How does the iPhone hold up against a serious camera? Fujifilm X-T1 vs. Apple iPhone 5s

“Everyone knows that the iPhone 5S has a great camera,” Sam Byford writes for The Verge. “I say it myself all the time, even as someone who’s spent too many thousands on cameras and lenses over the years.”

“What does that really mean, though? It’s true that the iPhone 5S does take better pictures than just about any other smartphone. But how close am I to throwing away my dedicated photography setup?” Byford writes. “I decided to put the 5S against a ‘real’ camera — taking near-identical snapshots across a day and night in Harajuku, Tokyo — to see how things shake out in practice.”

“In the blue corner, we have Fujifilm’s wonderful X-T1, our favorite mirrorless camera to date and the one more suited to pros than any other. It has great image quality, well-thought-out controls, and an amazing viewfinder — when a camera’s biggest fault is how clicky the buttons on the back are, you know it’s good,” Byford writes. “In the red corner, we have Apple’s iPhone 5S, the latest iteration of the world’s most popular smartphone. While Apple touted a bigger sensor and faster lens when introducing the 5S, it’s still more space-constrained than even the cheapest point-and-shoot on the market. But Apple has a secret weapon in the A7 chip and its excellent image signal processing, with tight integration between software and hardware.”

Tons more, including side-by-side photo examples, in the full article – recommended – here.

Related articles:
Finally! Apple’s iOS 8 exposes just about every manual camera control possible – June 19, 2014
Apple expected to continue ignoring smartphone camera megapixel numbers game in favor of image quality – March 20, 2014
How much better is Apple’s iPhone 5s camera? – October 14, 2013
A look at the technology inside Apple’s amazing new iPhone 5s camera – September 30, 2013
Apple iPhone 5s camera leaps two years ahead of entire camera industry – all cameras, not just smartphone cameras – September 13, 2013
iPhone 5s supply to be severely constrained; sales start at 12:01am PDT online, 8am local at Apple Retail Stores – September 13, 2013
Hands on with the new 64-bit A7-powered iPhone 5s with new M7, camera features & Touch ID – September 12, 2013
Apple grants Burberry early access to iPhone 5s for fashion show photography – September 12, 2013


  1. An iPhone/iPod music is never going to be quite as good as vinyl. And a picture taken with an iPhone is not going to be as good as a DSLR or SLR. But for the vast majority it is much more than acceptable. And it’s always with you.

    1. I’ve got news for you. Vinyl gives you a different sound than digital, not necessarily a better sound.

      In the audience of your favorite band, you get the best sound, depending on the drugs they are using, at the time of the performance.

      1. And I’m not even sure you get the best sound at a live event. It is highly dependent on the venue, the acoustics, the equipment used, and yes, the live chops of the band.

    2. “An iPhone/iPod music is never going to be quite as good as vinyl.”

      It depends on how you define “good”. If by good, you mean more faithful to the original sound, then that’s most likely not true. Most vinyl today is sourced from digital recordings with the largest vinyl producer in the world receiving most of their source materials in CD-Audio format.

      Considering that an iOS device can play lossless audio that equals (or even exceeds) CD-Audio, it’s quite possible for an album to sound less like the original source… and not just subjectively, but inherently so as a lossy generation copy of the sourced CD.

      If by “good” you mean that you like the artifacts that occur during the copying to vinyl, or the artifacts from vinyl playback, then that subjective quality is just an insignificant (albeit valid) opinion.

  2. Until Apple manages to get (good) optical stabilization and optical zoom into a phone, there’ll still be a place for compact cameras, never mind prosumer cameras and DSLRs.

    1. … optical stabilization CAN BE a huge bonus and an optical zoom is USUALLY a big bonus. My compact camera has both and usually takes somewhat better pictures than any of the phone-cams around. Not trying to say, though, that the latest iPhone doesn’t take good pictures!
      The article shows that the camera (better than mine!) can be crippled to the iPhone’s limits and STILL takes better – in a side-by-side comparison – pictures. The crippling? “I used the 18mm f/2 lens, which has a similar field of view to the 5S. I made sure the cameras would be handling light in the same way by keeping the X-T1’s aperture locked in at f/2.2, like the 5S’ fixed lens, and leaving ISO and shutter speed controls on automatic, just like iOS does.” Would removing those locks insure even better pictures? That’s a definite “maybe”. It’s an option you get with more complex cameras but not with point-and-shoot phones.
      Remember … the iPhone’s “runner-up” photos look like clear winners until you match them side-by-side with the winners.

  3. Not until Apple figures out a way to break the laws of physics and fit a zoom lens in less than a 1/8 inch space and still gather enough light to have an adjustable aperture and not have any noise in low light.

    Then we’ll have a kick-ass camera.

  4. Like Bono said, it depends.

    Im not about to lug a brick camera around in my pocket ever minute of the day like I do my phone. It’s pretty tough to beat DSLR with a larger lens and more light with an iPhone but I’ll take the iPhone picture quality 99% of the time.

  5. I own 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment that I use every day including my Nikon D4 that I love to pieces. But I also take more family photos with my iPhone than I care to admit because it’s small, convenient, and . . . it’s always there.

  6. It’s a bit of a silly comparison. Depending on the shot, I’m going to get better images with my GoPro, Point & Shoot, Mirrorless, or DSLR than I would with my iPhone, and that’s going to be true for most photographers.

    What the iPhone does give me is the ability to get really great shots on a device that’s always with me, as well as shots that I need in small/cramped spaces.

    1. The small/cramped space is a great point. I have put my iPhones in some small holes or tight spaces that have been some problem solvers. Like seeing what was keeping my closet door stuck, or working on the car. That would be a great test: What cams work best in small spaces.

    1. I think you hit it on the head. I was really impressed by the quality of the iPhones photos and I usually still liked the pro camera’s shots better. But while I have used a pro camera, its a real pain. You have to get focus, light, bla, boa, right to make a good shot. Many times its grab a shot before it gets away.

      So while I still have my pro camera, I sure do use my iPhone camera most. And I am still using the iPhone 5. Can’t wait for the 6.

      1. … images, the closer you get to a “pro-quality” camera, the easier things become. My compact camera is NOT “pro-quality”, but it is somewhat better – sometimes MUCH better – than a camera phone. Especially when I need to use the zoom.
        And the tools in iPhoto can make some of those pictures even better. 🙁

  7. I regularly attend outdoor concerts during the summer months in Woodland Hills, California. I typically take concert pictures using the 5S. A friend of mine, who is a professional photographer, brings her SLR camera to take pictures closer to the stage. When comparing the quality of both pictures taken from the same distance, there is no contest: lighting, definition, detail, stable image are all better with her camera. But for a casual user such as myself, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The 5S is a very good ‘camera’ for impulse pictures.

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