The camera is not dead

1.2 trillion photos were taken with smartphones in 2017 alone. It’s still growing but digital cameras are far from dead

Scatto foto con il mio iPhone almeno da quando ho avuto il primo modello, ormai dieci anni fa. Recentemente ho ripreso a farle con la mia macchina fotografica, per capire come fosse cambiata la mia relazione con una vera e propria. Continuo a pubblicare più foto scattate con l’iPhone perché è più facile e veloce, ma vorrei condividere alcune considerazioni che ho fatto sulla differenza tra la fotografia mobile e le buone vecchie fotocamere reflex.


Image Quality

DSRL (or mirrorless as well) disintegrates any mobile phone in terms of quality. Mobile photography has evolved to incredible levels until a few years ago but a photo taken with a camera has a kind of feel and vibrations that no cell phone can deliver. Paradoxically — although they both are digital media — it is as if the DSLR were the vinyl correspondent in the digital music scene. They’re not better nor worse: they’re different, and by different I mean “something that vibrates”. Clear, right?
Vinyl are said to add some kind of depth to the listening experience; DSLR do the same, adding a sort of 3D effect that are almost impossible to get with a smartphone (although they find out some software trick to do something similar — but still a trick is).


A camera is still more intrusive than a cell phone but this is less true than years ago. Being photographic subjects is nowadays well accepted and the distance or embarrassment that a camera once created is disappearing. We are now used to take and also be in pictures, no one cares anymore. I use the DSRL more and more easily. Not like my iPhone but at least I’m not shy anymore. “It’s a camera: have you ever seen anything like that?”.

Che una reflex sia più intrusiva di un cellulare è ancora vero ma lo è meno di anni fa. Oramai sentirsi soggetti fotografici è più facilmente accettato e la distanza o l’imbarazzo che una volta creava una macchina fotografica stanno scomparendo. Siamo abituati a fare e farci fare foto, nessuno ci bada molto più. Io uso la reflex sempre più disinvoltamente.


Being dramatic

Questo aspetto è più sottile ma — credo — piuttosto interessante: mi sono reso conto che quando utilizzo una reflex le persone nella stanza tendono a essere più teatrali. Sanno che stai usando una macchina fotografica e si atteggiano in un certo modo. Questo non vuol dire che stanno fingendo; è più come se stessero recitando, accentuando le loro personalità. Come se diventassero più veri dei loro veri sé.


This is serious

The fact that a camera puts you in a peculiar state of concentration is only positive. When I photograph with my cellphone I do it with disengagement (even if seriously); when I photograph with a SLR I only do that and I am involved in a more complete and profitable way. I physically set my posture in order to take photos. I do just that — taking pictures — and I am stretched in a positive way. I am focused and I welcome reality.


Less is more

Taking a photo with a smaller viewfinder is, once again, paradoxically an advantage. It forces you to concentrate on pure composition and you are less distracted by the unnecessary details that a relatively large screen shows you. Less is more, it is appropriate to say it.




Even if I’ve always said that the tool doesn’t matter because you only need your eyes, I must admit that it counts, indeed. You still need your eyes but now I’d add that the tool matters because it requires attention and places you in a particular state of mind. If the camera requires special attention and settings and care, that’s even better. You must be there, present in the moment. Automatisms are sometimes just bad.


Live the moment

Everything eventually leads back to the technical quality of the photo and being present. To live the moment in its becoming something. Cell phones do amazing things but cameras still have a lot to give.

I do not know how much but for now it is still a lot.


Read also:

RAW Power

Why you should be shooting in RAW, what it means and how to post-produce it

Rest in photography, Robert Frank

Ieri è morto Robert Frank. Se ho capito qualcosa di fotografia lo devo a lui.