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Here’s Why You Don’t Need a Digital Camera in 2024. Unless…

Digital mirrorless camera on the table.

In today’s world, the camera in your pocket is a technological marvel. Smartphone cameras have advanced so rapidly that they now rival the photo quality of their professional counterparts. With just a simple tap, they capture moments in stunning clarity—no bulky gear, no fiddling with settings.

In this article, I’ll unravel the reasons many might not need a digital camera in 2024. But I’ll also share a personal perspective on why some of us remain committed to our professional equipment, despite the convenience of smartphones.

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6 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Professional Digital Camera in 2024

#1. Steep Learning Curve

Professional digital cameras offer a myriad of settings, such as ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, which can be daunting for the casual user. 

The Survey on Camera Usage was collaboratively carried out in Japan by Brock and Hamaya. It was found that a significant 37% of camera owners do not utilize their cameras annually. A mere 8.8% operate their cameras yearly, while 12.7% do so semi-annually. Quarterly camera usage stands at 11.8%, monthly at 11.5%, biweekly at 4.3%, and a small 5.4% engage with their cameras every week.

black and white photo of a male taking photo of a landscape
Now, that's me, with my Sony A7III

In contrast, smartphones cater to instant gratification with user-friendly interfaces, making high-quality photography accessible without the need to understand the intricacies of the exposure triangle and other photography nuances.

#2. High Cost of Entry

Photography, especially when pursued with professional photo equipment, can be an expensive endeavor. The initial investment extends beyond just the camera body—lenses, memory cards, and accessories all add up. 

For those who only occasionally dabble in photography, this cost is hard to justify, particularly when smartphones already include a capable camera in the price of the phone. This economic factor is a significant deterrent for the average person considering the leap into more serious photography.

iPhone camera

#3. Bulky and Heavy Photography Gear

Professional cameras, especially DSLRs and higher-end mirrorless models with quality lenses, are not known for their portability. They can be heavy and cumbersome, making them less than ideal for those who prefer to travel light or who wish to capture spontaneous moments without the burden of extra weight. This inconvenience is often a deal-breaker for individuals who prioritize ease and comfort in their daily lives.

#4. Time-Consuming Transfer Process

While modern digital cameras often feature wireless connectivity, the process of transferring photos to a smartphone or computer for editing and sharing is not as seamless as one might expect. 

For those shooting in RAW format, the process is even more complex, requiring specialized software such as Adobe Lightroom to edit these files. This additional step can be off-putting for users accustomed to the immediacy of smartphone photography, where images can be edited and shared in moments.

Lightroom color grading tool Macbook

#5. Lack of Computational Photography

Smartphones have embraced computational photography, using algorithms and AI to enhance photos in ways that traditional cameras typically cannot without post-processing. 

Features like night mode, portrait mode with depth control, and HDR are standard on many smartphones, offering a level of sophistication that can sometimes surpass what is achievable with a professional camera in certain situations. This technological edge gives smartphones an advantage in producing ready-to-share, high-quality images right out of the box.

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#6. Rapid Technological Advancements

The pace at which smartphone camera technology is advancing is staggering. Each new generation brings improvements that narrow the quality gap between smartphone cameras and professional digital cameras. 

For the average user, these improvements mean that the camera in their pocket is increasingly capable of meeting their photography needs, making the purchase of a professional camera seem redundant for anyone not making a living from photography.

So, outside of professional pursuits, what could compel you to consider a professional digital camera?

6 Reasons Why You Might Still Want to Consider Purchasing a Professional Digital Camera

My Fujifilm X100V and Sony 7C mirrorless cameras.
My Fujifilm X100V and Sony 7C mirrorless cameras.

#1. Superior Image Quality

Professional digital cameras are equipped with larger sensors that capture more light and detail, producing images with greater dynamic range and less noise, especially in low-light or high-contrast situations. This means that shadows and highlights retain more information, allowing for a more nuanced and textured photograph.

In addition, if you shoot in RAW format, your photographs will retain much more information, allowing you to edit your photos post-shoot and, in some cases, turn what initially looked like a mediocre photo into a beautiful one. 

For instance, below are several photos I captured with my Fujifilm X100V during my recent journey to the Amalfi Coast in Italy:

…and here are a few photos that I’ve captured during my trip to Istanbul:

Finally, here’s a portrait photo of my son that I recently captured with my Sony 7C paired with Sony 24-70 2.8 g master II:

Portrait photo of my son Nikita with a shallow depth of field (DoF)
Portrait photo of my son, Nikita with a shallow Depth of Field (DoF)

#2. Creative Control and Customization

The manual controls on a digital camera are a gateway to mastering the craft of photography. They offer the freedom to experiment with depth of field, motion blur, and exposure in a way that smartphone cameras, which prioritize automatic settings for ease of use, cannot. 

This control can be the difference between capturing a moment and creating a piece of art, providing an intimate understanding of the photographic process that many enthusiasts find deeply rewarding.

Full manual mode on Sony 7C mirrorless camera
Manual Camera Mode on Sony 7C

#3. Optical Zoom Capabilities

While digital zoom on smartphones crops into the image, reducing the overall quality, optical zoom on digital cameras uses lens optics to bring the subject closer without any loss in image resolution. 

This is crucial for capturing the fine details of distant scenes, from the delicate feathers of a bird in flight to the expressions of athletes amid action. The clarity and crispness of an image taken with optical zoom can be breathtaking and are often sought after by those who appreciate the beauty of distant or small subjects.

Photo of a tennis player

#4. Ergonomics, Durability and Reliability

The design of digital cameras is not just about comfort; it’s about reliability in the face of challenging conditions. Take, for example, a personal experience I had with my photography companion, Aleksandr. We embarked on a quest to capture the ethereal beauty of sunrise at the Great Kemeri Bog in January 2021, braving temperatures that plummeted to a bone-chilling -28°C. In such extreme cold, smartphones are rendered virtually useless—batteries succumb to the freezing temperatures, and touchscreens demand bare skin contact, an unreasonable request when every second without gloves is biting pain.

Photo collage of two photographers in a freezing cold conditions
A few selfies that we took that day 😉

Our digital cameras, however, stood up to the test. They were our lifelines to capturing the moment. The ergonomic design meant we could operate them with gloves on, and their robust build didn’t falter in the frigid weather. The batteries, designed for endurance, kept their charge in the cold where smartphone batteries would have swiftly drained. This reliability isn’t just a feature; it’s a necessity for those who venture into the demanding arms of nature to capture its untamed beauty.

Here are a few photos that I took that day:

Kemeri Latvia
Kemeri 2

Here are a few more photos from another trip to Mangalsala in Riga, where Alex and I went a few weeks later. The weather conditions that day were even worse, and since we were shooting near the sea, the whole experience felt twice as cold!

#5. Lens and Accessory Options

The interchangeable lens system of digital cameras is perhaps their most transformative feature. Each lens offers a new perspective, from wide-angle landscapes to intimate portraits with a fast prime lens. 

The ability to use specialized lenses, like macro for close-up work or fisheye for expansive, artistic shots, extends a photographer’s vocabulary. Beyond lenses, the array of accessories—external flashes for better lighting, filters for creative effects, and tripods for stability—means the camera can adapt to the photographer’s evolving style and needs.

#6. Depth of Field and Bokeh

The depth of field in an image—the range of distance that appears sharp—can be a powerful creative tool. Digital cameras, with their larger sensors and the ability to use wide-aperture lenses, offer a level of control over depth of field that smartphones cannot match. 

The result is a bokeh effect with a quality that lends a professional polish to portraits and a three-dimensional feel to still-life images. For those who value the artistry in photography, this control is not just a technicality but an expression of their creative voice.

Portrait photo of a child in the park

How to Decide If You Need a Professional Digital Camera?

#1. Assess Your Photography Goals

Consider what you want to achieve with your photography. If you’re looking to simply capture memories and everyday moments, a smartphone may suffice. However, if you’re aiming to delve into more complex photography, like night landscapes or wildlife photography, where detail and control are paramount, a professional camera might be necessary.

Sidenote: I use the Fujifilm X100V to capture everyday family moments. I’m fond of the camera’s form factor—it’s relatively lightweight, compact, and aesthetically pleasing. I’ve noticed that when I use a proper digital camera, I invest more effort into composing a photo, and as a result, the pictures taken with my camera are significantly better than those snapped with my iPhone. If you’re interested in learning more about my personal experience and why I prefer a digital camera over a smartphone for everyday family photography, check out my in-depth article on the topic.

My Fujifilm X100V mirrorless digital camera
My Fujifilm X100V mirrorless digital camera

#2. Consider Your Interest in Learning Photography

Are you interested in learning about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed? Are you willing to invest time in understanding the principles of photography? If the technical side of photography excites you, a professional camera can offer a rewarding experience.

Sidenote: Although learning photography might seem like a daunting task, especially when you can simply use your smartphone, my personal experience has taught me that acquiring a new skill is not only exciting and highly rewarding but can also potentially transform your career. If you want to learn more about how photography has changed my life and my wife’s, check out this article.

#3. Budget for the Investment

Analyze your budget not just for the camera body, but also for lenses and accessories. It’s important to consider the full cost of the system you’re entering into. If you’re ready to make the investment, a digital camera can be a valuable tool.

#4. Try Before You Buy

Before making a decision, try borrowing or renting a professional camera. This hands-on experience can be invaluable. You’ll get a feel for the weight, the complexity, and the potential of the equipment, which can help inform your decision on whether you need a digital camera or not.

Do You Need a Digital Camera in 2024 or Not: Summary

In conclusion, the decision to invest in a professional digital camera is as personal as it is practical. As we’ve explored, the advancements in smartphone technology have made it possible for most people to capture high-quality images without the need for specialized equipment. Yet, for those who are drawn to the depth and breadth of photography as an art form, the allure of a professional camera is undeniable.

The tactile satisfaction of adjusting a lens, the anticipation of perfecting a shot with manual settings, and the resilience of a camera that stands firm in the face of nature’s extremes—these are the intangibles that a smartphone cannot replicate. 

Sony 7C with a Program Mode set on the dial.

Whether it’s the pursuit of unparalleled image quality, the desire for creative control, or the simple joy of photography, a professional digital camera offers a unique experience that goes beyond the act of taking pictures.

As we stand at the crossroads of convenience and passion, it’s essential to weigh our needs against our aspirations. If your heart races at the thought of capturing the world through a viewfinder, of immortalizing moments that speak without words, then perhaps a digital camera is your faithful companion on this creative journey. For the rest, the camera on your smartphone is a powerful tool, ready to document the tapestry of everyday life.

Photography is not just about preserving memories; it’s about storytelling, expression, and the dance of light and shadow. Whether you choose the simplicity of a smartphone or the complexity of a digital camera, the most important thing is to keep capturing the world as only you see it. After all, every photograph is a reflection of the photographer, a piece of their perspective, framed in the confines of a canvas, waiting to be shared with the world.

Last updated: 13.01.2024.

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Aleksandrs Karevs

Aleksandrs Karevs

Hi, my name is Aleksandrs and I am a full-stack digital marketer passionate about digital photography. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V. Read full story here.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author

ARTICLE BY

Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

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