DSLR vs Phone Camera in Shallow Depth of Field (and I realized I was “legend in my own mind.” )

Reese Maddox

Ebony Beauty


I feel like taking a little abuse today so I’ll drag this “dead horse” of a subject out of the barn and beat it a little more… Why? Well just because a dead horse needs to be beat every once in a while.
“I don’t need a DSLR because my iPhone is just as good or better”. How many times I have heard this statement and I’m sure you have too. Why maybe you are one of those people who have made this statement. And actually the main reason I bring this dead (as far as I’m concerned) topic up is because someone I was talking with the other day was asking me advice on what kind of camera to purchase. The gentleman seen me with my DLSR and it started up a conversation. This man whose name is Mike said that he was an amateur painter and because he couldn’t paint from memory he thought a god camera would help him capture scenes that later could be painted. So I explained you really do not need a high-end camera but a decent DSLR with a wide lens would suffice as an entry point into DSLR photography. He then asked “Can you explain why an iPhone would not work in place of a DSLR?” My reply was it will work for capturing wide-angle environmental shots with no problem, but… that’s about where it stops. If you ever decide you want to get creative and you want very shallow depth of field (sdof) and stay crisp with focus the little pee-wee elements that any mobile phone lens is made of is never going to get you there.

It’s kind of like when I had my first dirt bike (motocross motorcycle) I was so good… I was fast, I was quick in the turns, I flew over jumps like an eagle. I mean nothing could touch me. Till the day I entered my first race and I realized I was “legend in my own mind.” Twenty bikes lined up at a starting gate… only five fit through the first turn. Hummm… If I go down these guys are gonna use my head for traction… Oh my… yeah so you see the scene.
The mobile phone photographer is pretty much that same legend in his own mind, he thinks he’s got a great camera, but put it up against a good DSLR and a great lens and your left in the dust. Especially when it comes to shallow depth of field you just cannot get the bokeh nor can you get the compression that an f/1.2 to f/2.8 lens can offer. I like many others have been brow beaten on social media with long-winded explanations of how I’m wrong and yda yda yda… And I’m just talking about shallow depth of field today, why I haven’t even went into the print side of the whole conversation, about how you cannot really get the quality need for say 20”x30” prints without using something like genuine fractals to up size the file. Nor have I touched on the fact the mobile phones do not shoot in RAW format. And actually the biggest grip I have with phone cameras is nearly every function is touch screen controlled. When I set out years ago to learn how to use “manual” mode on my first DSLR I also made it a point to learn each and every setting and control on my camera. I actually set a goal to go through the whole manual and learn what every little thing on the camera did and how to properly use the control or function. While doing so I realized that not all controls were positioned for quick or easy access. I then noticed as I moved up to better camera bodies the controls and functions were more ergonomically laid out. For example the body I use now lets me assign what button I want to control the ISO and I can change ISO settings in a flash or maybe exposure compensation, again I can change it on the fly and be ready for the next shot quickly. Try that with your mobile phone… seriously tell me how fast you can do any of what I just mentioned with any mobile phone or any other mobile device. Oh I just love the iPad photographer twisting and turning this huge screen to get a shot… why not carry a TV around? Mobile phones are great for catching the personal moment or maybe for documenting something to say “yeah here see I have a photo of it right here on my phone” and of course social media would most likely wither up, dry out and blow away without the plethora of selfies that are posted… I mean what would Instagram do if there were never another selfie taken? Ever think about that? What would IG do?
Ok, I’ve had my fun we can drag the dead horse back in the barn till next time.