The battle is pretty much over and compact cameras have run up the white flag of surrender. There's basically nothing an expensive compact camera can do that one of the flagship smartphones can't do better. The lenses on smartphones are just as powerful as snapshot-grade models, just as filled with condensed electronic innards, and the smartphone camera includes some serious reinforcements in the form of an intuitive Android interface. Yes, point-and-shoot cameras are arguably heading for a big sunset exit, but their big brothers are more than ready for the next round. Let's check out the camera scene and bear testament to bridge cameras and digital single reflex models (DSLRs) as they take on the latest smartphones, including the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy.
Sensor Size Champions
Dedicated amateur and professional-grade cameras win this category with little effort. Sure, smartphones make claims of large megapixel ratings in their marketing brochures, but those megapixels are still being packed into a physically smaller space (Check out the current 12-MP pack leader from Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S7). DSLR cameras, on the other hand, sport larger light-absorbing sensor packages, which simply equals more picture. The ISO or light sensitivity improves, making night shots and indoor photography that much better, and the megapixel figure takes on new meaning as more detail is rendered with greater clarity.
What About Bridge Cameras?
The remarkable thing about these super-zooms is that they're not remarkable. Let's clarify that judgmental statement. These models can capture sharp images from great distances. The Nikon P900, for example, brings an 83x zoom lens to the consumer market, which is a staggering optical zoom record. But, and this is the crux of the argument, the sensor size is stuck at an unimpressive 1/2.3-inch size, which isn't any bigger than a standard point-and-shoot. It's packed with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from an iconic manufacturer, but innovative smartphones incorporate just as many extras, leaving zoom as the only real advantage for bridge cameras. Still, if long-range photography is your intention, then a bridge camera fits the bill admirably.
What About Optics?
Although sometimes labelled mechanical monsters, the chattering mirror of a single lens camera has evolved. The technology has cut out the mirror and created what's known as the Micro Four Thirds System, a mirrorless format that makes those aforementioned image sensors big while keeping the housing of the camera compact. The result is professional-grade gear that can capture images that are every bit as detailed and rich in color as a DSLR, but, thanks to the elimination of the mirror, the camera is easy to pocket or put in a purse, plus there's still the option to add an interchangeable lens. If you want more information on this exciting slimmed-down profile, look at the Sony Alpha A7 II, an example of a high-priced but worthy mirrorless marvel. Lacking a mirror, it still sports professional sensor dimensionality, a feat that can be inferred from the "full-frame sensor" marketing label.
In conclusion, the latest smartphones add optical image stabilization and pack an impressive amount of megapixels into a svelte housing, but they're still very much built to capture snapshots. They're very good snapshots, and anyone would be able to print out a large picture and pin it to a fridge with pride, but there's still that question about the image sensor. Dedicated DSLRs have the large housings that can contain larger light gathering circuitry, but the cost of this advantage is portability. You simply must use both hands when working with one of these beasts. Professional extras also confirm the pro-grade DSLR and its Micro Four Thirds sibling as a satisfying fit for those interested in a pro-am photography career.
Finally, while there may be Apps for smartphones (iTunes: Proshot)that simulate manual exposure settings, only a full-blooded camera can take advantage of such settings, including the aperture control variations and shutter speed manipulations that grant a photographer full creative control of his shot.
So, in concluding this conclusion, your state-of-the-art smartphone is a fitting companion for everyday snapshots, and it can even be tasked with manually exposed scenes when a good App is purchased, but it still can't take the place of a good amateur or professional DSLR. Of course, many users employ both, perhaps using the smartphone to compose the initial shot and the dedicated DSLR to capture details with the full manual controls of the more powerful camera.