I get asked this question occasionally, and my response is two questions:

  1. What would you like to shoot?
  2. What’s your budget?

Usually, #2 is the most important question in this discussion. Often times, people look to the big box stores and ask me about an entry level Nikon or Canon DSLR kit with a couple of lenses. My answer is always the same – don’t do it – you won’t be happy, and you’ll outgrow them soon. In fact, a decent lens, often costs more than people really want to spend.

Here’s my newest answer – don’t buy a camera yet, instead let’s talk about how you’re shooting images on your phone:

  1. Are you shooting RAW images with your phone?
  2. If so, which app are you using to capture the image?
  3. Which program are you using to process your photos?
  4. Are you using the digital zoom?
  5. Have you gotten closer to your subject, filled the frame, or changed your angle?

Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of using your phone as your go to camera…

Pros:

  1. Mirrorless.
  2. Lightweight.
  3. Always with you.
  4. Easily backup and export images.
  5. Many different apps to enhance your photographic and video capturing experience.
  6. Easily post images to social media.

Cons:

  1. Phones just keep getting more and more expensive. Often times, the biggest draw to a newer phone is the camera, but you could go buy a decent camera and lens for the price of a new phone.
  2. Apps can be kludgy and costly.
  3. Fixed focal length lenses – although, there are now attachable external lenses.
  4. Small sensor = no real background blur, and more noise in low light.
  5. One thing I’ve never figured out with smartphone manufacturers though, is why don’t they put a high end camera facing the front. After all, people vlog and take selfies all the time. Why give the user a sub par camera compared to the rear facing ones?

Here are some photos I’ve captured with my iPhone over the past month or so – most captured RAW in Lightroom and edited there. By no means are these the most amazing shots ever, but sometimes you just don’t have a full blown camera with you, and that’s why I use my phone to take photos.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a video recording app that I’m completely happy with – yet. Mavis comes close, but there are some weird issues with the app that keep my from fully recommending it. Still, 4K 60p video on most modern smartphones is quite impressive! This was a recent video that I recorded using Mavis (an iphone app).

Smartphones are getting better all the time, but I still prefer to use a “real” camera. There’s a quote by photographer and author Chase Jarvis. Here it is, “the best camera is the one you have with you.”

In conclusion:

  1. Save your money (initially)
  2. Shoot RAW with your phone (I use Lightroom for capturing images).
  3. Work on composition of your image.
  4. Never zoom, just get closer.
  5. Find a video app that gives you full manual control.
  6. Edit using a quality app for your phone. Again, I like Lightroom. Notice I said like, not love, but it’s ok.

About the Author

Noah Bershatsky

Nerd

Photographer | Blogger | Black Belt | Family Man | My cat is 20 years old.

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