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Can a smartphone replace your point-and-shoot?

Jenneth Orantia (via SMH) | June 6, 2013
We've already rounded up the best smartphone cameras, but are they good enough to replace your point-and-shoot digital camera? Jenneth Orantia finds out.

The perks of a compact camera
Convenience and instant sharing capabilities aside, there are still various advantages to shooting with a compact camera. Superior image quality is the obvious perk, although Young says this has become less important now that many people prefer to share photos on networks such as Facebook and Instagram rather than print them. Instead, he says factors such as long zoom lenses and superior processing are the main drawcards for compact cameras.

"We've all been at events where everyone puts their phone up to take a photo as soon as the action comes close, but when it gets too far, everyone puts their phone back down. If you've got a bigger zoom, then you can get a close-up of the action at any time and from wherever you're sitting," says Young.

"All of your auto functions are better as well. The white balance, metering, subject tracking and focusing on a compact are all way better than they are on a phone, because a phone isn't a camera - it's a device that does multiple things."

Some of the other advantages of a shooting with a compact camera include stronger flashes, superior handling, and higher resolutions that give you the flexibility to crop into the image while still maintaining a high-quality photo.

"One of the real-world benefits of using a camera is that you can take a really wide photo, crop it at 300 per cent zoom, and then use that as the part of the photo that you upload to networks like Instagram," says Young. "With an iPhone, you as the photographer need to get physically closer, as the resolution of the sensor isn't as powerful or as capable as in compact cameras."

There's also that freedom of being able to fire off dozens of stills and videos at events such as birthdays and concerts without having to worry whether you'll have enough battery life left later to make phone calls or send text messages.

The cameras fight back
Compact camera vendors haven't taken the smartphone challenge lying down. A new breed of 'smart cameras' has emerged that incorporate one of the main advantages of a smartphone - the ability to share photos directly from the camera through either a wireless network or your smartphone's mobile data connection. Sharing photos from a smart camera still isn't as easy as it is from a smartphone, but it's a step in the right direction.

Camera vendors such as Canon have started to experiment with smaller form factors to make carrying a second device more attractive. The tiny square-shaped PowerShot N, for instance, is aimed specifically at "social" photographers that may have previously used a smartphone as their only camera, with a 2.8-inch tilting touchscreen, a variety of Instagram-like creative filters you can apply randomly to your photos, and built-in Wi-Fi for instant photo sharing.


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