Don't buy the phone with the 'best camera,' buy the phone you like as a phone
If your job entails giving people on the internet buying advice about photo gear, you field a lot of questions from friends who want to make a camera purchase. It sounds corny, but we at DPR actually love these questions – it's a chance to put an otherwise somewhat useless store of knowledge to work. We get something out of the transaction too: a data point about the needs and wants of people who are actually buying cameras. It's like a pop quiz we spend 40 hours a week studying for.
Lately, it's not just cameras we're asked about. Friends have seen plenty of advertising declaring this or that smartphone as having the 'best camera.' More and more, we see people treating their smartphone purchase as a camera purchase too, so it makes plenty of sense that these claims hold a lot of sway. People who seek our advice are now debating between a couple of flagship devices, sometimes within the same operating system, and sometimes not. But the question is the same – "'Such and such phone' has the best camera, should I buy it?"
Here's the short answer: Not necessarily.
The flagship phones from the major manufacturers all have pretty darn good cameras at this point. Sure, there are slight advantages in image quality in different scenarios, but overall, any minor shortcomings are going to be easier to live with than an operating system you don't like. This is especially true if you're upgrading from a phone that's several generations old. Manufacturers have been leaning hard into camera tech innovation for the past few years, so you'll probably see plenty of improvement even upgrading from a device several years old to last year's flagship.
You'll probably see plenty of improvement even upgrading from a device several years old to last year's flagship
There's a slight caveat here: while quality from most smartphone cameras is good, a few of them do offer unique hardware-based camera features. The LG V30's super-wide-angle lens is a good example – if a wider lens is something you really want, it's worth checking the V30 out because it's basically one-of-a-kind right now.
It's also worth remembering that the demands on image quality in smartphones are, in most cases, much lower than on dedicated cameras. Photos taken with phones will likely only ever be viewed at lower resolution on another device screen or in smaller printed formats, like Chatbooks. In many situations, even the image quality benefits of a dedicated camera will be negligible when images are downsized for viewing on a 5" screen.
So why even test phone cameras if they're all good enough at this point? The same reason why we test cameras: so you can make an informed buying decision. We also fully expect them to eventually challenge more traditional cameras, but that's another story for another day. Even if we could declare one traditional camera as the objective 'best camera,' that would be a pretty meaningless award. Size and cost, for example, are two huge factors to consider when buying a camera. It doesn't matter if you bought the 'best' camera of all time; if it's too heavy and you leave it at home most of the time then it wasn't the best camera for you.
How you get along with your smartphone is an important consideration since many of us spend an embarrassing amount of our waking hours using them
How you get along with your smartphone is an important consideration since many of us spend an embarrassing amount of our waking hours using them. It has taken the place of a dedicated camera for lots of folks, but it's not just our camera – it's also our communication hub, media player, notepad, grocery list, bank, travel agent, the list goes on. How you like using it and how it feels in your hand should be given as much, if not more consideration than whether the camera scored three points higher than another.
We'll keep testing smartphone cameras so we can help inform your decision and point out where there's still room for improvement. In the meantime, if you're debating upgrading to a new phone and you've got an eye on the one with the 'best camera,' consider heading to a wireless retail store and see if that's the one you like best as a phone. You'll be glad that you did.
|Lost in cyber space by Jill Hancock|
from Your City - Look Down
|I Think I Can? I Think I Can? by kjfrigo|
|ON THE TAXIWAY by DIM POL|
from Leaving on a Jet Plane
We've been saying for years that the term "lens compression" is misleading, but Lee Morris over at Fstoppers has put together a useful video that explains why this is the case, and demonstrates it with two easy-to-understand examples.
Last week, some 'leaked' photos were published online that purported to show a DJI Phantom 5 drone with interchangeable lens camera and several prime lenses. The rumor was widely reported, but DPReview has learned that those images do not, in fact, show a Phantom 5 at all.
The bezel-free Vivo Apex concept phone with its pop-up camera might be more than a concept. A new teaser video and ad seem to hint at a similar smartphone to be released June 12st.
Skylum has teamed up with its sister company Photolemur to create Skylum AI Lab, where the duo will work on AI-powered image solutions including image segmentation, tagging and upscaling.
Award-winning fashion and celebrity photographer Markus Klinko recently tested out the Godox EC-200 flash extension head. Actually, he tested out four of them, creating a quad-flash ring light alternative that works great for both beauty and close-up work.
According to a recent investor presentation, Sony intends to occupy the top slot in the overall camera market by the end of 2020, beating back Canon and Nikon by boosting its interchangeable lens systems.
HTC brings back the dual-camera on the newly-announced U12+, which features a secondary tele-camera with 2x zoom factor, as well as 4K video recording at 60 frames per second.
Google has finally added the ability to mark your favorite images in Google Photos, so they can be filtered into a dedicated album. The service is also planning to a social network-like "heart" button that lets you like other people's photos.
We've been messing around with Apollo, an iOS app that allows you to add 3D lighting effects to images using depth information, and have to say we're impressed with what it's capable of – but that doesn't mean we don't have a few requests for the next version.
The new lightweight laptop packs a whole lot of photo- and video-editing punch. The laptop can be specced out with a Core i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, NVIDIA graphics with 4GB of GDDR5, and a 4K display with 100% Adobe RGB coverage.
It looks like Canon is getting into sensor sales. The three specialized CMOS sensors the company recently demoed—including a 120MP APS-H model and an ultra-low light sensor—have been listed for sale through a distributor in the US.
Instagram has finally launched a "Mute" button, and is testing an "All Caught Up" feature that will let you know when you've seen all new post from the people you follow from the past 48 hours.
45-year-old photography magazine Shutterbug announced today that it is shutting down its print publication, focusing instead on reaching its readers online as a web-only publication.
Kodak Alaris has launched a new single-use disposable camera in Europe. Called the Kodak Daylight Single Use Camera, this 800 ISO film camera is supposedly ideal for parties, weddings, and similar events.
Computer vision company Lucid and cinema camera maker RED have partnered to create an 8K 3D camera that can capture 4-view (4V) holographic images and video in real-time. The camera is designed to work with RED's upcoming holographic Hydrogen One smartphone.
If Canon and Nikon do get into high-end mirrorless, it's almost certain that they'll do everything they can to maintain compatibility with their existing mounts. But, asks Richard Butler, wouldn't it be more interesting if they built a small, niche system to live alongside their existing DSLRs?
It seems RED's Hydrogen One super-phone will make it into the hands of customers in the near future. The phone is now officially slated for a Verizon and AT&T release in the US sometime this summer.
You know that feeling when you're already all suited up and out on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, and only then do you realize you forgot to put the SD card in your GoPro? No? Us either... but one astronaut on the ISS sure does.
From 2015 to 2017, filmmaker Macgregor and his crew spend many months traveling back and forth on the famed Mauritanian Railway—the so-called 'Backbone of the Sahara—to document the grueling journey endured by merchants who regularly travel atop this train. This beautifully-executed short doc is the result.
You can now insert another user's Instagram post into your own Stories as a customized sticker, the first official "regram" feature we've seen from the Facebook-owned photo sharing app.
Synology has added a new 6-bay NAS to its DiskStation+ series, and it's aimed squarely at photographers and medium sized businesses. The DS1618+ can handle up to six 12TB drives, giving it a max capacity of 72TB, or up to 60TB in RAID 5.
Our original gallery for Tamron's new 70-210mm F4 had portraits, slow-moving wildlife and city scenes, but was sorely missing fast action. We remedied that by photographing some motorcycles flying through the air.
This week on DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan prepare for the summer holiday season by putting several popular waterproof cameras to the test. If you're considering a rugged camera for the beach or pool this summer, or if you just want to see what a Chris and Jordan fishing show might look like, tune in.
Soulumination is a non-profit organization that provides life-affirming legacy photography to families facing serious medical conditions, completely free of charge. This video shares the work they are doing.
Fujifilm EU seems to have accidentally leaked an unreleased camera to the masses. The leaked page details a new "X-T100" camera that will share most of its specs with the X-A5, but includes an EVF, deeper buffer, and 3-way tilting touchscreen.
LA-based director and cinematographer Phil Holland of PHFX recently joined forces with Gotham Film Works to create something out-of-this-world. Using a special aerial camera array, Holland shot a flyover of New York City using not one, not two, but three 8K RED Weapon Monstro VistaVision cameras.
According to an interview with the Google Photos team on XDA, object removal simply had a lower priority in the development queue than other features. It might still show up some day... but maybe not.
In a bid to clear up online speculation, surprise entrant to the full frame cinema lens market Nisi has answered some questions about its relationship with brands marketing lenses very similar to its own F3 series.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-ZS200 (TZ200), we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras for Travel, Best Pocketable Enthusiast Cameras and Best Enthusiast Long Zoom Cameras buying guides.
This useful video guide by The Slanted Lens will get you up to date on the latest TSA rules on flying with lithium ion batteries. If you're getting ready to travel with a bunch of photography gear, this is one to watch.