Are Phone Cameras the Future?

“The best camera is the one you have with you.” – Jay Maisel

More and more, I have opened up my mind and philosophy towards any and all cameras being the ‘right’ camera for me.

There was a time several years ago where I scoffed at the mere thought of using a phone to take photos, whether for a professional job or simply my own amusement.

In my mind, a phone handset cheapened the overall photography experience. It removed the pure aspect of setting the camera on a tripod, adjusting dials and knobs, making sure everything is to your liking and then taking the image.

Boy, was I wrong…

Here we are in the year 2020 with phones being ubiquitous with photography, the simplicity of less control over settings and more emphasis on composition.

My handset of choice is a Samsung Galaxy S10, which has improved my phone photography experience tenfold. Your phone may be different although most modern smartphones have the same or similar capabilities.

While this isn’t a Samsung ad, I will say the device has a stunning set of lens-based optics. In total there are four lenses on the phone, three rear and one front.

Why so many lenses you may ask? Well each one fulfills a different focal length. Some are for standard viewing while others harbor a wide angle perspective.

Touch focusing is a breeze, using the big screen to act as a live-view mode like on a DSLR.

One of the lenses is a panorama lens. Instead of stitching panoramas on a computer and hoping all the different files are leveled and aligned, now I can simply rotate myself around a landscape to make a quick panorama with the device. To be frank, these phone panoramas are some of the best photos I’ve taken and are one of my favorite features to employ when out in the field.

Auto HDR will expose for sky and ground details in a single image, creating a bold and moody overcast day instead of blank overexposed lighting overhead.

Better yet, there is even a “Pro Mode” that simulates the actual exposure settings on a DSLR! Features such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO plus many more are available at your disposal. Phones didn’t nearly have this much in the way of features even a couple years ago.

All of the images you have seen thus far have been taking with that S10 phone. If you like to see a curated feed of my portfolio, check out my Instagram below.

Rest assured, these were taken with an actual DSLR (either a Canon EOS 80D or Rebel T3)

And so to answer my initial question that which is the title of this blog entry.

In short, phones make photography a lot easier without removing the need for skill and technique. You still have to have knowledge in order to make a great photo under great light.

Phones make photography better, and to think that 2015 me would probably laugh at that statement is very telling of my growth. Further improving, never regressing.

Yes, phone cameras are the future, and the future is now.

Are you a hobbyist or professional photographer? Do you use a traditional DSLR or a phone for your picture taking? Let me know what you think in the comments down below. I look forward to hearing from you.

The ‘All Outdoors Photography Podcast” is a show where we discuss stories from out in the field, techniques and gear with two other midwest outdoor photographers and yours truly.

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Ryan Taylor is a 26 year old photographer located in Beavercreek Ohio, United States. Specializing in wildlife and landscapes both big and small, Ryan has sought to capture many different natural locations throughout the Buckeye State and beyond.

6 thoughts on “Are Phone Cameras the Future?

  1. This was a great read Ryan. Thank you for writing on this topic!
    I started my photography journey with a phone. I currently have an iPhone xr and paired that with a set of lenses, lens filters, and a case from Moment. Moment also has an app that gives you the control over settings like that of manual mode and the ability to shoot in raw.
    I shot strictly with a phone for 2 years. In November of 2019, I purchased a Nikon 5600. It came with a 70-300mm and a 18-50Mm lenses. I also purchased a Tamron sp90mm for macro. Almost a year in, I am finally getting comfortable with the dslr, though I still have much to learn. With that said, I’ve really enjoyed it.
    To compare the two….
    I love the simplicity of the phone. It’s light, small, and it all fits in my pockets. I can get at low angles easily. I can switch between a wide angle shot and a macro shot in seconds! The downside is wildlife. You just can’t get those detailed shots. You also have to have a lot of patience shooting macro because you have to get super close to the subject. But for landscapes and portraits, it rocks!
    On the other hand, the dslr opened so many more doors for me. I can produce amazing bokeh. Wildlife captures are a thing now! And with macro, I can get amazing detail at a distance. lol You can also print at much larger sizes. The downside…
    Hiking with all the gear…Tripod, multiple lenses, filters. It’s a lot of weight. There is more planning involved.
    In the end, it’s all about what you want to photograph. Is it casual? For Instagram and/or a photo album? Do you want to print big prints? What is your budget? I got 3 Moment lenses for my phone for a few hundred. You can have thousands in camera gear.
    I agree that the best camera is the one you have. If you understand the basics, you can produce an amazing shot no matter what the device.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for commenting Suzette! You are so right on every point made. I remember you telling me about those Moment lenses. That is a neat feature I may have to try in the future. The phone for me is much for suited for those spontaneous moments when a DSLR would slow me down overall. And yes the medium and form of the photo as the end result plays a big part too. For in print I’d prefer a traditional camera whereas IG suits phones a little bit more. Nice to hear from you. 🙂


  2. It is pretty wild, brother. I remember when I got my Note 10 and I messed around with the camera and I’d seen that “pro” feature that you brought up and it threw me in for a loop. Phones are becoming DSLRs, honestly! I’ll forever and always love my Canon, but I think cameras’ days are numbered, honestly.

    And maybe not, I’m miles from being the sharpest tool in the shed. I don’t know a lot about cameras, so the peeps at Sony and Canon and Nikon may have something up their sleeves that phones don’t have. Let’s hope they do, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

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