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Benefits of standalone cameras

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Although mobile phones act as the main camera and camcorder to the majority of people as of 2020, standalone photo and video cameras have numerous benefits that mobile phones lack.

Some of the benefits mentioned here depend on the coarse form factor and model of the devices.

Physical space[edit]

While most mobile phones are slimmer than 1cm due to customer expectations, cameras can, depending on camera type, be sigificantly larger, thus allow for a greater physical space.

Image sensor size[edit]

The greater physical space of dedicated photo/video cameras allows for larger image senors, which allows for a larger surface size of individual pixels.[1]

Larger pixels are able to capture more light in the same duration, which allows for shorter exposure times at the same light sensitivity.

In addition, larger image sensors handle higher light sensitivities with less noise.

The camera software of many mobile phones handle noise by applying post-processi g noise reduction, which sacrifices details in the image.

Optical zoom[edit]

Although mobile phones have increasingly been equipped with multiple rear cameras towards the end of the 2010s decade, to make more use of their limited physical space, some of which serve as telephoto(and video) lenses, the optical zoom capabilities of mobile phones come nowhere close to what many standalone cameras and camcorders have historically been able to offer.

Camcorder zoom[edit]

The main benefit of dedicated camcorders, which have a solid form factor and an internal lens, is their fast and quiet optical zoom.

By default, dedicated photo cameras with video recording ability slow down optical zooming significantly during video recording to minimize the zoom engine sound picked up by the microphone. Some lower-end models even deactivate optical zoom entirely, relying on digital zoom, often lossy one without image sensor cropping.[note 1]

Image stabilization[edit]

Throughout the 2010s, mobile phone rear cameras have increasingly been equipped with optical image stabilization. However, due to the limited physical space of the lens, optical image stabilization in mobile phones tends to have a side effect known as the Jello Effect.[2]

The image stabilization in dedicated cameras tends to be more reliable due to the greater physical space, even at far optical zoom levels.

Storage and battery[edit]

While most mobile phones released since the mid-2010s decade have overwhelmingly disadvantageous non-user-replaceable batteries, and non-expandable storage, many cameras and camcorders have easily accessible compartments for the battery and SD card, which allows the quick swapping (or hot swapping) of each with a reserve unit.

Camcorders can usually operate entirely on external power input without battery inserted, allowing for hot-swapping a battery without having to restart the device.

A battery not in usage can be recharged on the go using an external charger connected to the USB port of a power bank while the surrogate battery powers the standalone camera/camcorder.

Standalone cameras and camcorders usually accept full-size SD cards rather than MicroSD cards. Full-size SD cards are able to be built with greater storage capacities and performance for higher reading speeds when accessed from a computer.

Gear modularity[edit]

Standalone cameras have more mounting options. Most are equipped with an ISO 1222 screw thread hole, while tripods for mobile phones can not be fastened as reliably as a dedicated tripod screw monut.

Higher-end cameras and camcorders additionally allow the simple and stable attachment of external modules such as lenses, flashes, microphones, filters, lens hoods and larger batteries.

Ergonomics[edit]

Form factor[edit]

The form factor of standalone cameras and camcorders is more suited for steady handheld photography and videography than mobile phones.[1] In additon, many mobile phones have an inconveniently centered rear camera, which further deterioates ergonomy.

The shutter button of real cameras usually has two pressure levels, enablibg intuitive focussing and capturing. Only few mobile phones, such as the 2009 Samsung Omnia 2 (GT-i8000) and the 2013 Nokia Lumia 1020 have been equipped with a two-level physical/dedicated shutter button.

Physical buttons[edit]

Higher end dedicated cameras such as the Lumix FZ series and the Sony RX100 series have more physical buttons and rotary knobs that, depending on model, allow immediate access to parameters and functionality such as exposure value compensation, zooming, focus, exposure, aperture and customizable shortcuts.

Some cameras, including the Sony RX100 series, are equipped with a dedicated low-power LCD segment display (as known from most pocket calculators) on the top that steadily displays the camera parameters and have a good readability during sunlight.

Discouragement of vertical video[edit]

Many mobile phone users have a habit of recording video vertically (or portrait mode), which is a fatal habit in videography (except if done intentionally) and heavily diminishes the viewing experience on a monitor or television. Rotation during video recording causes the video to be visible with the wrong orientation on the monitor.[3][note 2]

The horizontal form factor of dedicated cameras intuitively discourages vertical video recording, which mainly affects amateur users.

Inertia[edit]

Dedicated bridge/DSLR/DSLM cameras and camcorders usually weigh more than mobile phones.

The inertia caused by the additional weight reduces shakiness, thus facilitates steady handheld photography and videography.[1]

Audio[edit]

Most consumer video cameras released since the late 1990s have been equipped with front-facing stereo microphones.

More recent higher models such as the 2014 Sony FDR-AX100E even have 5.1 surround sound microphones.

Mobile phones have only adapted stereo audio for video recordings since the early 2010s, such as the 2012 Galaxy S3.

Apple iPhones even lacked stereo audio for video recording until as recently as 2018, despite of given hardware: at least two microphones since the 2010 iPhone 4, placed sideways when held horizontally. Instead, iPhones since the iPhone 5 use a single (mono) front-facing microphone near the camera module.

Inexperienced filming with a mobile phone, a disadvantageous holding habit and/or an unfavourable design of some mobile phones might cause holding it in a way that covers the microphones, diminishing the audio quality, while dedicated cameras are usually designed to be held in a way that does not cover their built-in microphones.

Operating system[edit]

Booting time[edit]

Dedicated cameras and camcorders are commonly able to power on from complete power-off within around two seconds, while even more recent mobile phones need durations multiple times as long to boot due to software components other than the camera.

Stability[edit]

Even after a mobile phone has booted up to the lock screen and the camera is launched, other initiating applications and system features such as the media scanner process and system screen rotation may interfere with camera operation shortly after booting, while dedicated cameras have no interfering background processes.

No distraction[edit]

Some users may perceive the presence of social media applications on their mobile device as distractive during photography and videography use.

Dedicated cameras, with the exception of hybrid camera phones such as the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom and S4 Zoom, can not be accessed social media with.[1]

In addition, incoming phone calls may interrupt camera operation.

Privacy[edit]

Dedicated cameras are immune against potential spyware.

Malware is more likely to target mobile phone operating systems than digital camera and camcorder firmwares. Mobile phones also have more interfaces through which malware could attack, albeit statistically unlikely per individual.

Even if hypothetically hacked into, a standalone camera with closed lens cover is physically unable to be spied through, and usually contains far less personal information than a mobile phone.

Miscellaneous[edit]

Less bannable[edit]

Many schools and/or teachers, mainly those of older age, selectively banish the usage of mobile phones during school trips and/or school class, often for reasons other than the camera.

Standalone cameras are less likely to be affected by banishments from schools and/or by teachers than mobile phones.

Historical[edit]

Video specifications[edit]

MiniDV home (consumer) video cameras with 480i60 (NTSC) and 576i50 (PAL) started emerging in the late 1990s decade, followed by 8cm miniature DVD camcorders a few years later, providing a data portability benefit over MiniDV.

In the years towards 2010, affordable 1080p video cameras with far optical zoom and optical image stabilization appeared on the market, and affordable compact cameras have increasingly adapted 720p@30fps video, while the first mobile phone with 720p video functionality was the Samsung Omnia HD, released in 2009.

In 2010, the first consumer-grade 1080p/50p camcorders by Panasonic were released, while the first mobile phones to record at 1080p@30fps were released in 2011, including the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4s.

The first mobile phones with 1080p@60fps and 2160p@30fps were released in late 2013, such as the Galaxy Note 3. Most mobile phone manufacturers adapted these video recording modes in 2014 and 2015 for their flagship devices, while in mid-range devices, video recording modes above 1080p@30fps have only been slowly adapted towards the end of the 2010s decade.

In 2014, Panasonic released the first 2160p@60fps consumer-grade camcorder (HC-X1000E), while this video recording mode has only been adapted in mobile phones starting in 2017 with the iPhone 8, 8+ and X, followed by other mobile phone vendors in early 2018.

The first mobile phones with optical image stabilization havehave only been released in 2012, and optical image stabilization has only been widely adapted by mobile phone vendors in the mid-2010s while being a standard feature on dedicated cameras since at least a decade earlier.

Mobile phone cameras have been heavily criticized for the lack of optical image stabilization.[4]

Manual camera parameters[edit]

Mobile phone cameras only started adapting manual camera parameters in the mid-2010s, starting with the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Dedicated cameras and camcorders offered a much wider range of manual settings much earlier. Even compact cameras such as the 2008 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS series offered settings such as long exposure up to 60 seconds.

Notes[edit]

  1. Due to technical limitations on CCD image sensors, lossless digital zooming using image sensor cropping is not possible beyond the highest supported video resolution, which usually is 720p (0.9 Megapixels per frame) for budget pocket cameras since the early 2010s decade. CCD image sensors have been superseded by CMOS image sensors due to technological maturation.
  2. Some video player software such as VLC Media Player allows rotating a video during playback, which can compensate for clumsy rotations during video recording with a mobile phone.

See also[edit]

Related navigation boxes: ElectronicsMobile phonesData storageUser experience and user interfaces

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 What is the Benefit of “Standalone” Digital Cameras? (2018-12-19)
  2. Samsung Galaxy S6 edge - "Jello Effect" in Video Explained (TechCloud, 2015-04-28)
  3. Demonstration of rotating a mobile phone after having started recording vertically
  4. Ritter, Frank (2013-10-24). "Smartphone-Kameras: Warum gute Fotos zu schießen nicht mehr ausreicht [Kommentar]". GIGA (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2020-09-12.