Shootout redux: Smartphone camera vs tricked-out DSLR, one year later

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"The best camera," goes the old saying, "is the one you have with you." It’s true, too—spend just a few minutes browsing places like /r/pics and you’ll find stunning image after stunning image taken on a wide variety of cameras, from DSLRs with telephoto lenses all the way down to smartphones. A modern smartphone is equipped with a hell of a lot of picture-taking power and can spit out pro-looking images without a whole lot of effort, and nearly everyone has one on them all the time. Does that mean, then, that the best camera today is a smartphone?

We explored this in our October 2014 "iPhone vs. DSLR" shootout—and we learned a lot. The first lesson was, at least according to a whole lot of people, that I suck at photography. And that’s all right—I do suck at photography. Most of the images I take are properly called "product photography," done inside in studio conditions with lots of lights and not necessarily a lot of variation in settings. Shooting in the real world is a lot more complicated.

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