The Camera I Used Most Last Year

Despite takeovers and supposed improvements, Flickr hasn’t changed much for me in the last couple of years.

This is a good thing – if it ain’t broke…

But one thing they have just introduced is a stats review of the previous year.

Probably the main surprise for me was that my most used camera in 2021 was my Realme 6 Pro Android phone.

Now of course Flickr only analyses the pictures I uploaded to my profile in 2021, it can’t see all images I shot with all cameras and didn’t upload.

But in truth I think I only used about three, perhaps four different cameras anyway.

And because I use Flickr partly as a kind of online portfolio and back up for only what I consider my best photographs, it does tell a story that the camera I made most of these with was my phone.

Also, it doesn’t see any of my family photos, of which I probably made thousands last year (and deleted most of them to keep the very favourites), and 99% of these were with the Realme 6 Pro too.

So what does this mean? I should just face the writing on the wall, accept that my favourite camera is a phone and sell the other dozen or so languishing and neglected in shoeboxes?

Well, no, not quite.

The Realme is probably, in fact undoubtedly, the most capable phone camera I’ve used, with its fast 26mm f/1.8 lens and 1/1.7″ Samsung sensor – larger than in virtually all other compact cameras I’ve used, let alone phones.

Composition is a pleasure with the large 16.6cm screen, massively larger than any digital compact’s rear screen.

The standard colour mode is fine for those family photos and the b/w mode is pretty effective too, meaning no post processing is required, always a massive plus for me.

If I do want any enhancements, 30 seconds in Snapseed does the job.

But, as I always come back to, despite its talents, the Realme is pretty dull to use as a camera.

And the screen, like any touchscreen phone, is good for scrolling and zooming, not so appealing for making pictures with.

Think about it, when you’re with your lover, do you want to hold and stroke and squeeze them, or tap them repeatedly with a pointed finger? I rest my case.

So this lacklustre capturing interface, combined with its shape and handling, means photography with this phone never feels a connected, immersive experience.

Even some of the cheapest digital compacts I’ve used at least feel pretty good in your hands, and have a proper shutter button where you can feel the half press to lock focus, then the full press to make the photograph.

I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy shooting with a phone in the way I do with one of my favourite digital compacts, let alone a bridge or DSLR camera with their delicious contours and vastly superior handling.

Which means those currently rather underused “proper” cameras in my collection can still live in hope that they haven’t yet shot their final image in my hands.

It’ll be interesting to see what my most used camera is come the end of this year. I’ll let you know this time next year.

In the meantime, how about you? What do you think was your most used camera in 2021?

As always, please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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16 thoughts on “The Camera I Used Most Last Year”

  1. yep, my phone is always with me, and is amazingly capable. For intentional photography I use my Contax or one of my medium format cameras, and for astrophotography (we sometimes see the Aurora Australis here) my entry level Canon DSLR comes out. Nowadays fitted with a vintage Zeiss lens which makes a huge difference. It is really horses for courses, the process is different for each, and they all have a place in my life!

    1. Intentional photography is a great phrase, very descriptive. Though I’d used cameras before, I trace what I would call my intentional photography back to around 2005 when I started to venture out on freezing cold mornings at 5am with my Sony Ericsson camera phone to capture frozen spiderwebs and leaves. This was the first time I was intentionally going out to make pictures, rather than just having a camera with me and snapping a shot of a family member or something.

      Or put another way maybe I started using a camera to make pictures of things I found beautiful, rather than just a way to capture a moment or memory. Both uses are valid and valuable of course, I’d just apply the “intentional” description to the former approach.

  2. I think my most used camera in 2021 was my MFT LUMIX G91, followed by the phone and then my film Minolta.
    But this mainly because we couldn’t really travel for obvious reasons… 🙂
    So for 2022 I so do hope this is gonna change. I just got my GR III in the mail which will replace the G91 as I was longing for something pocketable. We love to travel light, carry on only and even the small G91 was to big and heavy for that. Just realised that during my first business trip of the year where I really wished I could’ve brought a camera besides my phone.
    Totally agreeing with you here, Dan. Physical controls are just something different than a touch screen. And a camera motivates me so much more to actually go out and shoot than my phone.

    So, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I really enjoy your contents although I’m more of a silent reader most of the time.

    Warm regards

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Lars, I’d like to see you write more often.

      I love the Lumix cameras, as you may have gathered. Also love my old GRD III, which the GR III is a descendent of. Let us know how you find yours?

  3. I use my iPhone as a visual notepad rather than as a serious camera. I don’t know haw many pictures I took with it last year because I delete them as soon as I no longer need them. There are 34 iPhone photos from 2021 still in Apple Photos.

    My most used “real” camera last year, based on the number of rolls of film developed, was a Nikon F with a 55/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens. Lots and lots of closeups in the apartment. The most used camera based on how often I took it with me when going out was a Leica IIIf, by a wide margin.

    1. Doug, do you sometimes use your iPhone to make a picture of a place you then plan to return to with a “real” camera?

      How many shots do you think you’ve made with your trust old Leica IIIf?

      1. Hi Dan, Yes, I sometime record a scene with the iPhone as a likely subject for a film camera shot. More often related to a vantage point than just to the subject.

        Interesting question about total shots with the IIIf. As a first order guess I’d say something like an average of 20 shots per roll, times an average of 20 rolls a year, times 57 years for a total of something like 23,000. But I am slowing down. Last year it was just 10 rolls with the IIIf and 10 rolls total with the other cameras and just 12 shots per roll.

  4. I was in bed reading tonight this blog post, got to your question, and felt the immediate urge to pop out of bed to answer the question. In 2019, I used a web service, The Analytics Dashboard For Lightroom, to analyse my Adobe Lightroom catalogue file. I think I’ll write an update to my 2019 blogpost. It’s something to write about after my writing drought.

    It’s no surprise to me that my most used camera in 2021 was my Fuji X-T2/T3 (over 70% of my images). My iPhone was second, followed by my Minolta XD-11. In 2019 and 2020, the Fuji was also my most used camera. My most used lens was my XF27mmF2.8. Again, no surprise there. I love the ~41mm (full frame equivalent) field of view.

  5. My Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, with its trio of cameras, have killed my Sony WX80 compact camera. It has a widest angle, the digital zoom is clearer than my optical zoom of the proper camera, I can customize the colors to my palette in “my filters” option, it has slow mode, hyperlapse, and some apps, like “Pink camera,” notify me each day to shoot and I get some creative shots. Neverheless as you mention there is a a sense of distance, the camera has real buttons and it is not that distant as in the smartphone with its digital world as an intermediate, for important times, family gatherings or trips, I use mostly my Fujifilm X100S. The smartphone is not just “good enough;” is extraordinary and as so I try to learn its rendering to like it for what it is, editing is almost no necessary, although I edit the blue of the skies to get it less flat blue and more like I see it.

    1. Most phones today have very capable cameras, they’ve evolved incredibly. I think about my Realme and everything it can do (not just as a camera) and that it only cost just over £200. Amazing value, and something we couldn’t really have comprehended a decade ago.

      But yep, give me an old compact or DSLR that cost me a tenth of that and I’ll have way more fun using it.

  6. Easy, that was my K200D… it’s easy when you have a main camera.
    I got a new phone last year (Motorola One 5G Ace) and while the camera is quite an upgrade on my previous cheap phones, it has this oversharpening effect that I’m not really fond of. But I have to say that sometimes the phone works well despite this. I think I have about 50 or so pictures on it so it’s not threatening my DSLR at all…
    If I could have a say on the amount of sharpening it could be my “point and shoot” camera, but I guess it does what it does, to overcome the camera’s limitations…

    1. Chris I think that’s probably true of many modern digital cameras, whether they’re in phones or not. Perhaps some of it is trying to (over) compensate for the lens and/or sensor’s limitations, and perhaps part is to create a very clean and sharp image, because those are the kinds of images we’re surrounded with everywhere these days. They’re kind of hyper real, everything looks like computer generated imagery, even if it’s not.

      I think with the older digital cameras, they were trying to recreate the film aesthetic, because that was what was mainstream and what people were used to seeing. A few years in, digital photography (and digital imagery generally) started to find its own look more, which I find is more clinical and, yeh, overly sharp, than film or CCD sensors.

  7. My Fuji xt2 by far. But I use my smartphone camera a lot, too. I’ve taken some really great pictures with my camera phone. But the cameraphone also has a tendency to let me down, sometimes. Last month, I was snowshoeing on a forbiddingly cold, windy day (brutally cold, frostbite-inducing cold high in the mountains) and I decided to only take my phone to do pictures (my Fuji battery would’ve run down in minutes). And the dang thing ruined some otherwise magnificent pictures with posterization in the sky, I was so disappointed! So while the best camera is the one I have with me, I positively believe that, I do have some serious trust issues with my smartphone camera.

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