WEDDING SEASON SALE! 30% Off Training Systems!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Gear & Apps

Comparing 6 Cameras: Imagine Quality Showdown – DSLR vs. Mirrorless vs. iPhone

By Chris Nachtwey on April 7th 2014

The iPhone and iPad, oh how we love them! We use them for business, to surf the net, read books, play games, watch movies, and all too often, we use them to make images. The real question is, though, how does their image quality stack up against professional DSLRs? Using a neutral playing field, our friend Jay P. Morgan puts six different cameras including the iPhone and iPad to the test.

An added bonus: Jay shows us how to use simple reflectors to light an outdoor portrait.


Six-camera-comparison (1 of 1)

Gear tested:

iPhone 5C
Nikon D800
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon EOS-1D C
Sony Alpha A7

Sample Image:

Sony-a7-sample-image (1 of 1)


I have not had the opportunity to shoot with the Sony Alpha A7. From Jay’s test, I found the image to be extremely comparable to the DSLR’s tested. I was pleasantly surprised by it’s dynamic range, depth of field, and overall size.

For me the Nikon D800, Canon EOS-1D C, and Canon 5D Mark III are the clear winners of this comparison. The dynamic range, sharpness, and overall image quality are what professional photographers expect. While the iPhone and iPad did not surprise me, I’ve never been a fan of the image quality those two devices provide. The test does brings up another question. Why are you capturing life’s events with an iPhone or iPad?

I know it’s hard to compare an iPhone to a full-frame professional camera, but I was shocked with how poorly the iPhone and iPad performed. Being the camera of choice by many people to document life’s events, the iPhone and iPad failed miserably! I’m with Jay on this one; go invest a few hundred dollars on an entry-level DSLR before you waste any more time compromising image quality for your important memories by using an iPhone or iPad.

For more information on cameras, lenses and gear comparisons, check out the SLR Lounge Gear Guides!

[via @The Slanted Lens]

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. John Bettano

    Just a thought why not toss in the Lumia 1020It does in deed outshine any cell.

    | |
  2. Colin

    I disagree with the comparison of iPhone, iPad and DSLR. Yes there are limits to the iPhone, but let’s see a comparison with compact point and shoots that are anywhere near the footprint / always available aspects of the iPhone.

    | |
  3. Rick

    You don’t have to use one or the other. I use both an iPhone (5S) as well as a DSLR (EOS 6D).

    For planned shoots, specialty work (e.g. long exposure), or during vacation when it won’t impede, I always go for the DSLR. Otherwise, iPhone it is.

    | |