Why Phone Cameras Aren’t The Best Choice to Take Construction Photographs

Much of the construction process needs documentation, usually in the form of contracts, blueprints, bidding records, and the like. However, this doesn’t provide a complete view of your construction site and its status, and information overload can occur with too much paperwork. In fact, this is commonly seen when developing trust with buyers in marketing. A study published on Electronic Markets finds that adding images can increase trust, even as information load increases. Images are especially valuable as they offer information that may often be missed in the textual content.

The same applies to construction. While written and verbal reports can describe what is happening on-site to stakeholders and managers when they aren’t there, there is nothing more telling than a visual element provided by a photograph. Taking good quality photos is essential, and phone cameras may not make the cut. Here’s why professionals from the construction industry should invest in quality photography equipment and how it will benefit them in the short and long term:

1. Cameras are sturdier and last longer

When going around a construction site, there’s a big possibility that cameras will be exposed to plenty of debris. There is a need for sturdy and reliable cameras that can withstand the environment of a construction site. For one, a fully-charged DSLR battery can power a camera for a day or two of shooting, and batteries can be changed on the fly. While some of the best smartphone cameras on Business Insider can come close in image quality, they typically don’t last as long when performing for extended periods of time. It can also be cumbersome to charge a smartphone on the go while needing to take photos.

Smartphones are also more fragile than cameras. The latter is often made of thick hefty material designed to withstand all kinds of environments, particularly the ones made for industrial use. Smartphones are made to be sleek and are not usually designed to withstand extreme conditions. It’s best to go with a camera that won’t easily break while you’re out on the construction site.

2. Photos for documentation need to be high-quality

When taking photos of your construction site, you need image files in raw formats that capture as much detail as possible. This does not necessarily mean having more megapixels, but it does highlight the importance of powerful sensors. Many of the cameras on Adorama have full-frame sensors that allow sharp and detailed photos. Another advantage of a full-frame sensor is that the image is not cropped, so you can fit as much into the frame as you can.

You should also be able to take high-quality photos even in low light conditions. This may be necessary depending on what your clients and stakeholders want to see on the construction site. Lighting conditions will not always be favorable, and flash photography from phone cameras is not always ideal. It’s good to have a camera that is capable of taking photos in such conditions as it minimizes the work that has to be done when editing and processing.

3. Standalone cameras are more versatile

When you take photos with a phone camera, you’re essentially stuck with the same lens throughout. This limits the way you can capture different aspects of your construction site. One of the most glaring drawbacks of a smartphone compared to a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, for example, is the absence of lens selection.

Even cameras built into the newest iPhone models (iPhone 13), for example, may be fixed with 26mm wide and 13mm ultrawide lenses that support 4K video. However, they can only take 12-megapixel photos. DSLRs, on the other hand, have an average of 25-megapixels, more than double that of the best smartphones’. There are also thousands of lens options for every photography need imaginable for professional cameras. Whether you opt for a telephoto lens or a specialized macro lens, standalone cameras are far more versatile than built-in phone ones. They also often shoot well above 25 megapixels, which can be helpful when printing our large images of your construction site.

4. Cameras provide more creative control

Exposure is crucial when it comes to taking good photographs. This is particularly applicable in panoramic shots as discussed in our post on ‘Build a Better Photograph’. DSLRs will typically give you more creative control over this aspect since photographers can manipulate shutter speed, ISO, and aperture settings.

While smartphones have auto-exposure features, they often don’t allow the user the same amount of control over individual settings. Standalone cameras are much more customizable this way, which makes them better more suitable for construction needs.

Thanks for reading.


Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.
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