a thing that would come in great use later when you will start editing your photos.

Without getting too much into the technical side let’s just say that by being able to shoot in RAW, you will be able to retain more information in the picture, help you with highlights and shadow recovery, colors, etc.

So for example if you underexpose or overexpose your picture a bit, RAW will actually help you correct your small flaws and sometimes adjust your photos when the jpeg file would be already ruined.

But even shooting in RAW on my Huawei and then processing will not help my night pictures or my long exposure pictures or my landscape pictures look better than the ones on my FUJI.

Small break. Look at the two pictures above. First taken with the Huawei Mate, the second with the Fuji X-T20. Same place, Same spot, same time. the difference in quality is huge.

One particular example comes to mind here when we talk about ISO sensitivity. What this means is how grainy your picture will look.

Have you ever took a night picture and then zoom on it and it appears all grainy? That is noise.

And while my Huawei phone can use a maximum of ISO 3200 what really matters is how much ISO can you use until noise starts creeping into your pictures.

And I can tell you, well bellow 800. And that is a long stretch.

My Fuji X-T1 has a maximum ISO of 6400 and pictures are more than usable up until ISO 1600. In my opinion. Advanced Fuji photographers claimed that they used 3200 with great success but I never tried it before so I canțt vouch for this.

And you might think this is too technical or that it doesn’t interest you but the point is simple.

If you enjoy taking certain kinds of pictures, then ISO sensitivity must concern you.

Even if you don’t print.

Bad ISO sensitivity  will show up even when enhancing the picture to view it on an Ipad, let alone printing it.

If all you photograph is doors, windows, street scenes without too much depth and you have good lightning then it is quite possible that a good phone to even print some decent pics up to a certain size.

But if you want more, if you want to print, to enlarge your images, to crop, to advance in this passion then I would urge you to buy a camera.

And here is the fun part.

You could buy any decent point and shoot or small interchangeable lens cameras and a kit lens and be better off.

A Sony a6000 plus the kit lens or a sigma prime, an Olympus m10 mark ii or iii plus the kit lens, a Fuji xf, a Ricoh, all these small cameras will fare better than your phone.

And no, you don’t have to worry about newer technologies, new sensors, sharp lens, etc.

There are many, many professionals that actually use older cameras and don’t rush in to buy the latest generation available.

A good camera can be bought used on eBay or from other places for prices next to nothing.

As I am writing this article I had the curiosity to check some prices on a Romanian online market place and bellow you will find what I got from my searches:
-a mint, unopened Olympus M10 mark ii plus kit lens for 300 euro
– a used Olympus M5 for 160 Eur
-an Olympus M10 mark ii body for 200 Eur
-a Sony a6000 + kit lens for 280 Eur

And that’s just in 5 minutes of searching.

In conclusion I think that while taking photos on your phone is nice and you could get some good results sometimes, if you really want to see a big difference in quality, if you want to print, to view your images on larger screens, to be able to do some niche photography like sports or astro, etc then do yourself a favor and buy a camera.

Start with a used one, go out, take ten thousand pictures, assess your results, see how your eyes have changed, how different you view things and keep shooting.

It will only get better!