HDSLR Cameras VS Phone Cameras – What is the big deal?

Photography How To: Camera VS Phone – What Should You Use?

Last year we went on a vacation and brought along our Canon Eos Rebel DSLR. I was happily snapping away during a particularly spectacular sunset when I overheard someone behind me telling her friend, “Why do people want to bring those big hulking cameras on a vacation?” She was implying that I was a dinosaur for using a “real” camera instead of their cell phone camera, like everyone else around me.

That gave me a lot to stew about. I guess I’m still stewing.

I seriously got  into filmmaking and photography over 40 years ago, so I am pretty sure I have a little deeper perspective on the subject than she does, and I’ve spent some time thinking about this issue.

I’ll tell you why I think there is a time and place for a “real camera” and a cell phone camera.

Shortly after that vacation experience I uploaded my photos to my Facebook page and received all kinds of praise and positive comments about my sunset photos. I’m really enjoying using my Canon and posting photos to Facebook, Trip Advisor and various blogs and websites, and I always get great feedback on my photos.

To me, there’s just no comparison between the quality of a snapshot taken on a cell phone and a photo from an 18 megapixel dedicated camera with a high quality lens, coupled with the knowledge of how to creatively use exposure, depth of field and composition to create a professional image.

I also use the photos I take in my videos so I want the highest quality I can get.

Now I recognize the convenience of a the cell phone camera. I use mine all the time. So I get that.

But that lady apparently didn’t appreciate that there are tradeoffs when you take your photos on a device also shoots videos, plays games, checks email, surfs the web, sends and receives texts, is a GPS and, oh yes… is a phone. There’s a reason you don’t see professional photographers shooting weddings, ads, magazine covers, wildlife photos, sports, news, etc. with a cell phone.

In my opinion, I wouldn’t dream of taking a trip or hard earned vacation WITHOUT my HDSLR.

Here’s a quick comparison of the pros and cons of using a dedicated camera and a smartphone or pocket camera:

Pros Of Using An HDSLR Camera

Besides the fact that you can shoot beautiful, film-like video footage, there’s a lot to like about these types of cameras.

High Definition Single Lens Reflex (HDSLR) cameras are incredibly low priced for what you get. People are shooting feature movies with $2,000 HDSLR cameras that look like they were shot on Panavision film cameras costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This is partly because of the large image sensors these cameras have. Some have sensors equal to 35mm film, the same as professional movie cameras. Whether used to shoot still images or videos, these large sensors create very high resolution images with a wide dynamic range and lots of data that can be creatively manipulated in post production.

These large sensors also mean they are better in low light. Most come with a powerful built in flash. I use fill flash almost all the time, even when shooting outdoors. You can also add accessories to them such as an accessory flash.

HDSLRs offer control over shutter speed, aperture and film speed, the essential components photographers have been using creatively to create stunning images since the dawn of photography. You can choose from a wide range of high quality lenses for any situation. Most of these cameras are mini-computers with very sophisticated processing options that far eclipse what you can do with a cell phone.

All of the above points were referring to digital SLR cameras. I have friends who still love to shoot film and slides. I’ve shot tens of thousands of photos and slides myself. I love the look of film. Kodak stopped making my beloved Kodachrome and most photographers are going digital, but whether film or digital, a dedicated camera offers more creative control, hands-down.

Cons Of HDSLR Cameras

As I’ve shared, I use the camera on my iPhone A LOT. I especially like to use it when I don’t want to carry around a large camera. It is convenient, while an HDSLR is bulky and conspicuous. Carry a few lenses with you and you’ll need a gadget bag, lens cleaning brush, extra batteries, etc. That can be a pain.

You can’t upload your images directly to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram directly from it. All it does is take a photo or video. Because the photos are so large, you probably have to resize them before sharing on the internet, and you’ll need a computer to do that.

Worst of all, you can’t make a phone call or send a text from it.

Pros of Smart Phones & Pocket Cameras

See a UFO or Sasquatch? Use your cellphone, by all means.

Most everyone carries their cell phones with them, so you always have a camera handy. Because of this you may be able to capture that once-in-a-lifetime photo that you can’t get any other way. Definitely an advantage.

Also, you can email and upload your photos and videos and share them immediately. There’s a great deal of power and convenience in that, no argument.

Cons of Smart Phones & Pocket Cameras

As I’ve mentioned, they generally lack the creative control over depth of field and motion that you get with shutter speed and aperture, and the smaller sensors are less sensitive in low light. They also don’t have the onboard image processing power that the HDSLRs offer. Most do not have a flash or only have a weak flash, at best.

My suggestion if you’re serious about taking outstanding photos and getting those once-in-a-lifetime shots is to invest and carry both!

Recommended Resources

EOS Rebel T5 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm and 75-300mm Lenses Bundle – retails for $499 at B&H.

<EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 STM Lens – At $1,849 (with lens), this is a powerful, professional camera. It is one of the more popular cameras among filmmakers. If your budget can justify it, this is the one I’d get.

(As you can see, I’m a Canon fan. Nothing against any other brand, I’ve just worked with Canon equipment most of my career.)

The Glif iPhone Tripod Stand – At $10, a must-have, in my opinion, if you want to do serious video and photography with your iPhone.

So, I’m curious.

Any other “dinosaurs” out there who carry around an HDSLR?


How To Make Your Book Cover Or DVD Stand Out

As I mentioned in my post on using photographs in your press releases, photographs are still very important today. Even with all the growth of online video and music, physical DVDs and CDs are still around and so is the need for the packaging art that comes with them.

One of our professionally designed DVD covers and discs

Videos are not the only way people are digesting information. There’s still the old-fashioned written word. You’re reading this aren’t you?

Photos can say so much, and you can’t put videos in books or on your CD or DVD covers.

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you’ll notice that if we don’t have a video to share, we always include an image or two in our blog posts. Not only do they act as illustrations, statistics show that people will read and share your posts more when there are images. It may be the attraction to get you to read further.

The same is true with DVD, CD and book covers.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what we do. The title and copy on the DVD or book are very important but having a good strong cover image will grab a person’s attention. That, along with the title, are what draws me to pick up a video or book I’ve never seen before. Do you find that true for you?


Here’s an example of one of our eBooks

In the digital world, you want to do the same with your digital video downloads and eBooks. We’ve done testing on the eReader books we publish and found that adding a nice cover photo increased our sales dramatically. You also want to always include an enticing description as well.

Adding images to the reports you sell or giveaway takes them to a more professional level and it isn’t hard or expensive to do. Many stock photography sites like Dreamstime have a large collection of free images you may use. If one of those doesn’t appeal to you, spending a few more dollars will get you what you are looking for.

We use Photoshop to add titles and copy to make our eBook and DVD covers. If you don’t have access to Photoshop, another good option to use is Pixlr.com which is an open source free downloadable software.

If you’re going to self-publish a printed book or DVD, I strongly recommend hiring professionals to design your cover. That is one area where investing in your image will truly set you apart from the rest.

3 Tips To Getting Your Press Release Photos Published

Your press release kit should include great photos. Last week I talked a bit about what you need in your photographs so you’ll increase the chances of getting your press release run. I advised that you want them to be well exposed and saved at a high resolution. While those are important considerations, what your images also need to be is powerful.

So beyond a nicely done head shot, what should you include in a PR photo that a magazine, newspaper or website will want to run?

A good photograph:

1) Needs to engage readers.

You want to have photographs that will stop the reader as they flip through the pages and grab their attention. Think about how you read the paper or engage in blog posts? The first thing to catch your eye is the image.

A good caption is also important. You want to include these with the photos you send; it make the editor’s job easier. When you do that, it increases the chances that your story will run.

2) Needs to elicit emotion.

One of the best ways to engage people is through emotion, and powerful photographs do just that. Remember, you are giving them a story, not an ad. Great photographs and images enhance and add to stories.

You want your images to have impact. Here’s a tip on how to add impact: move in close to your subject. Far away shots of people just don’t have the impact of a close-up. Try different angles and be aware of how light and shadows are playing on your subject. Use these as a painter uses color and shade in a painting. It is said that the “eyes are the window to the soul.” Pay attention to your subject’s eyes and try to use them to show emotion.

Every picture tells a story. For example, want to get a story published about your fishing DVD? Include photographs of people fishing and showing off their catch. Make your viewers feel they are right there. Or are you wanting exposure for your coaching seminars? Photograph the excitement of your participants and include those. Make sure you have them sign model releases.

3) Needs to be clear and descriptive.

The photograph also has to relate to your story and show clearly what message you want to get across. Although close-ups of adorable puppies will most likely illicit oohs and aahs and catch people’s attention (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy looking a cute pictures of puppies and kitties?), if you’re promoting a video on fishing lures or an educational film on farmers in the midwest, they don’t relate to that topic and won’t do you any good. However, they’d be perfect if you’re selling a video on house training your puppy!

First and foremost, be creative with the photographs you submit with your press release.

Don’t shoot people like mug shots. Turn them to the side or even have them looking back at you. Look for interesting backgrounds. Look at them from the perspective of an editor and reader, what would capture your eye?

Photos added to press releases should add to the story and be eye candy, so try to make them fun, interesting and informative for your readers. They’ll get more out of them and you’ll have more fun taking them.