Five Reasons Why I Ditched My DSLR For My Smartphone Camera

I recently travelled with my partner Lyn through Europe for several weeks, stopping off in Singapore for a few days on the way back to New Zealand.

Before leaving for the trip I had to ask myself the same question anyone who is keen on photography has to ask - "what gear will I take with me?"

As I don't have too many cameras to choose from - I decided to take my Nikon D5100 with 18-55mm and 55-200 lenses, and just use my Samsung cellphone as a just-in-case backup. The plan was to use an OTG cable to upload photos from the Nikon's SD card to a tablet, and then to Google photos for safe storage.

I started out by using my Nikon, however the best laid plans sort of went by the wayside and I soon found myself using my Samsung S4 smartphone camera almost all the time and never carried my Nikon when out and about. In fact the 55-200mm lens didn't see the light of day all the time I was away.

Five Reasons Why I Ditched My DSLR For My Smartphone Camera

Reason number 1 - size and weight: The smartphone is a convenient size and it is lightweight. Instead of having the D5100 (only about 830gms with 18-55 lens) slung around, and digging into, my neck for hours on end in the heat, the smartphone just slid into a pocket when not in use and I was hard pressed to even know it was there.

Reason number 2 - integration with social media: I posted every day to my Facebook profile while travelling so it was very convenient to be able to do it from my phone and have each day's snapshots immediately available. Also of course I was also able to back up my photos every time I connected to a wireless network - and there were always plenty of those available. This was so much easier than using the SD card to OTG to tablet setup that I had initially decided to use.

Reason number 3 - using the camera in a crowd: We did a lot of day trips, many of which involved walking with a group of people moving together through other crowds of people in some of the tourist hotspots in Europe. Getting the smartphone out of a pocket to take a few photos was a breeze compared with trying to juggle a DSLR - albeit a compact one - with others bustling around you.

Reason number 4 - acceptable image quality: I am not a travel photographer! I am a traveller who likes to take photos of overseas places I visit to trigger memories of those places when I return home. As such the quality of images off the smartphone is more than acceptable to not only trigger those memories, but also to post to social media.  

Reason number 5 - the smartphone camera worked for me: For almost seven weeks using the smartphone camera it worked for me. I didn't have to stop and think about whether to use aperture priority, or shutter priority, or full manual - I just raised the camera, composed and clicked. Having said that though, if I did use the Nikon I would have left it set to AUTO.

Of course there are many more than 5 reasons for using a DSLR rather than a smartphone camera and I am certainly not implying that the smartphone camera is better than the D5100 - because we all know it's not. You only have to Google DSLR versus Smartphone to see the evidence.

The smartphone picture quality is not as good when you look at detail; photos taken in low light were noisy; photos taken using the digital zoom were often severely degraded; creativity is severely limited; and so it goes on.

However as they say it's a case of horses for courses - so here are some of the Samsung images - and yes - I have done a wee bit of PP with Luminar 2018 on some of them.