Do you really need a digital camera AND a smartphone?


By: Martin Carline

Whilst the ideal camera is the one you simply happen to have with you, smart phone cameras just do not have the professional capabilities of a full-sized digital camera. Almost everyone has a mobile or smartphone with a camera, and they normally carry their smartphone with them at all times, as the size and weight of a mobile device is very convenient.

While cell phone cameras are improving and witnessing greater usage, they are absent some primary features associated with standard digital cameras. The functions that mobile phones do have are ordinarily automatic, not manual, limiting control over the photographic outcome. Owners should know about the different feature sets of digital cameras and mobile cameras, and just how the advanced features in cameras make it appealing to have both a digital camera and a mobile.

Blurred photographySummary of Digital Cameras and Mobile Phones

Photo images are sensitive creatures, which can appeal, bring people together, or elicit boos. The thumbs-down votes come when the image is distorted, out-of-focus, or blurry, to name a few problems. The smiles arrive when a detailed representation is made of individuals, background, and tone. A variety of aspects goes into the production of good images, which digital cameras are much more suited to achieve.

What exactly is Noise?

Noise arises like the film grain on old images. Noise is mainly undesirable, but often have some uses in creative photographs. Noise is attributed to a small sensor and lack of sensitivity controls. A digital camera has a larger sensor compared to a mobile phone, and also ISO controls to adjust the degree of light that strikes the sensor during a certain photo. Smartphones have small sensors and ISO development is still expanding.


Cell phones’ megapixel (MP) ranges are good for sending text (SMS) images, uploading to social sites, emailing, and printing in a photo size. A camera though, with megapixels above 10, is able to print larger-sized images, including 8-by-10s, 11-by-14s, and in some cases higher. The highest number of megapixels in a camera is about 36 MP. Mobile phones average 3 to 8 MP; although, manufacturers are seeking to raise that rate.


The ISO manual control is a very common function on many digital cameras, but not on mobile phones. This control is needed to limit noisy, grainy images. ISO sensitivity is only a new function in mobile phones.

The photo on the left has an ISO of 100 and the one on the right has an ISO of 3200. Source:


Digital cameras offer controls to enhance sharpness, a measure of precision in a photo. Mobile phones do not often offer sharpness controls. Additionally, mobile phones generally have difficulty in low-light conditions, which further decreases sharpness. Mobile phones have this difficulty with sharpness as a result of their small sensors and slow lenses, but makers are working on this issue.

Storage Space

Storage cards cost a lot and come in different capacities, usually in gigabytes and coding classes. Generally, digital cameras will take up to 32GB with various coding and decoding speeds, with the higher numbers being better. MicroSD cards for mobile phones also provide up to 32GB of space and fast coding speeds.

White Balance

The white balance feature allows the photographer to identify the precision of colours. The procedure is to point the camera at a white wall surface to examine the balance. White balance control is usually present in digital cameras and a rising technology in cell phones.

Benefits of Digital Cameras

While cameras come in all sorts of styles, such as the traditional film cameras, digital cameras are now vastly more widely used. Together with the benefit from higher megapixels, digital cameras deliver high-powered zoom lenses that magnify from 2 to 70 times, which is definitely way more than what a cell phone camera could offer. The general public can invest in different styles of cameras including:

  •   Compact
  •   Pocket Megazoom
  •   Point-and-Shoot, with Manual Controls
  •   Point-and-Shoot, with Video
  •   Compact Interchangeable-Lens Cameras
  •   Digital Single Lens Reflex ( DSLRs )
  •   DSLRs and Interchangeable-Lens, with Video

Digital cameras offer interchangeable lenses, including zoom lenses and wide angle lenses, which add to the photographer’s range settings. Irrespective of megapixel count, a larger lens on a camera equals better pictures, as a bigger lens records more light. Digital cameras also have larger image sensors than mobile phones. Even compared with budget point-and-shoot cameras, mobile phone sensors are much smaller, so photo quality suffers. The quality is poor because the smaller sensor just can’t capture the amount of information that a big sensor can. DSLR digital cameras with their large sensors, take beautiful pictures. When buying a camera, look into how big the sensor is.

Digital cameras supply the advantage of manually changing the exposure and shutter speed. While many individuals find this complicated and difficult, and can not be bothered, these manual adjustments are important to getting clear and precise photos of both the foreground and background. For individuals that don’t want to make manual adjustments, most good digital cameras offer predetermined operator scenarios. These autofocus presets are specifically for landscapes, fireworks, beach scenes, and various other common scenarios.

Benefits of mobile phones

A cell phone is a computer-like tool with innovative software and more features, like a spacious display, a touchscreen, and a QWERTY keyboard. These devices typically have a camera and video recording, and are rather like a compact laptop. Users who view e-mail and scan the internet often choose these devices.

Photographic cameras in cell phones have only a couple of benefits for taking pictures, and the benefits have nothing to do with taking good pictures. Cell phones are compact, convenient, always there, and fit very easily in a pocket or handbag. When something unforeseen occurs, it’s really easy to use your mobile and snap away. Also, a phone has Web connectivity to conveniently post snapshots by text, e-mail, or to social media websites. Mobile users also can now download picture editing programs that allow them to add frames and other artistic details to their photographs. Having said that, even though smartphones will probably always enjoy the benefit to being compact and lightweight, digital cameras are emerging now with wifi capability, rendering mobile phones with only the one benefit.

Nevertheless, manufacturers are working on including controls and features into smartphones to rival digital cameras. There is no telling what advancements technology will offer in the future. Maybe the two gadgets will merge one day. In the meantime, the smartphone carries those few advantages, plus other features like productivity and connectivity properties.

Who Will Need Both?

As there are apparent advantages to both devices, as well as a few downsides, it is your own choice on whether you need both a digital camera and a cell phone. In essence, if you enjoy taking pics of family and friends, or the random scenic picture while on holiday, a smartphone should serve your purposes. This is particularly true if you are happy just uploading your pics to your favorite social media site, and possibly printing the occasional 4-by-6 to put in a picture frame.

But, if taking creative and well planned photographs, and enjoy having some artistic and manual control over how your camera performs, you really should contemplate buying a digital camera. Likewise, a good spec digital camera is essential if you are planning on making money from your photography. You will have access to greater zoom and more features, and dependant upon the amount of megapixels you go with, you could possibly make large prints.

Yet, even hobbyist and expert photographers don’t want to haul their heavy camera (no matter how fancy it is) with them everywhere. So for them, it’s a smart choice to have both a smartphone and a digital camera in their armory.

Purchasing Digital Cameras and Mobile phones on eBay

To buy a digital camera on eBay, use the Electronics portal. Select Cameras:

To see mobile phones and their camera capabilities, use the Electronics portal. Choose Mobile Phones and then “Mobile & Smart Phones”:

You’ll need to make sure the carrier is supplied in your location, and features a suitable rate plan. Another good refinement is the os, including Android, BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, HP / Palm webOS, and iOS – Apple. Additionally, you can filter according to colour and the phone’s design, such as Bar, Flip, Slider, and Swivel. To filter by features choose Camera first, but other features include 4G Data Capable, 3G Data Capable, Bluetooth Enabled, and Email Access.


Any camera is better than no camera at all. No image means it didn’t happen. Considering most people carry their smartphone with them at all times, a camera is always close at hand and at least getting some sort of pic is manageable. Except, what kind of picture is it? Chances are that a photograph from a mobile phone will be less than appealing. Cell phones are restricted in functionality when compared with their older, big brother, the venerable camera. Whilst the mobile is the surprising newcomer on the block, it is missing the versatility, the control, and the intelligence of the digital camera.

1 thought on “Do you really need a digital camera AND a smartphone?”

  1. The amount of cameras and lenses that I have had come and go from my collection over the years would easily reach three figures. Some I kept for just a few days before selling on, some a few years, others I still have and use now. I have whittled it down to about eight or nine cameras and quite a lot of lenses.It really depends on how much money you have to spend, what type of photography you intend to do and how much space you have to store them! )If you ask me what cameras/lenses you should consider buying then I will tell you to buy ones that can be used a modern day DSLR either with or without an adapter. I currently shoot digitally with a Ricoh GR Digital as a compact and a Canon 20D as my more serious tool. The beauty of Canon is that it allows me to use several older manual focus lens systems with my camera body and achieve infinity focus. Therefore I look for cameras and lenses that are also compatible with my DSLR body.I currently own a few SLR bodies but the film ones which I currently use are a Sigma Mark 1 (M42 mount) and Contax RTS (C/Y mount.) I have quite a large number of lenses for these cameras, all of which I can use with my Canon. After using many, many SLR bodies, these two cameras are now my final two’ which I am so happy with, I don’t ever see myself selling them. If you see them for a good price (and the Sigma can be very cheap) then don’t hesitate to buy them.As for compacts? Well I have always liked the Olympus MJU II (my carry everywhere camera), Olympus XA and XA2, Olympus Trip 35 is an essential in anyone’s collection, and Leica Mini II.I think that owning and using a TLR is a great photographic experience. I loved mine but sold it after it got little use. You should certainly use both 35mm and 120 film cameras to gain experience in MF shooting. Be sure to experiment and use many cameras which are fully manual, no electronics, manual everything! It will help you with your photographic technique and skills.There are no cameras that everybody should have in their collection, it is all down to personal taste and the other reasons I listed above. Good luck with the collecting! Be warned though Gear Acquisition Syndrome can be very expensive!. Was this answer helpful?


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