NY1's Adam Balkin looks at how smartphone camera quality has increased over time, to the point where companies are using photos shot on phones for billboards. He filed the following report.

Something strange - strange in a good way - recently happened to Cielo de la Paz. She, like so many of us these days, is an avid amateur photographer, since she does happen to have a powerful camera with her at all times, the one that is part of her phone.

 “My picture was found on Flickr and some mysterious person asked if they could license it.  I said ‘sure’ and we signed some agreements and then I found out it was Apple," she says.

Apple wanted to include the shot in the billboards all over the country as part of its ‘Shot on iPhone’ ad campaign. The billboards help illustrate, quite literally, just how powerful all of our camera phones have gotten.

The lenses, sensors and processors have improved.  There are now, clearly, plenty of megapixels, enough to put shots up on the sides of buildings. Imagine doing that with pictures from your phone even just five years ago. In addition, many apps allow seemingly endless artistic effects. And of course, these cameras are rarely less than a second or two away from our finger tips.

 It is for these reason why professional photographer Austin Mann says he not only prefers to shoot on his phone, but even teaches a photography class where students can only use their phones as their camera.

“If you’re talking about accessibility and the power of an overall platform, in a lot of ways, it’s better.  If you’re talking specifically about optical qualities, it’s getting really close to that of the pro DSLRs," he says.

Even though sales of digital cameras are absolutely plummeting thanks to smartphones, Mann says the two scenarios in which he still does prefer his standalone camera: shoots where he will need long zooms and nighttime shots that require lots of time and ultra-sensitive, low-light sensors.