Story by Ishaan Arora
Smartphone developers, driven by immense competition and an increasing desire to satisfy their complex consumer demands, are taking great strides in enhancing the cameras their devices carry.
Each year more and more money is dedicated to research and development by these smartphone companies to make their cameras as quality efficient as possible while maintaining their primary purpose: convenience.
“I think the convenience of smartphone cameras definitely outweighs the quality of the photographs they offer,” said Andrew Borg, a sophomore creative advertising major, of his new iPhone 5S’ camera.
“I use my phone camera on a daily basis while reserving my digital SLR for more important things like assignments.”
“This is not to say that the quality of the photographs are bad in any way,” Borg said. “They’re great. The smartphone industry has come a long way over the last decade in developing cameras that offer photographs with minimal blurriness or disturbance. The focus and zoom features have also definitely been improved.”
While a camera offering 1.3 megapixels was considered a big deal only a few years back, the same features would seem primitive now. Most smartphones are equipped with cameras offering anywhere between four and eight megapixels.
The cameras have also improved in terms of their light-controlling abilities and the automated flash and zoom features.
Moreover, they now provide the option of employing HDR when taking photographs.
This means users get the option of taking photographs in High Dynamic Range that includes multiple exposures of the same scene.
“The smartphones that are being designed today are amazing,” said Ashley Thompson, a senior radio/TV production major. “Many have higher quality images than some point-and-shoot cameras that came out a year ago, and they only keep getting better.”
These improvements, along with the convenience of a phone, mean more and more smartphone cameras are used as a substitute of sorts for their stand-alone digital counterparts.
“I think the smartphone era has put more cameras in a lot of hands,” Thompson said. “All this is great, but most people have a lot to learn about cameras and even smartphones if they want to genuinely improve the quality of their photographs.”
Most phones, regardless of how advanced their cameras get, will never make the cut for being used as a substitute.
Phone cameras simply don’t match up to the features offered by digital single-lens reflex cameras or DSLRs.
“I use my camera for both pictures and video, sometimes going back and forth between my Canon Rebel T3 and my iPhone rather fast,” Thompson said. “One of my biggest pet peeves, though, with phone cameras, is the vertical phone syndrome. This means shooting video vertically instead of horizontal, which is the proper form for television and web videos.”
“I like the convenience my phone camera offers,” Borg said. “It’s good for everyday usage but every time I need pictures of a higher quality or for assignments and class, I have to use my digital SLR.”