If you have a mobile phone which is less than a few years old, you will no doubt have a pretty decent camera on it. I’ve just upgraded to the HTC One X, which comes with a 8 mega pixel camera. It’s has a 28mm lens, with it’s widest aperture being f/2.0. Which gives you some good flexibility for taking a range of shots in a number of conditions. If you’ve seen any photos taken on a phone recently, you will no doubt have been very impressed with their quality too. Add to this the range of specific photo apps you can now get, which allow you to add arty affects, and you might question why you would need to bother getting a proper camera.
The problem is, your phone, and Instagram style apps, are not very flexible. And whilst the photos on the phone itself, or on Facebook/Twitter, look decent, if you ever wanted to print them out and make large prints from them, they would look pretty poor very quickly.
There’s a good reason why the latest top of the range cameras from Canon and Nikon cost in the £5k region for just the body, and some long zoom lenses getting up to £10k, and that’s because they will produce the highest optical quality for any situation. You’d certainly question your wedding photographer if they just turned up with an iPhone loaded with Instagram.
8 mega pixels might sound like quite a lot, but it’s not just this number that equates to a good image. The sensor on which the camera captures the light, is also a crucial part, and on a phone, these sensors are still very limited. For example, in dark conditions, you will need to adjust (or at least the camera automatically does it for you) the sensitivity of the sensor to light. The benefit is that you can still take photos at night, or indoors, but the downside is that you will introduce a lot of ‘noise’ to the image, massively reducing the overall quality of the picture. You can see noise in an image when it looks ‘pixalated’, which is even more noticeable should you want to increase the size of the shot. Try taking a photo with your phone, in low light, and then printing it out at A3. I bet it looks awful. You might be thinking, “hang on, what about the flash?” and it’s fair to say of course that by using the flash you can increase the light in the picture meaning the sensor doesn’t have to be as sensitive, meaning less noise, and in theory a better quality picture. However, the flash on phones, whilst bright, are also very harsh, and often give ‘red-eye’ to anyone unfortunate enough to be standing in the way. A proper flash gun, or even studio lighting will win hands down, every time.
The old adage that the best camera is the one on you, is very true, and these days you will nearly always have your mobile phone on you, and therefore a fairly decent camera, but should you want to do anything more than just show your friends the photo on your phone, or share it on Facebook, you still need the proper equipment, and just as importantly, someone who knows how to use it.