Smartphone or camera – photography skills a must

Today’s smartphone cameras are nearly as good as a DSLR camera in terms of image quality, but taking a great picture still boils down to the skill of the person behind the lens.

This was highlighted by The Straits Times deputy tech editor Trevor Tan at an askST@NLB talk yesterday. Titled “Is your smartphone’s camera good enough?”, the event was attended by around 200 people at the National Library at Victoria Street, many curious to know his opinion on which camera was a good one.

Mr Tan acknowledged that the image quality of a photo taken from a smartphone camera still cannot measure up to one from a DSLR or mirrorless camera due to a smaller image sensor, lack of manual settings and weaker flash, which makes it hard to illuminate a subject.

However, smartphones have the advantage of being lighter, more inconspicuous and letting people share photos easily.

“It depends on the situation – if I’m doing street photography, I’ll probably use a smartphone. But if I’m covering events or if I’m doing a portrait shot of somebody, I’d probably use a DSLR,” said Mr Tan, who has covered technology news for The Straits Times for the last seven years.

Still, he emphasised, basic photography knowledge is important – such as understanding shutter speeds, apertures and ISO levels, as well as how to compose a picture using concepts such as the rule of thirds, symmetry and leading lines.

“A lot of people keep asking me, ‘What’s a good camera?’ – it transcends time. You need to learn about photography because ultimately, once you know more about photography – smartphone camera, DSLR, mirrorless camera, they are all but a tool,” said Mr Tan, who has also won awards for his work as a photojournalist.

Mr Chris Limit, who turned up for the talk, switched to taking photos with a smartphone a year ago as he found his digital camera too bulky to carry around.

“The talk has given me more ideas about taking pictures with my smartphone,” said the 50-year-old who works in customer service.

The next askST talk on Feb 23 will feature ST editor Warren Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of the English, Malay and Tamil Media Group at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). He will speak on “Fake news and what ST is doing about it”.

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