equipment recommendation – Can smartphones, like iPhone 12 Pro, replace entry-level DSLR cameras?

There is no clear answer: That depends on your type of photography.

If you want the camera just to take the usual this and that photos, you are probably not missing out very much. The computational support in the phone has come quite a way.

However, you will notice some limitations: Due to the small sensor, the performance in low light is limited. The phone’s image enhancement will do its best, but it cannot completely negate the limitations of the small sensor.

Things you can do with the phone, you probably cannot do that easily with the entry level dslr

  • Filming without knowing what you do, including slow motion
  • Carry it around you ALL the time
  • Photos in very wet environments
  • Automated panorama

Things that are hard or impossible with a phone

  • low light photography
  • anything that needs long time exposures or filters (like ND filters for landscape)
  • Anything that needs a flash (you will have to use continuous light for any elaborate lighting, but then might suffer again from more noise and you cannot easily freeze action with continuous light)
  • Zoom lenses. The best phones have a 5x optical zoom lens, equivalent to ~130mm. With a DSLR you can get a 400mm-equivalent lens cheaply (250mm lens on a crop sensor).

I am assuming that you use a third party photo app on the phone to have basic access to the settings a photo is taken with.