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5 reasons why a digital camera is better than an iPhone for action shots

iPhone cameras
iPhone cameras (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

Source: LukeFilipowicz / iMore (Image credit: Source: LukeFilipowicz / iMore)

Here at iMore, we love taking photos with our iPhones. It's fast, convenient, and in many situations, captures a wonderful photo; however, there are instances where the best digital camera will outshine any iPhone.

Actions shots are some of the hardest photos to capture. If you've ever tried to shoot your child's soccer game, snap a picture of a moving train, or take a photo of your dog running around the dog park on your iPhone, you'll likely know that those photos don't often turn out very well. Likely, you'll see motion blur, and the subject will be out of focus. While there are some manual camera apps for iPhone that can replicate some of what a dedicated digital camera can do, here's five reasons why a digital camera is way better for actions shots.

Bigger, better sensors

iPhone camera sensors are great, but just due to the design's nature, they are small and can only be so good. For action shots and many other types of photography, the bigger and better sensors you find on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras just give you more fidelity than your iPhone ever could.

The sensor on a digital camera lets in more light and can processes images more effectively, and switching lenses can even give you more options (more on that later).

Faster shutter speed

When it comes to taking photos of the action, you need to have a fast shutter speed. Digital cameras can offer super quick shutter speeds, so the camera only captures a fraction of a second. This will let you freeze the motion of a fast-moving subject, so the picture comes out crisp and clear every time.

Of course, along with a fast shutter speed, you need proper light. As a general rule, the more light you have, the faster the shutter speed can be to achieve a good photo. In any case, a digital camera is better at achieving faster shutter speeds.

Interchangeable lenses

dslr-camera-lenses

dslr camera lenses (Image credit: iMore)

The focal length of the iPhone cameras is set, but with a digital camera, you have the option of changing lenses to get different focal lengths. Depending on the action you're shooting, lenses can play a big role. If you're close to the action, then you can likely use a lens that has a shorter focal length. If you're far away from the action, like on the sideline at your child's hockey game, you'll need a lens that can zoom in quite a bit.

Either way, you don't have the option of switching your iPhone cameras lens; you're stuck with what you got.

Better image stabilization

Image stabilization helps eliminate unwanted motion from the camera when you snap a picture. If your hands are shaking, or the camera is swaying in the wind a little bit on a tripod, image stabilization will help compensate for those situations.

While the iPhone does have image stabilization on some of its lenses, and through software, can stabilize images, it's nowhere near a digital camera's ability.

The best digital cameras have great image stabilization, sometimes three-axis or even five-axis, which allows you to capture images without any camera shake easier. It also helps a ton in low-light settings or when you need to lower your shutter speed to eliminate blurry images.

Continous shooting mode

Olympus mirrorless camera with Mac

Olympus mirrorless camera with Mac (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Lastly, when it comes to shooting fast-paced action, you need to take a lot of photos. Burst mode on the iPhone works in a pinch, but using continuous shooting mode with a digital camera will yield better results.

Most digital cameras can take pictures faster than the iPhone can, which applies when taking multiple photos in a row. Using the continuous shooting mode on a digital camera will let you grab a bunch of photos, all with the same settings, so you can capture the best possible result.

Any questions?

Let us know in the comments down below.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

2 Comments
  • Agreed. Digital SLR is better, however, being a dad, hauling all that crap around is a huge problem. If the phone can take nearly as good pictures, then I am happy. I rarely use my SLR anymore. I am not sure I would bring it with me anywhere anymore because my phone takes such amazing shots and it seems to get better and better.
  • Just take a video instead.