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5 Limitations of Smartphone Cameras

Feb 8, 2014 | GENERAL

Got the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy for Christmas and now fancy yourself as a budding photographer?

Good for you.  The evolution of the smartphone has been wonderful in terms of allowing everyday men and women to capture events and memories, and as smartphones get better, you can take some photos which are perfect for putting up on the social networks or texting to your friend and family.

However, I must urge all smartphone users to be aware of one thing: whilst your smartphone has got a camera, it’s not a camera without significant drawbacks.  Here are five of them:

1)  Low quality optics

A smartphone obviously needs to be slim enough for you to be able to put in your pocket and carry around with you, and manfacturers are managing to make them smaller than ever these days.  However, because smartphones are so compact, it isn’t possible to build them with the same sort of lenses you would find on a DSLR.  The net results?  A small built-in lens that is vastly inferior to a proper camera lens.

Some companies are constructing extra lenses that can be added to the smartphone, but trust me, they pale in comparison to a proper size lens.  Professional photographers don’t just use a big old lens for the sake of it – a quality and appropriate-sized lens is fundamentally important in ensuring enough light can get into the shot as well as allowing the photographer to use optical zoom.

2)  Resizing is a no-no

As I said at the beginning, there’s no doubt that it’s nice to be able to have the option to take a snap of something you see during your day.  However, a smartphone picture is far less usable than a picture taken with a decent camera because its size cannot be changed without compromising the quality.

Taken a really nice picture of your child that you want to blow up and put in a frame?  Well you can, but if you took it on a smartphone then it will be pixellated and grainy – not exactly the kind of photo you want on display.

3)  Alternative apps make everything look the same

With Instagram still one of the most popular smartphone apps around, many of you will be familiar with the ‘filters’ that users can put on their smartphone pictures.

These filters enable users to change the way a photograph looks, with the idea that you can create a more individual picture by adding certain stylised effects.  In reality, given the amount of people using apps like Instagram, it means that most pictures end up looking the same.

4)  Poor light sensitivity

If you have the perfect amount of natural light, then you can take a smartphone picture that looks quite nice.  If you don’t, then generally they won’t look great.  Often people seem to judge a smartphone camera by the amount of megapixels it has, but really that’s only a fraction of the story.

Good light sensors can enable your camera to pick up enough light to ensure you can take a good picture without flash, and generally smartphone cameras don’t have good light sensors.  Not only that, but when flash is used, it generally ruins the picture.

5)  No control over depth of field

‘Depth of field’ is another photography term that you might not be aware of.  Basically, it’s a phrase used to describe the distance that the camera is able to capture that is ‘acceptably sharp’ i.e. not really blurry.  Good cameras allow a good photographer to vary the depth of field to suit their needs; blurring and sharpening where they want to create an effect.

Smartphones, on the other hand, permit the user very little control over the depth of field, which means that it’s much more difficult to create a good photograph.

About the photographer: Sue is a professional portrait photographer based in Harlow, Essex and she specialises in baby and child portraiture. Being a parent, she understands just how special your child is to you and her aim is to produce a collection of images that are natural and meaningful to your family. No two moments are ever the same and she wants to perfectly capture those early precious memories and the natural character of your child. For more information please call 01279 433392, visit the Sue Kennedy Photography website and follow Sue on Facebook or Instagram.

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