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Should you buy a camera or just use your phone?

Do you remember as a kid, being told in maths class to learn your sums because you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket? How wrong those teachers were! Along with a calculator, with a phone we carry access to a host of human knowledge along with some of the best cameras on the market. 

Joanne Rushton
· 5 min read

Do you remember as a kid, being told in maths class to learn your sums because you won’t always have a calculator in your pocket? How wrong those teachers were! Along with a calculator, with a phone we carry access to a host of human knowledge along with some of the best cameras on the market. 

Is the camera on your phone really enough for you? That’s going the be the decider when it comes to whether you go out and buy a camera as well. 

There’s no hard and fast answer to this question, but there are lots of things to consider when choosing to stick with your phone or splash out a standalone camera as well. With that, let’s look at:

  • The best smartphone and cameras available
  • Why you’d want to stick with your smartphone
  • Reasons to buy a brand-new camera

What are the best options for smartphones and regular cameras?

Before you decide whether to stick with a phone or get a new camera, it’s worth knowing what options you have for both. We’ll look at some of the best cameras on phones and at some DSLR camera options to check out, too. 

Best smartphone cameras

It seemed like everyone raved about the camera on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. You get three back lenses, all with 12 megapixels. One is a wide-angle camera – the normal one you’d use, while you also get an ultrawide lens which works great for landscapes, and a telephoto lens for close-ups. 

It comes in at around £1,300, so it's a good chunk of smartphone, but worth it if you'll take advantage of the camera and other features. 

For a cheaper choice, look at the OnePlus 7 Pro. Full disclosure – I had this phone for a year and was in love with it. The images were sharp, and it dealt with a whole range of landscape and portraits amazingly. A friend now has my old handset and raves about the photo quality. 

It's priced at around £650, which is excellent value for the specs that you get. OnePlus have recently launched the OnePlus 8, but the 7 Pro is the one I know and loved. 

For the impressive numbers, the Samsung S20 Ultra is top of the game. This is what I replaced the OnePlus with, and I'm still getting used to all the cool camera features. The main lens is an impressive 108 MP, the ultra-wide is 48 MP, and the telephoto is 12 MP. For £1,200, make sure you'll use the rest of the features before you invest! 

Best DSLR cameras

You can spend as little or as much as you like on a DSLR or digital camera with changeable lenses. For a beginner, the Nikon D3500 represents terrific value at around £270. It has a 24 MP lens, a touchscreen for adjusting on the camera, and external controls. 

Moving up the price range, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II has a 26 MP lens and an excellent shutter speed for pursuits like nature photography. Although it's advanced, there are still great tap to shoot options including a joystick to manoeuvre as you shoot. For around £1,300, it’s the same price as a top-end phone. 

For around the same price, the Nikon D850 has 45.7 MP, records video in 4K, and captures seven frames per second so you shouldn't have a problem shooting sports or fast-paced moments. 

Why should I stick with my smartphone?

As you can see, smartphones with good cameras can be pricey. The most significant consideration is: how much will you use it? If you find yourself reaching for your phone’s camera at every meal or visit from the grandkids, having something that’s top quality is useful. 

Some of the other reasons you’d want to keep using your phone include:

  • They're great for impromptu moments – it lives in your pocket, so when you see a perfect sunset or your baby niece takes her first steps, you'll always be able to capture it.
  • Family days out can be recorded with ease since your phone will be with you anyway; you don’t need one more item to remember to take home from the park.
  • Editing apps on your phone make adjustments super easy. You can make collages, add text, and even create a slideshow all on the same handset.
  • Uploading your photos on to social media is super easy since your phone is already online. Upload, tag, and wait for your friends and family to react within seconds.

What are the reasons to invest in a DSLR camera?

Even though the pros will still use a phone's camera, they always go for a proper camera to take the best shots. Particularly if you're really interested in photography for a purpose, such as nature or landscapes, having a professional standard camera is ideal. 

Here are a few other reasons you’d want to consider getting a new camera:

  • The level of control you get on a DSLR is excellent – shutter speed, focus, and lighting conditions can all be worked on in lots of detail.
  • They're great when you're intentionally out to take photos, such as going on a boat trip to photograph birds or a school sports event – you're there to take pictures so want great kit
  • The storage is pretty endless, depending on the number of memory cards you buy, so you’re not clogging up your phone or cloud storage.
  • You can add new lenses as you learn about different types of photography.

Should you buy a camera or just use your phone?

There are some genuinely great cameras on phones at the moment – it's an area where the phone makers really compete against each other. Your phone's always somewhere at hand, and it has the immediacy of quick uploads and sharing on social media. 

On the flip side, a standalone camera will have more options to control your photos. You can upgrade it easily, and your photos will likely be higher quality. 

As long as you weigh up what you’ll be using either device for, it’s in your hands. 

Joanne Rushton

Joanne Rushton

After working at the Co-operative Bank for five years, Joanne left to discover the world before returning to work helping customers understand their finances and get the most out of the banking. A career shift came after two more years, and she found herself working as a teacher in Hanoi, Vietnam before turning to her childhood of passion for writing.