Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

Will a phone ever be anywhere as good as a DSLR?

A further update on raw processing from a phone…

RAW (S7) → Lightroom → Jpeg – here
RAW (K1) → Lightroom → Jpeg – here

In both cases only the white balance was fixed. Auto WB works mostly badly in snow scenes; it helps a lot to use the colour picker and even then it often gets it “wrong”.

The K1 had the Zeiss Milvus 18mm lens. modded from the Nikon mount to the Pentax mount. It becomes a fully manual lens but at 18mm that is quite usable for “landscape” work. It is perhaps the best quality ~18mm lens available for a DSLR.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

My two cents:

Those are very good results, with a camera that is essential ‘free’ with a phone plan. Can’t see the point and shoot camera market lasting too long.

Even though the steps you as user have followed are the same, the processing is not that same, I don’t know the exact steps lightroom follows, but the values used will be unique for both cameras, that is the nature of RAW processing.

The S7 wins hands down if you trying to have a holiday/ski. Though the S7 doesn’t still can’t achieve the same results as the K1, depending on your goals, I very much doubt a phone ever will.

Processing the phone raws, it does help to up the contrast about 30% in LR. And of course white balance is best done with the eyedropper tool, on each individual pic, especially with snow scenes (white dress = wedding photographer’s nightmare, reportedly )

But the absence of the excessive saturation and way excessive unsharp mask (both traditional smartphone camera features, especially Samsung) makes all the difference.

I would still expect a 400 quid pocket camera to be a lot better but that segment is getting squeezed. OTOH almost nobody will be processing raws from a phone – I’ve never heard of anybody crazy enough!

Incidentally… someone asked me if there is a pocket point-an-shoot camera which has a real infinity focus mode. I don’t think there is, because autofocus requires the camera to go past infinity in order to focus on it, and a simple mechanical stop doesn’t quite work due to dimensional changes over temperature. The “infinity” settings I have seen are never actually that. They are still “autofocus” but merely with a restricted range to prevent close focusing on e.g. a dirty window.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Ted wrote:

Can’t see the point and shoot camera market lasting too long.


This one is interesting too: (US only, but …)

Smartphone killed the compact camera. Is DSLR next? Sales are lowest ever.

Last Edited by Archie at 29 Dec 08:10

For sure the whole camera market is shrinking – because most people find phone pics to be good enough for their requirements.

What surprises me is that phone cameras are improving so slowly, given that the camera is just about the only remaining opportunity for product differentiation, and has been for several years. Most likely it is hard to deliver a better camera in the fashion-dictated phone thickness.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Most likely it is hard to deliver a better camera in the fashion-dictated phone thickness
What is needed is an order of magnitude improvement (in Elon Musk speak ) in sensors, which requires a technological breakthrough. I’ve wondered if Quantum film is it.

Last Edited by Archie at 29 Dec 16:35

My two cents – as DSLR user since 2006 and being moved from Android to ios in 2016 – and without reading all posts. DSLR is of course better and will ever be. But iphone is handy and with me all the time. So most of my 2016 and all 2017 pics are iphone, the difference is there but the convenience wins. So unless on a dedicated photo mission the DLSR stays at home.
BTW, there is external storage for iphones despite common view –


Samsung S7, best I can do from RAW and Lightroom (12MP, 7.7MB file)

Nokia 1020, year-2012 Win8 version of the Symbian 808 phone, straight out of the camera (40MP, reduced to 5MP, 2.9MB file)

Not something a phone salesman would like to see…

When the 808 was around, 2011-2012, the phone shop networks in the UK wouldn’t touch it, and many have wondered why. Crappy OS but a camera not improved on in 2018 (the S8 is no better). Microsoft failed with windows phone of course.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Can you share some more details about that shot Peter. ISO, shutter speed?

Lot of noise in S7 shot. iPhone has that type of noise too in RAW.



One could have done noise reduction in Lightroom, on the Samsung shot, but why is the Nokia so much better? It has a huge 40MP sensor and downsamples to get the jpeg. The 1020 phone is actually Microsoft-usability-committee-crippled; all you can get out of it is the full size ~40MB RAW file (which I have tried to use in the past but with poor results, and Justine is very happy with her jpegs) or the small jpeg, whereas the 808 predecessor had a proper camera app (several actually) and I used one which produced a 12MP image (about 5MB) of stunning quality and hard to distinguish from a DSLR when viewing on a PC.

I moved from the 808 to the android world only because the Autorouter’s oddball “modern” website paradigms finally stopped working with the only usable Symbian browser Of course I would not go back now, with the great functionality of the modern android phone, but there is no denying that phone camera quality has gone backwards, driven by ever thinner phones. Also the S7 has a “focus pixel” next to each normal pixel and somehow this produces very fast focusing, which is true (out of focus pics are history now) but Samsung block access to this feature in the API available to 3rd party camera apps. The S7’s native camera app does do all that’s needed but won’t write RAW to the SD card… presumably because internal flash is several times faster. But the biggest they do is 32GB and you end up with about 10GB free in a typically configured phone (satnav etc). In the IOS world all this hassle was solved by selling a 128GB phone for £1200.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top