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Advantages and Disadvantages of Smartphone Photography for Your Family Photos

Aug 19, 2020 | GENERAL

Whilst I’d encourage everyone to budget for professional photos, I appreciate not everyone can. Smartphones are an easy way to help make sure your memories are easily accessible and documented at a moment’s notice.

The evolution of the smartphone has allowed everyday men and women to capture special moments, events, birthdays and more. As smartphones get better, you can take some photos which are perfect for uploading easily to social networks, or for texting to your friends and family.

Time passes so quickly, so make use of the camera on your smartphone, and capture those early memories of your baby as they grow. 

With that said, smartphones do have their limitations. 

So when it comes to your baby’s first pictures, it’s important to remember that there are advantages and disadvantages to relying solely on smartphones.

Read on to find out the five limitations of smartphone cameras:

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 professional 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 – Re-sizing is a ‘no-no’

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. But a smartphone picture is far less usable than a picture taken with a decent camera. 

Why? Because the size of an image captured with a smartphone 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 or frame on a wall in your home.

Whilst on the subject of size … I am a big fan of capturing the everyday moments. So personally I opt to have larger storage on my phone, simply because I do not want to run out of memory space when we are on holidays, and have to make rush decisions on what to delete. I also backup to cloud storage, so if my husband ever drops the phone in the sea again, I only lose a days worth of photos, not all my memories. I have heard too many sad stories on this front.

I’ve also taken to journalling our best phone images into a phone app (I use DayOne) and then having a book printed once a year. It’s great to flick back through and smile at the memories, and the quality is fine for an A5 sized book.

3 – Alternative apps make everything look the same

With Instagram still one of the most popular photo sharing apps around, you’ll most likely be familiar with the ‘filters’ users can add when they upload 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. Not only that, but it’s much easier to hide the poorer quality of images taken by cameraphones underneath these filters.

4 – Poor light sensitivity

If you have the perfect amount of natural light, then you can take a smartphone picture that looks quite nice and decent. 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… even if there is now more than one camera lens on our phones. 

Most people think ‘bad’ photo lighting can be fixed with the flash function. But when flash is used, it generally ruins the picture and is hard to edit or add filters over to fix it.

5 – No control over depth of field

‘Depth of field’ is another photography term that you may or may 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 have now joined the party with their version – portrait mode. Without it selected smartphones permit the user very little control over the depth of field, but with it on & practice you can achieve a similar result quite successfully.

Am I biased against smartphones as a professional photographer? To a degree. 

As I said at the beginning, I think they are a powerful tool in a pinch to capture the memories you want. But whilst they continue to be tweaked and improved, smartphones are, ultimately a phone first and a camera second.

So wherever possible, invest in either a good quality camera of your own to document your family’s precious moments -or- consider investing in a professional photographer.

Interested in booking a portrait photography session for your family?

All you have to do is click here to book your session.

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Headshot of Sue Kennedy PhotographyAbout 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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