Smartphone Vs. Digicam

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Spiderowych asked the Digital Cameras & Camcorders forum a simple question: Will the mobile phone ever replace the digital camera?

For most people, I think they will...if they haven't done so already. But for professional photographers or serious hobbyists, I don't see it happening in the foreseeable future.

I'm neither a professional photographer nor a hobbyist, and I take far more photos with my phone than I do with my camera. They offer the same 8-megapixel resolution. The phone uses GPS to record the camera's location as part of the picture's data, and knows the date without my setting it. I can email a picture or post it on Facebook immediately.

More importantly, I always carry my phone, and take my camera only when I think of it. Taking the camera, after all, means carrying yet another electronic device. I have limited pocket space.

Of course there are trade-offs, especially for serious photographers. Lenses don't follow Moore's Law, and you simply can't fit a really good lens into a pocket-sized phone. Phone lenses are no match for the lens built into a typical point-and-shoot camera, which is no match for the lenses you can mount onto a digital SLR.

The obvious lens problem is the lack of an optical zoom, but it's not the only one. My point-and-shoot camera can focus better under low-light conditions or when shooting an extreme close-up--signs of a superior lens.

Dedicated cameras also prove superior when the opportunity for a great photo arises and won't last long. As Bobwill described in the original forum discussion, "With my Sony [point-and-shoot camera], I take it out of its pouch, slide the lens cover, and it's ready for a picture." But with his iPhone, he must "take it out, hit the home button, slide my finger across the screen, enter my unlock code, locate the camera app, and then wait 3-5 seconds while the app launches."

Nevertheless, I didn't even bother to pack my camera for a brief mini-vacation at a favorite location that always inspires the shutterbug in me,. And I got some great photos using my Droid X, like this sunset:

In addition to Bobwill, I'd like to thank LiveBrianD and Crazy4laptops for their contributions to the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector has cats who don't object to having their picture in PC World. Email your tech questions to him at, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter.

This story, "Smartphone Vs. Digicam" was originally published by PCWorld.

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