Hint: sometimes it is the camera…
Last Sunday morning, my son Isaac was sitting at our dining room table eating breakfast with a typical seven-year-old too cool for school hairdo going on. My wife though that it would make a cute portrait, so she grabbed the camera and snapped the above portrait.
Nothing special, natural light, hey Isaac – snap, snap – done.
Except unlike the average mom she didn’t reach for her mobile phone to capture this moment, because…well the best camera is the one you have with you, unless you have a DSLR and a fast lens…which is actually better.
Let me explain.
The Professional Photography Aesthetic
Everyone is a photographer, but despite the millions of photos uploaded to social media everyday there is still an undeniable “professional photography” aesthetic.
(Note: I’m using a loose definition of professional photography here – as in photography that looks like it was captured by a photographer who really knows what they’re doing, as opposed to the literal definition of a photographer who gets paid for their work).
That professional photography aesthetic is hard to define, but you sure know it when you see it.
Maybe its the lighting, the composition, the processing (or more accurately the lack of over-processing), or like in this case: the photographer’s choice of lens and aperture (aka bokeh).
When I was just starting out with photography I was obsessed with what I was doing “wrong”. No matter what I did, my images just didn’t seem to look quite as good as those I was seeing online.
Now imagine if your only camera is a mobile phone and you’re wondering why you just can’t get your portraits to look like your favorite pro who’s using an 85mm f/1.2 (aka a really expensive camera).
If that’s you, let it go – because here’s a little secret…
Sometimes It Is The Camera
A good photographer with a mobile phone will always capture photography that is much more interesting than a bad photographer with the best DSLR money can buy.
However, it is also important to realize that the camera (and lens) you choose to use does control the aesthetic quality of your photography.
This series was taken with a Nikon D800 with a Sigma 50mm ART series lens wide open at f/1.4.
The Sigma 50mm isn’t a particularly great portrait lens (strictly speaking from a professional perspective), but it captures images that are night and day more aesthetically pleasing (or professional looking) than any mobile phone lens.
(And before you ask, yes we do have a DSLR or two laying around the house for just such an occasion.)
As a direct comparison, here is the same photo taken with a DSLR (Nikon D800 with Sigma 50mm ART) on the left and my mobile phone (Samsung Note III) on the right.
Go Buy A DSLR Right Now!
No. That’s not the point at all.
The point is that no matter what camera system you are using, there are technical limitations involved and if you want to progress as a photographer you need to understand those limitations.
If your camera of choice is a mobile phone and you are genuinely interested in the craft of photography – forget the marketing hype: a mobile phone is not a DSLR, but that doesn’t make your photography or your skill as a photographer any less relevant.
What Do You Think?
Can a mobile phone camera replace a DSLR?
Is it really the camera?
Leave a message below and let us know what you think!
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