I was just working with a client, finishing up a shoot of her 8 month old, the last of her six children. She said to me “I had no idea you couldn’t print photos taken on a Smartphone!” She had been documenting her baby’s first year with her phone camera, with an assumption that you can print the images to be high quality, frameable pieces. She was so devastated to realize that upon printing, she had almost nothing useable from the previous year. Have you ever done this?

When I got my first phone, I did the same thing. Taking photos of camping trips, friends hanging out, casual experiences, it seemed as if the quality was passable. Once on my computer, however, it was obvious that most were out of focus (due to camera movement, that little thing is hard to keep steady, especially when handed off to a stranger to take the picture!). The low light resolution is terrible, and dynamic range limited.

The quality difference came into clear focus once again (pun intended) yesterday, when my husband and I were at the White House for a fourth of July celebration.

Here’s an image taken with the iPhone:

And the same image taken two minutes later (with hat and sunglasses on), in the same location, with my SLR. Not a great image (it could use a little fill flash, yes?), but still leagues above the iPhone image.

The best camera is the one you’re willing to carry with you, and sometimes, that’s the one in your pocket. But if you’re willing to invest a little into a good point and shoot, or a consumer-level single lens reflex (SLR), you’ll be able to build a collection of photos of your family and friends that can last a lifetime.

If you have questions on camera selection and use, sign up for my summer photo classes (only 4 spots remain): http://staceyvaethphotography.blogspot.com/2012/06/its-not-about-gear-photo-classes-just.html