Why most people swear by DSLRs? You can buy lens for any kind of photography
Why most people swear by DSLRs? You can buy lens for any kind of photography

Techilicious by Rajiv Makhni: The battle of the camera phone Vs DSLR continues: Part 2

Cameras still have the size advantage, but don’t underestimate smartphone tech
Hindustan Times | By Rajiv Makhni
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2019 10:28 PM IST

Brutal. That was the reaction to Part I of this column. The DSLR fans and the hobbyist photographers had a field day flaming me for even having the audacity to compare the two. I think that whole attitude in itself is the problem. This battle isn’t just about one aspect. It’s not about the hardware and specs and sensors and pixels. It’s about the entire everyday photography universe for users. Thus, I’m going to stick to my guns and plough on. I shall go deep into each aspect, compare the two and showcase examples of exceptional camera phones that are changing the landscape. Onwards and upwards with this battle.


There is no way for a camera phone to match the high-resolution full-frame sensors on DSLR
There is no way for a camera phone to match the high-resolution full-frame sensors on DSLR

The size of the sensor is of paramount importance. There is no way for a camera phone to match the high-resolution full-frame sensors on DSLRs. It just doesn’t have the form factor to be able to fit one in. But new sensors like the Sony IMX586 and others are doing a great job in trying to come as close to that as possible.

The winner: DSLR wins but it’s not as wide a gap as most DSLR fans seem to think.


The all-important factor. A picture is nothing but a collection of pixels that all come together to form the image. And the quality of pixel matters. The large pixel size of a DSLR is yet to be matched on any camera phone. Even though things like quad pixel are being tried out, it still doesn’t really compare. But for a person who isn’t shooting professionally, the final output isn’t dramatically different, as they mostly shoot and see images on their phone itself.

The winner: DSLRs lead here but sometimes it’s a moot point.


The holy grail. Why most people swear by DSLRs. The advantage of switching lenses for any kind of photography. It’s also why camera phones this year have started to come out with four and even six lenses. Each lens on a camera phone plays a different role. Main sensor, wide angle, telephoto, macro mode! And the software and

AI does a great job in using them to the best of their ability.

The winner: DSLR leads, but for sheer convenience and daily use, the new breed of camera phones have killed it.

Software and AI

Camera phones are so far ahead here that it’s almost comical. DSLRs continue to be clunky in their operating system and usage features. Yes, you get much better manual control but in terms of just auto clicking a picture and getting the best results in any situation, the camera phone will beat a DSLR to pulp every single time.

The winner: Camera phones rule!


For average daily users, the new breed of camera phones is miles ahead in the everyday convenience of shooting pictures. It was pointed out to me that new DSLRs now have apps through which you can pull pictures without even having to take out the SD card. Have you ever used these apps? Bizarrely kludgy. Also, the size of a DSLR versus the phone in your pocket? No comparison!

The winner: Camera phones are king!


If you want all the advantages of a DSLR, then you need to go slightly high-end. And that’s going to cost a bomb. Then the add-on lenses, a bag to carry your precious equipment and some more accessories.

The winner: Even if you buy a top-of-the-line camera phone, it’s going to be around a fifth of the investment.

Example: Honor 20 Series of camera phones

Honor has taken smartphone photography to a new level
Honor has taken smartphone photography to a new level

Three phones from Honor have impressed me majorly. The 20i, 20 and 20 Pro. With price points that start at
Rs 14,000 and move upwards, Honor has taken smartphone photography to a new level. Four lenses at the back, wide-angle lens, telephoto lens, macro lens. Sony IMX586 sensor, dual optical image stabilisation, optical zoom and some fantastic AI. My results from these phones were astounding, especially low-light images and how well the optical image stabilisation worked. It’s this level of innovation in camera phones that is making sure that the gap between them and DSLRs is reducing dramatically.

Can a mobile phone camera one day outstrip a DSLR? Well, there are physical limitations and currently it is said that a phone will have to be about 10 times thicker to handle it. I disagree. New innovations in hardware and software will make a phone match and beat a DSLR in some years.

Okay, DSLR lovers. Let the hate begin...

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

Techilicious appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, July 7, 2019

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