Why the iPhone 8 Plus is a better camera than a ‘real’ camera

“I never thought that it would happen. And then it did,” Raymond Wong writes for Mashable. “On a recent two-week vacation to Japan (my first time, and, yes, it was amazing if you must know), I finally ditched my ‘real’ camera, a Sony A6300 interchangeable lens camera I bought about two years ago, a replaced it with the iPhone 8 Plus. And my trip was infinitely better because I left the Sony in my suitcase.”

“Don’t get me wrong. My Sony camera is like my baby. I love it to death. It takes incredible photos and shoots excellent 4K videos. I use it for both work and personal shooting and nothing beats a robust interchangeable lens camera. I’m a camera nerd now and forever. (Fun fact: I started at Mashable reviewing cameras just because I wanted to test the latest ones),” Wong writes. “But it turns out the iPhone — more specifically, the iPhone 8 Plus — is more than just a ‘good enough’ camera.”

“By the end of the trip, I had taken about 700 distinct photos and videos with my iPhone 8 Plus over 11 days compared to the 30-or-so I did with my Sony,” Wong writes. “One thing became very clear as I soaked in Japan: The iPhone 8 Plus is now my favorite camera to shoot with.”

Tons more, including many photographs, in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: There are some beautiful photographs captured by Wong and his iPhone 8 Plus in the full article!

iPhone 8 Plus’ camera is unmatched – for a few more weeks.

23 Comments

  1. You can indeed capture nice photos with an iPhone, but it seems to me we see pieces like this every single time Apple releases one, and it isn’t any more true than ever. There isn’t any reason anyone would need a point and shoot these days, but phone cameras are still a far, far, cry from professional ones.

    Camera makers aren’t standing still, either. I do side by side comparisons all the time, with every release, and a lens/sensor combo as small as the iPhones is just never going to fully compare. I wouldn’t comment at all as phone cams are more than adequate for most, but the hyperbole is really just that. Incidentally, mirrorless cameras, though the future IMHO, like the one author describes, are also not yet ‘fully there’.

    Bottom line: if you are serious about photography, yes, you will need more than an iPhone.

    1. I think the author made those points in his article. He did not try to make a claim that the iPhone shot better photos than his dedicated camera. He said the iPhone shot great photos, and he was surprised at how good they were. And that they were so good, he found found the iPhone to be a better camera for his trip to Japan. The size, weight, convenience of the iPhone outweighed the greater photo quality of his Sony. For him.

    2. “There isn’t any reason anyone would need a point and shoot these days”, and I accept that the newer smart-phone cameras will do the job as well as the compacts. What I DON’T accept is the price. If I am buying a CAMERA, the iPhone is way over-priced at ~$500 compared to a nearly-as-good compact at ~$100. At a $100 differential, maybe. $400? Really?

  2. It’s better than a “real” camera for me primarily because it’s with me all the time. A camera is worthless if you want to take a picture and don’t have it with you.

    Seriously though, the camera on the 8 plus really is spectacular. I love this new phone, it’s a huge upgrade from the 6.

    1. That’s perfectly fine for those in-the-moment scenarios, but something people don’t seem to understand about pro photography is that it isn’t that. It is a different beast entirely than snapshots or Instagrams, and I highly doubt mobile will ever fully suffice.

      1. You’re absolutely right, I totally agree that mobile will never fully suffice. I still will bring my Canon 5D and tripod with me whenever I am more serious about shooting a landscape. In addition, portrait mode truly only works for portraits where the subject is still. I have quite a bit more flexibility with my professional camera.

        In a pinch, however, the iPhone camera is spectacular. And I alway have it with me. My Canon does me no good when it’s not at my side.

  3. Better in the sense you have it with you.

    I just returned from a two week cruise, and made good use of my two cameras, a Canon DSLR with travel zoom lens, and my iPhone 7 plus (now suddenly outdated). I got great pictures from both, and used the Canon whenever I could, but the iPhone did the trick very nicely when the Canon was either too heavy or too bulky for my needs.

  4. I would think for the average person who takes pictures and isn’t a photo-hipster that a smartphone would be more than good enough. A flagship smartphone camera would sure be a lot better than some of those cheap digital cameras from a few years back and light years ahead of what people used to use before digital cameras. Think of those older Polaroid cameras. They pretty much sucked except for instant gratification.

    Everyone has their personal preferences in terms of photo quality, but a flagship smartphone camera should be more than good enough for casual photo taking under “normal” decent lighting conditions. It must be so because the smartphone camera basically killed the single-purpose low-cost digital camera. Most of the people I know with smartphones are quite happy with the photos they’re taking just like people used to be happy taking general photos with all the various Kodak Brownies from many decades ago (they sure weren’t perfect in photo quality but they were good enough). I think it’s the photo content that really matters to people and not necessarily the quality. The content generates good memories that override the quality.

  5. What are “real” cameras doing in the way of computational photography? Smart phones are where they are because they’re using silicon to augment where they lack in physical capability. And they’re able to do so because they happen to have powerful chips… meant for general purpose but can be put to good use when focused on the image problem.

    For the most capable “real” camera, how powerful are they from a computational perspective? Also, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a physically large and capable lens attached to the computational power of the A11?

    1. The truth is, it’s the glass that stands between the subject and the lens that will always be the hardest limitation of a camera. It’s what makes real cameras larger and heavier, and its the reason that the top-of-the-line DSLR cameras and their lenses haven’t gotten any smaller or lighter, no matter how much better the chips and image receptors get. And increasing image receptor size to improve resolution just forces a larger and heavier set of glass. There are lots of things that can be compensated for, but at the end of the day, that’s the main barrier.

      1. That’s the main barrier, for now, yes. But you look at something like light.co’s L16 camera and you can see where this won’t always be the case. I’d think that getting a high quality image from excellent optics and THEN being able to have a computationally aware ISP would put ‘real’ cameras even that much further ahead.

        If those companies AREN’T putting any resources towards smarter cameras, they may find themselves behind the 8 ball with no way to improve fast enough.

        1. … understand that you (and the author) have a blind spot. Actual CAMERAS can have every bit as much by way of electronics as a camera-phone has. Potentially, more. Add in the better optics and image receptors and you have a decided edge. Which does NOT negate his opinion that: if you HAVE one of these phones, your need for a ‘point&shoot’ is sharply diminished.

          1. Actual cameras have a CPU that can best a shipping Intel processor with the addition of specialized neural net functions? Had no idea that Actual CAMERAS had every bit of that.

            In other words, they absolutely do NOT have any of that. What they DO have, I guess no one knows.

        1. … Most of the pictures Most people take are ‘snapshots’. “Save the memory.” The question is “how SERIOUS are you about the details in that memory” and how much are you willing to spend for the convenience of having it always there. If you do NOT have a smart-phone already, that’s a hefty price to pay.

  6. What I saw in his photos:

    Many suffered from massive distortion. Distortion that even software won’t be able to fix.

    Many of the images were very soft.

    I use iphones and gopros for time lapse. No shutter wear.

    Other then that, not a great set of photos. Good for FB to get a few likes.

  7. I looked at his article hoping to see some of the 30 pictures taken with his conventional camera to see why he chose it instead of the iPhone which he used for the other 700 pictures, but didn’t spot many. I assume that the pictures of his iPhone in use had to be taken with that other camera, but would have liked to have seen when he chose to use his DSLR in it’s own right.

    I find that I now mostly use my DSLRs for ‘tricky’ shots, where I either need a lens with a longer focal length, a very wide aperture or a long exposure and that’s quite a small part of my photography. My iPhone now accounts for the overwhelming majority of my pictures and is much better than any ‘point and shoot’ camera that I’ve ever owned – and I’ve been a great fan of high quality small cameras that you always carry with you ever since the 1970s.

    Personally I wasn’t particularly impressed with Raymond Wong’s portfolio of pictures, I doubt whether any of them would end up framed on my wall if I had taken them. I’m not a fan of fish-eye or ultra wide angle lenses and hate the perspective distortion that is seen when they’re used, so it’s only a lens for some rawly encountered special purposes as far as I’m concerned. Technically his pictures were OK, my beef is mostly with the subject matter or framing/composition.

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