Camera phone vs Digital camera quality

Discussion in 'Digital and Video Cameras' started by Shephard, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. Shephard

    Shephard Senior member

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    My uncle is a photographer but he's travelling so I never got the chance to ask him this question.

    Since every smartphone has a back camera and most have a front now I thought I would ask the question. Most seem to have at least a 5 megapixel back camera.

    Is an 8 megapixel back camera from an iPhone or Galaxy 3 just as good as a real Digital Camera?

    Like a $50 Digital Camera from Future Shop say vs one of these.

    What about the more expensive ones?

    Also Digital Cameras seem to take longer to take a picture. Where as the iPhone has like no shutter time.

    thanks
     
  2. yottabit

    yottabit Golden Member

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    I think ever since the iPhone 4 the back facing camera has been as good or better than a < $150 point and shoot, unless for some reason you need a large optical zoom

    I have a Nikon L100 and find myself using the 4S camera much more often

    If you go to a digital SLR you definitely get a lot better quality than a camera phone

    Other than that today's camera phones are as good as any point and shoot I would say. Except in zoom and also low light performance

    In contrast the front facing camera on the 4S is horrible

    Also, with digital cameras it's not really about the megapixels. Image quality is determined by a number of other factors that are much more important!
     
  3. Shephard

    Shephard Senior member

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    what other factors for digital camera. what is SLR?

    Do people still use cameras that require film?

    I know the front camera sucks it's mainly for video chat.
     
  4. MrA79

    MrA79 Member

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    Sensor size, processing software, etc are still important on a phone camera. The iphone 4S camera is about the best I've seen, in terms of overall quality. Just like with normal cameras, megapixels aren't everything.
     
  5. alkemyst

    alkemyst No Lifer

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    In bright light they fare comparably with the lower end cameras. In low light a camera phone usually is much much worst than even a sub-par compact.
     
  6. pandemonium

    pandemonium Golden Member

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    I recommend visiting the compare tool over at gsmarena.com. Make sure you use the scaling feature when comparing different megapixels and cameras. That tool is a good baseline for understanding how well each phone holds up, and they even have a strong DSLR competitor for comparison purposes on there, the Canon 5D Mark II. They also have entry-level DSLR and compact dedicated cameras for comparing as well.

    Shutter speed is dependent on several factors, but primarily for smartphones, it's quicker due to typical steadiness of being hand-held (as opposed to using a tripod or mount). This is also something that can't be adjusted by most smartphones (e.g. long exposures for time-lapse photography).

    I personally see no reason to buy a discrete dedicated camera with how much smartphone cameras have developed. If you're not buying for semi-professional or professional use, then you're perfectly fine with the quality on a cameraphone (granted you objectively compare professional results of course).

    DSLR = Digital Single-Lens Reflex

    [​IMG]

    Cross-section view of a DSLR. Electronics and display not shown.
    1. Camera lens
    2. Reflex mirror
    3. Focal-plane shutter
    4. Image sensor
    5. Matte focusing screen
    6. Condenser lens
    7. Pentaprism/pentamirror
    8. Viewfinder eyepiece
     
  7. finbarqs

    finbarqs Diamond Member

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    don't forget, the flash on phones are terrible. Nothing really usable at all.
     
  8. pandemonium

    pandemonium Golden Member

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    My N8 would beg to differ. ;)
     
  9. blastingcap

    blastingcap Diamond Member

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    Phones usually do okay in bright light and can be good for macros, but will usually suffer from:

    - inability to isolate (blur background) as well
    - inability to optically zoom
    - inability to focus as quickly and accurately as a higher-end camera, let alone track movements
    - inability to flash as well or as long range as a real camera
    - inability to take RAW photos
    - inability to start up quickly and take multiple shots in a row quickly
    - suffers more from low light (higher ISO affects tiny sensored phone cameras a lot more than larger-sensor cameras)
     
  10. Munky

    Munky Diamond Member

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    Phones are improving in photo quality, but so are compact digital cameras. Since phones still rely on a smaller sensor than even an average P&S, they will continue to be inferior in technical detail. That's not even considering other shortcomings, like a pathetic excuse for a flash, no optical zoom, no optical image stabilization - hell, most phones don't even have a real two-stage shutter button.

    In other words, phones are ok if all you wanna do is take lame FB pics or wanna-be-artist Instagram snapshots. But if you're concerned with actual photo quality, then phones are still a mediocre substitute for a camera.
     
  11. Muse

    Muse Lifer

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    My Canon ELPH 100HS that I picked up refurb for under $100 has image stabilization, 4x optical zoom, can take multiple shots in short time, does HD videos, is so small and light I can carry it in my pocket everywhere (about the size of a deck of cards, less than 5 oz. including memory card and battery), has cheap batteries, is pretty good in low light situations, also has a moderately useful flash. It's not a phone.
     
    #11 Muse, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  12. Shephard

    Shephard Senior member

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    Ok I use to have a nikon coolpix. I can't remember the specs on it but I really liked it. I only got to use it a few times before someone stole it from me...

    I found this old camera in one of my boxes today. Is it better than an iPhone 4 or 5 I am curious to know.

    Finepix e510. I think it's maybe 6 years old I am not sure though.
     
  13. AnitaPeterson

    AnitaPeterson Diamond Member

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    Re: the Fujifilm Finepix e510

    I am not a fan of Fujifilm digital cameras. On those that I played with, I find that often times they have produce "washed-out" colors and a kind of "plastic-wrap" contours. I am not, however, acquainted with the one you have. Since it's got a zoom as well as two macro modes, it probably still overtakes most cellphone cameras, though....
     
  14. randomrogue

    randomrogue Diamond Member

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    If you're not printing them and are only posting on facebook then a camera phone might be acceptable to your average person. However if you look closely it's lacking detail and is very smudged. If it's low light it's downright terrible and the flash on them makes pictures look horrible. The second you compare a camera phone picture to just about any point and shoot on a computer screen or printed it becomes very apparent.

    I think they're fun for snapshots but that's it. My 3MP digital camera from almost 15 years ago would compete very well with any camera phone today. My DSLR is in a completely different league.

    Check out flikr or something and look at different images. With that said I should point out that I've seen some great pictures on a camera phone since it's a fingertip away even while stumbling home drunk from the bars. That's a nice little advantage.
     
  15. Kaido

    Kaido Lifer

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    A lot of it depends on how it's going to be used. There are pros and cons to using a cell phone as a camera, and that especially depends on the model you get.

    I've been using an iPhone 4S to shoot photos with for about a year now. My Canon T2i dSLR has only come out 2 or 3 times in the last year for serious shoots, because I have so much fun using my smartphone camera. I can take pictures, edit pictures, and send pictures all from one device, anywhere I am. I really enjoy it as a hobby. You can take some excellent pictures, check out the "Through the lens of an iPhone" series on iPhoneography to get some ideas:

    http://www.iphoneography.com/journal/tag/through-the-lens-of-an-iphone

    For me, the biggest downside is no optical zoom. But since it's a cameraphone, a lot of times you can just...walk closer to the subject. So it's a gripe but not a dealbreaker for me. The quality is definitely not as good as a dSLR, but 8 megapixels is nothing to sneer at. If you want to take the "professional" route on an iPhone, the 645 Pro app mimics a lot of dSLR features and almost lets you take RAW photos (you can do uncompressed JPG's or TIFF's, which look a lot better than the regular camera apps):

    http://www.cultofmac.com/162068/645-pro-takes-the-best-iphone-photos-you-have-ever-seen-review/

    I primarily use Camera+ because (1) I can lock the focus & exposure independently, (2) it has easy tweak features (clarity, auto, backlight, flash, etc.), (3) good crop tools, and (4) fun filters (more like Lightroom presets than Instagram, if you know the difference):

    http://campl.us/

    Here are some other tools in my toolbox:

    Perfectly Clear: Noise reduction
    http://www.athentech.com/iphone-ipad.html

    AfterFocus: Lets you select objects and do a dSLR-style blur
    http://appm1.com/afterfocus/

    Image Straightener: Allows for rotation of images
    https://itunes.apple.com/app/image-straightener/id473124432

    Photo FX: Filters from Tiffen, really really great app. Awesome film grain.
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-fx/id300630942?mt=8

    Snapseed: More powerful image tweaking program
    http://www.snapseed.com/home/mobile/features/

    PhotoToaster: I like this better than Photoshop Express
    http://www.eastcoastpixels.com/cgi-bin/product.php?p=4

    I have a handful more, but that's enough to give you an idea. I think I'm up to 25,000 shots on my 4S now. I really enjoy it. I love my Canon T2i dSLR and my collection of vintage Zeiss lenses, but...the iPhone is always in my pocket, ready to go in seconds, ready for me to tinker with editing, ready for me to send via email, twitter, and facebook. I'm a fan :thumbsup:
     
  16. torrado

    torrado Junior Member

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    Best softwares for editing are adobe photoshop.
     
  17. Kaido

    Kaido Lifer

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    Free iPods edit better! :awe:
     
  18. blastingcap

    blastingcap Diamond Member

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    Maybe you wouldn't need to edit it so much if it were a real camera. ;)
     
  19. AnitaPeterson

    AnitaPeterson Diamond Member

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    Side note for our American friends: FutureShop is a store akin to what Circuit City used to be in the States (except that CC has folded, and FS is owned by BestBuy). Pretty much a poor pretense that there's competition on the market (even though it's not...)