Will Smartphones ever Replace DSLRs?

10 years ago, I’d take a compact camera everywhere. Every night out, every day trip, holiday – but when I’d need the higher image quality, I’d take my DSLR. Now, I don’t own a compact – but I have my smartphone on me at all times and use my DSLR for specific ‘photography times’.

Smartphone vs DSLR or mirrorless are comparisons are ever-popular and more significant with each release. Now we are definitely seeing some smartphones giving entry-level cameras a run for their money.

After the plummet of compact cameras, it’s only natural that this poses the question of whether or not smartphones will ever make the rise up and replace our mirrorless cameras or even DSLRs?


DSLRs will die

Smartphone cameras are ever-improving and quality and capabilities are staggering. New releases are bring constantly more advanced technology. Smartphone cameras can now offer studio effects, shallow depth of field, augmented reality, good low-light performance. This means that these techniques previously only available to professional photographers and more professional-level kit.

Phones also offer a much more accessible interface than a DSLR. Most people can navigate their way around a phone and may find the menus easier to adapt to than a new device. Although many entry-level cameras do have guide modes, a phone provides an interface and menus that are already familiar to the mass market.

Smartphones now have the technology for you to process and edit RAW images, as well as working seamlessly with your camera to share images instantaneously. In terms of efficiency, it would make sense to use a single device to take your image from the shutter to online, rather than have to use a camera first.

Another previous argument for the ‘no’ camp here has been the lack of lens options. That was the beauty of our DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. There are now many accessories on the market for phones, giving you much more versatility when it comes to phones. The range of accessories for phones is rapidly expanding, as well as the software that is available for editing capabilities. These two coupled together can give you some extremely creative possibilities.


DSLRs won’t die

One major problem smartphones face is their physical size. Phones are always getting slimmer and smaller and packing more power into an ever-shrinking package. This lack of space will make fitting a decent sized sensor in there near-impossible. Without a decent-sized sensor, the image quality from smartphones won’t even begin to touch that of a DSLR – particularly a full-frame model.

Interchangeable lenses may not solve the other issue of versatility either. There are a plethora of options for DSLR lenses and some can offer staggering quality. The technology of smartphone lenses is very new and it may take some more extensive research and investment in order to bring these up to the quality level of a DSLR. Buying these may also significantly add to the cost of them and eliminate them as an accessory for the mass-market.

My completely non-technical, personal opinion, is that I love the feeling and sound of a proper camera. I find it much easier to enter my ‘creative mode’ looking through the viewfinder of my camera. Although I do take some very creative shots on my phone, I find that the psychology of using my camera really kicks in when I pick it up, hear the sound of the shutter and have something comfortable to hold in my hand. I struggle to believe that tapping a circle on the screen of a phone and hearing the artificial ‘click’ will ever give me the psychological satisfaction of the mirror ‘clunk’ on my DSLR.

What will happen for sure, nobody can tell. It’s clear that smartphones have a long way to go before they’re in the same league as a DSLR. There are also a few things that make me question whether they will ever make it at all. Personally, I fall in the camp of ‘they’ll never replace DSLRs’ but nobody ever thought that an iPod would replace CDs or digital replace film