Sorry, the phone will not replace my camera in my life

material and soft
May 2, 2022, 11:12 a.m.

Phone makers have convinced us for years that a smartphone is a computer, a phone and a camera all in one. Of course it works, usually it even lasts. But forgive Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi, your quad lenses will never replace my camera.

A decade and a half has passed since the creation of the first iPhone. Smartphones have obviously changed a lot since then. However, one can feel that there is no breakthrough in this area. Foldable models are a bold step in a new direction, but the vast majority of new phones are getting bigger, faster, with a bigger battery and better camera. And so on for years.

Recently, “better camera” often means more lenses on the back of the device. Do you remember the Nokia 9 PureView with a “daisy” of seven cameras? The iPhone 13 Pro has “only” three, but we can see that this is an important point in Apple’s marketing plan. When we enter the official website of this model, the first thing we will see are the lenses that we have just mentioned. The Galaxy S22 also tries with three different cameras and of course 50 megapixels.

Sorry, the phone will not replace my camera in my life - illustration #1

Georgian village, photographed from an airplane flying a few miles above the ground Fig. Marcin Strzyzewski

Mobile photography has reached an incredible level. Better and better matrices, optics and, above all, software make it quickly “checked” photo can look great. Also, you usually don’t need to change anything before or after taking it. The automatic mode is enough to make the photo look good immediately. A book could be written about algorithms that can achieve this effect.

Of course, the increasingly better camera is, on the one hand, a great excuse to ask the customer for more money for the smartphone. On the other hand, more importantly, it is also a kind of bait that will encourage us to buy a new model, instead of walking with the old one for another year or two. Personally, I think there is a much better solution.

I paid about 700 PLN for the phone and have been fully satisfied with it for about a year and a half. I will describe it in one word – it works. As for the camera, capturing a spontaneous situation or view is not a problem, although the quality is of course imperfect.

For this I have a camera with two lenses included, bought for about 1800 PLN. No, this is in no way professional equipment. Of course, you have to add the bag to this, which makes it I paid 2600 PLN for a set consisting of a camera and a phone. That’s about what to give for the Samsung S10, iPhone 11, Motorola Edge 20, and many other smartphones. Of course, many modern models cost twice as much.

Optics decide everything

I am far from being a man who knows photography. Even an amateur, I’m so-so. That’s why I think the phone camera is not enough for me. Why?

Sorry, the phone will not replace my camera in my life - illustration 2

These pandas were 10 meters away from me (yes, I measured it on Google Maps) Marcin Strzyżewski

When buying a camera, the lens is more important than the so-called body. In the case of a phone, the lens exists, but it is miniaturized to the extreme so that the phone can still fit in the pocket. This has many consequences, but from the perspective of a Sunday photographer, one of the best – optical zoom. In phones, it often doesn’t exist, and if it does, you get a not-so-powerful 2x magnification.

This is a big problem, it is practically impossible to photograph any detail with the phone. For example, a single building in a city skyline or a man standing in a crowd. Personally, this has always irritated me in zoos. With the smartphone you can take a very nice picture of the whole cage with the animal blending into the background. The lens with even a very modest focal length of 150 mm gives us quite fantastic possibilities, compared to those of the smartphone. It’s not that the photos are better or worse. Learn more in situations where you can take a nice picture with the camera, there is no need to take the phone out of your pocket. You can simply take a photo where you couldn’t before.

One four thousandth of a second

The phone has the great advantage that the photos are processed by the software on the fly so that they look good. The camera, however, allows us to have more control. Another thing that I miss in most phones is the ability to freely adjust photo exposure time. My fairly simple camera offers to take a picture in four thousandths of a second, which captures the movement of the sparrow’s wings in flight. It can also expose a photo with long seconds, thanks to which night shots will look exactly as they should. Of course, some smartphones can do this, but generally access to this parameter is difficult, and the choice is not wide enough.

Sorry, the phone will not replace my camera in my life - Illustration #3

I just like to catch the flowing water Fig. Marcin Strzyzewski

Of course, long exposure requires putting the camera on a tripod, but you can put it on a city wall, prop the lens up with something to get the right angle (the phone will work just fine) and that will be as well.

In this case, we are not talking about the fact that a photo taken with the camera will look prettier than one taken with the phone. We can simply take a photo where the smartphone is usually useless.

In the end, there’s no point in getting upset with smartphone cameras. Mobile photography contests show that you can take a great photo with them too. On the mobility side, in turn, the smartphone eats the camera at breakfast. Carrying a bag of gear with you everywhere is not an option, after all. However, if you think that one day phones will completely replace “real” cameras on the market, my answer is – never!

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