Is a Compact Camera better than a SmartPhone?

Every day at Snapshot we have people asking about compact cameras for their next holiday following recommendations from friends who traveled with only a Smartphone for photos and regretted not taking a real camera. We all know the benefits of a Smartphone - thin, light and easy to carry around and always with you so you can take calls, receive texts, check the weather, do some research and even take photos! However, they are still far behind compact cameras in terms of the quality of photos taken in a variety of environments.

Picture quality

Camera phones are fine for photographing still subjects in good light but dedicated cameras are still superior with moving subjects and in low or difficult lighting. Their larger sensors ensure that image quality is better in all kinds of light with some boasting a one-inch type sensor

A real zoom

Mobile phones don’t have an optical zoom. They only have a digital zoom, which crops the photo and results in pixelation of the image.This shortcoming obliges you to “zoom with your feet”. The benefit of a compact camera is the true optical zoom lens capability. The entry level compact cameras of 2018 have a minimum 6x optical zoom, with ‘travel compacts “ having 30~40x and the bulkier “superzooms” boasting 60x and more.


Compact cameras are also better at shooting close-ups - many have Macro modes that canshoot from 1cm away, a Smartphone with a decent camera can focus from 10cm.

Manual control

The majority of smartphones cameras are essentially point and shoot models – you can tweak the exposure, ISO and white balance, but that’s about it. In contrast many compact cameras offer manual control of aperture and shutter speed.

Weak photos in weak light

When light conditions are less than perfect mobile phones generally won’t give you as good a photo as a compact camera would. The reduced picture quality is due to the small size of the light sensor and the lack of a powerful flash as found on a compact camera.

Poor photos after the sun goes down

Compact cameras take much better photos once the sun goes down. In order to capture the magic of the night, a camera must be able to take pictures using long exposure times without moving. Mobile phones have neither a suitable light sensor, nor sufficient stability to take pictures in the dark.It’s therefore more difficult to take an evening portrait or capture thef eeling of a city at night

Who needs a viewfinder?

Some of us struggle to see the screens on a phone or compact camera in bright sun and get much better photos when we can use a viewfinder to compose our photos. SONY & PANASONIC have put viewfinders on their travel zoom range and most Super zooms have these too.  The other advantage of a viewfinder is that allows you to hold the camera against your body for stability when zooming.

More options with Scenes

Compact cameras have a wider variety of preset (SCENE) modes compared with most mobile phones - scenes such as sports mode and night portrait

Phones for apps, a camera for memories

The battery life of a mobile phone is shorter than that of a compact camera, especially if you leave it on all day for keeping in touch or doing some “research”. Cameras can be turned off between shots.

Think long term

Photos captured to remember special moments or as souvenirs of a trip will be looked at again and again, turned into a PhotoBook or printed up large. You might regret having used your phone instead of a camera. For memories worth keeping, always choose a real digital camera.

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