Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera

I am obviously a big advocate of a “proper camera”. That does not mean I am against a phone camera. Far from it. I use one all the time. However, there is a time and a place for both types of camera. I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.

Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera

All the Gear and NO Idea

First point is. If you have a digital SLR (let’s call this a pro camera from now on to sound slightly less pretentious), are you using it on automatic and using the on camera flash? If the answer is yes then you may as well use your phone camera. The quality of a phone camera and a pro camera on auto are very similar. You’ve hear the phrase “All the gear and no idea?” This seems to apply a lot to cameras.

You get a nice pro camera for Christmas and then can’t be arsed to learn how to use it properly. Stick it on auto, snap away, then after 6 months of lugging it around in it’s bulky case, you realise that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference between your snaps and those on your friend’s phone camera. There won’t be. All those twiddly knobs on your pro camera are there for a reason. They allow you to be in charge of the image, instead of the camera. If you don’t use your knobs, you make that expensive bit of kit a glorified phone camera.

If you have a fancy camera and don’t know how to use it, it is really worth going on a beginner’s course to get the most out of the money for have invested. I can help with this. Give me a shout and we can work something out.

Having said all that, even if you are using your knobs properly (well done by the way), there’s a time and a place for the pro cam and the same goes for a phone camera.

Every Day Life

Phone camera wins every time. Those quick snaps of the kids, the “look at my tea” pics, the Snapchat posts. None of these things would work with a pro camera. Can you be bothered taking this type of photo on your pro camera, editing it, uploading it onto your PC then sharing on social media? Nope. Neither can I.


Dad eating giant ice cream. Ideal phone camera moment!

Drunken Nights Out

Do you want to risk your expensive camera on a night out? If you have friends like mine it would have a cocktail spilt on it within an hour.

Could you be bothered to carry a bulky camera round the packed pubs of a city centre. I resent the need for a handbag, never mind anything bigger.

Can you take a million selfies with a pro camera? Not really.


One of many selfies of my daughters I find on my phone. Quality may be lower but it’s certainly “a moment”.

Active Holidays

I’ve just had a week travelling round Croatia and Slovenia. Beautiful scenery as far as the eye could see. Ideally I would have liked to take my pro camera with me. You simply do not capture the detail with a phone camera when photographing landscapes. The breadth of colour is not there. The size is wrong. Sunlight is a bugger on a camera phone. With a pro camera, it can be your best friend.

Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera sunlit trees

Sunlit woods on phone camera. Can’t make out the people features at all in this light.

Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera Mum dad baby daughter sat under tree

Trees and sunlight on a pro camera

Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera sunset people

Sunset pic of me at sunset. At least, I think it’s me 🙂

Sunset on a pro camera

Sunset taken on a pro camera.

But I didn’t take my pro camera. Why?

  1. Well I walked 110 kilometres in a week up hills. The thought of carrying the extra weight and bulk was not appealing.
  2. I was restricted on weight on the plane. A pro camera weighs a lot. It would have taken up all my hand luggage allocation.
  3. My pro camera is my livelihood. I didn’t not want to spend the week worrying about damaging my camera when I had lots of shoots booked in when I got back. When walking through waterfalls, caves and on sand, damage is likely!
  4. Spontaneity. When you are constantly on the go you want to snap and move on. I did not want to mess about getting my camera out, setting it up for the light conditions, taking the shot and then packing it all away again.
  5. Image loss. I did not take my laptop and hard drive away. What if I’d lost my camera? All my images would be lost. Instead, I uploaded my images onto social media so that they were permanently in “the cloud” even if I lost my phone.

So, yes, I had to compromise on quality. My holiday pics only give a sense of the beauty I was surrounded by. My phone camera was utterly crap at night and I gave up trying to capture the amazing sights later on. But I enjoyed my holiday and remember no camera can capture an image better than your own eyes.

Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera rowing boats

Perfect use of a phone camera. Closeup details in daylight

Camera, kids, cocktails. Phone camera versus pro camera lake bled

Itook a lot of phone pics at lake Bled. I was frustrated at the lack of details. The solution when using a phone camera? Get closer!

When Pro Camera is King

Unhurried outdoor location shoots

Whether you are photographing a local landscape at twilight or your kids ambling in a sunlit field, there is nothing to compare to using a pro camera. I love outdoor location shoots. My camera reacts much quicker than a phone camera to capture spontaneous moments. I can use the sun instead of battling with it with a phone camera. Colours are much more real and vibrant. Pro camera wins hands down.

Dovestone Reservoir Children's Location Shoot boy guiding little brother

Low Light/Night Time

Whether you are in a gloomy church or castle, or just your living room, a pro camera can work hard to capture that special image without resorting to flash. You can capture the atmosphere of a candlelit room or vibrant night time scene, whilst still retaining all the detail. A phone camera will leave you with washed out colours, grainy images and blobs where mood lighting should be.

walkden gardens sale location shoot baby in ivy

Special Family Moments

There is no substitute for a pro camera when capturing those family milestones. Pro cameras react quicker, the detail is greater, the colours beautiful. Also, importantly, on this occasion size really does matter. You can print a pro camera image to ridiculous sizes. A camera phone is limited and you will end up with pixelation. If you couple a decent pro camera with great lighting and technique (ahem hello), then you are gifted with beautiful, timeless images of your loved ones to treasure forever.

parrfold park spring location shoot girl in yellow dress in daffodils

dad holding newborn naked son tattoos

So in summary, don’t be afraid to use your phone camera. It has it’s place. If you have a pro camera, PLEASE use it properly, and for those really important moments, leave it to a professional.

One final note, in my opinion, there is NEVER a legitimate reason for using an IPad to take photos outside your house. The worst of all worlds-quality limited to phone camera level, bulky, obtrusive and downright stupid. 🙂

To chat about your perfect portrait shoot, please contact me today.