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Smartphones vs digital cameras – January 2014

Smartphones vs digital cameras

 
The smartphone business went through a booming growth in the last years, and the market share companies like Samsung and Apple have is living proof for that. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the technological progress behind the cool, hip day to day accessories. These days the smartphone has a wider spread then the old feature phone, it even sells better then the good old PC and it is exactly the type of product that can take a company to the highest peaks of the food chain ( I am talking of course about the market value companies like Apple or Samsung have nowadays).

All of this happened because the smartphone is the product we are always carrying with us, the product that can do anything and lately it can do anything pretty damn good. A smartphone is a phone, a device we use to check our e-mails, a device we use for socializing, a device we use to listen to music, a device we use for playing games and last but not least a device we use for taking pictures and videos.

Think about it like this – if we would go back in time in the year 2000 and we would show an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S4 to a tech afficionado he would literally be stunned. Let’s just think a bit how things used to be 10 years ago, in 2003. Nvidia was launching the FX series (FX5500, etc), Intel just released the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition with Gallatin core, the last pieces of Nokia 3310 were built, and Nikon F5 was still waiting for his successor (F6), the last in line, which would see the daylight one year later in 2004, while Nikon D100 was celebrating it’s one year anniversary and was bragging about the huge 6MP sensor…

If you think about it, the difference between FX5500 and GTX 780 is probably less significant then the difference between Nokia 3310 and Lumia 1020. While graphic cards bring 10-15% improvement from one generation to another, smartphones can get up to 50% performance wise, and the progress doesn’t stop there. The incredible boost that smartphones had in the last years cannot be doubted and it was just a matter of time until all of the functions would be improved thanks to the technological progress.

Yes, we have a very bad example, where things are going in the wrong direction for years, and that example is battery life. Besides this, factors like processing power, display quality (size, resolution, contrast) have been constantly improved from one generation to the other. And in a decade where live revolutions are broadcasted through social media, a factor like the photo/video camera was definitely not going to be left behind by manufacturers. Just compare Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4 and S5 from this point of view only and you will understand what I mean…

That being said, it was just a matter of time until monsters like Lumia 1020 got to the users, and once this step was made, the questions and comparisons rapidly followed. How good the smartphone cameras really are? How do they compare with the big and bulky DSLR? Do I still need a digital camera? These are just a few of the questions I have seen lately around the web…And to my dismay, 2013 was a year full of smartphones vs digital cameras comparisons. And most of the time the conclusions were not on par with reality. Because of that, in December 2013 / January 2014 I took the matter in my own hands, and I started testing and comparing devices, in order to see which device is better, and more important – for what purpose… Brace yourselves… you will see some gruesome machines at work…

iNTRO


Usage patterns

 

Oh no, Mr Monster, why are you so mean, how can you say that the conclusion of such comparisons is usually not in par with reality? Well, the answer is pretty simple – such comparisons usually have misleading “final thoughts” because so far people only compared smartphones vs digital cameras looking at image samples, while some very important aspects were left out.

The first thing that nobody usually takes into consideration when it comes to such comparisons is the quality standard… Most photographers want to have the best possible quality at 50×70 cm @ 300 dpi, which is the standard poster size. You need maximum quality for that and that is the case where you can actually notice maximum quality. The problem is that the monitors we use on our desks rarely have more then 100 ppi. 1920×1200 @ 24″ or 2560×1600 @ 30″ means that the big monitors we have on our desk are usually capable of 94-100 ppi. That’s the same for my expensive 30″ Dell monitor, the same for the very pricy EIZO monitors that are used to check image quality before printing and so on.

Well…it’s pretty hard to tell the difference at 100 ppi when the camera has much more capabilities then that… And this is where we notice the second issue, which is the way in which you use your camera. What does that mean? Quite a lot I would say, because this is one of the reasons your are reading this today…

The persons that take photos fall under a few distinct categories – professionals (those who make their living from photography), and amateurs (people who don’t earn money by taking photos). Fortunately, this is not the type of categories we are interested in today, because we will address both in an equal manner. No, we are looking for a different type of categorizing people that take photos, and more usage patterns.

The first type of user we are interested in today is the type of users that just captures a moment. Be it a holiday, a special moment in the life of those close to us or funny things we stumble upon on a daily basis, this is the most frequent type of photographer out there. You might be laughing but the most used camera on Flickr is… the iPhone. And if a similar statistic would be available for Facebook, I can assure you that most of the pictures are taken with a mobile phone. Because it is pretty difficult to take a selfie using a DSLR…

This type of user needs something light, portable, that is always available, and the logical choice is a smartphone with a good camera… and we can find plenty of those around. This type of users does not need advanced settings (even though there are plenty of smartphones that have that) and he doesn’t need great image quality because he will upload the photo to Facebook anyway… He does need a fair amount of pixels (resolution) because this is the way you compensate the lack of optical zoom. Who wants a strong optical zoom will go for a compact… or for a weird Samsung phone/camera model like the Zoom series.

Another type of photographer is the guy taking pictures for his workplace, without being a photographer. We are talking about people in the insurance business, forensic investigators or even people like me, that take pictures for news and reviews. Most of these guys will eventually use a DSLR.

The third category we are discussing is the enthusiast photographers. For them the smartphone is not enough, and not because the resolution or the quality aren’t good enough but because the lack of control options compared to a DSLR. Like the type of lens, f-stop, the possibility of using an external flash and so on. For them, a smartphone, a compact camera or a bridge will never be enough. They will have to choose between DSLR and mirorrless cameras and they might also see the pictures on something more then a PC monitor (print, for instance).

The last category of photographers are, obviously, the professionals. And even in this case we see different people with different needs. A photo-journalist will need a fast DSLR with a lens as fast as possible, in order to capture exactly the moment he needs. Regardless if he needs to shoot a boxing match, a protest or a lion attacking a gazelle, this type of photographer will always need a very good image quality, fast focusing speed, special lenses, etc. However, there is another type of professional photographer out there…The guys that make the covers for the fashion magazines, the guys that photograph Playboy bunnies, and so on. These guys need medium format cameras, like Hasselblad and Mamiya, coupled with a digital back like Phase One, for instance.

And last, but not least, we have the landscape, product and architecture photographers, the guys that use large format cameras, which allows them to change the perspective and depth of field. They don’t need speed, because their subject is still and it doesn’t go anywhere. They do need a perfect image quality and tuning options that we don’t even find on medium cameras or DSLR. We are talking about cameras like Sinar or Arca Swiss, with digital backs like Phase One or Leaf. For the last two types of photographers, the PC monitor is not the main target of their work. You find their work printed in magazines, on bus stations or on 7x10m building banners.

Mona


Camera types

 

Ok, we have discussed usage patterns, we have discussed smartphones, but before we move forward we need to discuss what other cameras are available on the market.

 

Compact camera

The compact digital cameras were probably the most popular amongst regular folk until smartphones got better and better. From Canon PowerShot A200, which I was using ~10 years ago with it’s fabulous 2MP resolution, up to Nikon Coolpix A, a compact camera that has an APS-C sensor, there were hundreds of models and hundreds of millions of units sold. This was happening until smartphone cameras got decent quality and models like iPhone 4 came to the market, so users decided there is no point in paying extra for the optical zoom while the phone is always withing the comfortable reach of the pocket.

These days, the only compact cameras selling anymore are the specialized ones, like the waterproof cameras, the big sensor cameras that can be used by photo journalists in case they don’t have their DSLR with them and so on…

Constructie-02

 

Bridge

Bridge cameras were really catching up a few years ago, when DSLR’s where not as affordable as they are today and the compacts didn’t have a zoom biger then 3-4x. The bridge camera does not come with an interchangeable lens and it usually has a compact sensor under the hood, but it has more advanced settings compared to the compacts and a very generous zoom up to 30x (Fuji Finepix HD-3 and Finepix S5100 are good examples). If you wanted more then a compact, and a lens that can cover most needs from wide to tele, the bridge was tailored specifically for you. Unfortunately for the bridge fans out there, in the last years compacts started to have reasonable zooms and entry-level DSLR’s became pretty affordable, so the bridge is nor very popular nowadays.

Fuji2


Mirrorless

 

While the bridge cameras were loosing terrain, another type of cameras got pretty popular in the last year, the cameras with interchangeable lens but without and optical viewfinder. The concept is not at all new, but in the digital camera world it came to the market a little bit later. Initially when you said mirrorless you said a specific sensor type (micro four thirds), but these days we even have full frame mirrorless cameras. Mirrorless cameras have a few major advantages you can use various type of lens, like a DSLR, the image quality is fair and because there is no mirror (no optical viewfinder) the camera is generally more compact then a DSLR. Unfortunately, this type of camera is marketed as a hip/trendy/cool device, and even when the manufacturers say something else, for the price you pay for a good quality mirrorless camera and a good lens we can buy a pretty good DSLR too. And the problem is that DSLR’s have much more accessories and usually they are more affordable (external flash, filters, lens, etc). In the end you choose a mirrorless for the small form factor, image quality and style.

Olympus

 

DSLR

The Digital Single Lens Reflex camera si probably the most used by professionals and enthusiasts all over the world. There are 2 type of DSLR’s, considering the size of the sensor – APS-C and Full frame. Full frame means that the sensor has the same size with the 35 mm film counterpart (36x24mm) while the APS-C has a smaller sensor and a more forgiving price point.

With prices starting from a few hundreds of Euro (Canon EOS 1100D) and up to ten thousand Euros (Canond EOS-1D C 4K) I think it is pretty clear that DSLR offer anything an enthusiastic amateur or a professional would need, including 4K filming.

There are multiple arguments that favour the DSLR, from optical viewing to the abundance of settings, focusing speed and the wide variety of lens and accessories available for this type of camera. Of course, a 400E DSLR is not the same with a 5000E DSLR, but the reasons we buy one or the other depend on our needs. Most of “smartphones vs digital cameras” comparisons out there are made using a cheap DSLR, and it is not quite correct for one to say that smartphones can take better pictures when you have monsters like EOS 5D MKIII or Nikon D800.

5dmkIII


Medium / large format

 

Medium and large format cameras come in a variety of shape and sizes and serve multiple purposes. Some of them allow you to view through a lens (DSLR), others don’t, some use digital backs, other use film, etc. The most common formats (digital or film) are 6×4.5 cm, 6×6 cm and 6×7/6×9 cm. In the old days large film sheets were used for capturing the image, but these days medium and large format cameras use digital backs, which are essentially external sensors made by a third party company, that can be proprietary or compatible with many camera models. We are talking about cameras like Hasselblad H5D-60 or Mamiya 645DF, and digital backs like Phase One P45+ or P65+, Leaf Credo, etc. We are talking about huge sensors (45-60MP), with the best possible image quality and prices that can get up to 40-50000 Euros. This is the real pro’s area…

Hasseblad

From the first days of photography, up to the modern era, there also exists another type of camera…the camera which started everything, and it is still used today in special cases. We are talking about the so called view cameras, meaning large format cameras with bellows. In the old days you would see large sheets of film (18x24cm) use with such cameras, but these days a digital back is all you need even for a view camera. This type of camera is used because the fact that it allows a very fine control over all aspects (perspective, focal plane, etc). The lens is mounted on a wooden or metal plate, and it is connected to the back side (where the sensor is) through a bellow. You can adjust the distance between the lens and the sensor, the angle between the lens plane and the sensor plane, basically everything can be fine tuned with utmost precision.

This type of camera is mainly used for product shots, landscapes and architecture, and names like Sinar, Linhof or Arca-Swiss are the key here. Of course, we are discussing about large cameras, which imply a more complicated shooting process.

Sinar P2 copy

Making-02


Basic notions

 

Before we dig even deeper into this article, we should first discuss a few basic notions about photography. Many of you already know them, but for those who don’t, prepare for a crash course in basic photography notions…

When we talk about photography or film, the basic idea is the same – you need a lens, a dark room and a support used to capture the image. If the lens didn’t change that much from a conceptual point of view, and the dark room didn’t change at all in the last 1000 years, the support we use to capture the image changed in a pretty radical way.

From film (a celluloid base with a layer of photographic jelly that was rich in silver halides) we came to digital sensors, which are in fact analog-digital converters that transform the light into electrical signals that are later interpreted as intensity and wavelengths of the electromagnetic radiation which is light. A sensor has a number of pixels, independent functional units that are replacing the silver halide molecules we used with film, and that number gives us the sensors resolution (millions of pixels, aka mega pixels)

A digital sensors performance is defined by a few specific characteristics, but the most important are the sensors surface and the number of pixels. The ratio between those two gives us the size of the pixel. The higher the pixel number, sensor surface and pixel surface, the better the sensor. In real life, the size of the sensor and the size of the pixel have a greater meaning to us then the sheer resolution (think about a 16MP DSLR compared to a 18MP compact camera), because of the reduced noise.

In the image bellow you can see scaled images of the sensors we are testing today. If you view the first picture at maximum size, you can see the compared size of the sensors in Phase One P45+ (digital-back), Canon EOS 5D MKIII (full frame), Nikon D7100 (APS-C), Nikon D5000 (APSC), Nokia Lumia 1020, Sony Xperia Z1, iPhone 5s, HTC One Max, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Nexus 5 and Allview X1 Soul using a 1:10 scale.

Senzor size2

In the second image you can see the size of the pixels (scale 1:100000000). Notice that Phase One P45+ and Canon EOS 5D MKIII have similar sized pixels, which means that the image quality is similar, but Phase One has a higher resolution due to it’s larger sensor surface. Nikon D5000, an APS-C DSLR which can be considered and entry-level these days, has larger pixels then Nikon D7100, but the image quality is better with D7100 because it’s sensor and image processor are a few years more advanced. HTC One has pretty large pixels for a smartphone camera, but Apple found an even better solution using a sensor of similar size but with slightly smaller pixels (1.5µm vs 2µm), which makes the iPhone 5s resolution double compared to HTC One (8MP vs 4MP).

Being the only smartphone in this test that has a 1/3.2″ 8MP sensor, Nexus 5 also has pretty large pixels (1.4µm), just like Galaxy S3 use to have. For comparison, the resolution bump we could see in Galaxy Note 3 and Allview X1 Soul (13MP with a 1/3.2″ sensor) and Xperia Z1 (20.7MP with a 1/2.3″ sensor) means that these smartphones have pretty small pixels (1.1µm). The same thing applied to Lumia 1020, with it’s 41MP crowded in a 1/1.5″ sensor.

Pixel2


Smartphone – specs

 

 Galaxy Note 3HTC One MaxSony Xperia Z1Google Nexus 5
TypeBSI CMOSBSI CMOSBSI CMOSBSI CMOS
Format1/3.2"1/3"1/2.3"1/3.2"
Size4.5 x 3.4 mm4.8 x 3.6mm~6.1 x 4.6 mm4.5 x 3.4 mm
Pixel size1.1 µm2 µm1.1 µm1.4 µm
Resolution13 MP, 4128 x 30964MP, 2688x152020.7 MP, 5248x39368MP, 3264x2448
Lens31 mm28mm27mm~30mm
f-stopf 2.2f/2.0f/2.0f 2.4
Video2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps1080p @ 30 fps1080p@30fps1080p@30fps
Front camera2 MP, 1080p@30fps2.1 MP / 1080p @ 30fps2 MP / 1080p @ 30fps1.3 MP

The story behind this article is very simple…ok, not so simple, but pretty simple. Last December I was preparing a huge face to face comparison between the high-end models at the time. Of course, when you compare flagships, one of the most important area of interest for the reader is camera performance. And I was thinking… ok, I have to compare Galaxy Note 3, Xperia Z1, HTC One Max and Nexus 5. Good, but there are also other heavy shooters out there, like Nokia Lumia 1020 and iPhone 5s. And of course, when we put the heavy weights at the same table, why not throw in a medium weight, Allview X1 Soul, or as it is known in other parts of the world Gionee Elife E6?

Then I said to myself… hey, what about throwing a DSLR into the mix, after all everybody is comparing top smartphone shooters with DSLR these days. Ok, I though about using Nikon D5000 with the kit lens (which is a pretty inexpensive combo) and Nikon D7100 with Nikkor 17-55 2.8. Everything was fine until I had a chat with my old photographer friend Ciprian Tantareanu, and he had an even bolder idea. Why not use a full frame too, and also a serious professional camera. Well.. why not? If we are discussing 41MP smartphones, why not bring in a true megapixel heavyweight…

One thing led to another and here we are discussing the way in which smartphones compare to digital cameras at the end of 2013 / beginning of 2014. I know by now the new generation is out and selling well, but this does not change the basic principles we are discussing here.

So, we have already analyzed the resolution and the pixel size, now we have to talk about a few other aspects. One of them being f-stop. Well, the fastest lens we are testing today can be found on HTC One Max and Xperia Z1, with f2.0. Galaxy Note 3, Lumia 1020, iPhone 5s and Allview X1 Soul come in close with f2.2 while Nexus 5 has the slowest lens, with f2.4. The smartphones tested today have wide lens, from 26mm (35mm equivalent) on Lumia 1020 up to 31mm on Galaxy Note 3. Note let’s see how the heavyweights look…

 Nokia Lumia 1020iPhone 5sAllview X1 Soul
Camera Specs 1BSI CMOSBSI CMOSBSI CMOS
Format1/1.5"1/3"1/3.2"
Size10,6 x 8mm4.89 x 3.67 mm4.5 x 3.4 mm
Pixel size1.12 µm1.5µm1.1 µm
Resolution41 MP (38 MP efectiv - 7152 x 5368) - PureView 8MP, 3264x244813 MP, 4160 x 3120
Lens26mm, Carl Zeiss30 mm~27mm
f-stopf/2.2f 2.2f 2.2
Video1080p @ 30 fps1080p @ 30 fps1080p@30fps
Front camera1.2 MP, 720p@30fps1.2 MP, 720p@30fps5MP


Camera – specs

 

 Phase One P45+
Sinar P2
Canon EOS 5D MK IIINikon D7100Nikon D5000
TypeCCDCMOSCMOSCMOS
FormatMediuFull frameAPS-CAPS-C
Size36.8 x 49.1 mm24 x 36mm15.6 x 23.5 mm15.8 x 23.6 mm
Pixel size6,8 µm6.25 µm4.78 µm5.48 µm
Resolution39 MP, 7216 x 541222.3 MP, 5760 x 384024.1 MP, 6000 x 400012.3 MP, 4288 x 2848
Lens55mm, Rodenstock Apo Sironar Digital Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USMNikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-EDNikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II
f-stopf 4.5f 4f 2.8f 3.5 - f 5.6
VideoNU1080p @ 30 fps
720p @ 60 fps
1080p @ 30 fps
720p @ 60 fps
720p @ 24 fps

With a 12Mp sensor under the hood and a few years since it came to the market, Nikon D5000 was paired with the kit lens Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II, representing the entrly-level DSLR. I know I could have used various other models (D3100, EOS 1100D, EOS 1000D, D40) but this is the camera I used for my reviews for many years now so it is a reference for me personally.

Another reference, this time for everybody, is Nikon D7100, one of the best APS-C cameras out there. In order to highlight the quality of the 24MP sensor, we used a good quality lens, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED. On behalf of the full frame cameras we have another reference, the beloved Canon EOS 5D MKIII, together with Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM.

Last, but not least, in order to really bring something heavy to the table, we used a Sinar P2 camera, together with a Phase One P45+ digital back and a Rodenstock Apo Sironar Digital 1:4.5/f=55mm lens. Yeah baby, a true monster, a camera made for product shots with a good quality sensor. A true Behemoth, I might add…


How we tested

 

Well, enough for the theory, enough specs, enough words… let’s get to work! Because that is exactly what I did a while ago, together with my colleague Andrei (enthusiast photographer and hard-core Nikon fan). Because we wanted to create a difficult scene for our cameras, we went to Ciprian’s studio (if you are curious about what usually happens there you can have a look on his website (tantareanu.ro) or on his Facebook page (Facebook). It’s pretty amazing…

Well, we got to the studio and Ciprian showed us how to use just a few of the 30 settings you can find on the Sinar, and then he went out, leaving us with an army of smartphones and digital cameras. Fortunately, I worked in cinematography for enough years in order to remember how to use all the lights (Profoto) and tools, and as a bonus we got to use continuous lightning, which is something you need for smartphone comparisons, and I am used to from my younger years.

For the inside comparisons we chose 3 situations – two color checkers and a scene we had to build from scratch in order to find the strong and weak points of all the solutions we tested there. We used a tripod for all cameras, even the smartphones, and we tried to frame the same, but different formats mean that there are differences between the photos (framing wise).

Making-01

Making-02

Making-03

Making-04

Making-05

Making-06

Making-07

Making-08

Making-09


Head-to-head

 

The first set is the original scene we created for the test, at the original resolution of each camera. Set number 2 and set number 3 are different sections of the original image.

I don’t even think we have to discuss the Phase One > 5D MKIII > D7100 > D5000 issue. The differences vary from subtle (5D vs D7100) and obvious (D7100 vs D5000). Anyway, this is not the purpose of this article – we are more interested how the smartphones perform and compare to the higher end cameras.

As you can see in the first set of crops, Lumia 1020, Note 3 and iPhone 5s can be compared with D5000 without any issues (except for white balance). HTC One Max is dragged down by the low resolution, while Z1 does not impress. Fun fact – X1 Soul (Gionee Elife E6) has better results then Nexus 5.

In the second set of crops the gap between Phase One and the DSLR’s widens. Lumia 1020 is doing well, but the most impressive performances for a smartphone are given by Note 3 and iPhone 5s.



 

The first set of photos from this page were resized at 8MP to see what differences we spot if we leave resolution aside. In the second set we cropped 100& while in the third set we enlarged all photos to 39MP (Phase One resolution) and cropped a predefined area.

In the first case the Phase-One quality remains unchanged, while D7100 closed in on 5D. D5000 is fighting with Lumia 1020, iPhone 5s and Note 3, and it might seem that it doesn’t have such a high detail level compared to those 3.

The second set is all about resolution, and the things get complicated. Look at the 39MP from Phase One and the 38MP from Lumia 1020. For instance, look at the frame of the goggles – even if Lumia has a much larger sensor compared to a normal smartphone and more pixels then most of the cameras in this test, the limitations imposed by the pixel size are obvious and the noise is really easy to spot. And that is not because of high ISO, but because Lumia has a very large number of pixels, but they have a very small size. On the other hand, iPhone 5s does pretty well in this scenario.

In the last set of crops we are talking once again about resolution, and most of the smartphones can’t face such a level of up-scaling.



 

When it comes to printed boards, the problem is that the monsters (Phase One, 5D, D7100) can reproduce such a detail level that we can actually see the imperfections of the printing process. D5000 does pretty well too, while Lumia 1020, iPhone 5s and Note 3 do even a bit better.



 

Ok, we shot inside, we used color checkers, now it’s time to go outside and see how they compare in the real world. We didn’t use a Phase One anymore because it is complicated to use outdoors and the point has already been made – there is no way in which you can compare 38MP from a phone with 39MP from a large sensor camera.

Lumia 1020 and Note 3 are doing very well under the circumstances, while One Max, Nexus 5 and iPhone 5s are almost on par.

The second situation is a very difficult one – 5D, D7100 and D5000 perform as you would expect, while from the smartphone iPhone 5s and Note 3 really show a good quality while Lumia is not really where it should be.



 

In this scenery, Lumia 1020 and Note 3 outperform D5000, while iPhone 5s gets similar results.

In our very last scenery Note 3 gets the best results (from the smartphones), followed by Lumia 1020 and iPhone 5s.


Final thoughts

 

Oh well, countless hours of work, tons of patience on your side (I know, too much text plus by odd English grammar), and in the end what did we learn? Well, at least when it comes to smartphones the results are a bit different from what we used to be told, don’t you think? I mean sure, Lumia 1020 is a great cameraphone but Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 5s are really not that far behind. What else? Well maybe the fact that Z1 is a good cameraphone only on paper, because in reality it fails to stay close to the three mentioned above.

Besides that, we analyzed the image quality on a support which is not exactly ideal (the desktop PC monitor) and we didn’t get into juicier details like the way in which you work with a view camera, a DSLR or a smartphone. We didn’t discuss the huge difference a simple lens can make for the same camera. We didn’t approach a lot of sides of the story, but then again this was not our purpose to begin with. Today, we wanted to see how can the best smartphones at the end of 2013 / beginning fo 2014 compare to professional cameras and amateur DSLR. Why didn’t we also used compacts and mirrorless cameras you say? Because smartphones have similar performance with most compacts and mirrorless cameras are comparable with DSLRs.

Ok, we saw that Lumia 1020 has good performance and Note 3 and iPhone 5s are also in the same area. How do they compare to more serious cameras? Well, when it comes to Nikon D5000 we can really say that the 3 smartphones mentioned earlier are on par, and can even outperform Nikon’s old consumer DSLR. But if we look at Nikon D7100 or Canon 5D MKIII we realize that there is no comparison between smartphones and serious DSLR cameras. And, of course, Phase One is at a completely different level, as expected.

So, what is the bottom line? Well, all the phones that we tried are good at taking pictures, but Lumia 1020, Note 3 and iPhone 5s are clearly better. And yes, under specific circumstances some smartphones can compare (and can even be better) then some entry-level DSLR cameras. What does that mean for you? Well, it means that the ideal case is when you form your own opinion without throwing money out the window for “a thing”. By that I mean that it is pretty weird to buy an entry-level DSLR (1100D, D5000, etc) just to post photos on Facebook. No, for that it is pretty clear that there are plenty of good quality smartphones out there.

On the other hand, if you really want to learn to be a photographer, even an entry-level DSLR will help you get acquainted with the basic rules of photography so you will need to buy that in order to get better.

And as far as professionals go, don’t worry, no smartphone comes close to the tools of the trade.

In the end, I hope I helped you get a more realistic perspective on smartphone vs digital cameras comparison. And if you are a pro photographer and you feel I didn’t do a great job, please submit your feedback. After all, I am a bit rusty when it comes to these matters.

oUTRO

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