Oct 122016
 

Another iPhone has hit the market and once again Apple has claimed that its camera creates “DSLR quality pictures.” I never believe when any cell phone manufacturer makes this claim, so I decided to put it to the test.

The iPhone 7 Plus has two cameras on its back: one 12 MP sensor has a wide-angle lens with optical stabilization and excellent ISO performance, and the other has a standard/telephoto lens with poor ISO performance. Our iPhone cost us around $1,000 but we certainly can’t claim the camera itself is worth that much. It’s one of many included features of this smartphone and therefore we couldn’t compare it to a $1,000 DSLR. We decided to compare this phone to a Nikon D300s and a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. Both cameras shoot 12 MP files and both of them have a wide to standard “zoom” range. On eBay this kit sells for around $500. Honestly this is still too expensive to be a “fair” comparison because the camera in the iPhone certainly isn’t half of its value, but it’s what we had available.

Image Quality In Ideal Light

Winner: Nikon D300s

I expected the Nikon to absolutely destroy the iPhone in this test and I was shocked to see how well the iPhone’s wide-angle camera performed. If you printed both of these files out, I’m not totally sure you would be able to pick out which is which, but if we zoom in to 100% on a computer we could tell the iPhone had more grain and noise than the Nikon.

Camera Speed

Winner: Tie

The Nikon D300s shoots at 7fps but the iPhone seemed to shoot around 15fps. That being said, the iPhone didn’t give us manual control and chose a slow shutter that produced blurry images. In short, the iPhone is faster but the Nikon got the better shot.

Shallow Depth Of Field

Winner: Nikon D300s

Once again the iPhone lost but was still quite impressive. The new “portrait mode” on the iPhone allows you to create a fake shallow depth of field that looks quite convincing, especially for web use. One major downside is that the longer lens on the iPhone used in this portrait mode does not perform well in low light.

Video Quality

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

This test wasn’t even fair. The D300s was one of the first DSLRs to ever shoot video and it can shoot a very poor 720p. The iPhone shoots an incredibly crisp 4K. It’s amazing to see just how far technology has come in seven years.

ISO Performance

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

This was the biggest shock to me by far. I never would have believed that a cell phone could beat a DSLR, even if that DSLR was seven years old. Well, the iPhone was extremely impressive in low light and easily beat the ISO performance of the D300s.

Versatility

Winner: Tie

This is a tough one to judge. A DSLR will obviously give you access to unlimited accessories like lenses and flashes, but the iPhone has access to the App Store. Currently, many apps are allowing you to shoot raw on your iPhone 7. If you want to shoot a long exposure, a DSLR is your best bet, but if you want to do almost anything else, an iPhone probably has an app available.

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