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.
|Brussels' lights by Litho|
from Your City - Queue
|Oil, water & paint by timbazi|
|1939 Ford Coupe by WordyDave|
from Car Shows 2018
VSCO has made it easier to find the right presets for your photos with a few interface changes to its smartphone app.
TinyMOS is back with NANO1, an all-new astrophotography camera that's one-third the size of the TINY1 it announced three years ago.
Huawei's latest flagship device comes with the widest range of focal lengths of all current smartphones.
After shaking up the Lightroom ecosystem with Lightroom CC last year, Adobe has released version 2.0 of the cloud-centric photo organizer and editor. We look at new features like People View, how far Lightroom CC has come in its first year, and where Lightroom is headed.
Today, at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe previewed Photoshop CC on iPad, a full-featured, desktop-class version of Photoshop for iOS.
The weather and has most definitely taken a turn toward fall here, and our shooting opportunities have followed suit. We brought the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 along to a harvest festival of sorts and a few of our usual haunts.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 1346 into effect, which imposes a fine upwards of $300 to drone operators who invade the privacy or harm the physical wellbeing of citizens.
Sigma is a company in flux, but CEO Kazuto Yamaki is undaunted by the upcoming prospect of developing lenses for eight lens mounts. The challenge will be keeping the company's identity along the way.
If you've been meaning to convert all of your old photos, video, and audio to digital formats, but simply lack the time or willpower to get through it all, a new service from Kodak will help you get the job done.
Almost all new cameras include impressive video features, but for the best results you'll often need an off-camera recorder. Chris and Jordan take a look at the brand new Ninja V from Atomos, and explain why it might just be one of the most useful tools you can add to your camera.
Collect allows you to transform 360-degree into a more easily digestible format by transforming it into directed traditional videos.
Sick of using your plain ol' keyboard to edit your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop? TourBox is hoping to expedite your post-production workflow using a clever combination of dials, buttons, and knobs.
Bag and accessory manufacturer Hex has launched two bags as part of its latest collection: the Clamshell Backpack and DSLR Sling.
Crank out instant photos with Holga Digital's new analog printer, currently being funded on Kickstarter.
We got some hands-on time with Leica's new S3 medium format camera, which boasts a new higher-res sensor as well as other improvements.
Luna Display started its life as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter. Now, it's available to purchase directly online.
We sat down with the Google Pixel camera team to learn about key new camera features on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and an explanation of the sophisticated software advancements that power them.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims the cameras in Apple's iPhone 7 Plus and newer dual-camera models infringe on a patent that was granted in 2003.
Nikon's Coolpix P1000 has moved the zoom needle from 'absurd' to 'ludicrous,' with an equivalent focal length of 24-3000mm. So far, it's a fun camera to shoot with – if a bit over the top.
Like the LG V40 ThinQ the A9 combines a super-wide-angle, regular wide-angle and tele camera, but adds a depth-sensor to the mix as well.
The FAA has issued a warning to drone pilots in anticipation of disaster response following Hurricane Michael, noting that fines for interfering with emergency operations can exceed $20,000.
According to a report from Fortune, Apple acquired Danish masking technology startup Spektral in December 2017 for "more than $30 million."
Insta360's latest model comes with a range of features that allow for the creation of unique action cam footage.
The Photogrip can be used as a camera grip, mini tripod or phone stand and comes with a detachable remote.
At a time when manufacturers are adding triple and even quad-cameras to their flagship smartphones, Google is sticking with one main camera. But given the sophistication of the company's computational efforts, we think it's the right approach for now.
DPReview is hiring! We're seeking three Software Development Engineers at a range of experience levels to join our Seattle-based team.
The University of Dayton Research Institute created a video detailing what damage is caused when a drone strikes the wing of an airplane.
Lenovo's upcoming high-end smartphone will be the first model to feature four cameras on the back.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL offer a second front-facing camera and a host of improved computational features such as digital zoom based on super-resolution capture, better depth mapping and a fill-light effect for low light portraits.