Just how good are smartphone cameras - Part 1. Nikon Df compared to iPhone

Above is the Red Dot Camera app. for Mac IOS. Despite a somewhat silly frame line option and a (considering the depth of field possibilities with an iPhone) singularly useless manual focus function, it does, as you can see offer manual exposure options and ISO selection. Plus a very handy self timer.  

I've been scanning some 35mm transparencies in the last few day and I was reminded of just how bad they look on a computer monitor. I've had a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 for years which is an excellent desktop scanner, so it is producing close to the best that film scanning can achieve. The scans are soft and grainy, but that doesn't stop people buying them. Nor does it stop them reproducing very well in magazines and books. So with that in mind I thought I'd do a series of  articles on just what modern smartphones are capable of, because in terms of image quality my phones produce significantly better looking images on my and therefore my clients monitors than scanned film.

But in terms of a comparison with something like the Nikon Df DSLR with it's 16MP sensor, as you can see above the DSLR is sharper, clearer and in pretty much every way 'better.' But how important that difference is, in terms of web and / or print reproduction is open to interpretation. There is a world of difference between pixel peeping (in itself no bad thing) and print reality. And having seen how my 35mm scans reproduce, I have no doubt that my iPod images (same as iPhone 6) would reproduce very well and at A4 there may be little discernible difference.

It's also important to remember that in many picture taking situations that the iPod / iPhone would get the image without any fuss and the Nikon Df would at the very least attract some 'attention.' Smartphone cameras have almost become 'invisible' and are therefore a very useful tool if attracting no attention is a priority. And even more than small compact or mirrorless cameras, these are the social documentary cameras of our times. Apart from anything that's what the vast majority of people who take photographs are doing all the time anyway. And unlike many leisure photographers who may well feel threatened by this and in many ways resent what smartphones are capable of for all the wrong reasons, I think that this is nothing but a good thing. The more people take photographs, the more cameras and images that are out there the better I like it. 

Personally I have no problem with the 'competition.' because the ability to create a decent image never has and never will have anything to do with what it is taken with, something that many 'photographers' either forget or choose to ignore. Consequently I will be keeping the iPod and the Nikon Df is on it's way to a new home. Now I wouldn't have dreamed of writing that a couple of years ago, but in the ever evolving digital photography world things change. Plus in my ever evolving photographic life, things change as well. And again that's something I embrace rather than fight against. I've never been afraid to take risks with my photography and / or my photographic gear and to me that is the essence of creativity. In the gear obsessed, brand worshipping, cliche fuelled, unimaginative world of the photographic internet that is seemingly an alien concept. These days I'd rather be a smartphone photographer than a DSLR or Mirrorless photographer. It suits me and I like the directions using these simpler cameras take me in. And while it's not right for everyone, it's right of me. And ultimately that's all that matters.