There is a real change in the air these days in the area of “point and shoot” photography. I’m not talking about professionals here, just the regular person on the street looking to take some decent shots of family, friends and their everyday lives.
It used to be that we had to carry about with us a camera and spare film before the digital age descended and the compact digital camera was born.
No film – how handy is that? But with the advent of the smartphone, even this is becoming and object of debate… Over recent months the camera-phone has soared in it’s popularity with happy snappers – making it easier and even more convenient to capture that moment as it happens without having to carry around 2 pieces of equipment – your cell phone and your camera.
So if you are in the market for a new digital camera, is there much point in buying a camera when most smartphones have them?
When the camera made its appearance on the smartphone, it was pretty much paled in comparison to the power of the digital compact camera. The quality was lousy, the images grainy and very small. Anything that moved faster than a rock came out as blurry and out of focus.
Nowadays, however, the technology on new smartphones has leapt forward enormously with better quality lenses, shooting modes, zoom functions and even image enhancement built right in.
Easy Artistic Photos
There are also applications such as the now ubiquitous ‘Instagram’ that can transform the humble snapshot into an apparent work of art with the touch of a button. This was something that was previously only in the domain of people versed in software like Photoshop, but now anyone can do it right there instantly on the handset.
Easy to Share
One major advantage of having your camera as part of your smartphone is that you can snap a photo and upload it straight away to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, as well as email them to anyone anywhere in the world in an instant.
With most new smartphones incorporating Bluetooth technology, it’s also very simple to send your images wirelessly to another phone, computer or even TV set in the same room.
Stand-alone cameras need to have their photos transferred to a computer before this can happen, which can take some time if you have snapped hundreds of photos!
- No need to carry separate camera
- Image enhancement built in
- Can email/upload shots directly to Internet & email
- Easy to share/bluetooth to other handsets & computers
- Cheaper than buying a separate camera
- Very simple to use
Whilst the new smartphone technologies can make it very appealing to opt for the “all-in-one” approach to photography, there are a few good plus-points to note about the humble point-and-shoot digital cameras.
As with most things electronic these days, digital cameras are getting smaller, sleeker and sexier all the time. So although it does mean taking along 2 pieces of equipment when you next head out, they are nowhere near as bulky as they were just a few years ago.
As it is designed for a single purpose – taking pictures – the overall “photography package” you get is of a higher standard. What I mean is, you will get a better quality image with great colors and sharp focus thanks to it’s image sensor that is generally larger than those found in smartphones.
They tend to have a wider array of features and functions too, including modes for nighttime, fast-moving subjects, sports, nature and more.
The lens is very important in a camera, and the lenses on cameras are generally way better than those found on smartphones. They also have the ability to physically zoom the lens out so you can shoot something at a distance. Smartphones use what’s known as “digital zoom”, which basically means it makes the image larger but the quality gets worse as it does it.
More Creative Control
Instagram is all well and good, but if you really want creative control over your images, a dedicated camera will let you play around with the aperture, shutter speed and ISO (light sensitivity) so you can select what to focus on, blur out parts of the image, freeze fast action shots and more. This make you learn more about how photography actually works and is a great learning tool if you want to progress in it, rather than just take snapshots.
The resolution – measured in Megapixels – is generally higher in digital cameras, which is a whole article in itself that I won’t get into today. In a nutshell, a higher resolution means that you can print out your photos in larger sizes and you have the ability to “crop” into an image to focus on a particular subject in the shot and still get a great looking photo without it looking all “blocky”.
- Optical zoom lenses = better image quality than digital zooms on smartphones
- More features
- More manual control over exposure = more creativity
- Better flash
- Better in low-light situations
- Generally higher resolution in the form of Megapixels
- Larger sensor means better colours and less grain
So what’s the answer to the big question of “What should I buy?” Well, that all depends on you. If you want to take good-quality snapshots of your life and share them with your friends over the Internet, then the smartphone & camera combo is probably for you.
If, however, you want a little extra from your images and are more interested in the actual photography side, then the separate digital camera would suit you better.
Things are changing so rapidly these days that it’s probably just a matter of time before the smartphone can match the digital camera in all it’s features. But until then, we still have the option of choosing an actual camera.