The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are out and many of us are debating the question whether or not the top notch smart phones will be good enough for day to day use photography.
The simple facts and numbers may not overwhelm. But Apple has increased the resolution of the rear camera from 8 to 12 megapixels sporting a smaller 1,22 µm pixel size which means that sensor dimensions are basically the same compared to the previous iPhone 6/iphone 6 Plus and iPhone 5s at 1/3” sensor size. This makes for better photo quality since the higher megapixel count gives better overall resolution. The number of phase detection sensors on the chip has also been increased by 50% which makes the new iPhone focus pretty fast and neat. And when you look at the pictures the device can produce…wow. They seem a lot better than what some compacts managed to spit out only a year or two ago.
Can the latest iPhones replace the DSLR or semi-professional mirrorless solutions?
Of course not. But can they be a sufficient substitute for current compacts? That question may be more difficult to decide. When you look at top of the line compact cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark IV – well, there is no contest to be fair. The Sony with its 1 inch stacked sensor, much more versatile 24-70mm equivalent lens and better low light performance plus 4K video with uncompressed HDMI output will blow the phone out of the water. But the new iPhones will give a good fight for the money when going up against low to mid-level compacts or even compared to some of the more pricy gadgets.
See Apple for detailed technical specifications of the new iPhones.
Naturally, the new iPhones will not be able to satisfy in all photographic situations. The small sensor size and the tiny lens alone make that impossible. And one thing I found was dreadful: the backlit scenes…well, let`s not talk about the results. You simply have to go and get your bigger sensor camera for something with ill lighting. And forget about the flash to compensate in this case. It is hard to notice the difference against backlit scenes – it is just not powerful enough.
But the facts are quite simple. Most of us like to carry as little equipment with as little bulk and weight as possible – especially when traveling. So the new iPhone makes a great companion for daily use. A cam that is ready anytime you want because you carry your phone most of the time anyway. When you do make a trip with the big guns (e.g. DSLR or mirrorless) the new iPhone is good for candid shots, as a backup or for great 4K video with 30 frames per second. The new iPhone 6s Plus also features optical image stabilization not only for photos but now even for video. That can hardly be topped unless you decide to use more substantial and far more expensive video equipment.
Many DSLR and mirrorless cameras only currently work with Full-Hd resolution. There is a lot of catching up to do for Canon and Nikon and the like. And would you carry a big camera plus high end compact alongside a device as capable as the new iPhone? Most likely overkill for most people – probably all in all not really a very sensible solution considering limited space in e.g. a backpack. So the iPhone has a lot going for it as an ever ready camera and no doubt will take another big bite from the camera market. It will sell like hot cakes – as usual…
It will not be the death of the DSLR (also see my previous article) or other bigger sensor cameras but many casual photographers might be confident enough with the results to eventually ditch their heavy equipment and settle for the one camera that will probably do the job 80% of the time: the new iPhone 6s/iPhone 6s Plus.
Any chance you might swap heavy gearbags for the new Apple device?