Comparison of photos taken with a cell phone and a DSLR

      The photo on the left was taken with an iPhone 4s.
      The photo on the right was taken with a Canon 5DII and an 85mm f1.8 lens.
      There is a difference.

      Sure, lots of people say that it’s not the camera that matters, but the person behind the camera. That’s true, to a point. But the same person (me) took the two photos above, in the same conditions, with the same amount of talent. The DSLR just had the sensor clarity, lens sharpness, aperture, and shutter responsiveness required to make the picture vastly better.

      If you are taking all your family photos with your cell phone, please consider investing in a good camera. Current phone camera technology is way behind the rest of the camera industry. The quality is just not close to what you’d get with other cameras. Even a $100 point-and-shoot camera is a huge improvement over your $300 camera phone. The lens in a point-and-shoot is sharper and the sensor are clearer than anything you’ll find in a 2012 cell phone.

      If you can afford a DSLR with a fast lens, that is even better. You can look into used cameras to save money. Look into cameras from 2009 or 2010 if you’re interested in used gear. A consumer DSLR, such as the Canon Rebel, is a great choice for amateurs. Be sure to choose quality lenses, because the quality of an image is highly dependent on the quality of the lens. For the sake of this demonstration, I used a 2009 camera body and a $350 lens. You don’t have to choose the most expensive gear on the market for great photos.

      Here are a few of the reasons why this DSLR picture is better than the cell phone picture:

      1. Clarity
      The phone picture is fuzzy and dull. The DSLR picture is crisp, clear, and vibrant, due to its superior sensor and lens.

      2. Motion blur
      The phone didn’t stop the blur of his hands. The DSLR’s high ISO and fast lens enabled me to use a fast enough shutter speed.

      3. Shutter lag
      The phone doesn’t respond instantly when I push the button, so I couldn’t catch his eyes open. The DSLR responds immediately.

      Your kids deserve great photos of their childhoods. When they are all grown up, they’ll look back at 2012 phone camera technology and think how primitive it was. Because it is. But the rest of our digital camera technology is excellent, and I urge you to use it. Give your family photos that they will still love 50 years in the future.

      Pull out your good camera for special occasions. If you can’t afford a good camera, hire a professional. Ideally, hire a professional once a year, even if you do have a nice camera. If you can’t afford to hire someone, borrow a friend’s camera once in a while. Just don’t rely entirely on your phone.

      It’s important for me to mention that no matter what camera you buy, the quality of your photos will depend on your understanding of the equipment. Read the manual, take classes, learn what you’re doing. Or hire a professional. Because your kids are worth it.


      This may be on the technical side, but another point is that a cell phone with its tiny sensor can never produce a shallow depth of field – ever. The focus length of the lens will always be to short.

      So you can never capture a portrait with the child isolated like you would with even a cheap DSLR and fast prime lens… Everything you take will look like a bad snap shot no matter how well composed and lighted because everything in the frame will be in sharp focus… Fine (expected) for landscapes, but not generally for pictures of a person…

      PERFECTLY put, Charlotte! 🙂

      I’m glad you agree, Amanda!

      Charlotte Geary


      Lifestyle, event, and portrait photographer with a vibrant, joyful style and 17 years of professional experience.

      Located in Reston, Virginia near Washington, D.C. and available for travel.