09/04/2012 05:27 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2012

When to Use Your Smartphone Camera and When to Use Your Digital Camera

For Women & Co. by Alli Worthington,

Have you ever wondered when you can simply use a smartphone to take a picture, and when you should use a proper camera? It's getting tricky to decide! Some new smartphones have far better options and resolution than point-and-shoot cameras from even a couple of years ago. Plus, with a multitude of camera apps for shooting on the market, and other apps available for editing, it's no longer quite accurate that camera phones are inferior to their chunky predecessors.

In addition, for all of their bells and whistles, "real" cameras have their shortcomings. They tend to have a considerable learning curve, which means you need to spend time learning all of the setting options in order to take the pictures you desire. And since they're not only physically larger but also separate from that cell phone that you probably have with you most of the time, it's usually a conscious decision to take the camera along with you. That being said, "real" cameras are built with all those settings and flashes and lenses for one purpose: to take higher-quality photos.

So what's the bottom line? When I'm trying to decide if I'm going to use one of my beloved iPhone camera apps, or if I'm going to grab my DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera), here are the three things I consider:

What's the lighting situation?
The built-in flash on a smartphone only goes so far (literally), and editing can't really make up for a poorly lit subject. So if I'm going to need a hefty flash, or the ability to take beautiful pictures in the evening or in low light without a flash, I grab my DSLR.

Will I want to shoot video?
If I think I may switch between photos and video, my smartphone is my top choice. Nothing beats the ability to toggle between taking photographs and shooting video with the swipe of a finger.

Do I want to be in control of all the settings?
Smartphones can accommodate for a variety of situations, but oftentimes the finer details are left to the device. If I need to have absolute control to play with the settings, I'll take my "real" camera. And it never hurts to flip through the instruction booklet as a refresher before leaving the house.

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