I read this article Give your DSLR a brain by connecting an android phone and was amazed by how a DSLR camera can become a much smarter device after connecting with an Android phone (with the help of just one OTG cable).

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So, I was wondering if it is possible to give any compact digital camera a brain by connecting to an Android phone?


2 Answers 2


The linked article only covered Canon and Nikon, but yes, most modern digital cameras can be connected and controlled via a phone, either Android or iPhone.

Most of these are officially supported by various camera vendors. For example, Sony supports an app called "Image Edge Mobile." Fuji cameras have "FUJIFILM Camera Remote." Panasonic has "LUMIX Sync App." But there are many third-party apps you can use, as well.

I am most familiar with the app that Olympus provides and supports, called "OI.Share." It lets you remote-control, review, edit, and geotag images taken on your Olympus (or OMDS) cameras, as well as gives you phone access to the complete user manual. This via WiFi, which most cameras have had for some years now.

In fact, Olympus made a camera called "Olympus Air" that had almost no user interface at all — you could only change its settings via a phone app! (It has an on-off button and a shutter button, and that's about all. You can use it without a smart phone by pre-configuring it, then pointing it at things blind, and pressing the shutter button. It works fairly well that way with a fisheye or ultra-wide angle lens.)


Possible? Anything is. But does it make sense? No.

A compact digital camera is a poor compromise. It usually has a zoom lens with either short or long zoom range.

In the short zoom range cameras, the ~28mm-100mm equivalent (but really the sensor is 6.2mm x 4.6mm with crop factor 5.5 so actually it's 5mm-18mm) lens is usually around f/2.7 - f/5.6. At the tele end, you have 3.2mm aperture. A smartphone camera would have 28mm equivalent focal length with crop factor of 6.2 so actually it has 4.4mm focal length. The aperture is f/1.7 on most smartphones so you can see it has 2.6mm aperture.

So, the compact camera at tele end would have only slightly bigger aperture, 3.2mm as opposed to 2.6mm of a smartphone. Long time ago, when sensors couldn't have many pixels and you could expect to get around 4-6 megapixels from a sensor, the zoom made sense. Today, when smartphone cameras regularly achieve 50 megapixels, the smartphone will probably have a better digital zoom than the zoom lens of a compact camera.

Let's look at wide end too. A short zoom range camera has 1.9mm aperture as opposed to 2.6mm of smartphone. So on most focal lengths you use, the compact zoom camera is worse than a smartphone as it collects less light!

In response to smartphone cameras with their fast prime lens beating compact cameras, the compact camera manufacturers began to make superzooms like ~28mm-280mm. The tradeoff is that the superzoom lenses are slower. A superzoom would be about f/3.4-5.6. So at the wide end, you would be now collecting light using a 1.5mm aperture, even worse than the 1.9mm aperture of a short zoom range camera (and way worse than 2.6mm aperture of a smartphone).

The superzooms are not good, however. When fully zoomed in, contrast detect autofocus is generally slow, nothing like that of a DSLR or mirrorless with a long tele lens. A camera sold as 280mm f/5.6 (but that really is 51mm f/5.6 due to a huge crop factor) would have 9.1mm aperture opening, though, better than 2.6mm of a smartphone. However, smartphone manufacturers have added second tele cameras with better optics so the benefit of a superzoom isn't that clear, however. Superzooms still probably collect bit more light than a smartphone tele camera, because the smartphone tele camera is obtained by an even huger crop factor than ~5-6, so you have to remember that when comparing stated f-numbers (an f-number makes sense only if told with focal length, and the focal length is very small if crop factor is large).

I'd say the largest benefit of a compact digital camera is that it has a Xenon flash tube. A smartphone doesn't (usually; there is a Nokia smartphone with a Xenon flash). Smartphones generally use LEDs with uneven illumination and it's more like a continuous light than a flash, it only helps if the exposure time is very long.

Instead of controlling a compact digital camera with a smartphone, why don't you consider controlling an external Xenon flash with a smartphone? You would get better results that way.

Compact cameras have died for a good reason. Almost always, either a smartphone or a DSLR or mirrorless camera is better choice.


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