Sunday, 15 November 2015

iPhone or Canon 5D, what are the true differences to take a good picture?


It has been a long time I wanted to write this post which could sound a bit provocative.

I am a passionate photographer (find my gallery on or and I have had the chance to use very good cameras, and I usually carry kilos of lenses on my back.
But having an heavy DSLR is not always possible for different reasons.
So, I have tried some compacts and it happens to me to use my smartphone as a camera.

You have probably notice the heavy advertising of Apple on iPhone photo quality, and I must admit I am sometimes impressed by what I get from my smartphone (iPhone or other).
I have read thousands of tests, including DxO ones, but nothing really operational and so wide than placing an iPhone against a 5D mark iii.

So, I decided to make it myself and to add a compact Canon G7X, which is a high end compact, light and pocketable and not so expensive (much cheaper than an iPhone!).
The comparison here is just on the final picture quality, no consideration of ergonomics, autofocus, etc.

The iPhone has a fixed focal lens corresponding to 29 mm, the G7X has an integrated 24-100mm f1.8 - 2.8 zoom, and the 5D is equipped here with a good but rather standard 24-105mm f4.

For those found of pixels, the iPhone 6 has 8 M pixels of 1.5 µ on an 1/3" sensor (3.6 x 4.8 mm), the G7X 20.2 MPixels of 2.4 µ on a 1" sensor (8.8 x 13.2 mm), and the 5D Miii 22.3 M pixels of 6.3 µ on a large full frame (24 x 36 mm) sensor. The Canon shoot in Raw and are converted in jpg in Lightroom with no or little corrections, detailed below.

So, what are the results?

1. Standard outdoor landscape with good conditions:

The iPhone is impressive compared to the big ones.
I have taken the pictures at the iPhone focal lens, which correspond to 29 mm.

That is the beautiful and creative view that I take as a benchmark:



5D Miii

You can see the difference, especially due to lower pixel definition but it is really OK.
You don't have the 24 mm wide angle, which is an issue for me, but it is OK in general.
It is noticeable that the 5D with 24-105 has high chromatic aberration but it is well corrected by Lightroom.

2. Low light

Again, taken at 29 mm equivalent and a beautiful and creative picture!


Here the iPhone is a disaster. You cannot read anything, the texture of the fabric is not visible. It is taken at 640 ISO, 1/17 s which is very slow (high risk of movement blur). I have tried with another app giving TIFF files, but, although 31 MB file (1.5 x more than D5D RAW !!!), the "quality" is the same.


The G7X is pretty impressive taking advantage of its fast lens (f2). At 500 ISO, it allows 1/30 s which is much better. The quality is very good.


Here, the quality is one step higher, although the relatively slow lens (f4). I didn't change the speed which is a comfortable 1/40s, resulting in 5000 ISO and a impressive quality in terms of details.


The iPhone has no zoom...
So, when you want to take a portrait, children or even some landscape, not speaking of sport or wild life, it is another story.
Here is an example taken at 100 mm focal length which is typical for portrait and allowed by the two standard zooms.

The iPhone equivalent "digital zoom". Event with this small size, it is clearly awful

And the crop

5D : perfect

 G7X : very good

iPhone, no comment

I think it is pretty obvious with the pictures.
If you want to do "basic" landscape, you can make very good pictures with an iPhone. You are stuck with a 29 mm but is a good length for many situations. And the panorama feature is awesome, giving hi-res panoramic pictures.
If you want to make portrait or low light, forget it. You don't need to be a purist to see that even on Facebook, you have a risk not to recognise your friends! If you want to have a very compact and not so expensive, reactive and easy to use, go for the G7X (you can have it plus a very decent Android for the price of an iPhone). You can look at Sony or Fuji, but I think the canon is a very good compromise. You can also have a decent SLR for the price. Then if you want superlative quality, top view finder and autofocus, and advanced functions, the 5D is the king.
Hi hope these concrete pictures help.

Nicest photos here:


No comments:

Post a Comment