Smartphone photography has undoubtedly moved on leaps and bounds in recent years. The super-rich image detail captured from some smartphones is incredible.
Just look at some of the images that can be captured from an iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8/Plus or Google Pixel/XL. These are a far cry from the small, grainy images of the past. They also hugely outstrip anything possible on mobile even a few years ago.
I would say that for 95% of the images I capture, my smartphone is more than adequate. Of course though, even to my untrained eyes, the images produced by a proper DSLR still always win out.
Smartphones are getting better every few months but they’ll never defy the laws of physics. Larger sensors and optics will always produce better images in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing. Even an amateur can better capture the moment and add a wow factor with high quality equipment.
I am no photography guru – I doubt any shot of mine will end up in a gallery or attached to a wall in your home. However I do, and will continue to, own a DSLR camera for special occasions.
A modern DSLR should be able to share with the modern world
I think the main reason smartphone photography has dominated recently is the ease of which we can both take and share pictures. The smartphone is portable, pocketable and on our person at all times.
Not only can a good smartphone camera be ready to shoot in seconds, the resulting images can be instantly saved and shared to online storage and social media. This is something that to date, is still fairly cumbersome with a DSLR. Even the more ‘professional’ solutions offered by camera brands struggle with what is essentially a bread-and-butter feature for smartphone systems.
My DSLR has an Android app and can connect to my smartphone. It does work, but has a clunky interface and is prone to stalling. It is still easier to take out the SD card, and deal with images ‘physically’ on a home computer.
I am also aware of ‘WiFi Direct’ SD cards that can connect and transfer directly to modern smartphones. These are somewhat pricey though and in my eyes somewhat over-engineering a solution.
Nikon, Samsung and Panasonic have all dabbled with Android-powered cameras. I don’t really think they are putting many resources in or properly targeting a niche I know exists.
Samsung got close with their Galaxy Camera. In fact the Galaxy NX was about the closest thing I can think of to what I want. Sadly both were comparatively expensive as niche items and did not offer the prestige of premier photography brands like Canon and Nikon. Android perhaps was not quite mature enough either.
Android is versatile – manufacturers can choose the features they want
I would love for my Panasonic to have an Android OS and WiFi. I don’t desire a camera with phone functionality, nor a phone with an oversized lens and optics. All I want is a traditional DSLR with modern backup capabilities, plus connection to the wider online communities.
I want to be able to capture the photo and then, when in range of a wireless network, share instantly. Why can’t my DSLR upload to Google Photos, my network hard drive and social media, right from the camera? At the very least, simplified backups without lots of clunky steps should be a priority.
Not everyone requires all of these tasks, however it can’t be that hard to make them available . The big names in the camera industry, as well as the manufacturers with broader product ranges such as Samsung and Sony, definitely have the resources to develop something decent that fits this niche.
The Android OS can also be highly modified. Developers can remove and adapt features to make it more lightweight and tailored towards certain tasks. Android forks such as LineageOS could also be viable. Manufacturers could curate the system so additional apps can’t be installed, or only those from a tailored suite are available.
I think there’s a lot of scope for development in this area and it was one of the early promises of Android, that it could be used on a variety of mobile platforms – not just phones.
Many people are happy with their smartphone camera. I am one of them. However when we live in a world that seems to have a solution for everything, I wonder how what seems to me to be an obvious step forward, has not been capitalised on. And at the risk of sounding entitled – why can’t I have what I want?!
So what do you think? Am I asking for too much? Would you be interested in Android (or similar) connected camera? Or just some more accessible and modern features on higher end cameras?