It is my son Joshua's 14th birthday soon, so as part of his birthday celebration, I decided to take him to watch a couple of Under 21 FIFA World Cup soccer matches. Germany was playing Honduras and Brazil vs Korea. It was amazing to be able to watch both Germany and Brazil play on the same day, and of course, I wanted to take some photos to document the event for Josh.
|Josh at U21 FIFA World Cup. Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.|
I also want to make it clear that I don't think 'camera' when I think of a smartphone. I use a phone mainly for texting, the occasional call, and then largely to run some apps - so I'm a relatively light user. The 2MP camera on my previous iPhone G3 was such rubbish that I NEVER bothered to use it, so again, the 8MP camera on the Samsung S3 is miles better in that respect. But I still don't think to take it out and use it as a camera very often, so the World Cup trip was something of an experiment for me, to force myself to actually use the camera and see what it was like.
|Our seats - Stand 24, Row S, seats 198 and 199. Samsung Galaxy S3 phone|
A 5x7" print should be relatively crisp and 'clean' in terms of noise, although it's a tiny sensor housing those 8 million pixels. In nice light an 8x10" print should be 'ok'. Then good luck with anything after that. Even at those sizes, the images have a definite 'digital' look to them. But as you can see above, for the web they are perfectly acceptable.
|Germany v Honduras. Samsung Galaxy S3 with digital zoom.|
|Getting warm for the Brazil v Korea game. Samsung Galaxy S3 phone|
In the area that we were sitting every second person had their cellphone out, snapping away, taking 'photos' during the whole event. I only saw one person who actually had a DSLR, so he was definitely outnumbered. But I know who got the better photos :-)
|Brazil v Korea under lights. Samsung Galaxy S3 phone|
And I suppose the answer is - it depends. It depends on what you want to do with the final captured image? Is it just going up on Facebook (which I imagine is probably 90% of the usage)? Is it just to show your friends from the device itself? Is it to illustrate your latest blog post? Or is it to email to friends and family overseas so they can see them on their computer? If the answer is 'yes' to all of the above, then even my 'old' Samsung Galaxy S3 8MP camera phone does the job.
But does photography, and the capturing of certain events, mean a little more to you? Do you plan on actually printing any of the images you take? Do you need some flexibility in the framing, zooming or creativity with which you take pictures? If your answer is 'yes' to any of the above, then I think it still calls for a more capable image capturing device, even if that simply happens to be a digital point and shoot with a good 10x optical zoom.
So will I bring my cellphone out more often now to take photos? Probably. Especially if it's the only picture-taking device I have on me at the time. Would I use it again if I'm going to another World Cup match and want to document it for posterity? No. Next time I'll bring a point-and-shoot with a decent optical zoom on it with me.
Trouble is, I don't really own one :-)