Is it worth getting in photography as a hobby with cell phone camera tech advancements?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Eggtastic, May 21, 2017.

  1. Eggtastic macrumors 6502a

    Eggtastic

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    NJ
    #1
    First, I know even an entry level DSLR and a mirrorless are still better than the iPhone 7+ dual camera set up.

    Now, I use my moms D3100 (came out in 2010) to take family photos and what not. I use the 18/50 lens that came with it. 7 years later, I am looking to maybe get into the field of photography as a hobby. I was thinking the D5600 or maybe a Sony A6300 mirrorless. I love being outdoors so nature shots coupled with some shots of the dogs / family will be the primary usage.

    I don't want to invest all this money into a hobby when it is becoming clear that cellphone camera tech is advancing with each release. I still use the 6+ and the camera is just okay obviously. I saw some photos taken with the 7+ and was amazed at the quality. Plus now companies are selling lenses to attach to the iphone to get even better shots.

    From a professional standpoint, I know cellphones won't compete. Being this is going to be a hobby, I was wondering if its worth it to invest the money (a question I obviously have to ask myself instead of asking you all).

    tl;dr: Is it worth getting an entry level DSLR as a hobby when cellphone camera tech is advancing with each new release?

    Bonus question: Anyone with a DSLR / mirrorless that bought one to also start out as a hobby continue to use it over their phone cameras and do you still find it a fulfilling hobby in which you are always taking it with you on travels and investing in new lenses?
     
  2. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #2
    Your moms camera s far better than any cellphone cam. The iPhone cameras of today,is in picture quality and usefulness more similar to the old analog "instamatic" cameras of the 1970s,ok photo quality,but not more.
     
  3. anotherscotsman macrumors 65816

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    #3
    I'm purely a hobbyist photographer and this is only my personal view...It's a bit of a cliche but photography is more than just the equipment: the equipment is simply a tool to let you achieve what you want or to achieve it more conveniently. If you can achieve what you want with a cameraphone or a compact camera or whatever then go with it. If you need more from a 'technical' quality point of view (e.g. large prints or extremes of capture scenarios) then you need to judge what you need to do what you are after. Like any hobby though, there is usually Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) that you'll see a lot in this forum and elsewhere. Nothing wrong with GAS - if the process of researching/buying/acquiring/using new stuff gives you pleasure then that's surely part of the hobby experience. I'll leave the symptoms of GAS for others here to comment on!

    The problem with all technology is that it becomes obsolete - some faster than others. One way to look at it is if you spent the money on kit now that does what you want for three or four years, what is the actual cost to you per year (taking into account you may be able to sell the kit at the end of your useful life for it)? Is this cost worth it to you or would you rather wait for the cameraphone to reach the technical standard you want? Could say the same about the cameraphone you have now - upgrade now or wait another couple of years until the better model comes out.

    Good luck with your choice but remember a hobby is about enjoyment.
     
  4. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

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    #4
    If you find your iPhone photos are well enough, you should stick with it. I blend a mix of using my mirrorless and my iPhone depending on the situation. iPhone for day-to-day and my camera always for travel. And there is also the joy of setting up your shot with a camera.
     
  5. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #5
    I love photography and I'm strictly a hobbiest.

    Today as I drove up my driveway I saw a juxtaposition of a red maple and lilac bush with the colors that I had to take a picture of. I got out my iphone 6s and tried to see what I could no. No joy. So I went in the house got my dslr and 100mmL lens and took the photos I wanted.

    While the aphorism is true about it's not what's in front of the lens it's in back of the lens that matter, most people don't build a house with a hammer, saw and nails.

    The equipment matters as well.

    So my advise is to get an inexpensive or refurbished dslr and lens from canon or nikon and give it a go.

    Cell phones become obsolete, dslr bodies do also, but glass seemingly lasts almost forever.

    Cell phones get better, and for many people is good enough, but a serious hobbiest, imo, will want more.
     
  6. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #6
    Just a hobbiest here. I'd say my iPhone 7+ is just for snaps. My DSLR is for pictures.

    I'd recommend buying a second hand better quality DSLR than an entry one.
    Something like a D7200 or the like would be better.
     
  7. mollyc macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 18, 2016
    #7
    Also just a hobbyist and I vastly prefer my dslr photos over my phone photos. My phone is great for quick snaps of stuff but I rarely get a phone photo that makes my heart sing. Not never, but not often, and then they are never the same level of quality and I end up wondering what it would have looked like if I'd used a proper camera.

    I'm 9 years into this and still taking gear on vacations collecting lenses. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #8
    I'd say your macro is your favourite! It probably is mine.
     
  9. mollyc macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 18, 2016
    #9
    Haha! I probably haven't used that lens in a year or more except I'm doing a specific Instagram challenge this month. :) I actually prefer wide angle for most of my images.
     
  10. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

    Apple fanboy

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    #10
    If I had to rate mine it would be
    105 macro
    200-500
    14-24
    24-70
    70-200
    70-300
    10.5 fisheye

    But it's very much horses for courses.
     
  11. Turnpike macrumors 6502

    Turnpike

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    #11
    Your greatest investment in a serious hobby is going to be your time. If you enjoy researching the settings on a camera, and are really learn how to make the most of them, you're going to enjoy a DSLR. If you enjoy composition and the subject rather than the technical aspects, then cell phones are the most convenient and compact. Decide which part of the hobby is the part that you're most interested and then go from there.
     
  12. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

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    #12


    After taking photos for seven years it seems that photography is already something of a hobby. What gear you use, and where you want to go with it depends on your interests, objectives, time, and budget. In the end great photos depend less on the gear you use, than how you use it. All gear has its limitations. Knowing what you want to achieve and wiring within the limitations of what you have, and what you can afford. I know people with DSLRs that they seldom use because they cannot be bothered with lugging them around, and taking time to learn to use them well.

    It is indeed possible to get some wonderful results with a smartphone, and as you note, there are now lenses (and software) available to get better shots. For many hobbyists and even a little pro use, a smartphone is fine, within it's limitations and the conditions. The small sensor means it does not need large lenses, and the snaps have great depth of field.

    Still, I don't have one, and am unlikely to ever get one. I like to be off-line when I leave my desk. Besides, they would be too limiting for what I do as a hobby photographer.

    I first got into photograph back in the days of film, using a rangefinder camera. My first camera was completely manual, and did not have a light sensor or anything. I used a light meter and set the camera according to the conditions. As a result I developed some understanding of film speed, f stops and shutter speed. Framing was somewhat instinctive, but I did learn to have some idea of what I wanted, and not just snap away at whatever looked cute.

    Living a somewhat itinerant life for many years, I gave up on photography for quite a while. Then I came across a dropable, dunkable Olympus TG 310 on sale as a clearance item for about $US100, so I picked one up and that was my first foray into digital photography. I learned what it could do, and used it to its limits, including in the rain, and under water. I still carry it with me from time to time. Here are some photos I have taken with it:

    P5090003.jpg PB170015.jpg PB170016.jpg PB170025.jpg PC060003.jpg

    PC050015.jpg

    I also took some photos of sport and musicians, some of which worked OK, but it was fairly hit and miss. Still some people liked the ones that worked, and they wanted more to use on various websites. Shutter lag was the greatest limitation, but I also wanted better quality images, a proper viewfinder, and greater manual adjustment and quicker focusing. However, as a university teacher in a developing country, my income is quite limited. I looked around and landed up springing over two weeks pay on a Fujifilm X20. While it does have its limitations, I get some quite pleasing shots. People ask me to bring my camera to various events and my photos are used on various websites, as well as in the local press.
    Grumps bass.jpg Harola.jpg DSCF8910.jpg Catch.jpg

    I could certainly make good use of a better camera now, but can do without the bulk of DSLR (I get around on a bicycle or small motorcycle). I like the size and form of a rangefinder style camera, and something like a Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with a 50 - 140 mm zoom, and maybe a 35 or 50 mm prime lens would be nice to have, but springing 6 to 8 months pay is a bit beyond my means…… If I was a professional, it would be an investment, but as a hobbyist of limited means, it is an unjustifiable expense.

    The long and the short of it is, sort out what you want to do and where you want to go with photography, what your budget is. It may be that a smart phone is all you really need, or maybe you could make good use of something a bit more specialised. The essence of a good photograph remains anticipating, knowing what you want to photograph and why, using what you have / can afford within its limitations.
     
  13. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    Brooklyn
    #13
    If you truly want to appreciate photography as a hobby I would recommend getting a film camera and try your hand at developing and printing in traditional silver based black and white. Many introductory photography courses use the simple device of constructing a pinhole camera to impart the basic principals of optics and chemistry ( we used Quaker Oats boxes in my class) so you don't even need a proper camera to get started. All you need is some light sensitive film or paper and some developer/fixer. Once you do you will have a better appreciation of the realm of possibilities and all the creative means by which images can be made.
     
  14. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 8, 2014
    #14
    80+% of the quality of a shot is the person behind the camera. That portion has nothing to do with equipment. Advantages the iPhone has is its with you far more often than a "proper" camera. Disadvantages, low light, lens quality.

    I find myself using my SE more and more in spite of the fact I have an easy $10k of Fuji bodies and lenses. The phone is always with me, I understand its limitations and accept a bit of post processing will likely be required.

    I'm fairly demanding in what I consider keepers. In 57 years of photography I have about 300 really good shots. There is absolutely zero correlation between equipment quality and what's in there. Composition and capturing the moment reign in my world and equipment has little to no impact there unless I'm night shooting.

    I'd get to know your phone's camera better and skip any investment.
     
  15. sarge macrumors 6502a

    sarge

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    #15
    I would agree w/all of this. It really is about comprehending how broadly photography can be defined and that the fun of it has to do with how you expand and apply your own definition of the medium.
     
  16. mollyc, May 22, 2017
    Last edited: May 22, 2017

    mollyc macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    I agree a lot of it is vision and not gear, but gear makes a ton of difference. Anyone who says differently is not being honest. There is no way I can take a portrait of my daughter on my phone (a 6s+) that will look remotely close to a photo a I take of her with my 70-200 mm lens set at 200mm and f/2.8 on a full frame camera. Can I take an "acceptable" photo of her on my phone? Sure! But it's not going to look like a portrait lens image. Yes, of course it's the photographer and their vision that "makes" an image, but there are countless types of images that cannot be taken adequately with a phone.

    The trick of course, is to knowing what your personal vision is, and what gear you need to achieve that vision. It is quite true that for many photographers that their phone can capture their vision. But for me, my phone very often falls short in its ability to capture what I see in my head.
     
  17. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    Jan 6, 2015
    #17
    Every tool has its purpose. You can not judge which tool would be best for a purpose without knowing what the purpose is. The first thing I would do is read the History of Photography by Beaumont Newhall. Used copies are inexpensive... I would work towards an understanding of what you would like to do in Photography. As a photographer for more than 50 years, I can tell you that the possibilities are quite a bit more than you are currently imagining. This book, and plenty of others, can show you the depth that is possible, way beyond the superficial of what passes for photography these days. Once you get a direction of where you want to go, then the camera to choose will become more evident.
     
  18. dwig macrumors 6502

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    Key West FL
    #18
    Cellphone tech is NOT advancing in any significant way that is related to photography as a hobby. The advancements do make cellphones better and better choices for the family documentarian, but true hobbyists want/need attributes not present in phones and are, for the most part, not possible with phones regardless of advancements.
     
  19. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #19
    You can't say they aren't great for what they are, and if you want to do what they are good at, there's nothing wrong with them. People do all sorts of things to do photography, from making their own cameras, their own film, their own digital devices, using the sun to make prints, all the way to the most technological. All of these have their benefits and drawbacks. One could suggest that a serious photographer has to use a large format camera, like a 4x5 or 8x10. That is great for some, but useless for the street photographer, or most documentary images.

    Further, gadgets, filters and lenses do NOT a good manage make. A good image is made when someone actually understands something in their world and passes it along. Anyone can do a sunset, or any "pretty" picture, like the kind Apple is promoting. It's at the most polite, superficial, milk toast. (I'm trying to stay away from the word garbage, but now I see that I can't.) These images do not compare to a portrait done by Walker Evans, Lewis Hine or Julia Margaret Cameron; or a landscape by Carleton Watkins, or Paul Caponigro, just to name a few.

    Finally, there was a fellow named Jacques Henri Lartigue who made some very interesting images when he was quite young, and early on in the History of Photography. He is considered by many to be the last "un-influenced" photographer. He hadn't seen millions of images like we all have, and he came to the world with fresh eyes. He would have done fine with an iPhone camera. The images weren't gimmicky at all; they were all about a first look from his own perspective. They didn't rely on any technological advance other than a little box camera.
     
  20. dwig macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Right, and the people that do understand their world and convey it in their images are "artists". "Hobbyists" are not necessarily "artists", though they can be as well. "Hobbyists" are primarily centered on the craft of photography, both gear and technique. Cellphones don't lend themselves well to pursuing photography as a true "hobby".
     
  21. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #21
    I am sure this is how you see it for yourself - and there's nothing wrong with your viewpoint. I see hobbyists simply as artists who aren't able to do it full time. I've known hobbyists to work on any aspect of the "art" whether it be technical, aesthetic, the emotional aspects, or just having a good time looking a little closer at things when they are outdoors.

    I don't want to put words in your mouth but you seem to indicate that the hobbyist should buy a dslr. If your goal is technical excellence, these are quite far down on the scale. To do the best quality work, one should have a film camera, at least medium format, preferably 4x5 or larger, and access to a drum scanner. Technology is always a matter of where one draws the line. Everyone gets to choose where that line is for themselves.
     
  22. dwig macrumors 6502

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    #22
    this is a totally false assumption in two ways:

    1. It is not what I said or what I meant.
    2. "dslr" is not a single thing, there are a range of formats used by the plethora of DSLRs on the market, some which can deliver significantly higher image quality, at least from a technical standpoint, than the best drum scanned 4x5 film.
    The only reasons to consider shooting film are:
    1. For specific artistic qualities of B&W silver based film, if and only if you also print to conventional wet process papers.
    2. As a learning experience allowing you to avoid any "crutch" from the digital processing inherent in shooting digital.
    3. The joy of fiddling with the equipment and process.
     
  23. lennyeiger macrumors member

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    #23
    That's why I said I didn't mean to put words in your mouth.. sorry about that..

    I'm not here to encourage anyone to shoot film. My only real point was that someone should consider what they want to do with photography before they judge a camera's worthiness for the purpose.

    I happen to be a professional scanner operator, I run an AzteK Premier drum scanner, an 8000 ppi marvel, one of the best scanners ever made. I am the first person to have ever made negatives for contact printing with a scanner, back in 1980. I have a Masters in Photography from Pratt, and taught for over a decade at schools like Cooper Union, Parsons, and a few others. My abilities in darkroom printing (and platinum) led me to print for Avedon. My work has been in galleries and museums. I have been a technologist, and a custom printer for many years. I got seriously into digital starting in about 2002. I chased after making digital prints that were as good as a platinum print, a quest in which I believe I ultimately succeeded. I use Cone inks these days, he's an old friend, but I have also mixed my own from scratch. I'm not some lightweight who doesn't know what he's talking about.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there. Articles at LULU on the subject are incompetent. I'm one of the people who has done both, and taken the time to get to the highest level that both are capable of. I can say that they are getting there, but there isn't a digital camera yet that can match a 4x5, despite the manufacturer's claims. If you can't print that well, in either of the systems, then your test can't a real test.

    Of course, it depends on what you want to do, what size prints you want to make and how well you have trained your eyes. Line pairs don't tell the story - at all. Take look at an original print by Frederick Evans sometime, or Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, and tell me if your digital camera can match it - it won't even be close. That said, if you want to print dark and/or contrasty, it really doesn't matter what camera you use.

    I've decided I don't want to print large anymore, so I might pick up something with a medium format digital back. Maybe that new Fuji. I won't be shooting the smaller cameras as I don't like the 35mm form factor. That's just a personal choice...
     
  24. Unami macrumors 6502a

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    Austria
    #24
    sure it's worth it, it will still be quite a while until cellphone-cameras will be able to replace dedicated large-chip cameras via computational photography (and who knows what dedicated cameras will be able to do by then).

    on the other hand, cellphone cameras are already quite good, good enough for use as a hobby cameras. not every kind of photography needs the 14-stops-of-dr-shallow-depth-of-field-expensive-lenses-dslr-look. e.g. in video the so-shallow-the-nose-is-already-blurred-look is often a dead giveaway that it's an ambitious amateur trying to create a "filmic" look (but dslrs are kind of the cellphones of video...). compression and low light can be a problem on cellphone cams, an you'll only have one focal length (except on the 7+). but these limitations can also lead to a more creative approach.

    i got a mirrorless camera (gh4) mainly as a b-cam for filming, but i also take it around for holiday snapshots and pictures of my kid. it's still far superior to a cellphone camera, so i lug it around on hiking trips, etc... it's fulfilling in a technical sense as you can do much more with it than with the iphone (e.g. experiment with different focal lengths, shutter speeds, long exposure), but i also sometimes find myself taking it rarely out of my bag, and i wished it was much smaller and lighter to carry around.
     
  25. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

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    #25
    My suggestion is to keep using your mom's D3100 AND shoot with a smartphone camera as well. Each has different strengths and weaknesses. The best way to improve your photography is to shoot photos, and to constantly view your world with photography in mind. It's unlikely you'd carry a DSLR/mirrorless with you at all times, but you will almost undoubtedly have your smartphone. You can also learn a lot by using several cameras with different capabilities.

    Sure, the technical quality of the smartphone camera can't match that of a good DSLR/mirrorless, but it's not just about technical quality, it's also about learning to get the best quality you can from the tools you have. A camera with "limitations" can be a great teacher, both to learn to recognize the flaws, and to learn ways to minimize them. And there are things some smartphone cameras can do easily that "better" cameras can't.

    Rather than invest in an all-new camera, consider getting a good used lens or two for that D3100. If later you want to get a better DSLR or mirrorless, you can bring your lenses along for the ride. As to the smartphone - don't consider it part of your photography budget. It does so many other things that you're likely to find useful that the camera can be considered a free bonus.

    Answer to bonus question: I started in photography over 50 years ago, so old habits are hard to break. I don't think I'll ever stop using a high quality camera with interchangeable lenses, but I also love having my iPhone's camera. They, along with my lenses, tripods, remote shutter release, etc are part of my photographic toolkit, and I'll use both iPhone and mirrorless on the same shoot. I tend to see the world (and relate to my companions) differently when I'm carrying my "good" camera - photography takes the forefront. I'll intentionally leave the good camera behind if I want to focus my attention more on human interaction.
     

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