iPhone 6S camera vs professional DSLR

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mpe, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. mpe macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    I've done a crazy thing and took a few test shoots with my 6S against my professional Nikon DSLR (Nikon D800 and 28mm f/1.8G prime lens)

    My take is that the 6S is surprisingly good at 2k resolution. So if all you need is electronic viewing/sharing, there is a very little actual difference. Obviously, the D800 is much better given by resolution and dynamic range of the sensor, flexibility, you can put more lenses on it, better controls, etc. I wouldn't even dare to do any testing in low-light as there would be no competition. On the other hand iPhone is easier to use and I love its workflow.

    test is here:

  2. Draven45101 macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2015
    Very nice work! Thanks for all the effort and work putting this together. I love the way you setup the slider on the pictures to view the differences between the iPhone and Nikon.

    I have never seen a comparison presented that way and makes for a great visual way of viewing the images.
  3. dojoman macrumors 68000

    Apr 8, 2010
    Am I crazy or iPhone pics looks a lot sharper than D800 or the lens that you're using is creating shallow depth with D800?

  4. JustMichal macrumors member


    Sep 20, 2015
    It would be impressive if it got close to few years old D7000 in low light or dynamic range. Making good pictures in near perfect lightning conditions is hardly a challenge for hardware.
  5. mpe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    The depth of field is much shallower on the Nikon D800. It is a full-frame camera. Therefore only a smart part of the image is in focus on the D800. iPhone has much smaller chip and as result of that it has a much bigger depth of field and pretty much everything is in the focus.

    The bigger depth of field is good or bad depending what do you want to shoot. It is an important creative element and reason why people spent money on big cameras and lenses. On the other hand for some type of shots (like landscapes) huge depth of field could be troublesome.

    The Nikon is actually much sharper as it has three times as many pixels if you look at the two magnified shots.
  6. doboy macrumors 68020

    Jul 6, 2007
  7. CE3 macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2014
    Nice test and presentation. I think landscapes are one of the stronger areas for the 6S camera, and you captured some beautiful scenes. Thanks for sharing!
  8. iNinja08 macrumors regular


    Sep 21, 2015
    Great work, was the default camera app used on the iPhone?
  9. Jordan921 macrumors 601


    Jul 7, 2010
    Bay Area
    Wow the pics both came out great. The iPhone took some really amazing shots!
  10. mpe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    Yes. Normal app sometimes in HDR mode.
  11. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2006
    New Zealand
    Viewing these on my calibrated rMacBook screen I have to say that the difference between the D800 and 6S is marked. The colours on the 6S pictures look over saturated and quite unnatural, and there's too much contrast. The D800 gives a much more natural image - the fence post is a great example, also the cloudy skies look fabulous whereas the 6S has a strange tint and the greens are way off. A phone can take amazing pictures, but up against a dedicated quality camera it is still not really that close.
  12. GrumpyMom macrumors G3


    Sep 11, 2014
    Thank you so much for doing this! Fabulous job!

    I noticed in scene 4, 12 and 13 the iPhone struggled and produced that "Monet watercolors" effect on certain details. In scene 4 it just couldn't capture the surface of the bolt and the piece holding it to the wood. In scene 12 some of the greenery ended up with the watercolor look. And in scene 13 iPhone couldn't capture the detailed surface of the wood at all. It isn't that it looks out of focus, either. It looks like the software did something odd to the image.
  13. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    I haven't checked them all, but most of the D800 pic seem to be shot at f 5.6--f8--or narrower when appropriate.

    The diffraction limit should be around f16 or f22.

    The church interior picture is an obvious win for the D800. The "macro" shots show pleasant bokeh. The others? They need to be blown up. (Or I need to polish my eyeglass lenses.)
  14. mpe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    They were indeed shot at f/5.6, f/8 which is peak sharpness for the camera and the lens. However, on the D800, due to being a 36mpx full-frame camera, the diffraction starts to reduce sharpness at f/8. f/16 or f/22 are hardly usable. At the 2048px resolution the difference wouldn't be too noticeable (except perhaps at these 1:1 detail pictures).
  15. mpe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010

    These detail images 4,12 and 13 are upsampled (to match the D800 resolution). This is where Nikon shows its muscles. iPhone just doesn't have enough resolution to compete with 36mpx sensor at that magnification. It was expected. At 2k resolution they still look good which is fine as most people don't wan't to print billboards sized photos :)
  16. roeiz macrumors 65816


    Sep 13, 2010
    really great work you've put there!
    of course the lens and sensor will give shallower DOF,
    but anyway, for a phone cam, it's quite decent and usable up to a degree.
    it's more than enough for my use anyway.
  17. MichaelMidnight macrumors 6502


    Feb 20, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Man! Thanks for these side by swipe comparisons!
  18. mmartins25 macrumors newbie


    Oct 11, 2015
  19. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Terrific comparison. While it's clear there is still a reason to buy a DSLR if you're serious about photography as an art, the iPhone stands on its own as an amazing camera and quite adequate for 90% of shots and for many people 100% of shots.

    I lug my larger camera around less and less these days.
  20. jase1125 macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2014
    While the iPhone is convenient to have in my pocket, it really cannot compare. I appreciate the OP's comparisons, but the D800 images were not processed to their potential. Take a DSLR RAW image and process it to it's potential and one will likely toss the iPhone pics away. Now, as a convenient point and shoot, it is nice to have. But when I take an image of something I want to keep, I always reach for my Mirrorless or SLR.
  21. iosuser macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2012
    Totally agree. The closeup of scene 4, the wooden post the Nikon looks far more natural.

    Every one of iPhone 6/6s photo will have the water color effect if you pixel peep. There was a heated debate on this issue on the iPhone 6 last year, and the 6s is no better. Never mind a full frame Nikon. My 1" sensored Sony RX100M4 and RX10, even my Canon S120 1/1.7" sensor, will obliterate the iPhone if I pixel peep.

    Guess what, as small as the RX100 and S120 are, I rarely carry it with me. I stopped pixel peeping and got over it. It is pretty great as long as one doesn't pixel peep.
  22. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    Very nice. Thumbs up. Not much to say after some of the other comments, but to echo some sentiment.

    1. The iphone is no dslr, but it does an amazing job.
    2. workflow on the iphone, well...works.
    3. If you are serious about the art of photography, you can be a great photographer with the iphone, but the right tools for the job.

    This shows how a small camera sensor can hold it's own (as slim as it maybe) against 6 to 7 thousand dollars in high-end camera equipment.
  23. sunking101 macrumors 604


    Sep 19, 2013
    Interesting, thanks. Those iPhone 6S photos don't look too shabby at all in such esteemed company.
  24. GoldenDust Suspended


    Sep 24, 2015
    United States
    I disagree with point 3. The iPhone does not support RAW photos. Once he takes a picture, it's already processed and you can't undo a plethora of things. As it's in Jpeg, a lot of the colors are processed already and you can not exactly manipulate it to its fullest potential. The iPhone has a great camera, I will give you that but as a photographer myself, the iPhone does not replace a DSLR. I would use an iPhone as a backup DSLR only if it supported RAW format and allowed me to tweak the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
  25. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    I disagree about your point. You don't need raw to understand the art of photography and take a great composition using the rule of two-thirds, etc. Sure you're limited by the tools, but a photographer can capture a great snap that tells a story no matter what equipment. Without raw if you want to take the photograph to the next level, then the tools are limited by the format. I'm a photographer myself with the big bulky camera and lots of lenses, pro-flash and the like. The art of photography is separate and distinct from the tools of photography. Anyway, this is another discussion that will clearly side-track what the OP has tried to do. :)

Share This Page

43 October 20, 2015