There is a saying among photographers: “The best camera is the one you have with you”.
The case for smartphones as your only camera
In this two-part post, I’m going to be taking two opposing positions. In part one, I’m going to be making the case that your smartphone may be the only camera you need.
The photo above was taken with my LG G5 smartphone, and was featured in the LG booth of OPTIC 2017 event sponsored by B&H Photo. All editing was done in smartphone apps.
Reason 1 : Availability
There is a saying among photographers: “The best camera is the one you have with you”. In other words, having any camera with you when a shot presents itself is preferable to having no camera. Years ago, this meant “Remember to grab your camera when you leave the house”.
In the age of the smartphone, this is now a no-brainer. Nearly all of us have a camera with us 24/7. And with time, more and more photos come from smart phones. This is a good thing for getting people interested in photography, and for the supply of quality images.
Because of its functionality and slim form factor, this is now the camera we always have with us. That’s a big deal.
Reason 2 : Sharing
Most people want to share their photos in some way. For the vast majority of us, this means social media and email.
Shooting with a camera, for the most part, means that there are extra steps to get our photos where we want them to go. We have to plug the camera in to our computer or eject a storage card, upload pictures to a hard drive, and then share them to Facebook, Instagram, or any of the other multitude of social media sites in your electronic universe.
In your smartphone, immediately after taking the picture, and assuming you have a data connection, you can click a couple buttons and the image is immediately posted.
Cameras just can’t connect to the outside world like your phone, unless you lug along some other gear or purchase an expensive Wi-fi adapter.
Reason 3 : Convenience
A camera won’t be used if it intimidates the person behind the lens. Smartphone cameras are the ultimate point-and-shoots. You just can’t beat the ease of seeing what you’re going to capture in that big, high resolution screen, and capturing the exact image with the press of a single button. There are point-and-shoot camera this easy to use, but they frequently don’t have the same high quality screen.
The combination of rich preview and ease of use makes your phone a clear winner.
Reason 4: Simple, Free Editing
More sophisticated phone photographers realize that the image that comes out of the camera can usually be improved with a few editing tweaks. The great news for those who want to touch up their shots is that the apps on your camera are either free or cheap, and can apply many great effects in a few steps.
Desktop image editors are fantastic, but let’s face it – they have a steep learning curve, and most (but not all) cost a fair amount of money to purchase.
There are a number of great apps for editing photos on your phone. Some of my favorites are Snapseed ( Android and IOS), Photoshop Express (Android and IOS). If you’re an Instagram user, you can edit your photos before posting them.
Conclusion: Stay Tuned
The usage of smartphones as cameras has carved out an impressive usability case for folks who want to make and share images with a minimum of fuss and expense (except of course, for the phone!). Portraits, landscapes, and street photography are accommodated very well with just your camera and a minimum of equipment.
It’s clear why the smartphone market has cannibalized the lower end of the digital camera market, for the above reasons.
In Part Two, I’ll make the case for where you’ll run into dead ends with your phone and why you might want to buy a bridge or interchangeable lens camera system.