You might be wondering why you’d want to buy a DSLR camera when smartphone cameras take such great photographs. It’s a fair point, because the technology in smartphones has advanced to such a degree that people are being paid for their camera phone photos. Instagram’s entire site, and a lot of the content on other social media sites, uses smartphone photos and many of them are extremely effective and well-shot. Smartphones can also have a fairly hefty price tag, especially the most desirable brands like Apple and Sony.
So why would you want to carry around a much bulkier, potentially expensive piece of kit that you can only use for taking photos, when you have a perfectly good, easy to use camera on your phone?
What exactly is a DSLR, and why is it an advantage?
DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. In the days before digital technology revolutionised photography, the best cameras were reckoned to be SLRs, so when digital took over, it was logical to marry the digital technology with the superior quality of the single lens reflex system.
The single lens part of the system means that instead of having a viewfinder lens to look through, you frame your photo by looking through the actual photographic lens itself, which means that whatever you see when you take the picture is what you will see on the photograph. If you’re setting up a shot looking through a different lens, the way you would on most smartphones, your photo will always be slightly different from the way you envisioned it in your mind.
Camera phones are becoming far more sophisticated than the point and shoot versions in the original smartphones, but a good DSLR still has more advanced capabilities. If you’re new to the sometimes complex range of settings on a DSLR, have a look at some online guides such as this one on the best Nikon settings.
You can use a wide variety of different lenses on a DSLR camera, giving you a choice between wide angle lenses for scenic shots, to telephoto lenses for capturing pictures of wildlife right up close when you’re a fair distance away, or portrait lenses for photographing people. You can also use a wide variety of filters and effects, which to some degree are available on smartphones, but not to such an extent or at such an advanced level. Another key benefit of a DSLR is that you can focus manually, rather than relying on autofocus that doesn’t always capture the image you wanted.
DSLR light sensitivity is far greater, enabling you to take photos in very low light levels, and DSLRs focus far more quickly, saving precious seconds when taking action shots or capturing a specific moment. DSLRs can also take multiple photographs per second – just think of the continual whirr of multiple shots being snapped at a fashion shoot, or by the paparazzi. Professional photographers who specialize in sports and other forms of action photography almost always use DSLRs.
Having such extensive and flexible settings give DSLRs the most important advantage of all – superior image quality. You might not notice it in the kind of snaps you see on Facebook, but there’s still a significant difference in picture quality between a DSLR photo and a smartphone. It’s true that camera phone technology is constantly improving, but as the tech in phone cameras advances, so does the tech in DSLRs. If you have any interest in photography beyond taking the odd family snap, a DSLR is well worth considering.