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Is the Camera an Important Factor When You Choose a New Smartphone?

Panasonic recently introduced a new SmartPhone, Lumix DMC-CM1, with a 20mb camera and Leica lens. I caught my attention because my iPhone 5 died in Nicaragua last year and I just picked up a used Android phone for now, not wanting to renew my mobile contract again.

Photo by Hideya HAMANO

So it got me thinking about camera phones and wondering – is this something that is important to photographers? To photography enthusiasts like yourself? The question is:

How important is the camera to you, when choosing a new Smartphone?

Having used two iPhones prior to the HTC that I have now, its camera is less than impressive. It's okay to grab a snapshot for Facebook or just to remember something, but not much more. As I contemplated what I will do when my service contract expires I thought about something like the new Panasonic. Let's see what it's all about:

Okay sounds interesting. I dug a little deeper and found this review by DPReview. Seems pricey and didn't get the raving reviews I was looking for. But it has a real lens, shoots raw files, and manual mode – that IS attractive to a photographer.

What do you carry with you?

You may have heard this phrase before:

The best camera is the one you have with you.

I can't tell you who said it, but they're right. So having said that – do you always have your big camera with you? What if a photo opportunity arises? Do you carry your DSLR, mirrorless or even point and shoot camera with you at all times? I know I don't. But I almost always have my phone.

Let's discuss it – what do you use your phone for?

Photo by Michael Beck

So I want to open a discussion on this topic. Would you be tempted by something like this phone, just for the camera – or say the iPhone 6 plus? Or do you keep the two separate – you camera is a DSLR and your phone is well, just a phone? This is the kind of cell phone I had back in the day, one of the first available. Nice hey?! I used to call it “The Brick” as did many people who owned it. It was like holding a brick and was as heavy as one. It certainly wasn't pocket, or even purse friendly. It also cost a ton of money at the time and it only did one thing – phone calls. Go figure right. We've come a long way since those days, and pretty much everyone has a SmartPhone that allows you to do all sorts of other things like:

  • Texting
  • Takes photos
  • Capture video
  • Surf the web
  • Stay connected on all your social media accounts
  • Track your fitness and heart rate
  • Play videos
  • Play games
  • Read an eBook
  • Read and answer email
  • Check the weather
  • Check the time (I don't remember the last time I wore a watch)
  • And more . . .

Case in point – concerts, events, parties, etc.

Sometimes I honestly don't feel like bringing my “real” camera to events because then it's almost expected that I'm going to take photos and provide them to everyone. So I often just take my phone, or a little point and shoot that I put in my purse. It takes decent photos, but I shoot in JPG and if anyone wants them I just send as is – no processing, no fuss, no muss. For events that is usually plenty good enough.

But are there times you wish you had a better small camera? Or a phone that really delivered great photos?

Tell us what you use, when, and why?

Share with us in the comments below what you have for cameras:

  • DSLR
  • Mirrorless
  • Point and shoot
  • Phone

What model of each to you have, and when to you choose each? When do you leave your SLR at home, and what do you take instead? Why?

Do you use photo apps to process images on your phone? If so, which ones? I like Snapseed myself.

Do you use Instagram or Facebook to share your Smartphone images? I'm not a big Instagrammer, but I do post photos to my personal Facebook profile, especially when I'm travelling (my mom likes to see that I'm still alive/safe and what I'm doing, she also usually “likes” or comments on every single one – love you mom!) . Do you use social media? If so which ones?

Do you take photos of your food? Guilty! I used to be a food photographer so I still love a good food photo, and I appreciate when plate of food has been well presented and feel it deserved a photo.

Just for fun – can you tell which camera?

Below are several images taken with four different cameras:

  1. Canon 5D Mark III
  2. Fuji X-T1 mirrorless
  3. Panasonic Lumix LF1 point and shoot
  4. iPhone 5

Let's play a little game, do a test if you will. Can you match up which camera took which image? Put your guess in the comments. Put the photo number and which camera you think took that image, I'll let you know if you get it right. Once they've all been guessed correctly I'll edit the captions below the images so you can see the right answers. I think you might get fooled by a few!

#1 – taken with the Canon 5D3 (correctly guessed by Edmund)
#2 Taken with the Fuji (as correctly guessed by Rufine)
#3 taken with iPhone 5 (as correctly guessed by Carol)
#4 taken with Panasonic Lumix (as guess correctly by John Davenport)
ISO 12,8000, f/1.4, 1/80th - 50mm f/1.4 lens
#5 taken with the Canon at ISO 12,800 (as guessed correctly by Herb)
#6 taken with the Panasonic Lumix (as correctly guessed by Carol)
ISO 3200, f/4, 1/25th - 17-35mm lens at 35mm
#7 taken with the Canon 5D3 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#8 taken with iPhone5 (as guessed correctly by John Davenport)
#9 taken with the Canon 5D3 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#10 taken with iPhone5 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#11 Panasonic Lumix (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#12 taken by the iPhone5 – anyone surprised by the level of detail and sharpness here? (as guessed correctly by Herb)
#13 taken with the Fuji X-T1 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#14 taken with Panasonic Lumix (as correctly guessed by Edmund)
#15 taken with the Fuji X-T1 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
ISO 100, f/11, 15 seconds - 17mm lens
#16 taken with Canon 5D3 (as correctly guessed by Lenie)
#17 taken with iPhone5 (as correctly guessed by Carol)
#18 taken with Canon 5D3 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#19 taken with the Fuji X-T1 (as correctly guessed by Michael F)
#20 taken by the Panasonic Lumix (as guessed correctly by John Davenport)
#21 taken with the Fuji X-T1 and 8mm Rokinon lens (as correctly guessed by Lenie)
#22 taken with the Fuji (as guessed correctly by Herb)

So how did you do at guessing the camera for each image above?

The point at the end of the day is the camera really doesn't matter. Just have one that you enjoy, know how to use – and use it!


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