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  • Writer's pictureyzhensiang

Smartphone Evolution, Replacing Professional Photographers?

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

This has always been a hot topic stirred up by smartphone marketers, with the improvement of smartphone camera technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI), smartphones are able to produce the same quality image as DSLRs / Mirrorless cameras. Is this really true?

Let's break things into sections for easier understanding.

"Quality" vs Quality

To be able to understand this, we will need to set our perspectives into what having a quality photo means. Putting things in layman terms, image quality (IQ) is measured with a combination of sharpness, dynamic range and colour tones which can be sometimes subjective. General rule of thumb, a high quality image is always pleasing to the eye.

Indeed smartphones now does produce some really "Quality" images with the help of advance AI image processing technology which processes the photo in such a way it is "pleasing" to the eye by adding artificial sharpening, "HDR" editing and adding saturation, therefore it is not always consistent under unforeseen circumstances or when the limitation of the small sensor is reached.

A proper camera produces good quality images with the presence of hardware and not software processing. Therefore, if truly examined, there is less artifacts in the photographs taken with a camera than with a smartphone (if you turn off all additional "processing" in your camera).

This is where smartphone manufacturer market their products to sell well which "blinded" lots of consumer in terms of having a quality photographs.

Detail vs Resolution

Resolution is commonly known as megapixels, where detail is more about the clarity of the subject in an image. Therefore higher resolution helps but does not really equal to better detail.

Our phone is capable of capturing 48 megapixels photo. Sounds familiar? But do megapixels really matter if your image quality is bad. The answer is no, you may have high megapixels photo, but your photo is blurry and smudgy and that will mean nothing at all.

So you ask what really cause a high megapixels photo to be blurry and smudgy? Factors such as sensor size, light sensitivity (ISO) performance majorly affects details in a photo.

Therefore, a camera with a larger sensor and better ISO performance still does have an advantage over smartphone in getting an image with a good resolution. The reason being, a larger sensor size will have a less packed pixel per inch in the sensor face which in turn better at absorbing light from reflected surfaces of objects that you photograph showing more clarity.

There are a few more factors that is correlated between detail and resolution. But I will leave this to the next topic as it will be too heavy to be consumed.

Shot with Iphone X Shot with A7R2 & FE 70-200mm

Are smartphones really better than cameras?

There are ways for smartphones to ace with professional handling, such as setting up lights, advance blending technique and using other accessories to super boost the capability of the smartphone imaging sensor. But other than that, smartphones are just "smart" in faking it rather than being really good.


No doubt that the smartphone camera sensor and AI image processing has vastly improved over the last few years, but they are still far from replacing DSLR / Mirrorless cameras or photographers unless handled professionally. Other than that, smartphone cameras are just being convenient for us to get snapshots for memories in our life.


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