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by Phil Ball

Q. My friend and I are having a discussion about whether we still need a camera when there are so many devices that have cameras built in. What do you think?

A. The cameras found in devices like phones and tablets are very popular, especially since the megapixel count has reached acceptable levels. It is more convenient to only have to carry a single device. But do they really do everything a camera can do?

The answer really depends upon your needs. You can take great snapshots with your phone and it will most likely be with you wherever you go. The best camera in the world is the one that is readily available when you see a great picture. But these devices do have limitations. For one thing, they have small sensors and so the image quality is less than you might get from a decent point and shoot camera. For smaller prints and sharing by electronic means, the quality is quite acceptable, but when it comes to making large prints, they may let you down. The lenses in phones are limited; they do not zoom except by digital trickery which lessens the quality even further. That means that to get close to distant objects, you need to physically move closer which may not be possible or recommended. If the phone has a flash, it is usually much more limited in how far it will reach. The software is cheap and simple but also limited in what it can do.

So which is better for you? It depends upon what you want to do with your pictures. If you will primarily use them on a social website or email them to friends, then the phone camera will do a very nice job. The convenience of taking and uploading photos from a single device is wonderful. On the other hand, if you are a serious photographer who wants to display your work in prints, a dedicated camera will do a much better job despite the inconvenience of carrying a second device with you. I like to use both for different reasons.

If you'd like to learn more about digital photography, come to the February 9, 2013 digital photo meeting of the Prescott Computer Society.

Published: Courier 2/3/13 - Page 3C