top of page

Phone vs Camera: South Dakota Edition

I love my phone and my camera photos for different reasons.

When I went to South Dakota, I took some with my phone and some with my camera. I wanted to see what the difference was in what I captured. When I look at the photos separately I don’t notice as much of a difference but when I compare the two side by side I can see differences in certain areas.


I’ve done some basic adjustments to the photos I’m going to show you. I edited them separately so I didn’t try to make one look like the other one.


One area I notice is the softness and texture difference. The phone tends to bring out more of the textures while the camera is more soft and subtle.


Brightness is another area where I noticed the difference. The phone tends to make everything a little brighter and the highlights and shadows are more pronounced. The phone does a fairly good job of automatically adjusting the highlights and shadows. Of course you can always adjust these in post processing with your raw camera photos.


Overall quality goes to the camera shots. I think when you can shoot in raw the quality is much better. I do have to do more editing to the camera shots which adds to the quality of the finished product. If I'm planning on making large prints then I would choose the camera photo over the phone photo but for social media purposes it doesn't matter in my opinion.


The richness of the color is better in the camera photos and you can adjust the color more than you can a phone photo. The phone does a nice job at first glance though and is nice enough. If I re-edit the camera photo in this example I would increase the shadows and saturate the sky colors a bit more.

Catching the moment

If catching the moment is important I think my phone has it because it is always with me. The phone doesn’t capture movement like I want it to but it serves as the perfect way to capture the moments. In this example I just wanted to capture our tent with the Badlands formations in the background which the phone did a great job of.


I post more of my phone photos because I don’t have to do a ton of editing and they really do capture the beauty of the scene. I don’t have to upload to lightroom, edit, then export, then upload to social media. Although it was more convenient to capture this shot with my phone, I like the camera image better.

Appears the same

Sometimes the photos look so similar that I wouldn’t be able to tell you if it was the phone or camera that took the image. You can always take both sets of photos and take them into photoshop or lightroom to adjust but you can only go so far with phone photos as they are jpegs as opposed to raw photos so you are a little more limited.

5 Questions I ask myself to decide what to use

  1. Am I going somewhere that I will need to do manual adjustments (waterfalls, movement, low light)?

  2. Is the memory or scene more important?

  3. Do I want to carry my camera or will the phone suffice to capture the moments?

  4. What will I be doing with the images afterwards (sell, social media, memories)?

  5. Will I regret not having my camera?


All in all, I like photos from both my phone and my camera. Depending on what I’m trying to capture, I will use one or the other or both. I will use my phone in these situations: when I want to capture the moment, I don’t want to lug my camera with me, I want to post it right away, I’m taking a video, going to a dark place or I want to send it to someone. I use my camera in these circumstances: when I know the scene will be amazing, I would like to sell the image, I’m doing long exposures, I’m traveling to new places or sports where there is a lot of movement.

The biggest difference is that I have my phone with me at all times and sometimes have my camera with me. What my phone can capture is pretty impressive but I also like to have my camera for a more professional end result.

Can you tell if my phone or camera took the below images? When you don't have an exact comparison photo of the scene I think it can be hard to tell.


bottom of page