Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

iPhone 7 Plus vs. Sony Cybershot DSC-HX400V

I recently upgraded my iPhone to the new iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus has the following camera specs:

  • 12 MP wide-angle and telephoto
  • Wide angle f/1.8 aperture 
  • Telephoto f/2.8 aperture
  • Optical zoom at 2x, digital zoom up to 10x
The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX400V has the following specs:

  • 20,4 MP Exmor R CMOS
  • ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar® T* Lens
  • f/2.8 - f/6.3 (Telephoto) aperture
  • 50x optical zoom
Of course, the sensors are different due to the physical size of the cameras. The sensor on the Sony is a 1/2.3 inch or 7.82 mm sensor. The iPhone has a 3.99 mm sensor.

I wanted to compare the two cameras with the same photo taken at about the same time. So I went outside in the morning when it was 26 degrees and took the following photos with the two cameras. You can click on the photos to see them full-size. 

Here is the Sony photo.

Each of the photos is entirely unretouched and straight from the camera. 

The following photo was taken with the iPhone 7 Plus camera using the standard Apple photo app.

I then took one more photo, before I froze, with a newer app called ProCam 4 - Manual Camera + RAW. All of the photos were taken from JPEGs to even the field. 

Then I pulled all three photos into Photoshop CC 2017 and started to work with them. Here are details from all three photos at 200% magnification.

First the Sony:

Now the iPhone with the Apple app

I don't really need to go much further. The iPhone image is already losing detail. If I go to 300% magnification, the difference becomes even more obvious.

Here is the Sony at 300%:

Here is the iPhone at 300%:

The new smartphone cameras are being promoted as a "replacement" or "equivalent" to DSLR cameras. Baloney. The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX400V is technically a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera or DSLR but it is also an inexpensive consumer level camera. The iPhone 7 Plus cost around $800 and the Sony cost about $450. If I did the same test with my Canon 5D Mark II, there would be an even greater difference in resolution. In cameras, most of the time, you get what you pay for. Smartphone cameras have a long way to go before they replace my DSLR or even my Sony camera. For a better comparison, here is a photo of the same part of the mountain taken with the Sony using the camera's zoom option and no magnification in Photoshop. 

Now, if you go back and look at the two original photos, you might say they were about the same. The difference is in the amount of information contained in the photo. This might or might not seem important to you, but as a professional photographer it is very important. 

If you want some more information about digital photography see my video for the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.

Digital Photography for Genealogists - James Tanner


  1. Thank you. I've had an iPhone 4s and 5s and use these for casual snaps. However when I want to take a serious photo I still go back to my trusty Sony DSC-H1. It's old, but damn - it takes good photos compared to the mobile phone camera.

  2. Thanks for sharing with us.