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How much £ to spend to outperform a mobile phone?

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by garnett, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. garnett

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2008

    Posts: 6,501

    I saw another thread asking which £500 walkabout camera, and wondered whether a £500 camera could beat a mobile phone?

    No doubt in pure image quality some will - but by what margin?

    And at a cost of all that...
    • Convenience - I already carry my phone
    • Size & Bulk
    • Dependability - I always have my phone
    • Speed of deployment - I can be taking pictures within say 2 seconds
     
  2. montymint

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006

    Posts: 3,258

    Location: Newcastle, UK

    For me (if it was my thread you were interested in), it's the ability to shoot in raw and have full manual control over the exposure.

    You can then talk about getting into buying a compact system with interchangable lenses (picking up a kit for say £500 second hand), allowing you to invest more should you enjoy the hobby and have specific needs.
     
  3. EGuitarStar

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 23, 2009

    Posts: 2,778

    Location: Earth

    Which phone do you currently have and do you intended to upgrade it anytime soon?

    I spent £379 on a camera a couple of years ago and it'll beat pretty much all smart phones in terms of outright image quality but it isn't convenient, it won't fit into a trouser pocket, you have to remember to carry it with you but it will be up and running within 2-3 seconds.

    Are you willing to spend time editing pictures?

    If you are publishing images on social media or viewing on a TV at home I'd just stick with a phone, if you are printing or require high quality images for professional use then I'd think about investing in a camera.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  4. Raymond Lin

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: Oct 20, 2002

    Posts: 65,538

    Location: Wish i was in .Lethal's house

    It depends how much you know and how much control you want.

    I made a post in another forum about this so I will just cut and paste.

    Huawei P20 Pro vs Sony A73 + Zeiss 35/1.4 and Sony 70-200/2.8 GM

    These are straight out of the phone camera, no editing except the A.I. detecting the subject and letting it do it's thing. I expect most people would be happy with results like these out of their phone.

    Resize for forum

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    vs

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    bah, photo not working, will fix it later!
     
  5. garnett

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2008

    Posts: 6,501

    Hi - yes, it was your thread, but I didn't want to derail it asking there. Thanks for the reply. I've got a Samsung Note8, which is due for replacement, and it's really impressed me - I wanted to capture some lightning, the other night, and discovered its exposure control was pretty decent! I love the look of some of the dedicated walkabout cameras - I've never looked into RAW, but I believe many new phones can shoot it.

    I don't really have time for another hobby, so I'm in a very different situation to you (another reason I didn't want to derail your thread) but also, I was just wondering about the sheer tech of it all - actually just looking around and found this article:-

    https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/uk/buying-guides/best-camera-phone

    I've got an old Pentax K5 and a few decent lenses for it - and it's taken some lovely shots, but the fact I always have my phone, never have to think to remember it, and already have it (in my pocket) ready to access and shoot in a few seconds, generally makes it win out every time!

    My wife's got a Huawei P20 Pro, and the camera on that seems even better than the Note8. If it weren't for the issue with access to google, I'd be mninded to go for one of its successors.

    As it is, I've inadvertently been a loyal Samsungite for years now, and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G looks like a beast.
     
  6. garnett

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2008

    Posts: 6,501

    Hope you don't mind me putting them next to each other...


    (I'm not an expert at all, so could be talking rubbish...)

    For me the Huawei (same phone as my wife's - constantly amazes me) wins in images 2 and 4.

    The Sony seems to be quite a bit ahead in not overexposing image 1 - which looks like quite a tricky feat.
     
  7. montymint

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006

    Posts: 3,258

    Location: Newcastle, UK

    In all honesty, if you just want to point something at things and get good photos, modern phones will do it very very well. I enjoy photo editing and the whole process of deciding how my exposure is made (apeture, shutter speed and iso) which I feel more comfortable with a camera. However I used to do photography a lot back in my 20's and want to pick it up again as a hobby.
     
  8. Raymond Lin

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: Oct 20, 2002

    Posts: 65,538

    Location: Wish i was in .Lethal's house

    The phone has a tendancy of over applying HDR and equalise the image. There is seldom true black on a photo when in reality it is black and it is also reluctant to show true white. The AI is geared that way. It will look fine in some shots using this method but it also means the contrast is limited.

    When i am processing i tend to push what is white to white, what is black to black.
     
  9. garnett

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2008

    Posts: 6,501

    Yeah - I can completely get that. I'd love to get back into photography - but the advent of children has stripped me of all possible post-production time!

    I have to say, though, I'm amazed at the level of control my Note8 gives the user - and I've no doubt things have moved on since then.

    Thanks for this. By the way, I meant to say - really cracking shots.
     
  10. montymint

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006

    Posts: 3,258

    Location: Newcastle, UK

    See this is where out experience differs, I have a pixel 3 which has no manual control as they prefer you use google AI to figure everything out (which has it's merits if you want a quick snap).
     
  11. Terminal_Boy

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Apr 13, 2013

    Posts: 8,066

    Location: La France

    Do you want an ILC camera?

    There are a number of Micro Four Thirds cameras that are “jacket pocketable” when used with pancake or compact lenses.

    They’re never going to match a phone for portability and while they can be in action in a couple of section from cold boot, unless you use iAuto Mode, you’ll be spending a few seconds playing with exposure etc.
     
  12. Raymond Lin

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: Oct 20, 2002

    Posts: 65,538

    Location: Wish i was in .Lethal's house

    If I am in a pinch, I figure I can get through a holiday with just using my phone. It won’t be the best but it’ll be good enough to remember the trip by. With some tweaks myself I can make them look better too. I am confident enough in my own ability that i can make it "good enough" to look at it at least on the screen of a phone and instagram.

    If it weren’t for me being a bokeh whore I would just have the phone.
     
  13. Buddy

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 7, 2009

    Posts: 1,807

    Location: London

    I got the x100v just for this reason.

    My phone images (note 8) warps the dimensions of images (people often having wider or longer faces depending on where they are in the frame). Also generally I find it struggles with highlights or shadows.

    The x100v is pocketable (I take it everywhere). The Fujifilm simulations are spot on. Jpg quality is great and I can send it over to the phone with bluetooth. I save images as jpeg+ raw in case there's ever an image I feel I would like to enhance.

    With a fixed 35mm equivalent I don't balance what lenses to take. The decision is made for me. Also looks stunning :p

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  14. a1ex2001

    Capodecina

    Joined: Mar 14, 2005

    Posts: 12,903

    Location: Here and There...

    You once again prove that it is the 6" behind the camera that really matters, good photos are not taken by machines they are taken by people. A good camera might help but it won't make up for a bad eye!
     
  15. SDK^

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 18,596

    Think about what you do with your photos. If you don’t print to larger sizes and just use them for social media then a recent phone camera will probably be enough.
    Other scenarios to consider are:
    • Day vs Night : A camera with a larger sensor will generally outperform the image quality from a phone camera in situations with less light.
    • Your zoom requirements : if you need to get closer to your subject then again, a larger camera with a zoom lens will be an advantage.
    • Image processing and getting that ‘pro’ look. Phone camera AI is getting very close at simulating the Pro photo look but it doesn’t always get it 100% correct. It’s also harder to adjust/control the output yourself.
    I have 3 cameras which I regularly switch between for different situations:
    • iPhone XR : general family photos in good light. The ‘portrait mode’ look works great and the instant upload to social media is super convenient.
    • Canon G7x MkII (£300) : The larger 1 inch sensor, zoom and flip Screen allows me to take better photos for when I know I’m going to be using the images to print and I need that portability - it fits in a trouser pocket. Having the ability to take photos in RAW format to adjust myself later is a big advantage. But it sill uses old style image transfer I.e. plug Camera/card into a computer, transfer images, organise to folders, which is less convenient.
    • Sony A7III with high end Prime lenses (About £4k) : I use this for sports photos of my son; the auto focus speed & accuracy is amazing and the image quality is a major step up from the other two options. I do need to invest the time to adjust the output to get the final look I want and I have an Adobe Photography Cloud package Subscription to support this process (£10 per month).
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
  16. CAT-THE-FIFTH

    Capodecina

    Joined: Nov 9, 2009

    Posts: 19,727

    Location: Planet Earth

    All these phone Vs ILC comparisons are a bit hit and miss since if the image is small
    enough,you could also use a compact camera from 2014 and get a comparable image. I remember trying that comparison years ago and it was surprisingly hard for people to detect the changes.

    A dedicated camera is not just about image quality it's about flexibility in different lighting conditions,lens selection and also the fact a camera is more balanced to handle,easier to use in inclement conditions, viewfinders are better in bright light,they are better for telephoto stuff, lenses with different perspectives and bokeh,etc. Heck even shooting straight into the sun,I have some lenses which are very flare resistance.....not so many of the smartphone lenses.

    If you want to take snapshots,and will just occasionally look at them on screen casually,and do a smallish print....even a £150 to £300 smartphone is good enough for that. Heck my phone is under £200 and it is good enough for those!

    Also if the OP has a K5,it might be old but the sensor on that is very solid.....so I would honestly practice on it.

    If you want to buy new one of the 1" sensor compacts are portable and have a good compromise with image quality. But if you want a camera with interchangeable lenses which is quicker to use, the Fuji mirrorless cameras use a lot of dials so there is less fiddling around with buttons. Out of camera results are excellent too.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
  17. SDK^

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 18,596

    This might help - I just did a test of 3 cameras in two different scenarios - Portrait and Landscape.
    The iPhone images are straight from the phone with just the in-camera processing and the Canon & Sony images have been tweaked in Lightroom to improve the out-of-camera RAW look.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Camera size comparison

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
  18. Earth[Tera].bin

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 12, 2007

    Posts: 2,045

    I'd pick up a Sony RX100 Mk1, £150 on fleabay say. Cracking images for the price point and nearly ticks all your bullet points.
     
  19. CAT-THE-FIFTH

    Capodecina

    Joined: Nov 9, 2009

    Posts: 19,727

    Location: Planet Earth

    Thanks for the comparisons.

    What is the likelihood,for the subject matter a £200 phone or compact might also be acceptable too?? Like I said I did a comparison a while back with some mates,and some 7X5" prints between a compact and a dSLR. I even downsized the number of MP on some of the photos sent for printing. For basic snapshots it really does not matter nowadays,with the big improvements in budget/mainstream phone cameras.

    The problem is the phones don't do proper zooms yet(even though a Chinese company is making a folded optics one):

    https://www.dpreview.com/news/30438...-module-with-85-170mm-equivalent-optical-zoom

    It's taken years,but finally the technology from the 2002 Minolta Dimage X is arriving to phones. The existing implementations are fixed focal lengths.
    The lack of zooms,and enough focal length options,makes all the images look the same,as the perspective is the same. This is why the fake bokeh looks rubbish as it does not make sense,when you see what the angle of view is doing to the facial features.

    Also the Canon has a much better form factor too - phones are a PITA to hold,that thick grip actually helps,especially as the iPhone has a very limited focal length choice. So is the variable incidence display - when I was travelling recently,some of the interesting pictures I took wouldn't be capable with a phone,as I HAD to crouch downwards.

    For instance,I can usually see in phone pictures,examined up close tend to have noticeable noise reduction artefacts,especially when you see areas of smoothing and then sharpening(basically edge detection plus a local contrast increase). You can see that in skin tones,grass,etc and when the light drops,or there is areas of variable high and low contrast,there is only so much the tiny 1/2.3" sensor does. Have I got some good photos out of my digital compacts...yep...so the same for a phone.

    Also I found the files from my old D600 and the Fuji mirrorless cameras for the most part look fine out of the camera - I only use DxO if I need very good NR for certain scenarios.

    I am also not that impressed by the iPhone XR(it was over £700 at launch IIRC),or many of these high end smartphones at all considering how much they cost,which is getting closer and closer to £1000.

    I bought an XT20 and 16MM/F2.8 for under £450 from the Fuji refurb store,and a £100~200 phone. 4 years ago,I paid similar money for a XT10 and the standard dual lens kit and similar money(sold the XT10 body) as a travel camera. The lenses will last for years. The el cheapo phone is fine for basic photos.

    This is why I find high end smartphones not cost effective. They lack flexibility,but also cost too much money,and I doubt most people will get more than a few years out of them. It's just a repeating cost,where you are essentially paying a massive premium for.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
  20. Drollic

    Mobster

    Joined: Feb 24, 2013

    Posts: 3,580

    Location: East Midlands

    Most of the phone vs camera image comes down to what you're viewing the images on and if you're editing the images. For instance, if you're viewing both on a phone and it's default straight from camera on both devices, sometimes a phone shot can look better. If however it's on a much larger screen of any type and you're editing the cameras raw file, the phone has no chance providing the camera, lens and editing skills are all good. The difference even between a camera jpeg and edited raw can be huge, as in give the impression to a none photographer that the images can't possibly be from the same camera. The skills in photography now seem as much about editing as actually taking photos. Don't get me wrong, a good photo is a good photo depending how you define this, but a good photo edited well can become an amazing photo.