Does it still make sense to buy a digital camera? (Poll)

They're getting better all the time, with features like apps, touch screens, and Wi-Fi. But is your smartphone camera good enough?

The Samsung Galaxy Camera NX: dSLR, meet smartphone. Smartphone, meet dSLR.
The Samsung Galaxy Camera NX: dSLR, meet smartphone. Smartphone, meet dSLR. Samsung

A little over a year ago I asked CNET readers if it still made sense to buy a camcorder .

After all, as my thinking went, smartphone cameras can now capture 1080p video, and they have the virtue of riding around in your pocket, always at the ready for memorable moments.

The consensus? Not everyone has a smartphone, thank you very much, and smartphones almost universally lack optical zoom -- meaning they're far from ideal for faraway shooting. Verdict: for some folks, camcorders remain the best way to capture video.

OK, but what about cameras? Some of the same reasoning applies: most smartphones can take snapshots ranging from decent to fantastic, and they're always at the ready for memorable moments. (Note I didn't say "Kodak moments" because younger readers will have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Hence, today's question: Does it still make sense to buy a digital camera?

I ask because camera makers are working to hard to lure buyers back from smartphone reliance, packing in nifty features like apps, Wi-Fi, Facebook and Twitter integration, and so on -- you know, all the stuff you already have on your phone.

Does it still make sense to buy a digital camera?

Or is your smartphone handling your photography needs well enough?

Witness, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Camera NX , a new model that, when viewed from the front, looks like a fairly typical dSLR, but from the back could easily be mistaken for an Android smartphone. Which it practically is, given the built-in 3G/4G LTE. So you get all the benefits of a huge touch-screen interface, plus full-time Internet connectivity, in a camera with dSLR shooting prowess.

At the other end of the spectrum, a model like the Canon PowerShot N offers Wi-Fi and a tilting touch screen in a compact shooter. You don't get apps, but you do get an 8x optical zoom.

Indeed, I would argue that features like zoom, a bigger image sensor, and advanced settings (aperture priority, etc.) make the case for owning a dedicated camera -- especially if it can easily pair with your phone for quick uploading to Facebook, Instagram, on the like.

On the other hand: one more thing to carry, one more thing to keep charged, one more thing to get ruined by sand at the beach. (I've tanked at least two cameras this way.)

I'm torn on this issue. My iPhone 4S takes pictures that are "good enough," by which I mean they suffice for most situations, even if I sometimes find the image quality and lack of features, well, lacking. And I enjoy living hassle-free, meaning I definitely don't want another device bulging my pockets. But for those times when I want to capture, say, my daughter's soccer game, the iPhone is all but useless.

What are your thoughts on this? Vote in our poll, then hit the comments to make your camera feelings known. Are they still worth having, or does your phone do a good enough job?


On the "yes" side of this argument? Check out CNET's always-current list of the best digital cameras on the market.

 

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