Authored by Arun Babu, Head of Division, Electronic Imaging, Optical Devices and Instax Division, Fujifilm India
Today’s smartphones pack a powerful bunch of features together, including higher megapixel cameras, a feat we did not think would be possible two decades ago. Some manufacturers even advertise cameras higher than 100 megapixels making the consumer wonder if they should invest in a professional digital camera. While consumers tend to look at it as a smartphone vs digital camera battle, why do amateur photographers, vloggers and videographers still rely on a professional range of cameras? Why do people still prefer professional cameras over smartphone cameras for multiple activities?
The advantages of owning a digital camera remains unparalleled, even when challenged by the mobile smartphone camera. Fast-forwarding from the time film cameras brought us joy and documented our memories in photo albums, digital camera technologies have evolved to become more and more nuanced. Right from a superior and enhanced optical (not digital) zoom to low light focus to increased battery life and storage space, digital camera makers are packing a punch into this humble machine. Keeping this in mind, let us look at three reasons why digital cameras will not be dethroned by smartphones any time soon.
Blow up: While higher megapixels mean better images, smartphones lack the large, dedicated image sensors found on digital and mirrorless cameras. In essence, a smartphone has the ability to blow up a 12 MP image into a 48 MP one through a Quad Bayer filter, but the image starts getting distorted when projected, viewed on a large screen or when it goes to the printer for large size printing. Thanks to the dedicated image processors and sensors in digital cameras, a professional camera photo will not crack under this kind of pressure. Instead, on large size printing or viewing on a large screen, a person can observe more and sharper details that a smartphone will likely not capture.
Manual control: The ability to control an imaging device manually is a game changer for any photography and videography enthusiast. A digital camera offers complete control from shutter speed to ISO to aperture to photo formats, allowing a photographer to not just experiment but also choose the best setting for the circumstance - be it landscape photography, weddings or portraits to macros of insects and other interesting things. This is a winner for enthusiasts, especially in post-processing, which not only becomes easiest but also delivers the most bang for one’s buck in print.
Interchangeable lenses: The biggest draw of a digital camera is the ability it gives its user to add and change lenses as per requirement. In addition to giving the user wider choice to exercise their passion or profession with, specialised lenses also allow for higher optical quality than general-purpose lenses. Where a prime lens delivers amazing portraits, zoom lenses help photographers capture sports, nature and animal and bird watching as if they were next to their subjects! Macro lenses make for great nature, science and product photography, while camera makers now offer specialised wedding photography and videography equipment! No photographer worth their weight in salt would swap these for an all-purpose camera.
Coexist in harmony
The truth is that while smartphone manufacturers have also been upping their camera game, so have the digital camera makers. The innovation never stops! Take Medium format cameras for instance. Today, GFX series medium format comes with a host of interchangeable lenses and high image quality giving the photographer full bang for their buck. In addition to being a portable medium format camera, it also offers a live view of the subject being photographed, a stabilised image (without the mirror shaking) and higher shutter speeds.
In retrospect, let us not pitch smartphones against cameras: both of these devices are highly useful in their respective domains and offer to do the work as per a consumer’s needs and priorities. Much like the point-and-shoot cameras which led a person to buy a digital camera to expand their hobby or profession, smartphone cameras today are opening up a world of possibilities that can be explored more seriously through DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. In that spirit, pick up a digital camera of your choice and go shoot!