Wednesday, June 3, 2020

So, Why Not Just Shoot with Your Cell Phone?

Dogwoods in Bloom
This photo could have been made
with a cell phone camera. (But wasn't.)
Olympus E-PL1, 14-42mm Zuiko lens.

What's the point of carrying a camera around, anyway?

Since I’ve made a pretty good case for cell phones as an easy way to to make and share spontaneous pictures in the spirit of George Eastman’s “You push the button and we do the rest,” you might ask “So why not just shoot with a cell phone?”

Well, most people would be perfectly happy to do just that. But there are some of us — a definite minority — for whom that’s just not enough. We want something more. Why would anyone choose to fool with cameras and lenses and all that related photo paraphernalia when cell phone cameras are so convenient and capable?

For me, at least, there are a number of good reasons.

First, Better Pictures. When I’m out and about with a camera, I’m usually attuned, even if only on a subconscious level, to looking for things that will make good pictures. With a cell phone, not so much, although something may slap me upside the head, like the three ladies and the baby in the previous post. I almost didn’t go back and take that picture.

Second, Control. Cell phone cameras don’t offer much in the way of control, although they are improving in that regard. Exposure and focus are automatic, and the vast, vast majority of happy-snappers wouldn’t have it any other way. But if I want to decide what my exposure should be, whether I want much or little depth-of-field, whether I want to use a fast or slow shutter speed, or exactly where I want to focus, I need a real camera. Or perhaps I should call them camera-cameras.

Dall Sheep in Denali National Park, Alaska
This photo could not have been taken with a
cell phone camera. Olympus OM-D E-M5,
Panasonic 14-140mm lens at 260mm equivalent.

Third, Capability. Most cell phone cameras come with a somewhat wide-angle lens. If I want a lens with a wider angle of view, or a normal or telephoto field of view, I need a real camera.

Fourth, Quality. Cell phone cameras have very small sensors. And while some of them are surprisingly good, everything else being equal, the larger sensors in real cameras will always be sharper and clearer, especially in larger prints.

Fifth, The Intangibles. A good camera gives me pleasure that a cell phone simply cannot provide. There’s the pleasure of owning and using an object of high quality workmanship. There’s the pleasure of mastering and using the skills necessary to operate such a complex tool. And finally, as I said in my previous post, I simply like cameras. I like holding them (don't call it fondling, please) I like reading about them, and I especially like using them.

Different strokes for different folks.

(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)

Soli Gloria Deo
For the glory of God alone

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