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Digital Camera VS iPhone 6

I am in my first year of painting, using photos exclusively as my source that were taken with my iPhone 6. As beautiful as the photos look on my phone, the printed out version is always less impressive -- the exposure, colors, values, are distorted. And I always have them printed at a reputable, professional print shop. 
So, I'm thinking of buying a digital camera, but my budget is limited -- in the $500 - $700 range. I'm thinking specifically of the Sony Alpha A6000. 

I know next to nothing about cameras. My question is simple: Will a digital camera such as this one, in the low - middle range quality, produce significantly better printouts than photos taken by my iPhone 6? From the research I've done, it seems like a digital camera would be better but I'd rather not spend the money if the results would be similar.


  • Having a nice camera won't change anything about how your prints come out, because you are not mentioning resolution, only exposure and color.  An iPhone 6 will take 5MB photographs, which are just fine when blown up to 11" x 17" for lamination.

    The problem is that you are probably comparing the screen on the phone to the printed material, and one of those is a bright backlit screen, the other requiring reflected light.  They will never look the same.

    You're better off editing the photos in software and adjusting colors so that when printed, it looks closer to what you want.  Alternately get a printer so you can do this yourself.
  • To actually answer your question (sorry, forgot), then yes, a digital camera will take better photos, and offer you more control.  In fact, you probably cannot buy a digital camera that takes photos as low resolution as an iphone.

    But as stated above, that's probably not the problem.
  • Thanks Paul. Very helpful! 
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 2018
    My digital camera comes with its own image processor--just saying.  So, if you are going to spend money on an image processor, you might as well buy a dslr camera that has a image processor already in it--or not!  I also use Affinity Photo image processor as well which is not part of my camera.  Just something to think about. 
  • I have a lovely Fuji digital camera, It actually looks like a film camera. I don't like the look of a lot of modern digital cameras, they remind me of big clumsy sofas. Above all it takes great quality photos.
  •  Is it the consensus that Bucky would be better off spending his money on Photoshop rather than a camera?

    Bucky, My advice if you are going to buy a camera is buy the best one you can afford but be sure to get one that you can easily understand the instructions, menus and features but above all else be sure to have complete MANUAL control over:
    1. Shutter Speed
    2. Aperture
    3. ISO
    This is the camera that Mark Carder Recommends in his Advanced Photography Guide. It is in the price range you mentioned.

    The photography guides for both iphones and DSLRs is at the top of the DMP main page.

    One other advice is to NOT rely on tripods that are bundled with camera kits. Spend $30-40 and get a sturdy one with a built in level indicator and a hook to suspend a stabilizing weight.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 2018
    On the subject of tripods, I had to buy tripods for specific purposes because I didn't want to waste time fiddling with the controls.  My hands aren't as strong as they used to be either.  I can see how multiple adjustment controls are necessary for plein air painting and you would need to do your homework here, but some of mine are special purpose and very little adjustment is necessary.  I have three large and two small for miniature photography.  Just something to think about. 
  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited November 2018
    I forgot to mention to also make sure it can shoot in "RAW" format, not just jpeg, tiff etc. RAW gives the best resolution and options for playing with it in lightbox or gimp. It converts back to jpeg for posting and printing.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 2018
    I added Exposure to the one, two, three list above even though my camera has an automatic setting for it.  Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, Exposure. 
  • This is  my opinion:

    Photoshop is expensive overkill, and a waste of money.  All that is needed is cropping, white balance, color adjustments, and support for several formats.  Any photo software can do all this and more, and in most cases you already have software installed that can do this.

    This is not opinion:

    There is nothing special about RAW images.  That is just a name for a variety of lossless file formats.
  • PaulB said:
    This is  my opinion:

    Photoshop is expensive overkill, and a waste of money. 
    I agree.  This is a real money drain and time waster.  I learned this from experience.  I quit them long time ago.
  • I just noticed that amazon has several sellers for these Olympus cameras and one of them is asking $3,200.00 for the same camera you can get for $600. Ouch, gotta watch out for some of these.
  • edited November 2018
    I agree with, @PaulB. Photoshop is unnecessary. If you buy a half decent camera it will come with image editing software which will do just about anything we could want. And even if it didn"t there is some good image editing software available online  that you can download for free. My Olympus camera came with software and takes RAW images that you can export losslessly as TIFFs without any need for Photoshop. 
  • On the question of whether a camera (rather than just a cell phone camera) is necessary the answer would depend on the size of the prints you want to make. If you want big prints from which to make big paintings then a camera would be better.  :)
  • I bought a 27 inch monitor and use that for my reference. 200 dollars American. That doesn’t solve the processing issue but I don’t worry about print quality anymore.
  • Hey all.

    I find Photoshop overwhelming to say the least and it's really not needed outside of the high-end community, and I find GIMP to be not particularly user friendly (but at least up to date). 

    By far the best balance of user-friendless and features I ever found is Paint Shop Pro v9 (before it got bought out and ruined). If you look around the internet you'll see a lot of people still use it, lament it got taken over and ruined (v10 onwards). As it's now out of production it's hard to get, but if anyone wants some tips on how to get it feel free to message me (if that's okay).

    It's an amazing piece of software, I use it just about every day.
  • Buy a Sony mirrorless camera 55 mm lens , buy adobe Lightroom for phone and desktop, Get a top of the line ink printer cannon or epson and laminate your photos so you can check your colors.
  • edited December 2018
    Everything is only as good as your weakest link.

    Photoshop is still excellent.  If you don't want to pay a monthly subscription fee, you can still get an older version that is resident on your hard drive. The older versions of Photoshop are missing some of the newer bells and whistles but are still plenty good. The books by Scot Kelby took the mystery out of using it.

    But it is all useless if your monitor is not calibrated because a printer will then be "seeing" something different from what you see on your screen.  The Spyder5 Express is easy to use and works well.

    Finally there is the matter of printing.  You can get your own printer and many people do.  I didn't want the hassle and have tried a variety of print  shops online.  The best one I found is  Before preparing and sending anything out I recalibrate my screen and then send them a TIFF file (not a JPEG).  Their colors have been pretty consistent. 
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