Mobile phone vs Digital Camera

Sometimes it might be easier to leave your camera at home and use your mobile phone to take pictures. However, you may be up for a surprise…

Mobile phones are ok for taking random shots in situations where you cannot use your camera, but you will get so much more with a camera than you do with a mobile phone. With a digital camera (even a compact camera, as I’ll be mainly talking about compact cameras here), you get so much more. You can easily print images, enlarge them, and share them with friends and family.

A few years ago, camera manufacturers and sellers were trying to convince us (and many of us got convinced, unfortunately) that number of pixels defines the quality of the camera and the quality of the images. That is not entirely true. You do need certain number of pixels in a sensor, but it comes down to not just a number of pixels, it comes down to three main things:

  1. number of pixels (megapixels – Mpx);
  2. sensor (size of the sensor as well as quality);
  3. lens (quality of the lens).

With small sensor you’re going to get grainy effects called digital noise. Fortunately, nowadays camera manufacturers combine bigger sensors with higher megapixels which gives you much better quality. Unfortunately, because mobile phones are very slim, they are packed with latest technology, more focused on phone needs than camera needs, so the cameras on mobile phones have tiny sensors and “less than optimal” lenses. Cameras are created for photography, so they’re a bit bigger than mobile phones but they come with much better quality lenses and sensors.

Here are just a few pros and cons of both:

Pros of Digital Camera:

  • Autofocus,
  • Glass lens with optical zoom,
  • Great quality images that can easily be printed,
  • Image Stabilisation technology to keep images in focus,
  • Quite powerful flash technology.

Cons of Mobile Phone camera:

  • Tiny sensor,
  • Plastic lenses,
  • Fixed-focus lenses (no optical zoom),
  • Limited image quality, not suitable for printing especially in bigger formats.

Cameras on mobile phones often have digital zooms, because of lack of optical zoom, which crops an image and reduces the image quality, rather than moving the lens physically for enlarging the scene as the optical zooms do.

NOTE: Avoid using a digital zoom at all costs! It drastically reduces the quality of your images, they get pixelated.

A word of advice, independant advice, when buying a digital camera, when possible choose a camera with a big sensor for better quality. Many digital compacts nowadays feature a CMOS sensor – the same size sensor as the one that appears on SLR camera! As an example, Fujifilm X10, which I’m going to review as i have just purchased it, features such a sensor and it creates amazing quality images.

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