DSLR's, Point and shoots, cell phones...Oh My!
What's the big deal anyway? My cell phone takes truly amazing pictures and I can add super cool filters if I want. My daughter has the cutest little 2x3 instant Canon printer and has her and her friends hanging up all over her room from the pictures she has taken with her iPhone.
But here's the rub.
There actually is a sizable difference between the pictures you get from your cell phone or point and shoot and a DSLR. Let's break it down:
First: DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. This means there is a mirror inside that allows you to see the image through the viewfinder and when the shutter is released, the mirror flips up allowing the sensor to record the image. Back in the day, it recorded it to film, now it records to your SD Card. Your image gets recorded instantly.
Cell phones and PNS (Point'N'Shoots) - are mirrorless, meaning that the image is taken and transferred from one spot to another...causing a few precious hundredths of a second in lag time. That is the difference of missing a smile or capturing an eye blink.
DSLR's have a larger sensor for improved low light or night time photography.
Megapixels: This word is tossed around often. What is a megapixel? Digital images are captured in thousands of tiny-like elements (squares) known as a pixel. A "Mega-pixel" is equal to 1 million pixels. The higher the pixel count, the more high resolution your image is, bringing increased quality. When viewed on a digital device, you may not recognize the difference, but if you are printing, a low resolution image will look fuzzy and pixilated.
Do you remember playing with silly putty? You could press it against a newspaper comic and make an imprint on the silly putty. Looked cool, right? But then you stretched it out and the image wasn't the same or recognizable any more. That is what it is like taking a 4x6 low resolution digital image and try to blow it up to a 16x24. There is not enough image or information in those few pixels to stretch it.
That said: Digitally speaking the images between an iPhone and a DSLR look comparable, but if you want to print it: an iPhone 8 has 12 megapixels whereas a Canon professional grade DSLR has 20-24 megapixels.
Uploading any of these images to Facebook? Please don't print them after uploading them!! While Facebook is arguably a popular place to share photos, it was not initially intended for this. In their own words, they "automatically resize and reformat your photos" so they display properly on their platform. I call it pixel crunching and will never look objectively great. Printing them from Facebook makes me cringe like nails on a chalkboard.
Anyway. There are many more pros and cons as to which camera works well for you and for me but I wanted to do a quick study on image quality. Choosing a photographer that cares about your end result after the session is over and preserving those images to last over 100 years is an important question to ask them. Don't forget to decorate your home with your beautiful loved ones ♥
Image from Digital School of Photography: shows the dark blue sensor size of an iPhone 6. The green rectangle represents the professional grade camera. Sensor size controls many aspects of photography and how creative you can be, but for this post it illustrates how many megapixels it holds and light sensitivity. A full frame camera can handle low light or dark cloudy days really well!