Bloggie Wednesday: The Debate Of Using Cameras Other Than The Phone’s For Instagram

Bloggie Wednesday: The Debate Of Using Cameras Other Than The Phone's For Instagram

If you’re a regular on Instagram, you’d have noticed an increase in high quality images in the past year or so. Images so crisp with immense depth of field that isn’t possible to be achieved with a mobile phone’s camera, even with the use of photography apps. Images that make you wonder if those are even taken with a mobile phone or an actual standalone camera.

Well, I’m 99% sure those sort of images were taken with a DSLR or a fancy point-and-shoot. For Instagram.

Instagram is a highly visual social media platform. More often than not, you’ll consume the images a lot more than the accompanying caption. I’ve been observing bloggers with massive Instagram followers and the photos they post on Instagram are often really good.

Let’s take a few Australian fashion bloggers as an example. If you look at the Instagram accounts of Nicole Warne (Gary Pepper Girl), Margaret Zhang and, closer to home, Connie Cao (K is for Kani), you’ll notice that their photographs set incredibly high standards for other bloggers to follow. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice that a high percentage of their photographs that are posted on Instagram were taken with a standalone camera, not a mobile phone. I cannot be 100% sure of course given than I don’t know them personally but from close observations, that’s my conclusion.

Are they wrong for doing so? Ah … this sparks the debate that has been going on ever since Instagram became very popular: should we only use mobile phones for Instagram? Are those who use DSLRs to capture great shots and post them on Instagram cheating?

When I started using Instagram regularly, I believed that Instagram should only be about photos that are captured with our phone. After all, that’s what Instagram was about: to capture moments at an instant with our phones and post them on the social media platform. As the years went on, that platform began to change. It’s no longer about capturing personal moments. It became a platform for brand creation and promotion. It even became a portfolio for many entrepreneurs and business owners.

Even though a lot of smart phones can capture images as beautifully as a lot of cameras, there are styles of photography phones cannot emulate even with the help of apps. Hence we turn to our standalone cameras instead to create those styles of photography and use those images for Instagram.

Instagram has become such a highly competitive platform for content creators. In order to capture your audience quickly, the photos must be good. It’s not impossible, but it would be tough for a blogger to grow her Instagram following if her images are not up to par. Heck, we’re even talking about styling and composition for Instagramming products let alone using a fancypants camera! A very new blogger can grow her Instagram following very quickly if her images are beautifully styled, bright and crisp. I’ve been observing several new bloggers who started from scratch yet grew their Instagram following to significant numbers within less than a year. And yes, I’m talking about the numbers after the great Instagram culling of spam accounts.

Let’s go back to the question: are bloggers cheating for using fancypants cameras to capture images for Instagram? Back in the day, I would have said yes. Today, I’d say no. On such a visual platform, you’d want great images to capture and build your audience and if a separate camera (DSLR or not) can create those images that your phone cannot, then so be it. If your phone’s camera can capture the style of photos you want beautifully, then by all means use your phone because really, it’s so much easier to post those photos on Instagram than it is to use a camera.

I highly admire Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim (of the Photo A Day challenge and Little Moments app fame) because she grew her Instagram following from photos that were captured with her phone. Most of her photos are not DSLR-quality but her style of capturing moments, not just mere images, is amazing. To me, that’s what Instagram is about. Unfortunately, I’m not creative in that department and it’s still a long, learning process.

Do I cheat in my Instagram photos? Of course I do. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t because you can see the difference in my photos right away. My phone alone cannot capture a lot of the images I post so I use my DSLR instead. Do I feel bad about it? No, not really. I want to produce the best content that I can and if some of them need help in the quality department and I have the equipment to do it, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to reproduce that sort of quality with my phone, which I know will not be able to give me the results I want. However, if you’re able to capture great moments with your phone or you’re able to produce great images with it, use the phone!

At the end of the day, that’s what Instagram has become, hasn’t it? A platform for viewing pretty photos? If you don’t know the person behind an Instagram account, would you double tap on a photo that is really beautiful? Would you still double tap if the photo quality was poor?

This is a great debate and if you use Instagram, I’d love to hear your opinion on this. What do you think? Is Instagram for mobile phones only? Is it cheating if one uses a camera that doesn’t come with the phone for his/her Instagram photos? Do you use a mixture of phone and camera for your photos on Instagram?

Bloggie Wednesdays is a series of articles just on blogging. They contain tips, how-tos, discussions about anything and everything you need to know about blogging and how we can be better bloggers. If you have any suggestions, tips and tricks about blogging you would like to share with us, or if you have any questions you would like me to address, please let us know in the comments.

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21 comments… add one
  1. Raychael aka Mystery Case

    I don’t think it is cheating and I think a lot of people, especially brands use DSLR photos.

    I’m currently road testing the Sony Xperia phone that has a 20.7 mega pixel rear camera and lots of settings and features. It’s taking some pretty impressive photos. The front camera isn’t that impressive and I’m missing my iPhone apps but I’m guessing once I work out all the camera features on this phone, I will want to keep it.
    Raychael aka Mystery Case recently posted..One Perfect Day {Worth Casing Wednesday Link Up}My Profile

    1. Tine

      Oh that is a cool phone! I heard that the photos are pretty darn impressive.


  2. Kai

    Current cameras come with Wifi which lets one instantly transfer photos to a phone for instant uploading. So there is not much difference between a camera and a phone in the “real time” aspect of instagram.
    Having said that I really enjoys quality photos that have an instant, spontaneous, creative feel to them. As much as I enjoy Instagram…it is not a good platform for communication and should be kept for lighter (frivolous) subjects.

    1. Tine

      That’s how I used some of my DSLR photos to Instagram too, because of its WIFI function. It’s a bit of a hassle but nothing too inconvenient. I agree; Instagram is purely for viewing images alone. It doesn’t do much for communication because 1) when one’s comment is too long, you can’t actually see it as it’s truncated and 2) if there are a lot of comments, the older ones are pushed behind and not seen.

      I follow a few Instagrammers who do perfectly lovely images. They’re not DSLR or any separate camera-worthy sort of images but the stories behind those images have what you said, that instant, spontaneous and creative feel to them. Fat Mum Slim is definitely one of them.

  3. Paris B

    Alright, I had strong feelings about this subject before but like you, I’ve mellowed over time. While I think taking good pictures is a good step towards growing your brand on Instagram, there is a difference between taking good pictures and just following the crowd. 99% of them out there are just following the crowd. Just browse photos and odds are that the popular ones look the same – white background, flat lay, flowers, candles, multiples of product strewn all over etc. It’s not bad, but it’s homogeneous. So, to me, it’s not about the camera, it’s about the eye behind the camera. A good photographer will be able to take a camera phone and make the picture look amazing after a bit of tweaking with an app or two. But just relying on the camera to do the job won’t get anyone very far. I don’t take great pictures, but I like to test myself and push my boundaries by trying to use my phone camera as often as I can. I think that gives it a ‘look’ that’s different and more spontaneous than a structured, arranged shot. Honestly, I’ve tried it and the arranging and clearing up takes too much time. Time I’d rather spend on something else a little bit more productive 😉
    Paris B recently posted..Benjabelle Brush Tree : You didn’t think you needed it, did you?My Profile

    1. Lee

      I totally hear you about following the crowd, and it’s a huge issue for me because this is my job – I’m a social media manager as part of my creative strategist role and I want to seriously punch myself in the face because it is SO HARD to the break that hipster mould to get decent engagement from an audience. To some degree, you gotta go where the audience wants you to go even if your heart screams NO MORE PEONIES AND FLAT LAYS.

      1. Tine

        God, what is up with the peonies? One day, I wanna use weeds for a flat lay. Maybe place a candle next to it, a Diptyque one. The weeds and dead grass would look so damn classy next to that. *nudge nudge*

        1. Yolondi

          Dandelions, go dandelions. Easy to access, most yards have them, can do something creative with that white sap that oozes from the stem? 🙂

          1. Tine

            HAHAHAHA how clever! Dandelions! Very pretty too. 😉

        2. Lee

          One day, I’m going to do that – Just for you. I’ll be your online tuxedo mask with some hideous weed, hiding behind a client brand haha

    2. Tine

      Many would disagree with me but I think the typical flat lay is overdone. White background, flowers (gotta be peonies for some reason), candles, multiple products (opened) and so on. Yes it’s nice but to be honest, it’s boring. I’ve seen really over flat lays on Pinterest; dark background, no Macbook, no candle … different. I tried the whole flat lay thing and it’s pretty inconvenient because like you said, have to clear everything up 😛 I did the whole candle next to the keyboard thing but really, that’s just unrealistic because 1) who the hell puts a candle right next to a keyboard and 2) my black keyboard ain’t as fancy as the Apple’s Wireless one. 😛
      I suppose that then again, these days, no one wants to look for “realistic” on Instagram anymore …

  4. Kat Ness

    I don’t mind if users use their cameras for their IG photos. I’m not that fussy over my own account as I take photos of my day and they’re pretty average haha.
    Kat Ness recently posted..Summer Lovin’ | FavouritesMy Profile

    1. Tine

      At least you take photos of your day. I can’t be arsed. 😛

  5. Stephanie

    I don’t really mind, I do occasionally use my actual camera photos (usually when posting a photo from a blog post). However most of the time I cannot be bothered to pull out my camera, take photos, upload to my computer & transfer to my phone. I kind of think of Instagram as being spur of the moment photos, a bit impromptu but as you say Instagram is changing and it is more of a promotional tool than just photos now.
    Stephanie recently posted..2015 Beauty GoalsMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Yeah Instagram definitely is shifting directions. I’m seeing it used as more of a promotional tool these days. It used to be for spur of the moment photos that aren’t too nice, which is why they have filters. These days, I feel like it’s quite a lot of work to post a good photo on IG, having to make sure things are styled properly, good lighting, etc etc. It’s exhausting!

  6. Rebecca B. Bird

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using DSLR photos, especially now that cloud storage really does make moving large files from one device to your phone pretty seamless. And you never know what people will respond to… pretty pictures get a lot of attention in general, but sometimes I’m surprised at how many people “like” crappy, poorly-composed photos I post sometimes. I’m assuming they just think the subject matter is interesting or funny!
    Rebecca B. Bird recently posted..Valentine’s Day Idea: “Sweet Nothings” DIY Gift BasketMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Yeah I know what you mean. Sometimes when I like a blurry, dark photo, I had to wonder, am I liking that photo because I really think it’s good (more often than not, it’s not), or because I like the person who snapped and posted it? You know what I mean? God that sounds conceited but … sigh.

  7. swati

    i think dslr pics on instagram is fine but i find it too much of a hassle to transfer from cam to phone. and, your instagram pics are damn good 🙂
    swati recently posted..My Hair Diary – January 2015My Profile

    1. Tine

      Hahah thanks! The good ones are usually taken with the DSLR. Before the current camera that has WIFI capabilities, I had to snap the photo with the old DSLR, transfer it to the computer, edit and upload it to Dropbox so that I can retrieve it from my phone. Bloody hell, so much work for ONE Instagram photo! 😛

  8. Ling @TheBestBeautyBlog

    To be honest, that’s not what bothers me about Instagram. DSLR pics or quality phone pics make great photos. (I love Fat Mum Slim’s photos too!) I do a combo of both but the transferring from DSLR to computer to edit then back to phone to post up to IG is too troublesome so I’ve been looking at WiFi enabled cameras / SD cards recently…

    What bothers me is those damn blurry WTF-are-you-posting photos?
    Ling @TheBestBeautyBlog recently posted..Keep Calm & Relax with L’OccitaneMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Hahahahaha I have a lot of that on my time line. Have you also seen the ones that write an essay on a plain background and then post? I was thinking, erm, why not write in the caption? Or use Facebook or Twitter? 😛

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