Smartphone image quality VS Digital camera image quality

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by stylinexpat, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. stylinexpat macrumors 65816

    stylinexpat

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    #1
    From what I have seen released recently it seems like smartphone cameras from higher end devices like the Huawei P30 Pro seem to come quite close to the basic digital cameras being sold for around $1K or less. A good way to tell is zooming in on an image after a picture was taken to see how grainy an image can get from there.

    Sony released a new camera this last week and I looked at some images but when I zoomed in on them they still became grainy looking and seemed a bit washed out but without zooming in they looked as good as as some images from other high end smartphones. I do realize though that if one got a higher end digital camera model and spent 2-3K then that would be a different story but what for under 1K blows away any smartphone camera?

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/26/jap...fight-for-survival-in-the-smartphone-era.html
     
  2. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2017
    Location:
    Tanagra
    #2
    Smartphones have indeed gotten very good at handling the everyday shots that most people take. However, like so many things, once you get to a certain point in a craft, there is great value in having a specialized tool for the job. And it doesn’t take a $1k+ camera to realize gains in your results.

    Another thing smartphones have done is make everyday people far better at taking a picture. That’s good for those with no interest in how they got their results, but there are those that still appreciate having great control over their cameras. With a phone, you are still limited by small sensors, fixed focal lengths, and limited apertures.

    It’s the phone’s ability to post process that gives people the results they are looking for. In that regard, I think image quality comparisons never tell the whole story.
     
  3. Sebct macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #3
    This is not a particularly great way to assess camera quality.

    Most DSLR's under 1k. Pick up a used 5D MK III.
     
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    Are you zooming in on the exported jpgs that were posted to the web, or the actual masters that were taken from that camera?

    Consider the sensor size of the iPhone vs. that of the newly updated Sony RX100 VII. Larger sensor allows more dynamic range, more light gathering capabilities and of course more pixels. Did you crop the Sony image and compare an iPhone image cropped similarly? While computational photography is improving the art, a larger sensor is still better in low light situations imo. Larger cameras (then the iPhone) with larger sensors allow for DOF, lower ISO, faster shutter speeds.

    upload_2019-7-28_16-18-41.png

    If you're just posting images on facebook or instragram, a smartphone is probably all that you need. While its true the smartphone is impacting the casual photographer and inexpensive point and shoots are disappearing there is a market for large 1" sensor compacts, mirrorless and DSLRs and so far smartphones have yet been unable to produce results on par with those.
     
  5. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2013
    #5
    I haven't seen a smartphone yet that can take a photo like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. stylinexpat thread starter macrumors 65816

    stylinexpat

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    #6
    These images from this link for the new Sony RX100

    https://m.dpreview.com/samples/2998...tm_medium=marquee&utm_campaign=traffic_source
    --- Post Merged, Jul 28, 2019 ---
    It looks great on my iPad and iPhone until I zoom in on it, then it looks grainy and washed out. A good image in my opinion will continue to look great and not washed out even after being zoomed in on. If the one from a smartphone is going to look washed out and the one from the digital camera is going to look washed out then the price difference does not leave too much advantage of one over another. There are some so don’t get me wrong but not night and day difference
     
  7. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2017
    Location:
    Tanagra
    #7
    You can’t take any image uploaded to this forum as an example. I think the site reprocesses them somehow, as I notice detail loss on my own contributions. Still, you can easily make your case that millions of people need nothing more than a smartphone camera. But it wouldn’t take long to see the difference in results. I can post an example of my XR at f1.8 and my LUMIX G85 ($700 camera) at f1.8 and you will quickly see the differences in certain circumstances. You can also make a comparison between the two and see indistinguishable results in certain circumstances.
     
  8. Clix Pix, Jul 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019

    Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #8
    Sensor size matters. It's also about the ability to adjust settings so that the desired result actually happens as opposed to the camera doing most of the choosing.... For example, a few months ago I went to a concert in a cabaret setting where photography was permitted and a friend had his P&S with him. I had my RX100 M6 with me. Both of our cameras had similar ranges in terms of focal length. He had his P&S on "auto" because it didn't have a lot of options for settings anyway and I had my RX100 M6 set up with spot metering, appropriate aperture, this, that and the other setting, and afterward when looking at both of our images he wondered why his showed the entire stage and a bunch of unnecessary stuff in the background while mine featured just the singer, throwing extraneous stuff into the gently darkened/vignetted background. Which were the more pleasing photos, do you think? And why? Well...we were there to see and hear a singer who was doing her show solo with a band and pianist onstage with her, but the primary interest, at least for me and I would guess most of the people in the audience that night, was, yes, the singer....

    Anyway, point being here that being able to adjust settings to fit the situation really is important and there is not a whole lot of ability to do that with either a cell phone camera or a bog-standard P&S.

    That said I do use my iPhone XS to shoot quite a few casual snaps around home or even some more thought-out shots, too, but I don't consider it in the running when it comes to really serious shooting.....
     
  9. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2017
    Location:
    Tanagra
    #9
    Alright, just to follow up on my comment. I set my G85 to f1.8 to match my XR's f1.8. In this first example, I took a casual shot of a tree and sky (not really an f1.8 situation for an actual camera, but it's for science). I took crops of both for detail:
    a.jpeg b.jpg I would say that in this case, neither shot is going to come away convincingly better. However, I'm shooting the G85 in less than ideal settings, and just pointing and shooting like an iPhone, only matching f-stop in this comparison. If I adjust a few settings and do some post processing, I'm confident more detail could be attained, or even a completely different look.

    Now let's shoot something up close and look at a crop:
    c.jpeg
    d.jpg
    As you can see, the second shot produces an entirely different result. And this isn't so much about what "looks" better in this case, but rather the fact that with an iPhone, the first flower picture is what it is going to produce every single time. The second picture is just the beginning of what a dedicated camera can do, even one well below $1000. The GX85 uses the same sensor as the G85, and it is even cheaper.

    Again, it's all about tools for the job. I can put an IKEA bookshelf together with the wrench in the box just fine, but if I needed to assemble 10 bookshelves in a day, I probably want a better tool for the job.
     
  10. Ledgem macrumors 68000

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #10
    Under perfect lighting conditions it becomes harder to tell a difference. In that type of lighting my iPhone's photos look sharp and colors look nice; the advantage of my standard cameras come in the form of lens versatility (zoom and depth of field control) as well as overall responsiveness (autofocus performance, burst speed, and so on).

    When the lighting gets even slightly less optimal, there's no question: the iPhone's photos work for memories, but skin tones become a blotchy mess and details are lost.

    Smartphones have the advantage in using computational techniques and other interesting things like combining multiple lenses and sensors at once to generate an image. Some day these benefits might outweigh technically superior single-sensor, single-lens solutions. We're not there yet, though.
     
  11. d.steve, Jul 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019

    d.steve macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    #11
    Ah. Thanks for being specific. Any specific photos in particular, and just to be sure - are you downloading the full JPG or RAW files?

    What I immediately noticed is that many of the photos are relatively high ISO. So when I zoom in and notice the "smartphone-like" qualities, it's because of high ISO + noise reduction. For example, the second photo on the first row:

    45.23 mm, 1/500 sec, f/5, ISO 1250, +0.7 EV 5,472 × 3,648 (20 MP)

    It's not awful considering the lighting, the camera, and the ISO, and I would expect worse from a smartphone, but I do see what you mean.

    Also, keep in mind that if you're going to compare "zoomed in vs zoomed in" that you really should be comparing at an equivalent screen size (or print) - not 100% zoom vs 100% zoom. A camera with 2x the pixels would be 25% larger in size, thus you'd want to zoom to 75% (or whatever % makes for same size-on-screen) for an apples-to-apples comparison.

    EDIT: also, do you have any light light P30 sample shots with people in it? After posting, I decided to look up the camera on it but didn't find any similar enough to be a remotely fair comparison of the two. At a glance, it looks like it's pretty freaking good for a phone, though.
     
  12. stylinexpat thread starter macrumors 65816

    stylinexpat

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    #12
    Here is one I took with my P30 Pro. Zoom in and then look at the sign on the wall
    IMG_20190526_145326.jpg
     
  13. kallisti macrumors 68000

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #13
    The entire image is soft. While the sign is readable zoomed in, it certainly isn't sharp. More telling is looking at everyone's head in the image--without exception the hair on the heads is just a mush without any detail at all.

    Some of this could be a reflection of the downsampling that happens when posting images on the web (as noted in posts above)--most images posted on the web are of downsampled JPEGs that lose sharpness and introduce artifacts (noise, banding, etc.) as part of the process of making the images smaller. But your image as posted isn't exactly the poster-child of good image quality ;). I don't mean this as a personal insult, but I'm extremely underwhelmed with the "sharpness when zoomed in" of your posted image.

    The real question (as also mentioned in the above replies) is what you plan to do with your images and what is the intended output. If only sharing memories on the web, then a phone camera may be adequate. If wanting to print or manipulate your images in post, a phone camera will give inferior results to a more dedicated camera (especially one that can shoot in RAW). I used an app on a trip this spring that let me shoot RAW + JPEG on my iPhone XS Max. The RAW files were nasty--I walked away impressed by just how well the iPhone creates JPEGs from the crap captured by the sensor. I also had a dedicated camera for the trip and the files between the two were not even in the same ballpark.

    There is also the caveat (mentioned in the posts above) that dedicated cameras can offer more creative control over the image compared to a phone camera.

    Phone cameras are great for what they are. I appreciate the saying that "the best camera is the one you have with you". My personal take on that saying is that I always need to have a "real" camera with me ;). For me personally, the pissing contest between the quality of various phone cameras is a moot point--none of them are of acceptable quality for my uses.
     
  14. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2013
    #14
  15. iluvmacs99, Jul 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019

    iluvmacs99 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2019
    #15
    The smartphone had made a lot of jobs in photography redundant or obsolete. I was one who was made obsolete after working for 26 years in the photography business. Most of the things you see made done in a smartphone were things once needed people like myself, well paid professionals, to make the images look great. No more. These days, computational A.I photography make everything look somewhat professional just by buying an app.

    Smartphones like the Huawei P30 Pro uses technology and software that are very similar to what you can buy from Topaz Labs. The Topaz A.I series, like Sharpen A.I, Denoise A.I, Gigapixel A.I and Adjust A.I are somewhat built into the software matrix of the Huawei or even the latest iPhone X series of phones. So when you took those photos, the smaller sensor isn't an issue anymore once the image is processed through computational photography. So when you look at the images by pixel peeping, you think that you've got a better camera from the Huawei P30 Pro vs the $1000 traditional camera. But the problem with those $1000 traditional camera is that, all cameras made by Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Leica and Hasselblad plus Fuji do not come with A.I computational photography software included. You have to buy a separate computer with a powerful GPU and a multi-core CPU plus get equivalent software like Topaz. I bought a Mac Pro 5,1 "specifically" to run the Topaz suite of software and that cost a total of $1000. And my GPU, which is the RX580 isn't the most powerful either as it takes about 2 mins to process a 16MP or 20MP image per computational task. I have both a 1" sensor and a m/43 camera and I am totally impressed after I put those images from a 1K camera through my Mac Pro. They just look so stunningly beautiful; so much so that I don't need full frame.

    A 1k camera using Topaz A.I products will smoke any 1K smartphone in terms of images. They will look much cleaner, more detailed and have better dynamic range thanks to the larger sensor on 1k traditional cameras. The problem is, you need a thousand dollar computer or a bit more with a better GPU and software to post process it like the Huawei or iPhone which has those things somewhat built right in. As smartphones get even ever more powerful, it will threaten the 2k to 3k cameras.

    Traditional cameras will always have a market because they offer interchangeable lenses and maximum creativity. But the days where cameras are a must in photography has long since passed. Most people will use a smartphone as their cameras. In fact, when I upgrade my old iPhone, I will no longer use my 1" Sony sensor camera anymore as it just adds bulk to my light travel kit and process my images when necessary using Topaz A.I software to get the best out of those phone images, but I doubt I need them.

    Unless you are planning to print 40x60" prints like you're printing 4x6', most people don't really need a Nikon D850 nor the new Sony A7R4. Most people are happy with 11x14" Walgreens or Costco prints which the smartphones will duly print well on. And besides, why do anyone care about missing a few details here and there, because most people don't really bother to print their images. Even if they do, the prints themselves look pretty good. Critical prints with critical detail are good only for gallery prints which command for big bucks. I see that. But I don't see why you need to store all those detail in the images unless that what you want -- to entertain yourself that you had captured a master piece which when shared online goes from a high value to a zero monetary value these days.
     
  16. AEWest macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2019
    #16
    A couple of years ago I attended a wedding that had a limited budget for photography.

    The reception was held indoors in a poorly lit hall. I was asked to bring my Canon DSLR with f2.8 lens to provide additional photos for the single paid photographer.

    As well, the bride and groom asked all attending for their smartphone photos to add to wedding book.

    It turns out most of the smartphone photos were unusable for print due to excessive noise and blotchy skin tones. They were horrible files. Virtually all the photos that ended up in book were from me or the pro.

    As others have stated, smartphone photos are good when lighting is reasonable, but they are simply not comparable with much larger sensors of DSLRs particularly in low light or high contrast situations. As well the optics are much better for DSLRs.
     
  17. stylinexpat thread starter macrumors 65816

    stylinexpat

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    #17
    Thanks for kind reply and sharing. Could you share an image with us here. Was great reading your post here.
     
  18. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #18
    The big difference for me between using my iPhone XS and my D750 beside image quality and controls is ergonomics.
    I enjoy holding and using a real camera. Taking images with my iPhone always feels awkward. It’s nowhere near as easy to hold it steady etc.

    But as others have said it’s tools for the job. I will use what I have to hand. But if I have any thoughts I might be taking pictures, I always pack my DSLR.
     
  19. jerwin, Jul 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019

    jerwin macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    #19
    I like my flower photos to be tack sharp.

    tullip.jpg

    Sure. You may disagree with my aesthetics. You may think that it's a boring or clichéd image. But on a technical level, it's pretty much there. Except for Light balance. I'm rubbish at correcting light balance. No grain to speak of. Nice blurred background. The tulip-- the focal point of the image-- is sharp, and the texture of the petal is apparent. If I were to blame my equipment, you would think me daft.

    Maybe I could replicate the shot with an iPhone, or a P&S. It's more likely that I would find fault with the simulated bokeh, or manage to focus on a leaf rather than a petal, or find the smoothness of the tulip alien, or some other kind of thing.

    I look at cell phone pictures of people's kids, and think-- wow, their skin bears no resemblance to reality. I look for detail, and instead find artifacts.

    A good camera with interchangeable lenses gets rid of all the excuses. You'll end up with a bunch of pictures that reflect your talent-- or lack of it.

    40mm macro lens at f8. The blown out background is the result of extremely close focusing.
     
  20. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #20
    Gorgeous picture, both technically set up nicely and compositionally its a beautiful image.

    What I found with the iPhone, is that you cannot crop, sure as mentioned by some that in a number of circumstances, smartphones do very well but do anything other then just point, shoot, and look at it, you could be disppointed. I take pictures of my kids playing soccer and if they're close to me as they go by the iPhone can grab them, though I don't have any control of the shutter speed/iso/aperture to help improve the look for speed. Heaven help me if they're on the other side of the field and I have to crop them to help bring them closer. That's not going to happen with the iPhone, but only with something with a larger sensor. If course, with my OMD and a 40-150 lens, I don't need to crop, i'll just zoom in, so there's that advantage.
     
  21. tizeye macrumors 6502a

    tizeye

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2013
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #21
    But video...forget about it!

    It is like their arm is broken and the can’t turn the camera and we get those annoying sidebars. It makes no sense. No problem with still photos in landscape position, and the brain oriented to video almost exclusively on 16:9 screens...but take a video and hold camera in upright ‘portrait’ position.
     
  22. Darmok N Jalad, Jul 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019

    Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2017
    Location:
    Tanagra
    #22
    Yeah, I’m waiting for one of the smartphone companies to make a feature that behind the scenes films in square mode and allows you to choose the aspect ratio after the fact. Cause there is nothing quite like the news showing a 9:16 video that some random person shot on a 16:9 broadcast!
    Oh, I don’t disagree. The photos I took were just an example of how in one situation, you can have similar results, but the disparity is immediate in another situation.
     
  23. iluvmacs99, Jul 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019

    iluvmacs99 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2019
    #23
    In regards to cropping, there is a software called Gigapixel A.I which enlarges any photo up to 6x of its original resolution, which makes cropping a non-issue at all. I recently came back from an airshow shooting with my 16MP m/43 camera using only the 35-100mm f/2.8. There, you would need at least a 40-150 or better the 70-300 or the 100-400 Panasonic Leica, but I made do with just the 35-100mm which @6x upscale would give me a virtual lens of up to 600m (that's 1200mm 35mm equivalent). My meetup people thought I was crazy as they said most of the photos were going to be dots of planes and cropping would look bad. Well, using Gigapixel, I restored those crops to full resolution and they look great. Not as good as using the real lens since you can see some artifacts in some places like you would do with a camera phone sensor when pixel peeping 100%, but the images look amazingly good for such extreme upscaling. So much so that the 35-100mm is my only telephoto and rely on Gigapixel AI to do the rest. It was the reason why I got the Mac Pro 5,1 with a RX580 which I used the funds by selling all my least used super telephoto lenses from my m/43 to pay for that. Never regretted it! In fact, I used Gigapixel to restore some of my older photos taken with the Optio 330GS (an old Pentax 3MP) and upscaled it to 12MP (4X) and they look great on a 4K screen (8MP)! Computational photography had gone a long way and that is the reason why people don't bother with a traditional camera unless you are seeking some creative play with better image quality. But that's getting pretty rare, which explains why Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Fuji and the rest are struggling with sales and may see further cutbacks with the newer iPhones with laser ranging to do 3D augmented reality photography which traditional cameras can not ever do.
     
  24. stylinexpat thread starter macrumors 65816

    stylinexpat

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    #24
    That is one issue I found with the nicer higher end digital cameras is that you have to have the right lens to take advantage of its power and capabilities which is great if one plans on carrying around all the lenses that they will need. That also can be quite an additional expense as well on the other hand. It is and would be the right way though of taking great pictures.
     
  25. iluvmacs99 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2019
    #25
    Unfortunately, the images I have are still covered by the licensing agreement and model releases from my former employers. :)
     

Share This Page

87 July 28, 2019