When you want to snap a quick photo, chances are you reach for your smartphone rather than a real, standalone camera. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Real cameras still have a lot of advantages over phones. Here’s why you will want to keep a camera handy and not just rely on your smartphone’s limited capabilities.
1. Image quality
Sure, smartphone cameras have improved over the years, but so have standalone cameras. You don’t have to spend big bucks to get a great camera that takes high-quality images. Megapixels aren’t everything, but they’re a handy place to start when comparing cameras. The Phone X, for example, has a 12-megapixel camera while the Nikon D3300, one of Kim’s favorites, comes in at 24.2 megapixels. This can be especially important if you plan to make large prints for display.
2. Better low-light photos
Smartphone cameras are getting better at dealing with low-light situations, whether it’s a romantic anniversary dinner in a candle-lit restaurant or a camping trip with nothing but firelight to illuminate your evening. But low-light is still a notable weakness for most phones, which also fall down in the flash department. A good standalone camera can handle the rigors of dark situations and offer up a much better flash experience for those times when you need to shine a little light on your subject.
3. The power of zoom
The slimness of a smartphone means you can’t fit a big optical zoom lens into the design. This is where a “superzoom” camera really wins the day. These cameras feature optical zooms that can get you 30 or even 60 times closer to your subject. Just think about taking a picture of a rare bird in a tree with your smartphone versus zooming into it with a real camera. A superzoom brings your photos closer to the action in a way a smartphone can’t. With DSLR cameras, you can change out the lenses and put a big zoom on it when you need it.
When you look at a digital SLR camera, you will see dials, buttons, and elaborate layers of on-screen menus. You can set the camera to handle tasks automatically, or you can take control of all those details to achieve the look you want. This is especially useful when you’re photographing subjects in challenging lighting situations or are looking to achieve a certain artistic effect. You won’t get that sort of power over your images with a regular smartphone camera.
5. Snap more photos
Most of us are constantly scrambling to save space on our smartphones and photos are a big culprit when it comes to eating up storage. With a standalone camera, you can load it up with a massive memory card and snap away without worrying about transferring your photos to the cloud or bumping up against storage-space warnings. So go ahead and take 500 pictures and shoot some videos at your next birthday party. You’ve got plenty of room.
6. Look through the window
It can be challenging to take a photo with your smartphone when light is bouncing off the display, but you can still pick up a standalone camera that has a viewfinder window. Just like back in the earlier days of cameras, you hold it up and look through the viewfinder to frame your shots. It’s perfect for people who struggle with digital display glare. Just remember that not all digital cameras have viewfinders, so look for this feature if it’s important to you.
7. More buying options
When it comes to standalone cameras, you can find the perfect one for your needs. Traveling light? Pick up a compact point-and-shoot that will slide into your jacket pocket. Getting into photography as a serious hobby? A full-size digital SLR will give you control over everything from shutter speed to aperture and also allow you to switch out different lenses. Heading out on adventures? Look for a ruggedized, waterproof camera that can hold up to extreme conditions and keep your smartphone out of the way and safe from harm.
Check out Kim’s top picks for DSLRs:
1. Nikon D7100
Nikon’s D7100 digital SLR is available in a variety of bundles with different lenses. The body alone costs around $730, while a bundle with a good zoom lens runs about $1,050. For that, you get a high-level 24-megapixel camera that can handle anything from portraits to sweeping landscapes to action sports.Buy from Amazon
2. Nikon D3300
Don’t need all the advanced bells and whistles of the D7100? Check out Nikon’s affordable D3300 digital SLR, which still delivers 24-megapixel images and full HD videos. This works well as a way to enter the world of DSLR cameras, especially if you’re moving up from a compact point-and-shoot.Buy from Amazon
3. Canon EOS Rebel SL1
Canon’s EOS Rebel SL1 is comparable in both price and features to the Nikon D3300. Canon calls this well-reviewed camera “the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR,” which makes it an attractive option if you plan to travel light, but still want a full-featured camera at your side.Buy from Amazon
Sneaky hidden cameras can blend into the background
Not all cameras are obvious. Some can be disguised as anything from a water bottle to a wall clock.