What’s best – a regular camera or smartphone?

(Last Updated On: May 8, 2014)

Teachers and students are increasingly using smartphones and tablets in the classroom – and with them comes a snazzy built-in camera. It begs the question, do schools still need to invest in a regular camera? Jenny Barrett investigates.

How important is image quality?

Phones and tablets do not have optical zoom. Thus when you zoom in you are using digital zoom and thereby compromising the quality of the image. With their requirement to remain slimline, phones and tablets also have smaller sensors. These capture all the light available and turn it into a digital signal meaning tablets and smartphones can struggle with dim lighting.

How much use do you make of the additional features?

Still cameras come with easy-shooting modes, such as landscape, night scenes, close-up, portrait, multiple exposure, and motion capture. Some phones do try to incorporate some of these settings and you can also purchase accessories (like fish-eye, zoom, macro or wide-angled effect) but ultimately you’re still using the same lens.

How key is connectivity?

A big plus for smartphones and tablets is how easy it is to quickly edit your photos using apps and share using Wi-Fi or 3G/4G. However, recent developments have seen some cameras now sporting built-in sharing capabilities.

Do you need to consider action photography?

A smartphone or tablet is not going to suffice if you want to capture those moments of triumph when a student delivers a flawless speech in the school production, dances their socks off, scores a try, and so on. Smartphones and tablets do offer the ability to capture multiple sequential shots but if you want sharp image quality and to see the emotion on that students face, it comes down to a fast camera and a good quality lens. Even a regular point-and-shoot camera will struggle at a sporting event, so I’d always advise that a school has access to at least one ‘serious’ camera.

Do you require something to last for a long shoot?

If you’re heading off on a five-day camp or planning a long shoot you need to consider battery life and storage. A compact camera allows you to switch batteries and swap out storage. Tablets and most phones are not so designed and it pays to make sure you are fully charged on arrival and plan a charging break.

Overall, my advice is that schools invest in a range of options. Make use of the built-in cameras for simple photos in good lighting conditions. However, every classroom should still have at least one compact still camera for shooting better quality images. Look out for multi-buy deals and kits sets that include bags and storage. Depending on the size of the school, you should also have access to one or more higher-end cameras for capturing significant events and achievements, and taking good action shots, so you don’t miss anything!


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Categories: Article, Issue 55