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Smartphone versus DSLR camera – is the battle justified?

I often hear people question the need to use DSLR cameras in photography these days. With new-age mobile devices that are easy to carry around and the variety of apps and software available, capturing images has now become easier than ever before. Why then, would people want to get bulky DSLR’s, and expensive lenses? On the other hand, there are the advocates of the DSLR camera who keep saying one cannot reach higher levels of creativity without the DSLR. Is the battle real?

When I started, I was using a simple point and shoot which had only the “Auto” mode. By “Auto” we mean that the camera selects the best settings by itself according to the scene, you do not have the option for adjusting them yourself. Then I got another point and shoot that also had a “Manual” mode and “scenes” mode available, so I started having fun experimenting with it. I seldom used the “Auto” mode and found myself tweaking the settings all by myself. For me, the freedom to be able to feed in my own settings was more than enough then, no matter how good or bad the pictures came out! Slowly but surely, I started to feel that I outgrew the camera. I wanted more. That’s when I got my first DSLR. And the rest is history. Today I own two DSLR bodies and four lenses to work with. In the meantime I used two awesome camera phones, I am using a third one now – just to understand smartphone photography deeper. In some instances, I have clicked the same scene with the DSLR and the phone as well, just to understand the difference.  Some people didn’t quite get it as to why I was interested in mobile photography since I could very well use a proper DSLR for the purpose. My point was simple. It was never a question about choice between mobile photography or DSLR photography. It was about experimenting with image-making, and that is possible with the help of any device you choose. Bear in mind that there are a number of DSLR owners who use their cameras in auto mode only during vacations, which is absolutely fine because that works for them. On the other hand, I know a number of people who use their smartphones to produce great images which they use for branding purposes! What you want to do with the pictures is also a point you need to take into consideration. Better image quality will yield better quality prints. With feature-packed image editing tools such as Lightroom and Snapseed, your smartphone can produce images that are great for the web and also for small-size printing. Take a look at the picture below. I shot it on my smartphone and edited in Snapseed. It's all about the environment, the treatment and how you want to present your picture to the audience. You can do that with any device, use any editing methods and get awesome results. 

Moral of the story? Well, the question isn’t about what device you use. It’s about the level of learning that you are at, how deep you wish to delve into the subject and how can you utilize the devices that you have. As a beginner, or an enthusiast, your aim is to learn the techniques and understand what works in what scenario. I suggest do not be attached to one particular device as a beginner. Try various devices, modes, apps, whatever. Once you get the feel of it, and reach a certain level of confidence, you will know what device you need, exactly when you need. You will then choose your devices, instead of the devices choosing you. Let your passion speak for you to understand yourself. If photography is what fuels your energy, keep exploring it and grow with it. If not photography, then it could be something else for you, and that’s ok.

With advancement in technology, the battle between the smartphone and DSLR camera has intensified and is here to stay. Each have their merits, and it is upto you how, where and when you want to make use of those merits to your advantage.

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