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Top 5 Best Smartphones for Photography in 2014

In just a quarter decade’s time the cellular phone has morphed from being a novelty item like a car phone to powerful “smart” machines capable of more than anyone imagined. According to the latest Pew Research poll, 90 percent of Americans have a cell phone, and 58 percent of Americans have a smartphone.

Photo by Bob Vonderau

Photo by Bob Vonderau

Nearly all cell phones and smartphones have built-in cameras, and this convenience has turned almost every person with one into a photo-journalist, documenting their own lives. Check out the following five phones if you’re looking to satisfy the budding photo-bug in you.

iPhone 5s

Photo by Naeem Abubakar

Photo by Naeem Abubakar

While the iPhone 5s has only an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, it has some special features that make its camera one of the best on the market. To start with, it features an f/2.2 aperture, which means that those indoor shots you take of family and friends gathered around the table or tearing open gaily wrapped gifts on Christmas morning turn out bright and sharp.

True-tone flash brings life to skin tones, while auto stabilization means that you’ll never ruin another shot by accidentally jerking the phone. Burst mode allows you to snap pictures at 10 frames per second, so you can choose the best shot.

Samsung Galaxy S5

With its 16 megapixel sensor, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a solid camera. Its 0.3 second autofocus time ensures that you won’t miss those pictures of your children or pets doing something cute.

Even if you’re photographically challenged, you can take pictures like a pro with “Shot and More,” which lets you edit your photos on the spot, and selective focus that lets you create cool depth-of-field effects. Like the iPhone 5s and most other smartphones, it has burst mode, auto-stabilization, digital zoom, and of course, a flash.

Nokia Lumia 1020

The winner when it comes to megapixels is the Nokia Lumia 1020. Its camera has a 41 megapixel sensor, which rivals some dedicated cameras. Although in reality this phone isn’t able to snap a photo at 41 megapixels of detail, it will take images at 38 megapixels and offers a choice of resolutions as well, from eight megapixels down to three.

These smaller images are the ones that are sharable, but they’re also clearer than many of Nokia’s counterparts because it super samples each image, bumping up the quality of each shot.

Sony Xperia Z2

Photo by Fontaine Virgile

Photo by Fontaine Virgile

Like the Nokia Lumia 1020, the Sony Xperia Z2 uses its 20.7 megapixel sensor to produce 8 megapixel images with better detail. Its 8x digital zoom lets you get close-ups of that humming-bird hovering beside the ruby-red of the feeder handing outside your window.

It’s even waterproof, so you can snap photos of all the pretty fish on your next trip to the Caribbean. Its “fake bokeh” mode produces a depth-of-field effect like the Samsung Galaxy S5, and, of course it has a 2.2 megapixel front-facing camera, but its selfie-capturing lens has a wide-angle option.

Blackberry Z30

Although many people have discounted Blackberry since the company’s meltdown a couple of years ago, it has released a few smartphones, and they’re pretty solid devices. The Z30 features an 8 megapixel rear camera, and like the iPhone 5s, has an f/2.2 aperture to help with capturing those low-light indoor shots. Of course, with selfies being all the rage, it has a 2 megapixel front-facing camera. With that, you can insert your own smiling mug whenever you like.

The camera application itself is very responsive, and lets you go from the home screen to taking pictures in just three seconds, which is great for capturing that special moment. Like most other smartphone cameras, it has all the standard features: autofocus, image stabilization, digital zoom, (5x) and LED flash.


Cell phone cameras have always been convenient, but over the last few years, technology has advanced to the point where the photos they produce are quite sharp and detailed. While professional photographers and photo-enthusiasts will want to stick with dedicated cameras, for the kind of everyday photography that most people engage in, the cameras in many cell phones and smartphones are more than enough.

Be sure to look into different plans with your cell phone provider for the text messaging and data package that best fits your needs.

Author’s Bio: Bethanny Alpino is a recent graduate from the University of South Florida with a BFA in Studio Art. She is a self-identified tech junkie who is always looking into ways to incorporate digital media into her projects.