Saturday, November 23, 2013

Smartphone camera versus dedicated camera

While a smartphone camera is a practical one to carry; it is definitely practical to carry a dedicated camera.

Nowadays a top-of-the-range smartphone comes with a very capable camera indeed. In many cases the image quality is on par with that taken with a compact camera, if we are talking about sharing on social media, making prints, or even making a photobook. And I really mean just the top-of-the-range smartphones, if you are serious about image quality.

However, there is a good reason to buy a dedicated camera, say a compact point-and-shoot camera. The difference is in how fast you can shoot. I am talking about 4 kinds of "fastness".

1. It takes several moments to get the smartphone ready to shoot, whereas it is almost instantaneous with a dedicated camera. The same goes for video; a reasonably good camera nowadays has a dedicated video button. At anytime one can immediately press the video button to shoot video without changing the settings.

2. Focusing speed. A camera generally can focus faster. That is not only because it has a dedicated processor, but also because it has a dedicated shutter release button. You don't get that on a smartphone, unless you are buying the oddball Samsung Galaxy Camera (a hybrid between smartphone and camera).

3. Shot-to-shot speed. Once an image is taken, it is processed and saved in the camera. The smartphone takes a noticeably longer time to do this than even a budget point-and-shoot camera. Hence you can shoot many times over on a dedicated camera before your very obliging subject disappears.

4. Shutter lag. Shutter lag is becoming less of an issue with a good smartphone. This is the time between pressing the shutter release button and when the image is actually captured. Thus the reason for the half closed eyes and the faded smile.

For a photographer, there is another reason to use a dedicated camera, even when conditions are favourable for shooting with just a smartphone. The reason is image compression. For now, images from smartphones come only in Jpegs, whereas a good compact is able to shoot RAW. This allows the photographer more flexibility in post-processing work to improve the image; if nothing else, at least for exposure and white balance correction.

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