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4K video shootout shows iPhone 6s outperforming $3k’s worth of Nikon DSLR


Fresh from showing how an iPhone 6s and a few cheap accessories can enable you to do a great photoshoot, Fstoppers’ Lee Morris  has now put the iPhone 6s video capabilities up against a semi-pro Nikon D750 DSLR. The results are actually quite shocking, the iPhone 6s delivering much sharper results, as seen in the 200% zoom above and video below.

There are a few riders, of course … 

First, as Morris notes, the footage was shot in ideal conditions: outdoors in bright light. This is the least-taxing environment for a camera. As I noted in my own camera tests, it’s a different story in low light.

Second, he was using a Tamron lens rather than a Nikkor one. I’d have been really interested to see the same footage with the Nikkor 24-70/2.8.

Third, the Nikon is of course far more capable in other ways, with selective focus via shallow depth of field heading the list.

But with all that said, I have to say I’m astonished at the difference shown. It really does show what a capable camera the iPhone 6s is given the right conditions.

We’ve of course already seen Apple’s own demonstrations of the photographic credentials of the new iPhones, with reviewers agreeing. We’ve also seen the evolution of iPhone cameras, and carried our own video test, but the video below really does drive the point home.

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  1. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Nikon is going to like this story – the camera manufacturers have already lost so much business (revenue) to the high-end phones already! As Ben stated – the Nikon has so many advantages over any camera phone that this isn’t a really fair comparison – but it is an interesting outcome.

  2. myke2241 - 7 years ago

    I couldn’t agree more. A7II is Sony’s conversion tool for Nikon and Canon owners. this is a punch the face for both! its extremely disappointing to see companies these not adapt with the progression of image technology. I am still very happy with my 5d MKIII rocking ML. But Canon needs to do something amazing in the next year to make me stick around!

    • MK (@MathiasMK84) - 7 years ago

      Love my A7II. For video the A7sII and A7rII are even more amazing.
      Dynamic range beyond anything else. Ibis, 4k, great Zeiss lenses and an informative EVF, eye AF etc… All that in a quite compact body (given the full frame sensor).
      Sony is on the right track here.

      The iPhone is not bad for such a tiny sensor and lens though.

  3. anekin007 - 7 years ago

    How can you call it a 4k shoot out when the D750 doesn’t even shoot in 4k? Comparing a 4k video vs 1080p video, of course the 4k video will have sharper images.

    • dgatwood42 - 7 years ago

      It’s worse than that. The Nikon image is unusually soft for a DSLR image (not just video resolution loss, but genuinely “lens soft”). I’m not sure if the lens isn’t focused correctly (did they remember to turn on continuous AF?) or if it is just a bad copy, but that’s significantly softer than I’m used to even with Canon’s 24–105L kit lens, which the 24–70 series should beat handily sharpness-wise. It’s more like what I’d expect at f/2.8 rather than f/8. So this is comparing a spectacularly bad example of a DSLR image with an iPhone image taken under ideal circumstances. That’s not a fair comparison at all.

    • lin2logger - 7 years ago

      Hmmmmm… maybe you should have ACTUALLY HAVE SEEN THE VIDEO??! Because his EXPLICITLY says, that the comparison is the 4k DOWNSCALED. Therefore the test IS in fact EQUAL. *double-facepalm*

      Thanks for stopping by. Now go troll elsewhere.

  4. Joe Ogiba (@joe1946) - 7 years ago

    Did you really expect a Nikon DSLR with 1080p to beat any 4K smartphone ? Even the old $299 OnePlus smartphone that shoots true DCI 4K 4096×2160 video beats any Nikon DSLR.

  5. Altitude Arts - 7 years ago

    The D750 doesn’t shoot 4K (it’s a 1080i camera), and the iPhone doesn’t have interchangeable lenses. What douchebag thought it made any sense to compare them?

  6. lin2logger - 7 years ago

    Sure. As long as people can actually differentiate between ACQUISITION and OUTPUT. Since 4K is great for acquisition, but COMPLETE AND UTTER NONSENSE for output.

    • myke2241 - 7 years ago

      totally not true. you have to understand what your target is. 2k still makes sense for somethings but 4k has much more going for it even for delivery today

  7. Mac Daddy - 7 years ago

    It’s not much of a comparison if he didn’t bother to use Nikon glass.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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