There’s been a great deal of talk recently about the advantages and disadvantages of using a smartphone as a primary camera. Plenty of professional photographers have decided to make the switch over the past few years as smartphone cameras have begun to surpass some of the more affordable point-and-shoot devices on the market, but can a smartphone even began to compare with an expensive DSLR?
That’s exactly what Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica decided to find out by pitting the iPhone 6 Plus against the $3,400 Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
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Hutchinson begins with a caveat: this is not an experiment to determine whether or not the iPhone 6 Plus camera is objectively better or worse than a $3,000+ DSLR with nearly $5,000 worth of additional gear, but rather a simple test to see if a casual consumer would notice the difference in everyday situations.
The first test was to see how the cameras fared indoors in the dark. Unsurprisingly, the photos taken with either camera aren’t very inspiring — without proper (or any) lighting, you’re just not going to get a decent photograph, no matter how expensive your equipment is. With moderate light, the quality began improving on the Canon, but the iPhone 6 Plus image was fuzzy with poorly defined details. The sharpness of the DSLR definitely stands out.
Once Hutchinson moved outdoors, the direct sunlight breathed new life into the iPhone. The iPhone 6 Plus took a “crisp and beautiful” picture of some flowers while the DSLR took plenty of fiddling just to get two decent photos, one of which was underexposed and the other of which was overexposed. Of course, this could be modified even further with a computer program, but this is about the needs of the average user.
The final test was when the iPhone finally fell flat on its face. In a controlled studio environment where Hutchinson takes product shots for Ars Technica, the image from the iPhone looks absolutely hideous in comparison to the DSLR image. There’s really no comparison.
Hutchinson concludes that “under many conditions, a smartphone that costs a few hundred dollars is mostly as good as a DSLR that costs eight-to-ten times as much.” Unless you need a top-of-the-line camera for work or as a means to take up a new hobby, your smartphone should serve you well.
Check out the full article for all the photo comparisons and more on the differences between the 5D Mark III and the iPhone 6 Plus.