Smartphone cameras and DSLRs have grown in different directions over the last few years. Sony predicts that by 2024, the phone image quality will surpass that of single-lens reflex competitors. Therefore, it is possible that phones will replace cameras.
According to Nikkei Japan, Terushi Shimizu, President and CEO of Sony Semiconductor Solutions (SSS), stated at a business briefing that "we think that still photographs (from smartphones) will reach the image quality of single-lens reflex cameras over the next few years."
Some of the fascinating slides shown during the briefing were even more detailed, with Sony claiming that "still photographs are likely to reach ILC (interchangeable lens camera) image quality" by 2024.
Both statements are slightly different, with 'ILCs' including both modern mirrorless cameras and older DSLR technology that most camera manufacturers have largely abandoned.
However, the overall conclusion remains the same: smartphones will kill DSLRs before they reach a technological peak.
So, what technology will ensure that the best phone cameras continue to improve? Sony cites several factors, including advances in "quantum saturation" and "AI processing." Sony also predicts that by 2024, the sensor size in "high-end model" phones will have doubled.
Sony cited several critical factors to back up its claim. According to Sony, in the next two years, mobile image sensors are expected to reach and potentially exceed one inch in size. Notably, the Sony Xperia Pro I already has a 1-inch 20MP primary image sensor. However, due to distance constraints between the lens and sensor, Sony's ultra-premium camera only uses 12MP of the sensor's surface, equivalent to a roughly 1 / 1.3-inch sensor found in other smartphones. This is a problem that Sony does not directly address, and the limitations of the smartphone form factor will most likely keep a lid on how big mobile sensors can become in the upcoming years.
Even if smartphone camera sensors cannot compete with APS-C cameras in size, smaller sensors will be able to capture significantly more light soon, closing the gap. It is unknown when this technology will be available for smartphones, but it has been seen in Sony's top-of-the-line mirrorless cameras.
Technological advancements have made photography an exciting place right now. Many people wonder if their smartphone is as good as a dedicated camera like a DSLR due to smartphone manufacturers' improvements. However, professional photographers understand that it is not.
From their point of view, comparing DSLR cameras with smartphone cameras is like comparing apples and oranges.
Since they both provide nutrition for our bodies, they are genetically distinct. Therefore, they have different flavors and textures.
The same is true for mobile phones and DSLR cameras. Even though they perform the same primary image capture function, they are "genetically" different by design.
Every time Apple, Google, or Samsung releases a new flagship smartphone; they go to great lengths to highlight the camera improvements. They dazzle us with the latest tech specs, show us their new capture modes, and amaze us with sample images that appear to be from a smartphone. Why? Because the quality of a smartphone's camera is one of the most critical factors driving consumers to upgrade their phones.
All top smartphone manufacturers want you to know that their cameras are worth your money. Apple encourages iPhone users to share their best photos on Instagram with the hashtag #ShotOniPhone, and the best of these images are frequently featured in iPhone TV commercials. Google recently collaborated with John Legend to film a music video entirely on the Google Pixel 2. Samsung struck a deal with the International Olympic Committee to allow every athlete to record and share their best memories on a Galaxy Note 8 during Olympics.
Is it marketing hype, or are the best smartphone cameras capable of replacing a DSLR from Nikon or Canon or a mirrorless camera from Sony or Olympus? The answer is no from the perspective of a professional photographer using high-end equipment. Professional photographers will not use smartphones as their primary cameras at weddings or sporting events. But what about inexperienced photographers? What about parents, teenagers, and the rest of us? Could a layperson with little or no formal training take better photos with a DSLR than a modern smartphone? The answer is simply no!
Dedicated cameras are incredibly versatile and will almost always be able to perform tasks that a smartphone cannot. For instance, you can't attach a 200mm telephoto lens to your smartphone, and you'd probably look ridiculous even if you could.
Since DSLR and mirrorless cameras have larger sensors with up to 40 megapixels or more, the resolution of photos taken with them is much higher than that of smartphone cameras.
What about the megapixel myth? That is correct. More megapixels do not imply a better photograph, which leads to the next point. The sensors in dedicated cameras are much larger than those in smartphone cameras, which allows them to let in much more light and produce better photos with more excellent dynamic range in low-light situations.
A DSLR will also typically provide you with more creative control over exposure. You have complete control over your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings, allowing you to create those beautiful blurred waterfalls and backgrounds. Smartphones can simulate many of these scenarios, but their performance is limited by the software that comes with them.
Finally, DLSR cameras have excellent batteries that should easily last you a day or more of shooting, and if you run out, you can quickly swap in a spare battery and resume shooting as if nothing had happened.
Ultimately, it all returns to the concept of "good enough." Is a smartphone capable of meeting your photographic needs? Two or three years ago, the answer might have been no, but today, millions of people rely on their smartphones as their primary camera.
A DLSR is neither a bad choice nor inferior to a smartphone; it is simply becoming more of a niche product. It's a camera for specific people in specific situations because convenience is critical in this situation.
The smartphone can be your everyday camera for spontaneous moments of sharing creativity. In contrast, the DSLR can be reserved for those occasions when you know you'll need a specialized camera with the highest quality images possible. It all depends on your choice!