I went out after work yesterday with some friends. Like I often do, for no particular reason, I took a snapshot of the interior of the bar. Perhaps I was attracted to the bits of colorful neon and the kitsch that is common to these kinds of places. I didn’t have any of my usual dedicated cameras, so I used my iPhone 8 Plus.
Twenty minutes later, another friend arrived sporting a new iPhone 11 Pro. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the new iPhone camera so I asked him if I could take a picture. I was so amazed by the image it produced that I decided on a quick iPhone comparison post. Please excuse the difference in framing. I initially wasn’t planning a camera comparison.
My iPhone 8 Plus is now two generations old, introduced in September of 2017. The iPhone 11 Pro was just released last month, the latest and greatest. Let’s do a quick photo analysis of the two images.
The exposure from the iPhone 11 Pro is more true to life. But most amazingly, notice how good the neon signs look. You see the beautiful glow of the neon, but they are not blown out like the iPhone 8 Plus version. I like and shoot a lot of neon. Getting them looking right takes some skill and post-processing. The reds, in particular, are easily oversaturated and often look more orange. Notice how perfect the TEXXAS red looks. Both photos are straight out of the iPhone with no post-processing. All I did was point and shoot with the standard Apple camera application.
Next, notice the detail out the windows with the iPhone 11 Pro. I’m not sure if this used HDR, but both the interior and exterior look naturally processed. This is clearly superior to the iPhone 8 Plus, but even impressive compared to a dedicated camera with a larger sensor.
Finally, what really blew my mind was revealed in the EXIF data. The iPhone 11 Pro was shot at 1/30 of a second at ISO 800, while the iPhone 8 Plus used 1/6 of a second at ISO 80. The faster shutter speeds ensure sharper, less blurry images, of course. But, the details at ISO 800 look about the same as ISO 80, perhaps a tad less. Effectively, the new 11 Pro camera is some 3 stops better than the 8 plus. This is a breathtaking performance increase in just two years.
Also, the iPhone 11 Pro did not use night mode for this photo, which is a special new mode that optimizes images in really dark conditions. The performance of the iPhone 11 is so good, I’m tempted to test it against my dedicated cameras. I know for sure that it bests my first DSLR, the Canon Rebel XT, from 2005, with a big APS-C sensor. But, I’m sure it will beat out a lot of newer cameras too.
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