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Photography has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. One of my fondest childhood memories was shooting with that heavy metal brick camera that is now being dubbed ‘vintage‘. I still remember the anticipation of watching the films develop and come into life in our pitch dark bathroom. Dad and I had always cheered when the photos came out neither underexposed nor overexposed.

I bought my first Canon 6D with all of my savings back in 2011 and matched it with a 24-70mm f2.8L lens. I was deeply connected to my Canon DSLR, shooting Glamour, Portrait and Real Estate Photography in Sydney. None of which topped my passion for Travel Photography. I lugged my DSLR all around the world, up the mountains and deep into the forests.

However, just this year, I’ve decided to say goodbye to my $4000 DSLR kit. In this post, we’ll go over the pros & cons of having a DSLR vs Smartphone without getting all techy.

DSLR-vs-Smartphone-Which-is-better-should-I-ditch-DSLR-pros-cons-Featured

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Everyone can learn about the rule of thirds, lighting and angles. But not everyone has a keen eye for detail and not everyone likes the same style. So photography is very subjective when it comes to determining what’s a good photo and what’s not.

Girl holding a camera photographer portrait behind the lens
The creative behind the lens matters.

© Photos by Kida

It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.

Eve Arnold

It sounds cliché, but it’s true.

What is agreeable amongst professionals is that an award-winning photograph portrays the feelings and mood of the photographer and evokes the audiences’ emotions. A great photo captures a split second in fine detail and clarity. Most modern smartphones can achieve that unless you’re shooting for National Geographic.

Just a couple of years ago, I would argue that smartphones couldn’t produce large aperture photos like the professional-looking portraits with blurred backgrounds. The pixels were visibly larger than those from a DSLR. However, these have all been changed in a matter of a few years.

To quickly sum up why DSLRs are still in use today? Because professional photographers need next-level shutter speed, aperture or finer details to produce ginormous quality prints, astrophotography, wildlife photography and commercial shoots.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR Camera Body

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Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens

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For the majority of us, my take is that the latest smartphones are enough to produce professional-level photographs. And the scary part is, mobile phone technology is ever-evolving and it’s catching up fast to a full-frame world-class DSLR.

Without getting too techy, let’s dive into the comparison of owning a DSLR vs Smartphone and why I have decided to sell my entire DSLR kit.


The rise of smartphones

Ever since the rise of smartphones and the technology that comes with them, the quality of photos and videos a smartphone can produce comes closer and closer to those of a DSLR. Not quite the same yet, but close. Here are some of my favourite smartphones with the best quality camera, tried and tested.

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel phones are by far my favourite camera smartphones. I personally have been using Google Pixel phones for 3+ years now and have used the camera extensively for portraits and travel photography.

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Samsung Galaxy S22

Prior to Google Pixel phones, I’ve used Samsung Galaxy phones for all my travel photos and absolutely loved the quality of the camera. If it wasn’t for Google Pixel phone’s simplicity, I’d totally own Samsung Galaxy again.

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iPhone 11 Pro

Personally I’m not a fan of IOS system but I’ve seen the quality of photos and videos taken from an iPhone 11 Pro and they are quite impressive. If you’re an Apple user and take photos often, it’s worth the extra few hundred dollars.

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Why should you ditch your DSLR then?

Unless you’re shooting for weddings or commercials where you plan to print and enlarge the photos, the quality of photos from a smartphone is sufficient for web use and social media. Usually, the largest images you’ll use on the web are around 1900px. And the larger the image, the slower the loading speed. As a result, having slow pages will compromise your ranking on search engines, which is totally not worth it unless you’re showcasing a professional photography portfolio.

Photographer-with-Canon-DSLR-on-tripod-shooting-beach-sunset
Bondi Beach, Sydney Australia

© Photos by Kida

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook will actually reduce the quality of your photos by compressing them into fast loading sizes. So your HD 5000px DSLR photo will look very similar to a photo from the latest smartphone. Moreover, with the popularity rise of filters, it’s very hard to tell the difference even for professionals.

Girl-photographer-behind-the-lens-in-Rome-Italy
Rome, Italy

© Photos by Kida


1. Convenience vs Quality

We all know how heavy DSLRs are. On top of a camera, you’ll also need to carry essential accessories like lenses, a tripod and some spare batteries to say the least. And for that reason alone, DSLRs are no longer fit for light travels, let alone travelling with kids.

Let’s put aside the fact that my kids knocked over my DSLR from the tripod a couple of times, just the amount of things I had to carry put me off from bringing my DSLR bag every time we travel.

Imagine having one toddler in one arm, a preschooler in another and a 3kg camera bag on your back. I’ve been there, done that. And to be honest, if I had used my Google Pixel phone, the photos would’ve turned out just fine for web and personal use. The qualities of Google Pixel photos were good enough for prints and photobooks.

Toddler-DSLR-on-Tripod-Beach-Sunset-Photo-Shoot
Stressful times…

© Photos by Kida

2. Time is of the essence

As previously mentioned, a great photograph often captures a precious moment that can be treasured forever. It can be an expression, a face, a motion or a special second.

These magical moments happen all the time when you travel around the world with kids. I need to be able to whip out a phone, which I carry with me all the time anyway, press a button and voila, it’s there synced to my cloud account.

I lost count of how many times I had missed a golden moment because I was frantically trying to set up my DSLR. And quite often, it’s simply not feasible to get your DSLR out. Like when you’re travelling in a car and you see something beautiful right there and then. Or when your kids all of a sudden decide to be nice to each other and hug it out with Mount Taranaki as a backdrop. Point is, it’s much better to have a photo than none at all.

Girl photographer shooting wildlife pat kangaroo Australia
Luckily someone had a smartphone to capture this shot.
Jervois Bay, Australia

© Photos by Kida

3. Durability

Then comes durability. All of my family knows my DSLR is my baby. It must be handled with care, away from the wind and rain, picked up and put down gently and polished every time before use.

I cared for my Canon 6D so much so that a professional photographer laughed at me for putting a ‘condom’ over my DSLR. Because I loved the beach and often shoot near the sea, I had to protect my camera from erosion and rust. And on a rainy day, it was okay for me to get wet because the rain hood was to protect my DSLR.

After taking this ‘needy baby’ around 3 continents, I was ready to move on. My Google Pixel was lightweight, water and dust resistant, and the Spigen protector did a great job protecting my phone from bumps and bruises. I no longer have to protect my ‘camera’ like an eggshell, that’s one stress off my mind.

Family-Travel-Photographer-with-Kids-DSLR-Landscape-New-Zealand-South-Island
Wearing my DSLR like another baby.

© Photos by Kida

4. Versatility

My Dad once told me, use a tool for what it’s designed to be used for. A DSLR was designed to take photos and that’s what it does best. Although the video feature has been added to a DSLR, the machine is not designed for filming.

You can’t see what you’re filming through a viewfinder, the footage is displayed on a 3″ screen. You almost have to squint to make sure none of the unwanted details is captured in the frame.

Rumour says using the video feature also contributes to the wear and tear of the DSLR sensor. Later models may have improved on this, but I do believe using the video feature excessively will shorten the life span of the sensor.

DSLR-vs-smartphone-on-tripod-Sydney-Harbour-Bridge-Photography
Filming the sunset over Sydney Harbour Bridge.

© Photos by Kida

That aside. Exporting photos from a DSLR and editing them afterwards also involve more work than editing photos straight from a phone and in an app.

Nowadays, if you use Google Photos for storage, you can edit photos directly within the Google Photos app. It comes with comprehensive features like blurring the background, shifting the lighting of a portrait photo, applying filters, and adjusting effects manually. The best part is, all of these can be done after taking the photo.

Then there are apps like Lightroom, Photoshop Fix and a bunch of other beautifying apps to choose from. The options are endless.

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.”

Charles Kettering

5. Price and utility

Last but not least, owning a DSLR doesn’t just stop there. There are about a dozen accessories that you’ll also need to pack into your DSLR bag. A good lens or two, filters, batteries, tripods, flashes, diffusers and cleaning products. You can easily rack up thousands of dollars worth of accessories.

Then you have to have a mobile phone anyway, right? So why not pay a few more hundred dollars and get the latest smartphone that can do so much more than a DSLR without compromising greatly on quality. At least for the majority of us that don’t do photography for a living.

Toddler-selfie-with-smartphone-Fiji
Little photographer in the making.

© Photos by Kida


So should you sell your DSLR and invest in a good smartphone?

The answer is: that depends.

What kind of photography do you do?
If you’re taking photos for personal and web use, a smartphone is a wiser investment.
If you’re a wedding, portrait, wildlife photographer or does photography for a living, then no doubts nothing beats a Canon 5D Mark IV and lenses with a red ring.

Girl-photographer-DSLR-beach-photography-shooting-White-Island-Eruption-New-Zealand
Shooting the eruption of White Island in New Zealand definitely requires a good DSLR and a 70-200mm lens. How often do you get to do that?

© Photos by Kida

What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have something to add? What do you use DSLR for and what is your story? Let us know in the comments below! I’d love to hear different perspectives and opinions.

© Photos by Kida

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