How does the Pixel 3 camera compare to a DSLR?

At this point in time, it's no secret that the Google Pixel 3 has one of the best (if not the very best) smartphone camera we've ever seen. It captures ridiculously good photos and is definitely one of the main reasons you should consider buying the phone.

However, how does it stack up to something like a DSLR? This is a comparison a lot of people have been making, and as you might expect, this is a conversation we've been seeing a lot of in the Android Central forums.

Here's what some of our community members have to say on the matter.

Spec by spec, a smartphone will never be able to match a dedicated camera of the same year (lets face it, my V20 often does better than my 10 year old micro 4/3 DSLR in many ways, but it's not a fair comparison). It's one thing to introduce a technology into a dedicated piece of hardware, but quite another to miniaturize it to fit into a smartphone. The differences that make smartphones seem so...


I say the best camera is the one ya got with ya!:cool:


I mean don't get me wrong....would love to carry my compact DSLR to places like Disney. When you're out and about it's just a pain in the neck to wear it or to whip it out of a bag. My DSLR is pocketable but can't wear a jacket to those types of places that are hot.

Mike Dee

"Overall I'm really happy with the Pixel, it's just obvious that in certain situations the phone can't keep up." Of course. And, overall I'm really happy with my DSLR but there are a lot of times my Pixel is with me and my DSLR, gadget bad of lenses and stuff, tripod, and reflector just aren't with me. I think this is like comparing avocados and prime rib. Both are foods.


What do you think? How does the Pixel 3 camera compare to a DSLR?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • A good point of this argument is this. Is a DSLR needed to take a great photo? Short answer, no it is not.
  • True, but the quotation is about how the two compare, not whether most people need a DSLR. Most people don't need one. Although you'd think they do from how they bang on about camera quality on here.
  • Weirdly, I expected an article titled "how does the pixel 3 camera compare to a DSLR?" To actually inform me about how they compare... Silly of me, I know. Click baiting aside, while I'm not a camera person, a basic knowledge of physics would suggest that the comparison will, and always will, go heavily in favour of the DSLR. What's more, a modern point and shoot should also easily outperform a pixel 3. The software Google wrote looks excellent, but software only goes so far against a sensor that's four or eight times larger and an optical system that actually has physical room to focus. I assume. All that said the pixel is probably a better camera choice for most people given they could actually use it... A DSLR would probably just confuse most folk.
  • A DSLR will outperform the pixel 3 no question. Specifically after color correcting in post. Frankly most unprocessed raw files from a DSLR look bar compared to smartphone output because it hasn't been processed to be pleasing to the eye like the smartphone. Where I will disagree with you is point and shoot. Most point and shoot cameras are either equal to a pixel 3 or worse. Thus the woe that specific vertical has had in the last 5 years. Simply put, the small sensors and mediocre glass on most point and shoot cameras makes them on even footing or worse when compared to a camera phone with computational photography prowess behind it, such as the pixel 3 or smart HDR from the iPhone X's and xr
  • Click bait... This stupid site is part of it all. F this site, and while we're at it... FREE PETER PAN!! "Click here to find out if Kim Kardashian blocked Kanye because of the latest family saga." - it's really just photos of Kim Kardashian holding a toy poodle. Take that internet!
  • Same here. I was looking for comparison pics actually.
  • I am sure specs wise they don't even compare. But for the average person any flagship smartphone will do just fine.
  • I'd guess that most DSLRs beat the Pixel camera easily. The consensus is Pixels offer the best smartphone camera and produce the best images vs. other OEMs, though, right?
  • Nope. That is full on debatable.
  • I'm with NLM. If you're talking about straight out of the box, I'd much rather have my V20 and its manual controls over most anything else now. I can do things on it that would be impossible on the Pixel (see my light painting samples in the forum discussions) without having to find a suitable third party app to do it. But what's best for one person doesn't mean it's the best for others, or even best all around.
  • Yeah, I would agree with all that. Features are what stand out, and I'd rather have the ability to do special things with shots. There are a couple of phones that have better hardware than the Pixel, and AC themselves said the U12 could go toe to toe with it. The AI is the Pixel's main advantage, but I don't like what it does at times, and it sometimes makes things worse because the shot no longer looks like what you saw.
  • It's really an grape to watermelon comparision. My pixel 2 xl actually stands up well against my Fuji xe-1 at base iso. Why have the Fuji then? Because I can put my 14mm on it and do astrophotography. Something the pixel cannot do... Or I can put my 90mm F2 on and take portraits that would blow the pixel away. How does the pixel 3 compare to a point and shoot from 2018 with a 1/2.3" sensor?
    It's going to match or exceed it. Why have a point and shoot? Because you get a 24-720mm optical zoom in a pocketable camera.
  • The pixel cameras with Google's HDR+ are very good but the actual capabilities of the hardware is not even the same ballpark as a modern high end DSLR/mirrorless camera. Even just looking at on paper specs, my a7rIII gives me 14.7 stops of dynamic range in a single exposure according to dxo mark which is way better than you'll get on a pixel 3. Even still, you don't get the flexibility of all the different lenses and just general image quality when pixel peeping on a phone or natural bokeh. For Facebook sharing or the gram where you're never gonna see a photo at more than like 2mp, sure a phone is all you need. I'm still keeping my a7rIII for my dog pics.
  • In what alternate universe does a smartphone camera even come close to a DSLR?
  • You need to watch this
  • While yeah sure, taken at face value this shows impressive results from a phone but phones do a bunch of tricks and processing to get this result and it doesn't always work in every situation. The whole problem with the "phones are as good as a DSLR/mirror less" argument is that it assumes you really only need a 2mp picture for instagram and need zero ability to change focal length, real depth of field, or just better photos.
  • The overwhelming point of the discussion in the forums is not that the Pixel is equal to a DSLR. It never will be, but the results are good enough to take decent photos when it's not convenient to lug one around. Also as you all have heard the best camera is the one you have with you. If you don't mind the neck discomfort or extra baggage be my guest and take it with you. Bring the tripod and prime lenses
  • The Pixel takes great photos, but a properly edited photo from a DSLR is going to beat the Pixel. Google does the processing on their end, so it shows that in order to take a great photo, the image needs to be processed. But it's probably the best camera results you can easily fit in your pocket. It's a burden to carry around a DSLR and lenses, batteries, etc.
  • Click-baity title.
    Photography, loosely translated from its Latin (?) roots, = 'etching with light'
    Whose gonna give you more light? The 2" of glass or the sub-half inch' portable cutesy opening?
    Who's gonna do you better? The dedicated purpose device or the key feature on a multi-functional device?
    Truth is, a dedicated camera requires you to bring some photography skin to the game.
    A better title would have been, 'Do you prefer to learn to use a camera or let software carry you to greatness?'
  • For vacations and stuff, I don't bother with bringing my Nikon anymore. Yes, DSLR optics and sensor will always be better, but what it won't have is the processing power, image stacking, or AI of a smartphone. For now.
  • To be honest, I was expecting there to be some sort of comparison with photos... because of the title?