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Professional Photography vs. DSLR vs. Phone

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

Cell phone cameras are getting better all the time and DSLRs are getting cheaper every day. A real estate agent could probably walk through a property with a phone or camera and get some pretty dang good photos without any photography knowledge or editing software. I wanted to do a comparison between photos from my Galaxy S8+ phone, my Nikon D3100, and my professionally edited photos to show why hiring a real estate photographer is still very important. I decided to try this out while on a photography assignment and compare the results. Here they are:

Living room - Samsung Galaxy S8+

Straight out of camera this photo is too dark and doesn't show much of the living room or the area outside of it.

Living Room - Shot with Nikon D3100 18-105mm - undedited

This photo is brighter and a bit wider than the phone photo. You see more of the living room space but less orientation to its placement within the space.

Living Room - Nikon D5500 - Tamron 10-24mm - professionally shot and edited

In this photo you see the full size of the living room from this angle as well as its orientation to the dining room and entryway to the kitchen. The perspective is corrected and additional editing done to display the view outside the windows.


Kitchen - Samsung Galaxy S8+

Again, the phone photo is too dark, and the view out the window is too bright. You get a decent sense of the kitchen but it's cropped in too much and there's no sense of its orientation within the house.

Kitchen - Nikon D3100 18-105mm - undedited

I actually think this photo is pretty good and could pass in a listing. It's bright and you see where it is in location to the dining room. I don't like that the right side of the kitchen is cut off but it's not bad.

Kitchen - Nikon D5500 - Tamron 10-24mm - professionally shot and edited

Here the kitchen is bright and you have a nice clear view out of the kitchen window. Nothing in the kitchen is cropped out.


Bathroom - Samsung Galaxy S8+

Here we see a huge problem. Aside from the fact that photo from my phone is again much too dark, I am in the reflection of the mirror! WHAT!? How can I avoid this?

Bathroom - Nikon D3100 18-105mm - unedited

It's interesting that the lighting here looks almost identical to the phone and here I have the same problem of being in the mirror.

Bathroom - Nikon D5500 - Tamron 10-24mm - professionally shot and edited

This was shot from a better angle and the perspective was corrected. The room is bright and there's no reflection of me or the camera in the mirror! Professional photography wins a home run this round.


Bedroom - Samsung Galaxy S8+

In this bedroom shot I was backed all the way in the corner across from this doorway with the phone camera zoomed all the way out but this was all I could fit in the frame, the door.

Bedroom - Nikon D3100 18-105mm - unedited

I am surprised again with this photo because I like the one from the phone better. This shot is cropped in even more and all we see is the doorway, no room.

Bedroom - Nikon D5500 - Tamron 10-24mm - professionally shot and edited

With a professional photograph we are able to see much more of the room.


Exterior - Samsung Galaxy S8+

The phone takes a nice photo outside! The perspective, again, is warped, but overall this is nice.

Exterior - Nikon D3100 18-105mm - unedited

I actually think I like the phone picture better than this one from the DSLR. This one is too washed out and bright.

Exterior - Nikon D5500 - Tamron 10-24mm - professionally shot and edited

Here we have a nice wide shot of the entire house. The perspective and exposure are corrected.


Every photo I took with all three cameras were with the intent to get the best shot I could. I was actually surprised that the photos from the Galaxy were practically on par with the photos straight out of the D3100. In some cases they were even better.

With great light and an eye for composition it's definitely possible to get good images from a phone or a camera with no editing. However, I think this comparison proves that professional photography gets the best results.

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