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A wise man once said the best camera is the one you have with you ...

There seem to be two camps when it comes to taking pictures — those who love to snap away and those who don't understand why someone wants to take so many damn pictures. I pitch my tent in the first camp. I love to take pictures of anything in front of my eyes worth looking at. I also followed some advice and decided that smartphone cameras really are good enough to use as your "camera" camera. I spent a few days on a bit of a mini-vacation, and didn't take my camera. Instead I took my LG G2 and the iPhone 5S — don't hate, that thing has a hell of a good camera on it.

I got some really great pictures, and some really bad pictures. I also came away with a bunch of questions about what I did wrong, which I'll be asking here soon enough. For now, my first question is simple. Do you use your Android as your full-time camera? Take the poll below and let us all know.


 

Reader comments

This week's sidebar poll: Is your Android your full-time camera?

115 Comments

True. My M8 is fine for most snap shots, but when I'm going to some sort of family event, or trip then I take my camera. My D80 might be a little old, but there's no way a cellphone lens can do what my lenses can do.

Right. The pictures are soooo much better on my basic point and shoot than my GS4. Vacations, etc deserve better.

The best camera is the camera you have with you. The only thing I honestly miss about DSLRs is Optical zoom. Any time I see a shot I could have had if I'd had Optical Zoom, I feel a small pang of anxiety. For everything else...I don't miss cameras at all.

Agree - I'm actually surprised how my phone has replaced my macro lens! And whenever I have that DSLR, it's a planned outing. Either I'm shooting heads with a fast 50 or getting closer with a zoom tube. Antying that is spur of the moment, my phone's the camera for me.

Agreed - On a recent vacation, I used both my phone and my camera. Given the right setting, a phone camera can be just as good as a dedicated camera. But, there are many scenes where it just can't get as good of an image, or what it can get has limitations due to lighting or the limitations of digital zooms.

My phone is almost always with me, so for the sake of convenience, I use it for most quick snaps that end up on Facebook or the like. But if I want a good quality photo, I always revert back to my FZ200 - which itself isn't a true DSLR, it's a bridge camera; but its still gives better quality images than my phone where the setting can benefit from an optical zoom or where low-light is involved.

There are situations where the phone can't match the image quality of a dedicated camera - and there are situations where a dedicated camera is overkill, and a phone is more convenient. Both have advantages and disadvantages. If someone can live with the compromises, then a phone may be perfect for their primary photo device. For me, I still use both.

I still use my father's 1972 Canon he bought in Thailand from when he was in Vietnam with various lenses, best 35mm I have ever used with a whole spectrum of light changes to use. I'm that guy still keeping photo developers open

Yes, I carry my phone with me 99% of the time and having to carry a real camera is combersome. That's why phones are starting to have decent cameras, if you know how to use it.

Posted via the app on my stock LG Optimus G E973 (4.1.2, soon be 4.4.2)

I always have it (Nexus 5) and it's good enough for most things, but for real "event" photography I always take the Nikon - in photography you could say ... light is might...

I know DSLR snobs don't like hearing this...but smartphone cameras really are getting *that* good. The last frontiers are low light and optical zoom, and lowlight has already improved dramatically in the last 2 generations.

Just as I no longer have a reason to lug around a PDA to do my email or hold my contacts, I no longer have a reason to lug around an expensive and fragile and bulky camera.

Sorry, just no. I am not a DSLR snob at all. I use my phone camera all the time. But no phone is going to give you a consistent result like a real camera with the right person behind it.

"DSLR snobs"?? Really?? No need to be insulting in attempting to make a point. People have their preferences and methods, they simply differ from yours.

The name fits, sorry. Have seen graphic examples of it, even on this site.

"They suck compared to a $1500 DSLR, they suck compared to a $150 Canon S, and they suck compared to a $49 camera with the Hulk on the package from the kids section at Target."

That's been said on here before.

To be brutally honest you're turning out to be the douche here. Jeff is just providing evidence for his point. No one is making you agree with him.

Posted via Android Central App on my Galaxy S5/Galaxy Note 3

Not sure the name fits. I have a very high end DSLR. I do night photography exclusively, multiple exposures and star trails. It's not uncommon for me to drive 1200 miles on a weekend to find a location with no man made light, so I can have full control. My phone will not create a useful image at ISO 6400, and it does not mount to my tripod, nor will my intervalometer work with it. Not a snob, just the right tool for the right purpose.

On the other hand, out to dinner with the family, want to post a picture on facebook? My cell phone is likely the only camera I have with me, so it's the tool of choice.

I do agree, the best camera is the one you have with you. I always have my cell phone, so it's camera gets used frequently, but will it replace my DSLR? Not in the foreseeable future.

I agree with you in terms of the advancements made in the sensors. My M8 makes my D80 cry in low light. But for all other light my Nikon will win most battles. From autofocus speeds to natural bokeh, any DSLR even with a kit lens will outperform any cellphone. That's not to say that you cannot take a fantastic picture with a cellphone, because you can. But given the choice and having seen the results from every one of my family events tells me that the winners typically come from the camera with the bigger lens; Which isn't my cellphone.

For most people out there, a cellphone is good enough.

This is the problem with the camera industry, most people are totally unaware that there are plenty of options between a DSLR and a phone that will still blow a phone away. I'm not a snob by any means because I appreciate that having A picture is better than no picture, but I have yet to find myself wondering whether the photos my sister sends come from her DSLR or her M7, it's always obvious.

Thing is, you can get DSLR quality in much smaller packages, look at things like the Olympus E-M10 or better yet the Panasonic GM1, and if that's too fancy take a look at a $200 E-PM2 + a bright prime. It'll produce clear photos with no flash in situations where phone cameras are all noise, and it still fits in a purse.

I'm the man that troll a few posts up mentioned. The one who said all smartphone cameras suck compared to a real camera.

After trying it again, I know I was right. So many pictures only fit for social media, of things I'll never get to see again. Sure wish I had taken my $200 Pentax instead of $1200 worth of phones.

If it is for Twitter/Google+/random event photos, I will use my cell phone. If it is a photo that I know I will want to have printed, I will use my DSLR. Faster focus, interchangeable lenses(digital zoom on smartphones still looks bad IMHO), off camera flash(no bad LED 'flash' images), high resolution(300 DPI) and full control over the camera are why I still prefer carrying around extra gear if I am going to be taking photos.

I have actually used it before...in video it is more convenient than cropping with software later on. In photos is it pretty much worthless.

not quite. It's the one I always have with me of course, and it's fine for most purpose, but if I'm going somewhere that I want better photos I take along a Canon Ixus compact which is plenty adequate for the sort of photography I'd be up for.

With the quality these smartphone are producing it's great and saves carrying a compact along with you, and is so convenient.
It's obvious they won't ever replace your dslr (not meant for professional photography)
But as a means to capture that moment and for hobby photography they are very decent.

And is yes the only camera I use and can afford Tbh skint after purchasing the Z2 lol

Posted via Android Central App

I have not owned a point and shoot since I have owned Android phones...so since 2009.

I have occasionally used my sister's expensive DSLR. And it is awesome. But it is expensive, so she never takes it anywhere.

Unlike some though, as long as it is decent I don't care about it.

Posted via Android Central App

It is for me. My wife uses a nice dedicated camera (Panasonic LX3) 50% of the time. We don't use a SLR or anything fancy like that. A lot of time we take pictures indoors though and don't like the flash effect so we bought a nice point and shoot I guess you could call it that works really well in low light.

I've got a compact system camera I take with me on vacations and special events just in case I want to take something good. For basic quick shots that look decent phones are OK.

Huh.. Everyone that owns a nexus/One/moto keeps telling me it is not that important to have a good-great quality camera on a phone.

Imagine that

Posted via Android Central App

The Nexus 5 has the most underrated camera in the smartphone world. It is a lot better than reviewers would have you believe. Awesome lowlight and macro.

Yep, I haven't carried a camera ever since I got my Galaxy Nexus. Now I own a Moto X and I'm more than happy with the "mediocre" pics it takes.

I sometimes miss a quality camera, especially in dim indoor areas. But who carries big camera these days. I love my phone camera. I don't care if its 3MP (I have Moto X by the way). My point is that I'll still love even a 3 MP phone camera because I can carry it with me all the time and it will capture the image of the moment.

For me this is definitely the primary camera because I don't want to carry multiple ones since I'm not a photographer. I know my moto x gets a lot of flac it works for me

Posted via Android Central App

I use a dslr camera for my serious photography but any camera is better than having no camera. Regardless of the quality and megapixel count a creative photographer well name a shot work.

Posted via Android Central App

After I had a galaxy s2 I determined that camera was a big thing to me from there the note 2 m7 moto x after the update that is z1s then the g2 I love the g2s camera personally

Posted via Android Central App

I'm surprised no one asked which device took the better pictures :)
They both do pretty good.

The day they add optical zoom that doesn't add bulk to the phone and get a sensor that works well in low light I'd probably ditch using a regular camera, but I still use a regular camera for the good stuff when needed. That said I take far more pictures with my smartphones.

About 90% of the time our phones (S4) are our cameras. Every now and then my wife (5S) and I will take our Cannon SLR out with us, but that is becoming very rare. . .

If it is something I actually want to have a good picture and memory of 10 or 15 years from now, I bring out the APS-C camera. If it is something I won't care about in a month or two, the phone is fine.

My Nexus 5 can take fantastic pictures in many situations where there is adequate light. But that doesn't change that my NEX-5N paired with the 35mm prime lens takes better pictures 100% of the time.

Posted via Android Central App

It is since my Canon S100 lens won't retract after the battery died (apparently common issue for Canon P&S, so I won't buy any more).
I had to ditch M7 GPe for Nexus 5 solely for the camera. M7 takes nice shots, but not enough detail.
Currently eying Olympus XZ-2. Sounds like a great P&S for reasonable price. My requirements are a fast lens and larger sensor than average P&S; and preferably no more than $300.

When I know I'm going someplace that will be conducive for good pictures, I take my Canon point and shoot. For every day shots, its usually my Moto X.

This pole's reaults illustrate Samsung's dominance. Nobody does camera's better (on the whole)

Posted via Android Central App

Since owning the Note3 I use it now most of the time. I have a great Canon DSLR that I will bring for planned events and outings (daughter's school functions, etc.). We recently went to Disneyland, I used the DSLR but it was heavy and a pain in the ass on the rides. I forgot it on the last day and used just my Note3, it took absolutely phenomenal pics!
I would have never been able to do that with my previous phone, HTC M7. After the Disneyland experience I may just "forget" my DSLR more often.

pretty much this except for a note II... especially when going somewhere, a full camera is just too much to lug around these days.

yes, my phone is my "go to" camera for day to day pictures as I always have it with me. however I do have a DSLR that I use if I am planning a high quality photo shoot. but its rare for me to bother pulling that out without a good reason, even on vacations, my phone is good enough for my needs.

Went on a cruise recently, and there is no way I would be comfortable carrying a nice DSLR. Just too many people moving around, water all over the place (and the good ones are not light either). I'd be a wreck trying to keep it from getting damaged or stolen. At least my phone has gps and remote ring/wipe/lock...if my DSLR got stolen no way I could track it or disable it.

Went on a cruise for a honeymoon almost a couple of years ago. I only took my Droid Bionic, and my wife took her $400 waterproof point&shoot and my pictures came out much better than hers did! Not to mention some awesome panoramics everytime we left port!

Well I'm from the year 2076 and I'm using last year's model of my phone from '75. I'm kidding..or I'm not. So yes- my camera pix are pretty beyond awesome- so yes I use it for everything. Nothing is impossible. Nothing. Gen 11:6-7 GW
Posted via Ash William's Boomstick

Yeah I use my phone for quick in the moment type of stuff, but use my point and shoot for vacations and important functions.

Posted via Android Central App

Yes, my Nexus 5 is my full-time camera. But I can only achieve this feat with HDR+ on all the time. That mode takes great pictures. Auto and manual? Not so much.

My phone is my everyday camera but for special occasions I use a cannon point and shoot 12 MP camera.

Posted via Android Central App

My camera skills are not amazing but I like to capture my moments in my life that are important with as little distraction to everyone else. I take a lot of pictures and it is always great when the girlfriend flicks through my pictures and asks me when I took those and that she never knew I took them. Next thing I know she is uploading them to our print center and putting them in some scrapbook.

Posted via Android Central App

Recently, I printed photos taken with my old Motorola Razr flip, and I think the pictures look great.

Posted via AC App on HTC One

Alot of pictures I took with my galaxy s4 are out of focus, while my iphone 5 always got great shots. Well be getting oneplus one soon, also ordering a lumia 1020 on ebay to use as my camera.

Posted via Android Central App

When I'm just out and about, yes. But if I go on a vacation, or some event, such as a concert, or fair, etc, I'll bring a point and shoot, or the wife will bring her DSLR. You get much better pictures using a dedicated camera.

I use it to snap quick photos,selfies, and short videos on vacation; Google stories and auto awesome for videos its really good and convenient. But, when it comes to something I want to print out and frame, or put up for a contest I usually fall back to my DSLR

I guess it would really matter what phone you have. If I had a phone with a crappy camera then no I wouldn't use my phone for pics. I have the Xperia Z1S and it takes amazing pics... haven't touched a dedicated camera since. I just always have my phone on me in my pocket which is way more convenient than carrying another device.

I voted yes. I used to want something like a Canon S120 but not anymore. At this point, cameras on phones are so good, more convenient to carry, and pics and videos can be shared immediately.

No, I have a Sony RX100 for pocket use and have 2 DSLRs for anything more advanced. I only really use the phone camera for snapchat and whatsapp.

Yes, but I use my point-and-shoot during vacations. And I have lots of recent photos taken by professional photographers (weddings, grad/senior pictures, and other special occasions).

Posted via AC App on HTC One

I went to Alaska last summer, armed only with my old S3. Most of the pictures turned out great. Didn't regret not bringing my old point and shoot. In fact my only regret now is that I didn't have my g2 at that time.

I'm not into picture-taking that much, so my phone's camera is sufficient for my desires. The first camera that I bought (outside of disposables) was the iPhone 4.

I use my S4 as my everyday camera, but I'd love to see Samsung update the firmware so that I can get access to my camera from my pin locked screen. Come on guess, make it happen. I know there's the security, but can't you make it that I can take a picture from my pin locked screen, but not have access to the photo gallery from said screen? INNOVATION! It already exist in the nexus, so bring it to the Galaxy

"Full time camera". Hummm. For snapshots, yes, since I always have my phone with me. Great for taking quick photos, posting to Facebook. For other stuff, like photographing animals, special events, landscapes, I still use my Nikon. Lenses make all the difference. If you're 500 feet from a small animal, I need my 400mm lens. Smart phone won't cut it. At the same time, I don't lug the SLR around all the time, so for those impromptu shots, the phone is perfect. Both SLRs and camera phones have their advantages.

Do I, as a casual user need DSLR results? No, which is why peple still hire professional photographers at events that still matter, like weddings. I agree, no amount of filters from a phone app can compensate for quality photography taken by a DSLR and editedit with desktop software, but for most of us, our smartphones are good enough.

Posted via Android Central App