Inspired by the new Apple ad campaign around “Shot on iPhone 6”, we look at where an iPhone (or an Android) breaks down in image quality or capability, and when and why a DSLR, any DSLR, or a mid-range compact (such as the Sony RX100 | Panasonic GX7 | Canon G5X) really matters. We have previously looked at Long Exposure Photography and High Dynamic Range photography via iPhone 6 versus DSLR.
The most frustrating outcome of just having a smartphone with you is the inability to optically zoom into whatever it is you are trying to capture. Blurry, pixelated, bleeding colors are all artifacts du jour when using a smartphone to capture something far away. Unfortunately, even at the wide end the iPhone 6 (or 6s/Plus) disappoints tremendously.
Its said that for most everyday photography (friends, street, social), the wider the lens the better. The iPhone 6 comes in at 29mm wide (35mm equivalent), which is – eh, ok. Since there is no telephoto end on a smartphone, one would have expected at least better wide angle performance.
All the point and shoots mentioned above (Panasonic, Sony or Canon) go 24mm wide – and as wides go, every mm counts. What does that mean for you? It means capturing everyone and the backdrop in your selfies versus only parts of your group. It means getting everyone in the picture at the local Chuck e Cheese on your kid’s birthday. It means getting more of the Baroque church on your vacation trip to Europe.
Here are some photographs that were taken with a wide angle lens on a DSLR compared to the iPhone taken in Italy.
And then there is zooming in (telephoto). A smartphone has ZERO capability to zoom in. All that pinching out just crops your image and brings in grain and noise and lack of detail – you might as well take the image as is and crop in a better editor in post processing. This is where it becomes imperative to bring along a compact camera, however small, with an optical zoom built in.
Here are some pictures from Italy with either the smartphone pinched in (with lack of detail) or the inability to zoom.
Inabilities to capture wide
Venice at dawn: DSLR (left), smartphone (right)
View from Rialto at dusk: DSLR (left), smartphone (right)
Piazza Navona at sunrise: DSLR (left), smartphone (right)
Inabilities to zoom in
San Gimignano from across a sunflower field: DSLR (left), smartphone digitally zoomed in (right)
Cathedral San Biagio and the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany: DSLR (left, middle), smartphone digitally zoomed (right)
Saint Peter’s Basilica from Ponte Umberto at sunrise: DSLR (left), smartphone (right)