Have you ever taken a photo of something that makes you wonder how different the results would be with better gear? Here is a comparison of images taken at the Calvert Marine Museum with an iPhone back in March and again with a Sony NEX camera this past weekend. In each case the iPhone image is the top example.
I realize this is a bit like comparing Apples to oranges (haha — sometimes I just kill myself), but with the recent photo tips postings I tossed up, I thought a comparison would help to illustrate the differences between a smartphone camera and a high-quality dedicated camera.
I’ve said that an iPhone is a decent camera to take photos with… and it is, especially the latest 4S version. It has the following specs:
- Lens: 4.28mm (equivalent to 33mm)
- Elements: Five (made out of plastic)
- Maximum aperture: f/2.4
- Megapixels: 8
- Sensor dimensions: 1/3.2″ diagonal (4.54mm x 3.42mm)
- Sensor maker: Sony
The camera I used for this comparison is the Sony NEX-7, with the following specs:
- Lens: 18-55mm (equivalent to 27-82.5mm)
- Elements: 11 elements in 9 groups, 4 aspherical surfaces
- Maximum aperture: f/3.5-5.6
- Megapixels: 24.3
- Sensor dimensions: APS-C (23.5mm x 15.6mm)
- Sensor maker: Sony
The big take away from the paper comparison is that the NEX camera has a huge sensor compared to the iPhone (the NEX sensors are currently considered some of the best on the market in independent tests) and bigger sensors result in better photos because they can gather more light and offer higher resolution.
Another benefit to going with a dedicated camera is the ability to use RAW files. RAW files are like digital film; they are complete data dumps of what the lens and sensor captured at the moment of the shutter being triggered. Like film, RAW files allow for all sorts of tweaking and massaging of an image to occur afterward with the highest quality available — unlike the preprocessed JPGs that come out of the iPhone. Sure, the iPhone images can be tweeked afterward, but each action that is applied to a JPG image degrades the quality, and in the end — quality is what it’s all about.
With that said, here we go. Please be sure to maximize your browser and click on the images to view them at the largest resolution that I posted them at; the differences in detail, color rendition and overall depth should be very distinct.
Drum Point lighthouse
The War of 1812 — Battle of the Patuxent exhibit
Chesapeake Bay boat building techniques
Chesapeake Bay buy boat
Small boat shed
I don’t have any iPhone comparison shots for the rest of these, but felt they were worth including in the post anyway.
The interior of Cove Point lighthouse
The temporary Oyster Wars exhibit