Why does one need a loop device at all?

I previously used to create image files using dd, set up a filesystem on them using mkfsand mount them to access them as mounted partitions. Later on, I have seen on the internet that many examples use losetup beforehand to make a loop device entry under /dev, and then mount it. I could not tell why one would practically need an image file to behave as a loop device and have its own /dev entry while the same behaviour can be obtained without all the hassle.