Nowadays with the great image quality with phone cameras, what is the purpose of a “standalone” digital camera — which is often bulkier, heavier, and less convenient to use?
Some practical thoughts:
- Superior flash of standalone digital camera (in praise of RICOH GR II). You can create some images with certain visual effects which are not possible with phone cameras (quite yet). Having said that, using the flash on the Xiaomi 9 SE phone camera is actually quite good when shot up-close. But if you want to shoot “long distance” flash shots, a standalone camera is preferable.
- You desire supreme dynamic range in terms of image quality (digital medium format). Or you desire a more beautiful aesthetic than smartphone camera (however with filters and presets, you can make beautiful looking smartphone camera photos).
- Ergonomics: Some people don’t feel comfortable shooting with a phone in terms of hand grip. I personally don’t have an issue here, but some people do.
In praise of film photography
Truth be told, shooting with a standalone digital camera is pretty inconvenient now. You gotta shoot, import photos from SD card to your laptop, select the photos, process the photos, export the photos, then upload and backup the photos. So much unnecessary friction. For me, the workflow on a phone is 100x more streamlined, with far less friction.
Which makes me wonder —
Perhaps we should barbell it: just shoot with our phone (digital camera) and shoot film (very inconvenient).
Some Kodak Portra 400 shots:
Digital cameras without LCD screens are great.
Honestly at this point, I’m not really interested in any “standalone digital cameras”— besides perhaps the fascinating hybrid digital/film cameras (Leica M-D, Leica M10-D). I’m a big fan of hybrid thinking (getting the best out of both worlds — maximize the upside, and minimize the downside).
The point is to make more photos
Let us never forget — the goal is for is to continually shoot more and make more photos!
To me, as long as you’re shooting new photos all the time and having fun, you’re on the right path.
Shoot with any and every camera, and seek to reduce creative friction from your life. This is why I’m such a fan of shooting, processing, and sharing photos from a phone.
And also another creative idea — experiment shooting more film, and also pick up a copy of FILM NOTES to keep you inspired.