My Opinion on Smartphone Camera vs DSLR

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In this era, almost everyone in the city have a smartphone, or at least a phone that has an imaging capability. That means a camera function. This has been going on for a while ever since before smartphones by Apple iOS and Google Android was available. As I remember, it began around 2003, when Nokia came out with the most notable camera phone that was sold widely across the world. The Nokia 7650 was the first camera phone by Nokia. That was the one I remembered the most because the camera phone rage started with it. For your additional info, the first ever camera phone was the J-SH04 made by Sharp Corporation and only available in Japan in the year 2000. Back then, the phone’s camera has only about 0.3 megapixel with 256 colours, a far cry from what we have today.

Nokia 7650

Fast forward to 2013. Today, the least amount of megapixel count that we have in our smartphones is around 5-megapixel. I remember my dad bought a digital camera back then that only shoots 3.2-megapixel and cost around RM1,200. With that price, we can buy a medium range smartphone that has about 13-megapixel shooter with a 5.0 inch screen size and has millions of colours in its AMOLED screen….and in HD. Time changed a lot of things indeed.

So, my topic today is about smartphone cameras. Is it killing the real form of photography? I’m talking about the form of photography taken with a real camera. Is technology killing the DSLR? Or making it better? This is just my opinion in this topic on smartphone camera vs DSLR.


There are many types of DSLR cameras nowadays. From the pro level camera like the Nikon D4 or the Canon EOS-1D X, to the beginner level Nikon D3200 and Canon 1100D, all produced good photography image with stunning results. It beats the smartphone photos in terms of lens quality, zoom range, aperture and many other manual functions. I’ll list down the pros and cons first…


  • High image quality, high resolution image with minimal “noise” because of the noise reduction feature during high ISO usage.
  • Varieties of optical gears. In another word, lenses. Different lens, for different purpose. And most of the lenses produce really good clear and crispy images.
  • Able to use multiple flashes. This is when nothing else beats a DSLR when using multiple external flashes.
  • It made us look serious. People will take us seriously when we’re holding a DSLR at a wedding reception rather than us holding a smartphone camera, right?
  • Able to use and configure manual functions. In “M” mode, we can customize all the settings to our liking anytime.
  • Full frame. Nuff said.
  • RAW format. Nuff said. (Fine. RAW format coming to the Nexus 5 soon).


  • Too big and heavy. Not ideal to carry around in the bag everyday.
  • Can’t take ALL the additional equipment with us on daily use. Again, too many and too heavy.
  • That’s the only downside of the DSLR that I can think of actually.
Nikon Df
Nikon Df

With the above list, we can see that the main reason why we ditch our DSLRs at home is because it is too big and heavy. Can’t have it in our bag all the time right? Unless your idea of a workout is to carry heavy cameras in your bag everyday as you commute to work in a public transportation, then it’s fine by me.

Let’s see what’s the pros and cons with a smartphone camera.

Smartphone Camera
iPhone 5s Camera
iPhone 5s Camera

As I said earlier, almost everyone has this nowadays. It is also almost a necessity for everyone to own one. From an entry level phone like the Nokia Asha series to the high end device like the iPhone 5s or LG G2, all are capable on producing a decent image that is good enough for print. And Nokia came out with a smartphone that has the highest megapixel count for any mobile phone devices. The Lumia 1020 has a staggering 41-megapixel camera as its main shooter.

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Technology is really making a run for it. It is good that we all can have HD imaging in our hands all the time. We don’t have to ravage our storerooms to look for our camcorders anymore. Our smartphones are capable of shooting a HD video with a touch of a button.

Let’s see the pros and cons of a smartphone camera.


  • Mobile and lightweight. Small enough to be carried in our pockets everyday.
  • Easy sharing with the rest of the world. It’s part of the functions already where we would take a picture and send it to our WhatsApp group or post it in Instagram.
  • Produce a decent quality image that we can actually send it for print. The 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 produces really high detailed image with its camera and has an excellent low light imaging.
  • It’s always there when you need it. Coz it’s either in your pocket or in your handbag (for ladies) all the time.
  • Huge LCD/LED/AMOLED display in High Definition.


  • Not all smartphone cameras has the manual function.
  • Can’t use external flash or multiple flashes (yet?).
  • No multiple lenses. But can use an add-on plastic lenses to produce some of the effect like fish-eye and wide angle.
  • Small image sensor and poor high ISO image quality.
  • Image produced is still not as sharp as a DSLR.

Having said all that, people nowadays are starting to look into smartphone photography because it is available all the time. Our phones are with us all the time. Photo sharing is becoming a norm. The word “selfie” has been added in the dictionary and is the word of the year in 2013, all thanks to the smartphone camera.


When we go to an event or a concert, all we see in-front of us are people holding their smartphone high up in the air taking pictures or selfies. There are even a contest on Best Smartphone Photography that’s been going on. A book on smartphone photography has also been written and published. And the public are really pushing their smartphone camera functions to the limit.

Taken with DSLR with long exposure.
Taken with DSLR with long exposure.

With almost the entire world are using their smartphones to take a picture, it is really a sad story for DSLR users when they know that their time is almost up. Maybe I’m just over exaggerating. But technology has managed to squeeze all the bells and whistles of the DSLR into a smaller and more compact device.

On the other hand, technology did help a little bit in making the DSLR better. With the emerging market for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras, all the wonders of DSLR is becoming smaller. Smaller cameras can have an interchangeable lenses. The latest full frame camera by Nikon, the Nikon Df is also very small and has that classic appearance. The FX camera for Nikon is getting smaller and lighter too. Like the D610 for instance, is a full frame camera with all the pro functions in a smaller and lighter body. Now photographers won’t complain so much about having to carry a heavy camera in their bags anymore. Okay, at least it’s lighter.

Camera 360
Taken with a smartphone camera.

So now I’m seeing all of  it as practicality. Having a DSLR is still a must for photographers as it is very versatile and that they can customize the functions according to their needs. Having a smartphone camera is very practical because it is with us almost all the time. No doubt that some photos taken with a smartphone are really beautiful sometimes. But try not to make silly duck face while taking a selfie, okay?

Back to the subject, are the smartphone cameras killing the DSLR? Maybe not yet.

What do you think?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kakamal

    Yes it is if for portrait or macro photography but when it comes to landscape, none of DSLR can get as detail as smartphone. Even the 5D mark III been outperformed by smartphone.

  2. Kelly Avila

    Yes.May be it is.thanks for your opinion on Smartphone Camera vs DSLR.

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