Nokia’s Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki just recently told that Cell Phone Cameras Will Replace DSLRs. Reuters put out news Nokia exec: phones to make system cameras obsolete which says that according to Nokia sales chief fast developing cameraphone technology will shortly make SLR system cameras and even professional cameras obsolete. It was even claimed that in the near future camera phones will be better than a DSLR.
If you know anything about serious photography it might be hard for you to believe those claims. He’s got to be Vanjoking! It is true that the number of pixels in the cell phone cameras is constantly increasing. A modern cell phone camera can have as many or more pixels than quite decent digital camera had some years ago. But the the number of pixels does not tell the whole story on the image quality. More important than the resolution is the image quality. There are many other things that need to be right to get good image quality.
The Register does a pretty good job of explaining why Vanjoki’s statement is so asinine; however, most Photography Bay readers won’t have a problem of understanding that the tiny sensors in a cell phone can’t rival the image quality produce by much larger DSLR sensors. This is notwithstanding the difference in lens quality between cell phones and larger, DSLR-system lenses.
Two important things on digital photography is quality of the optics and the noise properties of the image sensor. DSLR typically are far superior on both of them compared to the small optics and image sensor used on cell phone. Let’s see if one day Nokia has something that can actually live up to his promises – nothing nas yet come even near to that. DSLR are still needed when you want to take good quality photos. And I expect that this trend wil continue. There are many physical things that make it very hard to build a very small camera (one that easily fits inside cell phone) that gives very good image quality. One photo taken with Nokia’s fancy-pants cell phone camera will demonstrate to any DSLR user that Nokia’s hype is nothing but hot air. Professional photographers will keep their DSLR and bag of lenses for a long time.
I’m not knocking on against cell phone cameras, they have their uses and they are easy to carry out. But when you need good picture quality they are not the right tool. At perfect lighting conditions cell phone cameras can take very nice pictures, but when conditions are not ideal cell phone imeage quality is usually quite poor (compared to what you would get with a pocket digital camera or DSLR).
Vanjoki said high-definition (HD) quality video recording was also coming to cellphones within the next 12 months. This time next year should should have a mobile phone capable of capturing 720p, maybe even 1080p, video and outputting it to a television, preferably via HDMI. Vanjoki was, however, accurate in one of his Helsinki comments: “It will not take long, less than a year, when phones can record HD quality video and you can transfer it directly to your HD television set.” With small-sensor pixel counts increasing and the power required to operate them decreasing, he may very well be correct.
It will, however, be usually crappy-looking HD video. Reasons are the same than in photography. We will still need those big, heavy and expensive professional video cameras if we want to make “broadcast quality” video.