How does the iPhone X camera– or any other highly rated smartphone camera– compare to today’s crop of 21st century DSLRs? The Mincey Plantation is home to half a dozen recent model iPhones, and double that number of DSLRs, which are used in place of our SLR film camera collection (gathering dust).
What I don’t see often are online photo comparisons of iPhone X or Samsung’s Galaxy S9 or Google’s Pixel 2 smartphones vs. some major brand DSLR, but Google can be your friend and I found a few good reviews.
iPhone X vs. DSLR is not much of a contest for anyone who knows about digital photography, computational photography, and the physics of a damned good camera lens. Cella Lao Rousseau did a good comparison of iPhone X vs. a few DSLRs. Who won? It depends.
As point and shoot goes, iPhone X is hard to beat because it’s small, easy to whip out and use on a moment’s notice, and the photos (not to mention videos) are stunning considering the size. Even with DSLR-like applications which control iPhone X’s exposure time, shutter speed, et al, a good photo from a good DSLR wins the shootouts.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is the quality difference between iPhone X portraits and similar photos shot with a high end DSLR. Rene Ritchie did a wonderful comparison between a Canon 5D Mark III with a standard 50mm f/1.4 lens vs. iPhone X’s new Portrait Mode.
Who won? It depends.
Both the samples are just damned good photos. One is better than the other and helps to justify the significant difference in cost and complexity (hint: Canon). iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 produced similar results. All photos were very good and the average person would be hard pressed to tell the differences between the three cameras.
Yes, computational photography in smartphones makes photos that look– at first glance– as good as any photo from a DSLR. Lexy Savvides and Vanessa Hand Orellana did a comparison of the same Canon 5D Mark III DSLR and used slider bars on the same photo to display each. The results– especially when comparing portrait photos side-by-side with a slider bar– are remarkable in that most people (let’s call them untrained eyes) could not tell which photo came from which camera– iPhone X vs. Canon 5D Mark II.
What does that mean?
You see the proof. DSLRs make excellent photos and double-down as very good video cameras vs. the dedicated models used by videographers. A big lens is a big help. But an iPhone X shoots 4k video and the results are astounding– relative to the device’s diminutive size and relative expense. Two years ago, using an iPhone 7, Parker Walbeck compared an iPhone video with a $50,000 RED Weapon used in movies. Who won?
Again, the trained videographer eye will know the differences between the two devices. Most of us cannot tell.