What makes an iPhone or a smartphone so great? Texting? Email? Browsing? Games? Apps? Camera? Let’s go with what’s behind that last door, Monte. Some of us upgrade our iPhones more frequently because the camera improves dramatically every couple of years.
As a bona fide certified amateur photography from the days of film, and one who progressed to DSLRs when film became passé, I can attest that there isn’t much difference between a new iPhone XS Max (or XS or XR) camera and most DSLRs of our era.
Wait. What? How is that possible?
The differences in bullet points should should be obvious to most of us with any experience in cameras and photography over the past few decades. DSLRs have better lenses. DSLRs have more features. DSLRs take better quality photos. DSLRs take better videos. DLSRs are more expensive, definitely bulky and heavy, and look altogether ominously obtrusive.
Compare that scenario to an iPhone which does more, costs more, but also fits into a pocket without being visually obtrusive. iPhones take good photos and even better videos (though there should be a law against taking a video in vertical mode), and thanks to computational photography– think software– photos are often better as a photo than the image was in reality.
Isn’t that the nature of good photography?
So, on one hand we have DSLRs which not quite clearly take better photos and videos, and on the other hand we have a highly convenient and more capable iPhone (or any smartphone with a good camera and the right software) which takes very good photos and videos.
I submit, that for most of us, even those of us with a few decades of experience in photography and videography– using far more expensive and capable equipment than an iPhone camera– the differences in photos and videos, DSLR vs. iPhone, are not easily discernible.
In short, most of us cannot tell the difference.
Today’s crop of premium smartphones have multiple cameras and software smarts that make photos and videos almost impossible to tell apart from DSLRs and some professional video gear.
At least, for most of us.
A few years ago videographer Parker Walbeck put an iPhone 7 Plus against a $50,000 RED Weapon video camera and the result speaks for itself. Videography aside, most people would be hard pressed to discern a difference between the two cameras, and explains why movie maker Steven Soderbergh had success with a feature length movie that was shot entirely on an iPhone.
Yes, photographic and videographic and movie making skills are necessary for a good production, but the quality of the device used to capture images remains secondary to a good story and proper editing, but it also shows that with a little training and persistence, almost anyone can create a very good video with little more than a smartphone with a decent camera.
DSLRs and good video gear product better photos and videos than the best iPhone, but in the right hands, most of us would not be able to know the difference.