3 Things A Digital Camera Can Do That Your Smartphone Can’t

Updated October 6, 2023

Mobile phone manufacturers did a very smart move when they first decided to include a photo camera in their products. Today, smartphones left a serious dent in the photo camera industry. Digital camera sales dropped 87% since 2010, effectively wiping out 40 years of industry growth, according to Statista. Still, there are quite a few reasons to own a digital photo camera, if you are serious about your photography.

Better Quality Images

Digital Camera

But photo camera manufacturers have been putting up a fight, pushing the envelope on features and technology where the smartphone – limited by the available space in a hyper-thin smartphone body – simply can’t compete. Better image quality is a big one.

Catching light is still a largely physical process. One that is much better achieved by the larger lenses and the larger sensor of a digital camera. These sensors would simply be too large and too expensive to fit into a smartphone.

Smartphones usually fit a 1/1.7” which is 20 times smaller than a full-frame camera’s 35mm sensor. The latter packs more and larger pixels which deliver an infinitely better image quality. The difference is especially noticeable as soon as light conditions are anything less than perfect. Smartphones very quickly introduce grain in their image.

Preview Images At Eye-Level

Digital cameras have a viewfinder, that little vizor you push your eyeball against before you snap away. In any photo situation that goes beyond the quick selfie or the Instagram shot of your poke bowl, a viewfinder is essential. A viewfinder helps you better gauge the composition, framing, focus, colors, and lighting of your image. That’s a lot! And in the case of sports photography or wildlife photography, the viewfinder lets you locate and track your subject easily. The physical stance you take with a viewfinder also keeps your camera more stable during shooting, improving your chances of getting a great shot.

With smartphones, you need to hold the device away from your eye and your body. Daylight and reflection in the front glass will make it harder to assess your shot, track your subject, or keep a steady hand.

DSLR And Mirrorless Cameras Provide More Lens Options

There’s a damn good reason why there are so many lenses out there and why photographers barely give it a second thought to shell out thousands of dollars on “glass”. You simply need different lenses for different photo situations. In cases where smartphone photographers end up slipping their device back in their pocket, like standing too close or too far from the subject, DSLR and mirrorless camera photographers just swap lenses to be able to take on the subject.

Because smartphones rely on digital zooming, most of us don’t even bother pinching to home in on our subject. We know we’ll just lose too much image quality. The lens-toting crowd uses optical zoom. They can zoom in as far as their longest lens allows with minimal quality loss.

Smartphone cameras are great, and they’re getting better with each new model. Most importantly, it’s the camera you always carry around. But if you are serious about your photography, or you are looking to make money shooting events or stock photos, you are going to have to pick up a good old DSLR or mirrorless camera.

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