Whether you resist technology or find yourself leading the techie trend, nearly everyone, regardless of age, is consolidating their electronic devices into one, handheld, sleek piece of plastic that is small enough to fit into your skinny jeans. It´s in your purse, your back pocket, your front seat console, and zipped inside your backpack. It can call friends in China, balance checkbooks, track your footsteps, and launch Angry Birds, but does your shiny new smartphone really make for a decent camera replacement?

As a professional Washington DC photographer, you might assume that I am bound by sacred oath to swear off smartphone cameras, demonizing them as a watered-down version of my favorite art form. However, as a photography-loving, business-building, smart phone-wielding mom, I know the value of convenience and I believe smartphone cameras deserve a fair trial.

Just a few years ago smartphone cameras produced pixelated images that were hardly decipherable much less worthy of ever being printed. Today however, healthy competition has spurred leading brands to produce ever higher quality, increased controls, and jazzy new features that nearly blur the line between cameras and video games. But if you are considering replacing your digital point-and-shoot camera with a smartphone, here are some features to consider:



Is Your Smartphone a Camera Replacement?

What your smartphone has that your camera does not:

Beyond these features, there are many bells and whistles that make smartphone cameras slightly more entertaining than your run-of-the-mill traditional camera.

  • Mobility (most people always keep their cellphones on hand and their cameras in the cupboard)
  • Selfie mode (front-facing camera)
  • One-touch zoom
  • Facial recognition, smile and blink detection
  • Access to instant apps for editing, saving, and sharing
  • Pre-set modes for creative color effects

Is Your Smartphone a Camera Replacement?

What your camera has that your smartphone does not:

While smartphones certainly are setting a rapid pace when it comes to improvement and innovation, there are a few noteworthy features that will keep traditional cameras forever in the race. They include elements such as:

  • Optical zoom (As opposed to digital zoom, digital cameras can adjust the lens to move closer to the subject and change the focus, which produces a much sharper image than those using digital zoom magnifying effects)
  • Interchangeable lenses (Allowing for high quality macro and zoom lenses to be used)
  • High-quality, close-up portraits and macro images (produced by optical zoom)


Now for the million dollar question: are the days of using a regular digital camera over? Even the professionals in my field agree that smartphones can serve as a replacement for low-end digital cameras. However, for those of us who are serious about producing high-quality images and archival-quality portraits, there is simply no substitute for a stand-alone digital camera. Even with recent industry advances, smartphone cameras just can’t compete with the power of a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera.

Rather than getting up in arms about a tech trend that is clearly serving a consumer need, I too will reach for my smartphone camera the next time I’m out with friends or juggling my son’s backpack in one hand and my purse in the other. However, when I’m ready for print-worthy photos to hang on my refrigerator, I am going to unzip my camera bag and pull out the DSLR that I know will do the job right.


So tell me, who do you side with in this smartphone vs. digital camera debate? Share your opinions in the comments section below!

Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!