Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
Why are Smartphone Cameras far from being able to replace professional Cameras?


The reason smartphone cameras can be said to fall far short of being a replacement for dedicated cameras is due to limitations in physical technology and materials, and for most users, a smartphone is a compact multifunction device that is just that. that need. for all basic needs,

Although major manufacturers have always struggled to find ways to improve product quality and the technical race is still more about numbers than quality, the numbers on smartphones still live up to the way whose company increases its sales volume.
This means that the numbers are just a formality, or computer processing, and have no real practical effect due to the technical limitations of physics. With extremely limited space and thinner smartphones, manufacturers have reached the limit. It will make the camera quality cannot match the dedicated camera.

As you know, a dedicated camera will have an extremely complex physical lens system to accommodate a large amount of light passing through the large sensor in the center of the camera. With complicated lenses and lighting, their prices are also extremely expensive, which is why they cannot be compared to a small electric phone. It will probably take many more centuries for humans to replace specialized cameras.

Let’s look at the factors that make the cameraphone different from the dedicated camera:

The first thing that’s easy to see is the sensor size (the factor that determines 99.99% of image quality).

Sensor size

The biggest difference between a DSLR camera and a smartphone is the size of the sensor. Smartphones specializing in photography have sensors that may be equivalent to DSLR cameras, but the image quality may not be equal.

The image sensor is the original technology that governs the operation of the camera. The main function of the sensor is to capture all the light that passes through the camera lens. The larger the size of the sensor, the more light it captures.

The more light the image sensor captures, the more detailed and realistic the image will be. Here are the specifications of some common image sensors:

Can you guess what size smartphone sensor is? The Google Pixel 2, the best smartphone camera available today, has a 1/2.6 inch (5.5 x 4.1 mm) image sensor, which is 4-6 times smaller than an ordinary DSLR sensor.

Pixels aren’t everything (historical tip)

When choosing a smartphone, megapixel settings are often taken as a measure of cloud upgrade quality, but in fact, this is just a lie to PR the product. With smartphones, a camera with a large pixel (megapixel) doesn’t mean a large image sensor. The Nokia 808 PureView camera phone has a 41 megapixel camera, but the sensor size is only 1/1.2 inch.Meanwhile, the Canon EOS 1300D or Nikon D3400 camera has a 24-megapixel APS-C image sensor, but they definitely offer better image quality than the Nokia 808 PureView phone.


The number of pixels is only quantitative. A higher pixel count does not mean better image quality. Only when the sensor captures more pixels will the image quality improve.

In fact, a large image sensor with a small megapixel count will capture more light, which means the image processor has better noise reduction capabilities.

Chipset for image processing

Imagine a dedicated camera processor that focuses on a single image processing job while a smartphone has to perform more than one task.

The main job of the sensor is to capture light and convert all colors into an electronic signal. The image processor processes all these colors and transforms them into images.

The image processor is considered the brain of the camera. It must read the measurement, reach and understand the colors contained in the sensor, check the timing of the shot and intelligently manage all the work involved.

Whether or not the image reproduces exactly what you see has a huge contribution to the image processor.

This is a complicated job for any image processor. And that’s also why you sometimes see grain “noise” in the image. Grain noise occurs when there is misplacement of pixels in the full color matrix.

Of course, image processors perform many other important functions as well, but they are mostly technical.

In short, DSLR cameras are equipped with image processors that can understand photography. It’s like a hard worker whose only job is to put the pictures together correctly all his life.

Meanwhile, smartphones also have image processors but are forced to combine with many other functions. Also, due to the limited size of phones, smartphone image processors are always limited in space.

So it’s no surprise that the image processor in a dedicated DSLR still does a better job than a smartphone.

Aperture, shutter speed, lens…

In addition to sensor and image processor size, smartphones also cannot match DSLR cameras in many other respects.

For example, with lenses, smartphones are still very immature compared to DSLR cameras. Photographers can switch lenses freely on DSLRs and have the flexibility to fine-tune settings, while smartphones only have wide-angle lenses.

Wide-angle lenses are the only solution to increase sensor size in the limited space of smartphones.

Over time, smartphones have improved their ability to take better photos with larger apertures and faster shutter speeds. The new iPhones and Pixels have an aperture of f/1.8, which is comparable to today’s mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.

Users can also expect new smartphones to take better photos and in many cases can replace a bulky camera. But if you need a really professional camera, the DSLR is still the best choice right now.

Portrait mode on advanced iPhone models is just an advanced mask

One of the standout features of the 2018 iPhone lineup is the ability to change the depth of field (DOF) after taking a photo. Users can move an aperture bar (f stops) to blur or brighten the background. But of course this feature is just an overlay (mask) like in Photoshop and not the actual blur area created by the lens physics.

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Can smartphone cameras replace real cameras in the future? – Photo 3. The ability to change the depth of field after taking a photo of the newly launched iPhone XS

Almost all smartphones (except some newer Samsung models) have constant aperture lenses, as well as very small sensors compared to the camera, so the field of view is very wide, almost everything is sharp if not by post-production. Therefore, manufacturers equip phones with an additional camera to measure the distance between objects, and thus determine what is the subject, where is the background.

But of course, using software to replace a physical phenomenon is bound to be a source of errors. Sometimes the software is not smart enough to recognize small objects like hair, ears or fabric in clothes, they will also blur like the background. The recognition software will definitely be updated in the future, but for now it’s best to use a camera with a real aperture lens.

Must be processed by AI

Photography that relies on machine processing (or even artificial intelligence) can overcome some hardware limitations. For example, if the sensor of the camera is small, if it does not receive enough light, the software will “direct” the camera to take many photos at different brightnesses and then combine them. This feature will help preserve detail in highlights, but won’t make dark areas look noisy.

AI is in its infancy, so its applicability to smartphone photography is not yet very high. But we can see AI capabilities in the future through hardware maker testing, typically Nvidia’s ability to remove noise in images.

Future iPhones will have even more functionality, not because of advanced camera physics, but because of advanced post-processing. The user could (in theory) take multiple photos of a group of people and then “match” each person to produce a photo where everyone is smiling and not closing their eyes.

The professional machine cannot be replaced

No one denies that smartphones have slumped camera sales, especially compact cameras (digital cameras), but it won’t be able to replace all professional cameras.

The point that smartphones can do is already release from bondage for dedicated cameras, becoming a camera booster that can make your photos better and easy to share anytime, anywhere.

With advancements in technology, phones can create slow-motion images

Smartphone – the thing associated with today’s life has taken care of taking and editing photos so well, but why can’t it kill dedicated cameras?

The reason for this is that the wider selection of professional-grade lenses completely “eats” a smartphone with only one type of irreplaceable lens.

Generally speaking, with the current trend of social media development, camera phones are increasingly being used and phone companies know how to please customers by constantly integrating the most advanced camera technologies into the smartphone.

As you can see, the camera is the feature most people spend money on on high-end phones.

Ordinary users will increasingly use camera phones to take photos and share them, but in another respect, professional cameras still have their own place and cannot be replaced within 1-2 decades.