When I was young nobody had heard of mobile phones. The closet thing was walkie-talkies which your average person didn’t use. You had to make do with telephone boxes which were dotted around the streets and often didn’t work, and were mostly used as makeshift toilets for people. Fast forward to today. Everyone has a mobile phone. These devices are not just phones, they are mini computers in the palm of your hand forever keeping people connected into the .net.
However, one of the most interesting features that has developed with these phones is that they have been packing built in cameras for umpteen years. Back when mobiles first came with cameras, the image quality from them was terrible. In strong light, the images were barely usable, in low light they were just a mess. However, nowadays it is a different story. Technology has advanced at an alarming speed and now mobile phone cameras are extremely powerful, give fantastic quality images, and have a wide range of functionality.
Although the image quality in mobiles is now excellent, it can never match that of a full frame DSLR with a high end lens. But such a DSLR setup will cost you a few thousand to get hold of, whereas a high-end mobile will come in at under a grand. Not only that but it also has all the other functions of the phone. So don’t be put off., the images may not always be of the quality that can be blown up to huge size prints but they are more than acceptable for smaller prints and on screen displays.
IQ varies greatly depending on which phone you have but because these devices have become such an integral part of peoples lives, many people tend to have quite high-end models which usually come with high end cameras.
Here is a quick snap taken from my Sony Xperia, a phone which is a few years old now.
Although it is scaled down for display here, you can clearly see the sharpness of the image. Below is a cropped section at 100% size. Although the IQ is not as good as my DSLR, it is still pretty decent.
As these mobile devices are used hand held, the ISO has to get ramped up in low light situations to increase the shutter speed to an acceptable level. As such, the image quality is going to be negatively affected compared to a camera with a lower ISO stabilised on a tripod.
Here are a couple of examples below.
The image quality is still quite good but as you can see below from 100% crop, there is noticeable degradation in the quality.
One are where mobile cameras do tend to perform better than DSLRs is in the range of toys, gadgets and shooting modes available. These cameras tend to be geared up towards automatic shooting, and due to the often fidgety controls when adjusting settings, this is definitely a good thing.
In addition to well functioning automatic modes, they tend to have good quality built-in HDR functions, excellent burst shooting modes, and easy to use panoramic functions to name but a few of the gadgets available in them.
This makes them ideal for just pulling out of your pocket and taking a high quality snap with little though put into it. Here is an example of a quick panorama taken on my camera.
As you can see, the IQ is good and the pano is nearly seamless. To do this in a DSLR is an absolute pain requiring you to manually lock in settings, take multiple exposures, and then merge them in your computer.
Video is another area these mobile cameras excel. 4K video is the norm with autofocus and auto-exposure meaning you can capture high quality video with ease. Also many will capture at rates like 120fps which allows for effects such as slow motion and timeshift. And, in addition is usually a plethora of software to edit these videos in the phone.
Don’t be a camera snob
I was guilty of this for many years, insisting that mobile phone cameras were only good for taking selfies, and for anything more serious you needed a DSLR. However, I have certainly changed my tune. Even a phone with a mid-range camera will take pretty good photos for sticking up online, and the technology is still advancing at a fast pace.
I will still use my DSLR for taking high quality single shot images, as it still provides better image quality and has more control over the camera’s setup and final shot. However, my mobile phone will always be at hand for when my DSLR is not, and I certainly intend to get a lot more use out of it’s camera other than taking pointless snapshots.
Thanks for Reading,