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iPhone 4s - Canon 5D MKII Side By Side Comparison

Published: 22/10/2011
By: larry

It seems a little crazy that a cell phone video should be in any way comparable to the Canon 5D MKII. But the fact that the comparison looks so good is startling and makes you think about what's happening with technology and miniaturization.

The comments from the guys that did the comparison are a good summary that puts the comparison in perspective:

This test is really only to show that the 4S is coming close to the 5D but in NO WAY is it better. The iPhone is a great 1080p pocket camera and shows us where technology is heading. Give it two three years and we should see some interesting micro high performance cameras.

The iPhone falls apart in these areas:

- Compression / codec (it's very noisy even in daylight)
- Tiny tiny tiny tiny sensor
- Lens (f2.4 is great for a cell phone though)
- Shutter (no control / stuck on auto)
- Framerate (stuck at 30p)
- No picture styles (contrast and sharpening is heavy)

The only points I give to the 4S are the resolution and portability.

Brace yourself for a flood of high quality cat and laughing baby videos because as of last weekend, 4 million people now have this capability in their pocket and unlike the Canon 5DMKII the iPhone uploads video directly to YouTube.

Update 10/25/2011:  There was more interest in this subject than I anticipated. My original intent in posting this was mostly amazement at the rapid evolution in technology. I just ran across a post that Lisa Bettany did illustrating how still image quality of the iPhone has evolved and how it compares to the S95 and 5D.

11 comments on “iPhone 4s - Canon 5D MKII Side By Side Comparison”

  1. Thanks for the comparison, I've been wondering about such a comparison myself. It is really impressive. I don't think an average end-user would be able to notice the differences in most use-cases.

    The current trajectory of camera technology & convenience of integrated software is going to have a huge effect on the real estate photography business. While it will be good overall for the state of real estate photography for the general public, professional real estate photographers are going to have to continue to up their game by improving their skills and equipment so they can continue to provide a material difference in service to the industry vs the DIY threat.

  2. One has little control over the iPhone so in this comparison the 5DII had to be set to match the iPhone. The iPhone 4s does have a good camera, but but this proves nothing really. Of course, being a Nikon shooter I like to say, "What's the big deal about a camera phone being better than a Canon?"

  3. I'm waiting for a military grade iphone that I can use for self defense like I can with my D300. Being able to swing your camera above your head like a barbarian with a morning star is one thing a cell phone will never be good for.....Not that I do it, but I could, and everyone likes features right?

  4. The sad part about this is the integrated software for easy upload to the web. It is the newest marketing push since they maxed out the pixel race and the gullable masses are out there for it.

    Does anyone ever stop to think...what video is EVER ready for instant out of camera viewing. No storyline blending scenes with controlled voice narration in post, but either a bouncing single scene walkthrough or abrupt scene changes, and impromptu, out of breath, audio as they try to think, speak, shoot, and walk around at the same time. Worse, as we have this wave of iphone videos inflicted upon us, like some still photos, the standard will deteriorate where the masses will say "that was good" rather than "I just wasted 5 minutes of my life." A close parallel, look at what instant downloadable (and sellable) mp3 has done to the audio world virtually eliminating the quality of vinyl and it's superior audio dynamics as people praise the highly compresses mp3 as "good".

  5. I cannot tell you how many people I've heard say "oh, this little thing will do the video, you don't need anything better".
    LarryG has added some good comments on the shortfalls of smart phone video vs DSLR. I'd love to see some video from each device showing noise difference.
    To a layperson, the "tiny, tiny sensor" needs to be translated into why that matters in the end visual product.
    Same with why the lens on the 4S is inferior. And re why no shutter control matters from the layperson perspective and framerate and picture styles too.
    Let's work this into arguments we DSLR video producers can use with laypersons that they comprehend and are persuaded by. Too often we talk or write from our perspective and it means nothing to the consumer, falling on deaf ears.

  6. I had a client recently want to add iPhone footage to a video I was producing for her. The lighting, the color balance and the shake really made the iPhone 4 video look terrible against what I produced with the 5D2. HOWEVER, with that said, please check out iPhone Cinema on Vimeo, it's all in how you use the tools you have - whether it's an iPhone, DSLR or RED Epic !
    Best Regards,

  7. They both look crappy.
    Just for starters, there's no shadow detail.
    You can get a very good video camera for < $1000.
    If you're at all serious about making professional quality videos that's what you should do.

  8. In this example, the similarities are scary close. A 5D is much more capable of what is shown in this video, however, not to mention way more flexible. In that regard, the video isn't a true A-B comparison. Having said that, you have to hand it to Apple, who would have thought you would be able to do something like this on a phone 10 years ago...

  9. It is OK but to the trained eye there is allot of difference. I much prefer the Canon in every shot of that video. The movement was better. The colors were better. Background haze was less. I guess people will have really good baby videos... I would not be using it for my professional work though.

  10. I’m waiting for a military grade iphone that I can use for self defense like I can with my D300. Being able to swing your camera above your head like a barbarian with a morning star is one thing a cell phone will never be good for…..Not that I do it, but I could, and everyone likes features right?

    Dude, I just sprayed my coffee all over my desk!

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