Cameras, as we know them today, were first invented in 1829 by Louis Daguerre. While there were many photographic processes before Daguerre’s, this was the most popular and commercially successful. Due to the acclaim, the method and final image, became known as Daguerreotypes… inventive name!
In the present day, the two most popular cameras are DSLR and Mirrorless. The first camera phone was invented in 2000 by Samsung. This phone could take 20 photos at a resolution of 350,000 pixels. Fast forward a couple of decades, the iPhone 15 Pro has a 48-megapixel camera with a 5x telephoto lens built in.
It’s easy to see why the digital community have embraced the camera phone as an established part of content production.
The question is… just how big a part will phones play in the future of digital content?
Phone cameras in content production vs. traditional cameras
The first and most obvious difference comes in the quality. Most smartphones now have a high-resolution camera and can shoot video in 4k. An iPhone can make an image look great, but the quality will almost always be lower than a DSLR camera. Of course, there are other things to take into consideration such as contrast, highlights, lowlights, saturation and dynamic range.
Smartphones tend to oversaturate images, giving them either a warmer or colder look, depending on the shot. This can cause some issues when you get into the editing suite. Cameras, although it is different from camera to camera, will have more of a realistic built-in colour grade. This means, there’s a lot more room to add colours or remove colours when it comes to editing.
When it comes to colour, videographers from Moment, found that iPhone footage looked: “A little contrasty and a little too punchy”. On the other hand, they said that the Sony FX3 “is going to win” when it comes to “skin tones, colours, as well as just having that cinematic look to it.”
Phone manufacturers talk about their models being able to shoot in 4k at 30fps. This may be true, however, compare that to 4k footage filmed at 30 fps on a Sony FX3. The difference is astounding. “The dynamic range, detail, colour and bokeh” on camera footage is incomparable to that of a smartphone.
Sensor size plays a big part in the quality of your image. The larger the sensor, the more light is gathered. More light equals a higher quality of image. Smartphones are unable to fit a large sensor into the body of the phone. A larger sensor wouldn’t enable the manufacturer enough room to upgrade the other features of the phone.
Smartphones only have a limited capability when it comes to exposure, or ISO, as it’s commonly known. If a smartphone were to encounter a rather bright, or overly dark scenario it will most likely struggle. The contrast between the lights and darks of a scene is called the dynamic range.
Phone cameras struggle to capture this because the sensor’s too small to pick up both sides of the light spectrum. This means you may have to sacrifice or prioritise certain details of the photo. Compared to the small sensor in an iPhone, the FX3 has a 35mm full-frame 12.9 MP sensor.
When you compare them side by side, the size difference is very apparent. For the most part, the brilliance of your camera is determined by the sensor. Many choose a model that features a full-frame sensor for superior quality.
This one should be easy enough to spot. Camera phones don’t have detachable lenses and a traditional camera does. However, that’s not to say the smartphone is lacking. Some have the functionality for close shots, panoramas, and wide-angle built-in.
A typical, traditional camera lens can go from 8mm all the way up to 800mm. Therefore, a camera is more crucial to capturing those far away subjects. Lenses also allow for better focus on certain subjects. This makes them much better for storytelling purposes.
Quite a common feature with phone cameras is synthetic effects. An iPhone camera often adds fake effects such as stabilisation or bokeh (blurred background). iPhone bokeh (or ‘fokeh’ as it’s known in the digital community) has been criticised for looking too artificial. Think Zoom background…
When it comes to recording on phones, although it can look good, what you get is what you get.
“A typical phone video isn’t just recording what the phone camera sees. It’s actually doing a ton of post-production on it to make that video look as spiffy as possible. It’s doing sharpening, colour correction, colour grading, AI retouching and then it’s compressing the file to make it fit on the file system.” James Archer, Videographer.
So...cameras or phones?
Ultimately, whether you choose to use a traditional camera, or a smartphone is up to you. Smartphone cameras have advanced significantly over the last few years. However, cameras are likely to always be the best option for professional content production.
Using a camera effectively is a skill and takes years to master. Many find iPhones simple to learn and almost anyone can use them. To get the best output, it is worth putting in the hours to learn how to use cameras or to hire someone else to do it for you.
The power of telling stories for a business is crucial in the 21st century. Being able to promote a service with a visual story is a key to a strong marketing campaign.
At DCA PR we offer a range of digital services, including content creation and optimised video. If you would like to develop and establish your brand’s voice, we can help.