Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been preaching that good photographic equipment, does not a good photographer make. And I’ll stand by the main point; that, for most applications, most people are going to be quite pleased with the results that produced by their phones. However, dedicated camera equipment (SLRs, point-and-shoot, etc…) do have their place. So here are some of the applications in which a phone will usually let you down…
1) You intend on printing high-quality prints with the images.
If you are actually printing out your image, you’ll want the highest quality image possible.
Today, most people view and share their photos online and through mobile devices. While I think this is great; for the most part that means that people are viewing highly-compressed, low-resolution images on relatively tiny screens. This viewing habit can obscure many flaws in image quality and photographic technique.
However, once these photographs are printed, the quality of the image will become apparent (especially at larger print sizes).
I myself, even as an evangelist of the virtues of smartphone cameras, don’t sell images for print made with my smartphone. All the images on palebluedotphoto.ca were produced with dedicated photographic equipment as they are intended to be, not only viewed online, but in person; as a physical/printed image.
2) You have clients that expect professional equipment**
We’ve been over this one before, but if you’re a professional photographer - or have been hired to shoot a gig, you’ll need to show up with “professional looking” gear. Even if you’re 100% certain you’d get the job done with your phone - don’t do it. Your client will be disappointed and you’ll lose credibility. No way around this one - you need to look the part. Leave the smartphone evangelising for your free-time.
**Hint: ALL clients expect professional equipment
3) You need the optical quality that only large lenses and sensors can provide
There’s no getting around it - smartphone cameras are small and by extension, this means they have tiny lenses and tiny sensors. And when it comes to optics, bigger is usually better. Bigger sensors don’t only mean increased resolution but also better colour accuracy, low noise performance, low-light performance and shallower depth of fields (to name a few). Larger lenses also mean high-quality glass, with the flexibility of changing lenses depending on the application. You can select lenses with different optical qualities, larger apertures, different focal lengths, etc… depending on a variety of factors.
4) You want the flexibility of raw image formats and are committed to editing the photo after the shoot
JPEGs are okay and they offer a couple of quick benefits (small file size, no need to edit the image afterwards in order to display it). However, RAW image files are the way to go for the ultimate in flexibility & quality. RAW files have a few drawbacks - they’re enormous files and must be edited prior to sharing/displaying. However, RAW files can be edited without the loss of image data and a lot of details can be pulled back into a final image from the RAW file.
Very few smartphones support native RAW shooting (but more are offering this a feature).
5) You have your SLR with you!
If you have your SLR with you - don’t bother reaching for your phone to make a picture. You’ve done the hardest thing in photography that there is to do - you remembered to bring your camera. Now all you have to do is use it. You should only be pulling your phone out of your pocket to answer a call!
If you can think of any other situations, please leave a comment. Also, please follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and leave your comments, questions and suggestions below.