Smartphone cameras have gotten so good that many people don’t see the need for traditional cameras — and the truth is that for many people there is no need. But devoted cameras have to have some advantages, right?
We matched an iPhone 6 camera against the DSLR Canon 5D Mark II ($US3,000 for the body alone) and the point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SD1400-IS ($US169).
We tested the cameras in various situations including bright sunny day, moving objects, close up, etc. Don’t expect techie jargon or focus charts here. We’re just considering what looks best.
Here are the contenders. Starting from the left is the Canon 5D Mark II, the Canon PowerShot SD1400-IS, and the iPhone 6.
We started with a shot inside the office. Fluorescent light can be tricky for cameras to read. On a DSLR, you can change settings depending what kind of light a shot has, and we were able to produce this picture.
Portraits are an important part of photography. With a DSLR, you can change lenses to something more appropriate for portraiture, like this 50mm macro lens. In addition, the DSLR photo is much clearer. Another point to the DSLR.
Motion is another area where cameras can have trouble. It all depends on shutter speed. The DSLR freezes the action, but the image is a little dark.
For close-up photography, DSLR users can switch to a macro lens, which gives this nice depth of field effect.
Flash photography can be tricky task, as well. It depends on heavily on the power of the flash and your ability to control it. Our DSLR can take an external flash with many settings, allowing us to control the light more precisely. The others, not so much. Point to the DSLR.
Shooting in a low light situation is equally problematic. You need to use a wider aperture with a slow shutter speed, but you have to be careful not to use too slow a shutter speed and risk blurring. DSLR wins this one, again.
One of the most difficult times to shoot is during a bright sunny day, especially when you are shooting a landscape. The DSLR does a great job of capturing both the buildings in the background and park in shadow in the foreground, keeping both in focus.
The iPhone had no trouble capturing everything. The ony issue is that the colours look oversaturated. Seems like a toss-up between the DSLR and the iPhone.
When you're photographing something from far away, a helpful feature in photography is the ability to zoom. With the DSLR, we were able to swap in a 70-200mm telephoto lens to shoot this street corner from our roof a block away. Notice how everything is sharp and clear.
The point and shoot actually allowed us to zoom in even further, but we lost a lot of definition and focus. There's also a fair amount of noise in the image.
The iPhone doesn't actually have the ability to zoom, just the illusion of doing so. You're actually just enlarging a portion of the image. Look how terrible the clarity and sharpness become. Point to the DSLR for sure.
Shooting directly into the sun usually results in lens glare, the sky turning white, and dark shadows. The DSLR has no trouble rendering the blue sky, but there is lens glare in the center of the photo.
The point and shoot avoids the lens glare, but has trouble showing detail in the sky or in the shadows.
The iPhone has the worst of both issues. While it renders some of the sky blue, there is extreme lens glare coming from the left side and there is no detail in the shadows. In addition, the bright light is clouding up the rest of the image.
Everyone loves to shoot a good sunset. During sunset, a camera has to capture the sunset's colours, as well as be able to shoot in darker light. The DSLR does a great job here, showing the beautiful colours and still capturing the dark buildings in the foreground.
The point and shoot does a good job of showing the buildings in front, but is too bright to capture all of the colours of the sunset. The brightness is likely due to the point and shoot's automatic setting, which would assume that whatever is closest is the most important to capture. Situations like this are why a manual DSLR can be a huge benefit.
The iPhone, on the other hand, does an excellent job of capturing both the colours and the building. The DSLR is slightly sharper and has more detail in the shadows than the iPhone photo, but we had trouble telling the difference at first.
THE VERDICT: In every instance, the DSLR is going to take a higher quality image. It has many times more options and the larger file sizes, which allow for clearer and increased detail, especially when enlarged or printed. But for every day shooting and sharing of photos, the iPhone does a surprisingly good job. iPhone images are optimised for viewing on a iPhone as well, so if you're taking pictures to text, email, SnapChat, or upload to Facebook, an iPhone will do a fine job.
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