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dSLR vs. Mobile Phones

10th February 2018

The quality of cameras on mobile phones has been getting better and better.  Below there are four images (two from a dSLR and two from a mobile device) which I doubt that you will be able to tell (by viewing the image and not by inspecting the exif data) which came from a mobile device and which came from a dSLR.

We have finally reached a point where mobile phone cameras are capable of taking pictures of similar quality to dSLRs under the following circumstances / factors:

Zoom – Mobile cameras don’t zoom well, they typically they lose significant image quality when zoomed in on.  Zoom with your feet whenever safe and possible to do so.

Lighting – When it is a bright day with good lighting, the image quality on the mobile devices is very good.  It isn’t until the lighting gets poor or dark, that is when the larger dSLR sensor and lenses give the dSLR the upper hand.

Object Speed – The mobile devices can focus in a reasonable amount of time, but nowhere near as fast as a dSLR.  A fast moving object makes it more challenging for the phone to focus as compared against a dSLR.

Screen – Mobile devices produce good images that look good on screens.  Mobile images can be printed, but they don’t look as good as their dSLR counterparts.

Today, I had all of these boxes checked while taking pictures.

Zoom – I was able to get close to the train.

Lighting – These images were taken between 11am – 1pm on a bright snowy day

Object Speed – The train was travelling only 5mph

Screen – I viewed these images only on my screen and haven’t printed them.

Now, to answer the question I posed initially, images #1 and #3 are from a mobile device while image #2 and #4 are from a dSLR.


  • Steve Boyko
    Posted at 3:20 pm 2018-02-12
    Steve Boyko
    Reply Author

    You ticked ALL the boxes – zoom, light, speed – but I have to disagree with the last one. I’ve printed several images taken by a smartphone and they hang on my walls next to my DSLR photos, and nobody can tell the difference. Of course, the photos were of still subjects in good light… 😉