Why a proper manual mode should be present on all smartphone cameras

Why a proper manual mode should be present on all smartphone cameras

Its 2019 and smartphone cameras are much more than just point-and-shoot objects.

Since the invention of capturing light on to a physical object that accurately depicts the actual environment came to limelight, we have never stopped photographing. From friends and family to buildings and places of un-natural beauty, we have tried to frame it all. Earlier cameras were incredibly massive and were similarly complex to operate which became smaller and smaller with advancement in technology.

The debate of whether DSLRs will ever be replaced by more smaller smartphone cameras rages on as we see advancement in smartphone photography. But people usually tend to forget that the reason DSLRs are so big is because they use actual optics and physically move around to capture a photograph rather than rely on artificial intelligence or smart sensors to do the trick. Think about it - if smartphone cameras are so good then why is software being used to intelligently process the captured image? Its very easy to see that the laws of physics can never allow the sensor of a smartphone to capture an image in detail that compares to that of a DSLR.

One of the best manual modes on a smartphone. OnePlus. Source: XDA

But while smartphone companies are constantly in the process of R & D to make their cameras the best in the market, another interesting development has taken place - disappearance of a dedicated manual mode.

Xiaomi's half baked and almost non-existent manual mode. Full support only exists on pricier models.

You see, in DSLRs it's you as the photographer who sets the ISO, shutter speed, aperture and what not. Sure, there is an auto mode but we all know it's good for nothing. And besides, because of all these manual settings a photographer gets its signature look on his/her photos, one that leads to all the fan following. Smartphones on the other hand are fully automated where software processing plays a major part in the capturing process. Sure, it leads to great shots, some of which are astonishingly unbelievable like the one below but it also means that the photographic touch is lost since photos taken by different people of the same place will all come out to be exactly the same.

Another major thing missing on most smartphones is the support for RAW photographs. RAW images capture all the data possible and allow the photographer to unleash his/her creativity in post processing. Now, due to the advent of superior algorithms and machine learning, all the processing is done by the computer rather than by the human. For me, the human touch is lost here.

Photo by Caleb Woods / Unsplash

I agree, most of the people won't even care for all this stuff. I can even safely say that 80% of the users who purchase a smartphone have never gone beyond the standard photography options. Yet, for many of us, manual/pro mode is something we live & die by. And it is never bad to have another option. It's the same as to why cinema productions used film cameras even when digital cameras were fully onto the consumer and commercial scene. It took a decade for the movie industry to shift to the digital trend and there too they use cameras which have no smart feature or automatic processing because they want to capture stuff as is so that they can unleash their creativity later on.

Have you ever used the manual mode in your smartphone cameras? Do you think it is necessary for smartphones to have a manual mode? Sound off in the comments below.


Asit Khanda

Photographer & Gadget Nerd. Founder of ProgressPlanet. I love to dive deep into the simplest stuff because they have the greatest effect on us. My articles focus around my experience with technology.

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