Camera Phones Can Take Great Photos Because Theyre Always With You

“The best camera still is – and always will be – the one that’s with you” and for many people this will be a camera phone. This idea was originally put forth by Chase Jarvis, professional photographer and author of “The Best Camera“.

I recently spent a whirlwind week exploring New Zealand’s lower South Island via Dunedin courtesy of Tourism New Zealand and Canon who supplied $30,000 of loaned photography gear for our photo/video shoot crew to use.

Ironically one of my favourite photos from the trip was the very 1st photo I took with a Nokia 6710s Navigator cameraphone on impulse while sitting in the passenger seat of a car because I noticed the unusual electric blue lighting in the clouds worked well with the dark curving landscape ahead. If you look carefully at the original large version of the photo you’ll notice 2 cyclists riding on the road about to go around the corner.

Winding Dunedin road with electric blue sunlightWinding Dunedin road with electric blue sunlight photo credit: Neerav Bhatt

It was great that in the car boot we had a range of Canon SLR’s including 7D’s, 5D Mark II and a 550D which are all capable of taking great photos but obviously because of their size and weight none of them were in my pocket for the whole trip as the Nokia cameraphone was and couldn’t be used with 1 seconds notice to grab a quick photo before the moment was gone.

You may have been told by a photographer friend that camera phones can’t take good photos, ignore them.

Mobile Phones as cheap as $100 have built-in cameras these days which means that taking photos has become completely democratised, even a homeless person living on the streets owns a mobile phone and could take a series of photos documenting their lives and upload them to a free Flickr account.

If you keep the lens clean and set good default settings on the phone (highest quality level, flash off, auto white balance, auto focus) to help the phone take impulse photos faster I’m sure you can keep an eye out for interesting visual effects in the world around you and capture great photos with your camera phone on days when your compact camera or SLR is left at home.

Examples of Creative Photos Taken By A Camera Phone

The following 3 photos were taken by my friend and keen enthusiast photographer Wolf Cocklin (aka Wolfcat) with his Nokia N95 camera phone on occasions when his Nikon D90 SLR camera wasn’t available.

Oil on the RoadOil on the Road photo credit: Wolfcat
Through the TunnelThrough the Tunnel photo credit: Wolfcat
geo tagged camelgeo tagged camel photo credit: Wolfcat

Chase Jarvis, professional photographer & author of “The Best Camera” book

DISCLAIMER: All expenses for my NZ trip were covered by Tourism New Zealand and regional subsidiaries. I was not paid for the trip and have sole control over what I write and say about it. The Nokia 6710s was in my pocket by coincidence on media loan from Nokia Australia because I often review smartphones/cameraphones.


8 responses to “Camera Phones Can Take Great Photos Because Theyre Always With You”

  1. Cliff Maxwell

    These are beautiful photos. I could not take anything this nice with my phone (the camera really is an extra add-on), and I am sure these photos would not be appropriate for printing in a glossy magazine, even if they look crisp and bright on a computer screen. So it also depends on what you plan to do with your photos.

  2. AGREED. Value associated with the increasing omnipresence and quality of the camera phone is undeniable. It’s so amazing if you think about it, because the right place right time has always existed, but now for the first time in history people are actually equipped to capture it – at all times! Especially valuable since the news can’t be everywhere. A few interesting sites like are dedicated to helping people capitalize on the phenomenon. Camera phone technology is expanding our ability to capture and share more of the world around us..

  3. Wow the quality on those photos is amazing!! I really like the one of the Tunnel

  4. nicerogue17

    I like the one of geo tagged camel. It’s perfectly captured.

  5. Ya completely agreed. And the best part of it is, you carry your cell phone all the time and can catch every precious moment.

  6. I agree with Cliff Maxwell that phone photos are inappropriate for printing. Definitely phone is for conversation only and camera is for photography.

    Of course If it is necessary to make a photo for your own memories camera phone could help you, but not for photo album. This is my subjective opinion.

  7. I have to disagree. I recently created a glossy coffee table style photo book and 3 of the photos were taken with a camera phone.

  8. Yes, when it comes to phones with cameras you definitely get what you pay for. I am attending the Edmonton Indy in Alberta this year and it will be the camera, not my phone/camera I’ll be using for this special event.

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