One of my friends took me to task for recently saying that smartphone images could compare to the output of a “serious” digital single lens reflex camera (dSLR). Well, yes and no. If you’re a casual photographer who wants a good enough memory of the place you were at or person you were with, yes, a smartphone snap will do ya. People who look at images mainly on phones and tablets and share them with others on the same make up the bulk of today’s photographers. Printing images on actual paper is an affectation of aging photosauruses like myself. The truth is that printer sales are in the toilet and they’re staying that way.
The above image is good enough for screen viewing, which suits the needs of ninety percent of photographers nowadays. If you’re going to print a larger version of it to hang on your wall, well, it’s not going to look so hot. It’s fortuitous I was also capturing the same image on my $5,000, fifty megapixel Canon 5Ds dSLR as I do intend to print it:
Embiggen both images by clicking on them and you’ll see that the Canon image has much less noise in the shadows (better dynamic range), much smoother tone transitions, no haloing around dark objects, and better colour than the Samsung snap. All issues that aren’t immediately apparent unless you zoom in, which most viewing on a screen won’t be bothering with. The one thing that was immediately noticeable with the unzoomed original Canon image was how much my camera sensor needs a good cleaning. I spent ten minutes on dust spotting the larger file, a dSLR problem many mobile shooters are blissfully unaware of.
So. If you’re a casual shooter who can live without serious macro and telephoto capability, Damn Skippy, your cell phone camera will put you in good stead. Especially if you don’t want to frig with each large depth-of-field image you’ve made for ten minutes because of dust spots. If you’re an Elder Photographer who is partial to large prints or you run with the fine-art, pixel peeping crowd that I’m wont to, there are still situations where we need to move beyond our mobile phones and pull out the Big Gun.
Big gun, number one
Big gun kick the hell out of you