Smartphones have spoiled us. They’re with us wherever we go, are always connected, and best of all, have cameras that constantly get smarter. And yet, dedicated cameras still have their distinct advantages — at least five to be exact.
Interchangeable lenses add a whole new dimension
Let’s get to the biggest advantage first: DSLR and mirrorless cameras are able to accept a ton of compatible lenses that can change the way you shoot. Lock in a fish-eye lens for super-wide photos, insert a telephoto lens to focus on faraway subjects, or go for a do-it-all setup with a zoom lens.
If you’re loyal to one brand, mount adapters allow you to use lenses from other manufacturers; Canon glass can function on a Sony camera and you can even use old film-era lenses on modern-day shooters. Ever-improving optics mean you’ll never be let down by your aging camera body, which also means that…
A dedicated camera has unmatched image quality
Combining high-quality lenses with a dedicated camera’s large image sensor — along with all the accessories you can attach through its ports — guarantees quality that can outperform a smartphone’s setup in most situations. Phones may have quick post-processing for instant Instagram uploads, but only a real camera can be taken to the studio and function with all the lights.
While smartphones have comparable pictures to those of true cameras in daylight, it’s when the sun sets that the difference is more apparent. A dedicated camera can handle higher ISO sensitivities for brighter photos in the dark and reduce noise to comfortable levels.
Full manual control equals greater creative control
All those buttons and dials around a real camera are put to good use when fiddling around with settings. Although you can easily use touch controls on a smartphone to adjust virtually anything, reaching for physical buttons doesn’t need a pair of eyes to input accurately.
Anyone who’s used something like the Sony A9 shown above knows how steep the learning curve can be at first, but practice and doing your research can eventually get you to pro levels through time. There’s nothing like turning a dial to adjust exposure or flipping a switch to change shooting modes without looking.
Dedicated cameras can keep up with any subject
The most frustrating aspect of shooting with smartphones is not being able to keep track a fast-moving subject. And even if you do get a lock-on, a simple camera phone doesn’t have a quick-enough shutter to capture the moment without motion blur, especially when light is scarce.
We were able to take the full-resolution photos above using the Sony A9’s burst rate of 20 frames per second. That’s nearly the speed at which films are shot — minus the motion blur! Having a sports photography-centric camera also means the focus points will stay on your desired target.
A viewfinder is invaluable at times
Another weakness pure smartphone photographers have to deal with is potentially being held back by the touchscreen. Depending on the size of the display and user-friendliness of the interface, navigating through menus can be cumbersome when you’re rushing to get a shot off on time.
Having an optical or electronic viewfinder guarantees you’ll achieve the perfect framing for your shots even under direct sunlight or in dim environments. Combined with the manual dials, you can adjust exposure settings while looking through the viewfinder, giving you full control over compositions.