How to go from smartphone to DSLR photography

Here’s how to get more out of your photos with a DSLR.

08 May 2019

These days, phone cameras are part and parcel of our everyday lives – it makes you wonder how we ever coped without them. Being able to whip out your phone when you spot a photo op and capture a stunning picture in a matter of seconds would have been unheard of just a few years ago.

And there’s no doubt that phone cameras have made some huge technological leaps in the last few years, with some phones having as many as five lenses. There’s the incredible Huawei P30 Pro with its impressive 10x lossless zoom and Google’s superb Night Sight on the Pixel 3 for stunning low-light shots.

Sounds pretty good so far. So what sets DSLR cameras apart?


What’s the difference between a phone camera and a DSLR?

DSLR Camera diagram

There are actually some pretty big differences in the type of tech you’ll find on a DSLR, compared to a phone camera. The main one being the way the light hits the image sensor.

On a phone camera, the light travels through the lens, directly to the sensor. But with a DSLR the light only gets to the lens when you press the button and the shutter opens, where the light is then reflected up to the image sensor using a mirror or prism.

The whole prism/mirror approach might sound inefficient but it’s actually what gives a DSLR its versatility and superior image quality.



So, what makes DSLR cameras better at taking photos?


Phone cameras a great for their convenience, but here’s what makes a DSLR better at taking high quality pics:

  1. Interchangeable lenses – this is what makes DSLRs so versatile – you can swap the lenses depending on the subject of your photo. Use a wide-angle lens to capture incredible landscapes, or switch to a telephoto for stunning wildlife close ups.
  2. Bigger lens and image sensor - a bigger lens means the camera can capture more light (great for night-time shoots), and a bigger sensor means much more detail captured.
  3. Longer battery life – and by ‘longer’, we mean much longer. A DSLR can capture up to 1000 shots on a single charge. Your smartphone has to do so much more than take photos, so it’s got no chance of keeping up.
  4. Control shutter and aperture – with DSLRs you have total control over the shutter speed and the aperture size so you can fine-tune your settings based on the movement and lighting of your subject.

Backpacker using DSLR camera

And then there’s the whole experience of using a DSLR, from the quality feel of it in your hand, to the satisfying and iconic ‘click’ when you hit the shutter. It makes you feel (and look) like a photography pro – even if you haven’t quite figured out what all the buttons do yet.


To sum it up…

We’re not saying that phone cameras aren’t great, they definitely are. The shots you can capture on a camera phone can really be stunning, and can look like they were taken by a pro photographer. But that’s usually down to clever software trickery.

Person looking at photos on a DSLR screen

It’s still no match for a DSLR, and it’s quite safe to bet that it never will be. As smartphone technology improves, so does DSLR tech, whether it’s the sensors, lenses, or processors. A good DSLR will always be superior to a smartphone when we’re talking picture quality and versatility.

Mastering photography using a DSLR is an artform in itself, and snapping the odd photo with your phone, well, isn’t.

So, if you want total control and versatility, a DSLR is a must.


Ready to take your photography to the next level? Check out our full range of DSLR cameras.

Related in Compact & DSLR

Road testing the Canon M50 MKII camera

15 Oct 2021

5 reasons to choose a DSLR camera

25 May 2019

What is a mirrorless camera?

30 Apr 2019

Capture everything in stunning quality with the Canon EOS RP

01 Mar 2019

Are we missing out on exploring our dream hobbies?

22 Aug 2018