Why does it take me so many attempts to get a good selfie? Pro camera v phone camera – what’s the difference?

Selfie, after selfie, after selfie… you take several, to finally get one you think will be just about ok – sound familiar? Have you ever considered the different results between a pro camera and a phone camera?

It’s an observation I hear frequently.

‘But we all have the cameras on our phones so I can do my own headshots can’t I?’… 

Now before you switch off, I’m NOT going to get technical, although the differences are all technical. I’m going to show you comparisons and why it makes a difference to the way you view your own image. 

As always, I often refer to related content in a previous blog, take a read, it may help: Using Phone cameras and filters.

The following two images were taken in the same spot, same angle, minutes apart, very similar ratio crop, no retouching:

The first was taken on an phone camera – The second taken on my professional camera:

Selfie image, full on to the camera, no re-touching.

Selfie image, taken on a phone, illustrating distortion.

Selfie image, taken on a professional camera, no-retouching.

A selfie image, taken with a professional DSLR camera.











Firstly, let me point out the distortion on my facial features, which is pretty obvious as you can see. The image taken on my pro camera is far more representative of who I am and what I look like.

I promised I wouldn’t get technical … but these are all technical issues and if you want to know more on that, please get in touch. 

Secondly, the colour representation. In fairness to our phone cameras, (especially the newer models) they can do a pretty good job. However, that’s often when there is plenty of natural daylight. The jumper colour is really accurate with my pro camera.

Thirdly, the light level. Although there was reasonably good ambient light, I didn’t have a good source of natural daylight directly on my face. You can see the difference in how the two cameras managed it.

The following two images were again taken in the same spot, same angle, minutes apart, very similar ratio crop, no retouching:

The first was taken on an iPhone – The second taken on my professional camera:

Selfie image, with part of my hand in view.

This is a second illustration of phone camera distortion.

Selfie taken on a professional camera with part of my hand visible in front.

Selfie on a professional DSLR camera comparison.












This illustrates the distortion again. While I was holding my hand the same distance from the lens, my fingers are clearly much larger in the first image. Again, the colour representation and light levels differ too. 

The following two images are a little older, both taken with a phone camera, a little further away from the lens.

You can still see some distortion in these, but as they are further away from the camera, it’s less obvious.

Selfie taken at arms length.

Selfie taken at arms length with slightly less distortion.

Selfie taken further away.

This selfie taken at arms length illustrates slightly less distortion.

What’s this comparison got to do with how we see ourselves?

I may have mentioned this before, but it’s worth covering again. One of the first things that can cause us to question or dislike an image of ourselves is ‘unfamiliarity’. We are used to seeing ourselves in the mirror. However, when we see a  photograph, it’s the other way round, which is how everyone else sees us. We may all think our faces are symmetrical, but we’re not. So slight differences on each side of our face are reversed. Add to this additional unflattering distortion as shown above, potential for poor lighting, wrong angle, and it’s no wonder people keep trying to take selfies unsuccessfully.

Pro camera v phone camera – what’s the difference?

In conclusion, you can clearly see quite a difference between phone camera images and those taken on a professional DSLR. So working with a professional photographer, is not just about their knowledge of how to get the best from you. It’s the type of camera they are using too.

Both the following help sessions are good starters for you to understand more about the images you have and why you might not be so keen on them, especially if they were taken on a phone camera:

Review Your Image

Explore Your Image

Did you know Love Your Image is on LinkedIn?