I often get the question, are smartphones going to surpass DLSR (including mirrorless cameras)? Will the role of a professional photographer be made redundant over time?
The answer is an easy no.
In answering the benefits of the DSLR (including mirrorless cameras below) vs Smartphone we can see the how the role of a professional photographer will remain around for a long time yet.
There are many reasons why this will never happen, not based on the design of the current smartphone anyway. Smartphones have certainly replaced the small, cheap compact cameras, but they can’t replace or substitute professional DSLR’s.
Here are quite an extensive amount of advantages of a DSLR over a Smartphone. Some things are more on the technical side of things but are relevant, so I have included them. This isn't a comprehensive list, but most of the more relevant things.
DSLR over Smartphones
• Interchangeable Lens Selection. Smartphones also often mimic different lens lengths. DSLR's have interchangeable lenses to suit different situations and image styles.
• Manual setting on a DSLR means more options and creativity. Smartphones have some manual options but rapidly accessing them in dynamic fast paced environments isn’t possible or practical.
• Smartphones are designed to make the decisions. You make the decisions on a DSLR.
• Smartphones can’t compete in low light shooting (dark rooms, night-time, crazy lighting scenarios).
• Sensor size (Data captured). DSLR is 36 x 24mm Full Frame, 23.6 x 15.6mm Crop. Smartphones have a sensor size around 5.5 x 4.1mm.
• Megapixels do not actually compare; size does not necessarily represent quality.
• Image Processor. DSLR’s can compute/process many times what Smartphones can.
• DSLR images can be printed to extremely large sizes (Billboards) without losing quality.
• DSLR’s have true filters, like polarised, graduated and so forth. Smartphones have simulated digital filters.
• Smartphones have a limited small flash. DSLR cameras have unlimited options, including off camera flash.
DSLR cameras are versatile and designed for rapidly changing, dynamic environments which allow for anything that is thrown at them. Smartphones are automated devices designed for common situations to give classic results which are generally pleasing.
There is a saying, the best camera to use is the one you have with you. The convenience of a smartphone is unquestionable as almost all of us have one. They take incredible images and often capture things DSLR cameras don’t, purely because we may not have one with us at the time.
If you have a modern smartphone camera and love taking images, there may not need to be a need to run out and buy a DSLR. However, if you want to develop techniques and grow your photography, smartphones have limits which are quickly hit. You can do manual mode on a smartphone, but it’s like baking a cake with your hands tied behind you. You can do it, but it’ll be a lot slower and become quite frustrating in time.
The comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a camera and capturing images is why we have professional photographers. We can adapt to anything that is thrown at us, changing settings at the simple click of a button. We can use flashes and lighting in very special ways which isn’t easily possible with a smartphone.
Imagine being outside at a wedding for example, with a smartphone. Now imagine it’s sunny, you’re taking images from about 15m away, but suddenly the clouds roll over and starts raining, so we all run inside where it’s dark, light up by little lights so we need to use flash and are all squished up into a small room.
It’s hard to imagine the smartphone keeping up, because it simply can’t.
Of course, if we could use smartphones we probably would! They are lighter and much easier to cart around. A smartphone on average weighs around 120 grams! My DSLR with lens can weigh 4.5kg, more with a flash and we have to hold carry that, often two of them around all day.
As you can see though, there is a reason as professionals we don’t and can’t typically use smartphones.