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by Phil Ball

Q. I'm going on vacation and need to travel light and I love to take pictures. I've been thinking of leaving my camera at home because I have a good camera built into my phone and that way I can take one less item. What do you think?

A. I love it now that the camera in my phone is of good quality; modern phones offer enough megapixels to make good quality enlargements and their lenses are also of good quality. Best of all, they are nearly always with you. Your camera might be left behind when you're going to dinner and you don't expect to take pictures. Because of your wish to travel lighter, you only have your camera phone to take pictures of the floorshow and it doesn't work well in low light. I can certainly understand the idea behind making your load lighter but I still think you should take your camera since it offers features that your phone camera may not have.

The latest phones finally have zoom lenses but their range is restricted compared to the 15x-50x lenses on super zoom compact cameras. Often, the lenses on your camera are faster and let in more light which works better in indoor situations where flash either can't be used or is ineffective. Modern phones may have a flash but it isn't very powerful so a faster lens is a definite advantage. The sensors on most phones are not very large and so many photos taken with phones could have been sharper if taken with a camera with a larger sensor.

Because of all these factors, cameras still do better under extreme conditions such as low light or high-contrast scenes or taking close-up photos of small objects. I love my phone camera for candid shots and casual photos but when I want to take serious photos, I grab my camera for the better quality and versatility available. It is the right tool for the job.

For more information about digital photography and computers, visit the monthly Digital Photo meeting of the Prescott Computer Society.

Published: Courier 8/4/13 - Page 3C