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Buy a smartphone with multiple lenses, or a professional camera?

Level 10


For many aspiring photographers, there might be a belief that "I should start with a DSLR to get into photography."

I believe the focus should be the other way around – concentrate on the existing equipment first, explore what kind of results you can achieve with the gear you already have.

If your current photography gear can't produce the visual effects you desire, then consider what new equipment to purchase.

If you are serious about studying photography, always remember:

Ultra-high pixel count and pronounced shallow depth of field are not necessary conditions for creating good photos and videos.

Understanding how to frame a shot, compose an image, handle camera movements, edit footage – these skills will help you capture outstanding photos and videos.


Don't have a flagship smartphone yet? Go get one now!

If you're serious about photography and haven't experienced a multi-lens, high-performance smartphone, I strongly recommend starting with the flagship models from various brands. It's much more practical than jumping directly to high-end mirrorless cameras.

I actually started using single-lens reflex cameras before I started using smartphones, but since I got a smartphone, the majority of my photos and videos in daily life are captured with it.

Since the era of "multi-eyed monsters" in smartphone cameras, their practicality has reached a new level. Nowadays, smartphones can seamlessly switch between telephoto, standard, and wide-angle focal lengths, significantly enhancing the convenience of framing. Coupled with the fact that smartphones are more portable than professional cameras, allowing you to carry them everywhere, it greatly increases the opportunities for capturing photos.


Post-Production Anytime, Anywhere

One less mentioned feature of high-performance multi-lens smartphones is their capability for "post-production."

The photos or videos we capture with our smartphones can be directly shared on social platforms or edited using image processing software on the phone itself—functionalities that even modern high-end professional cameras lack.

In the past, post-production of images required a computer, but with the current powerful capabilities of smartphones, tasks like adjusting lighting, color correction, and video editing can all be accomplished using a phone.

The challenge in post-processing on a smartphone lies in the limited screen size, as many editing operations cannot unfold menus as expansively as on a computer screen.

Results from shooting and editing on a smartphone can be directly shared on various social platforms. If you enjoy documentary-style photography and love sharing, there's absolutely no reason not to buy a smartphone with a large screen and high-performance multiple lenses.


Already have a top-tier smartphone, what's next?

What equipment to buy depends on what kind of effects you want to achieve.

Take a good look at others' work. If you come across a style you like, consider researching what equipment can replicate similar effects.

For example, for photos with a shallow depth of field (bokeh effect), you might need a lens with a focal length of 100-200mm, paired with a camera body that allows adjusting shutter speed. Achieving this with a smartphone is challenging, hence the need for additional equipment.

If your focus is on capturing dynamic or sports-related subjects, you might consider a sports camera.

If you want to shoot from an aerial perspective, a drone could be a consideration.

In summary, have a clear direction in mind before deciding on what new photography equipment to purchase.


"Live View" and smartphone connectivity are essential features nowadays.

Here are some additional suggestions for those considering buying a DSLR:

Firstly, do not buy an old-fashioned high-end DSLR.

By "old," I mean those that rely on a viewfinder for framing.

If you are already accustomed to the operation of smartphones or if you have never experienced a phone that cannot take pictures, I do not recommend buying an DSLR camera that uses a viewfinder for framing. The interfaces of most modern DSLR cameras are designed around the "Live View" function, which is quite similar to the logic of smartphones.

If the camera's screen with the "Live View" function can be flipped or tilted, that would be even better. Having a movable screen makes framing more convenient.

The viewfinder restricts your framing angle, and I don't believe it offers more advantages than the "Live View" feature in today's context.

Additionally, make sure to choose a camera that can wirelessly connect to your smartphone through an app. This allows you to directly save the results from the camera to your phone, making it convenient for sharing on social platforms or performing post-processing through an app.