Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus camera vs. $3,400 DSLR

“Our recent review of the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog joystick-and-throttle combo was notable not only for the really cool, really expensive piece of gaming equipment it featured, but also for the much-more-expensive full-frame DSLR used to take the article’s pictures: a $3,400 Canon EOS 5D Mark III,” Lee Hutchinson writes for Ars Technica. “This is a fair amount of scratch to lay down for a camera, especially when the Internet is full of examples of pro photographers going the opposite direction, ditching bags of expensive gear in favor of smartphone cameras for most applications.”

“In one corner, we have Apple’s latest and biggest smartphone, the iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhone’s camera has a scratch-resistant sapphire outer lens, a fixed f/2.2 aperture, fancy optical image stabilization to help make pictures clearer, and a 1/3″ 8-megapixel sensor, which produces stills with a max resolution of 3264×2448 pixels. There are a number of other sites that have good breakdowns of some of the extra fancy technology Apple has crammed into the phone in order to make it take excellent pictures, but there’s a lot going on inside that little chunk of electronics,” Hutchinson writes. “In the other corner, we have—well, we have a whole mess of Canon gear. To start with, there’s the EOS 5D Mark III, a ‘prosumer’ model of DSLR—that’s ‘digital single-lens reflex,’ meaning that the view in the viewfinder is coming in through the lens, instead of through a separate viewfinder hole. The 5D Mark III comes with a 22-megapixel “full frame” sensor, meaning the sensor that actually takes the picture is about the same physical size as a piece of 35mm film (the 5D Mark III’s sensor is 36mm by 24mm), which yields a picture size of 5760×3840 pixels.”

Tons more in the full article here.


    1. If that’s how you feel, you wasted your money on the 6D imho. The iPhone can take amazing pix under the right conditions, but it’s a toy in comparison to your DSLR.

    1. Agree, but for non-demanding subjects huge amounts can be achieved by physically getting in close to the action.

      My shooting is split roughly 85/15 percent in favour of the iPhone 5s. But when I need the heavy metal, then I really need it.

  1. When Apple can get an f/1.4 lens and optical zoom, then the pro stuff needs to worry. I still miss that fast lens. Such fun shooting pics indoors with no flash.

      1. “tekriter” is correct. Back in the days of no digital cameras and no auto focus, “fast” meant “gathers more light” so you could shoot at a faster shutter speed or just fast enough and get great indoor shots in natural light. Makes some photos absolutely incredible because it looks like how you remember it. Not with a flash.

        Now it does add to the confusion with younger photographers that never used equipment from that era.

        Might have to get the old Minolta X700 and f/1.4 lens out for a retro photo shoot.

          1. A fast lens has always meant one that can be used at fast shutter speeds due to better light gathering ability. Anyone who knows anything about photography knows this.

            1. Lens do not have property of speed. They have weight, diameter, thickness, clarity, curvature, clarity, et cetera — but they can not be fast or slow. Optical system can be fast or slow, but not lens.

              “Fast lens” makes no sense; the same as “angry orange” or any other nonsensical phrase.

              This is why I called this term historical, traditional and literally incorrect.

            2. It doesn’t matter how many times you post this ridiculous argument – to an actual photographer, a “fast” lens has ALWAYS meant that it can gather more light than a “slower” lens. It will give the photographer the ability to get pictures in poor lighting conditions that the “slower” lens could not accomplish.

              This has been true for only about 150 years or so.

            3. It does not matter how many times you post this ridiculous argument. Whatever people “mean” by this this, the term itself is nonsensical. Lens do not have property of speed. They also do not have property of mood (angry, kind, et cetera) or any other properties that pieces of glass (or plastic) can not have in reality.

    1. DSLR f1.4 lenses, with the exception of 50mm (a bargain lens), are usually expensive as hell, so expecting Apple to deliver a true 1.4 is probably expecting too much.

      Optical zoom though yeah. I recently pulled out a simple Lumix camera (though I have Nikon and Canon DSLR’s) with a nice zoom on a trip and boy was it nice to have that optical zoom.

  2. there is nothing “about” the size: a 35 mm negative is exactly 24 (height) x 36 (width) mm.
    i have canon rebel t5i and t1i camera bodies with several zoom wide angle and telephoto lenses, a 50 mm f/1.4 and a 100 mm macro. i take lots of offhand pictures with my iPhone 4s and sometimes i use my camera and iPhone at the same time (easier to email an iPhone picture immediately). but i can’t see how the iPhone camera is ever going to replace serious cameras especially with apple’s obsession over making the iPhone ever thinner and thinner.

    1. People say that you need a camera of a certain size (large) to get truly amazing images. But they also say that birds have the best vision on earth. And their eyes are pretty damn small. At least most of the time. So clearly there’s plenty of potential for camera development.

    2. Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to create an app that “talks” to your DSLR via WiFi or Bluetooth and so you are able to stream pics from the expensive camera to phone to whoever. In fact you’re able to easier manage all your DSLR settings right from the iPhone. I LIKE this idea!

  3. “ditching bags of expensive gear in favor of smartphone cameras for most applications”

    Ridiculous exaggeration. While pros are having fun with iPhone cameras and many people are producing excellent work with them, there’s no way in hell pros are using smartphones “for most applications.” I’m a working pro, and an iPhone is utterly insufficient for almost all of the paid work I do. It’s not about image quality or megapixels – at least not primarily – but about speed, responsiveness, ergonomics, and the availability of lenses covering a wide range of focal lengths. Sure, I could have photographed that school bus winding its way along a dusty mountain road 1/2 mile away with my iPhone, but it would have been a barely visible speck. Sure, I could do CEO portraits with my iPhone and some continuous lights, but the ears would be too small and the nose would be too big due to distortion from the wide-angle lens. Sure, I could photograph a speaker onstage, but I’d have to stand right in front of the podium, and the iPhone would be too slow to catch that moment when eyes are open, chin is up, and lips are closed. Sure, I could photograph the mountain range with my iPhone from a moving car, but the shutter speed would be too slow to freeze the car’s motion and I’d be limited to prints no bigger than 8″x12″.

    The trend towards downsizing among pros from DSLRs is not to smartphones but to mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras made by Panasonic, Olympus and Sony. These cameras offer not just higher image quality than an iPhone, but all the controls, performance and options that professional work requires.

    iPhone cameras are amazingly good for what they are, but hyperbole about their suitability for most pros’ uses are silly, grossly misleading, and frankly insulting to pros who devote years to mastering the tools of the trade.

  4. The iPhone 6 camera is amazing but to compare it to a 5D mkIII is nonsense!

    I use to have a mkIII but went to a 6D because I didn’t need the extra features (video mostly) of the mkIII anymore. I only use my 6D a few times a year now along with a $1500 lens. The thing is that when I do use the 6D it’s when most other cameras would be useless (very low light action), especially the iPhone camera.

    The iPhone 6 camera is amazing when used within it’s limitations. It’s far less flexible then most any DSLR, even the low end DSLR cameras.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like my iPhone 6+ camera but it will never replace a DSLR.

  5. it’s very obvious that somebody is stupid or not. how can you compare with highly expensive technology? even though iphone or other smart phone camera have been developed very faster, they can’t still take over DSLR. of course, if somebody has good skill to take a picture, it doesn’t matter what kind of camera is used. but normally, phone camera is still phone shitty camera. so then iphone is that much good, why photography professionals still use DSLR? you can’t explain. nonsense.

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