iPhone 11 vs. Fujifilm XQ1

Omni Barton Creek - Austin, Texas (Fujifilm XQ1)

Omni Barton Creek – Austin, Texas (Fujifilm XQ1)

Omni Barton Creek - Austin, Texas (iPhone 11)

Omni Barton Creek – Austin, Texas (iPhone 11)

Last month, during the high season for holiday parties, I went to the Omni Barton Creek Resort. It’s a really nice hotel located in the affluent western suburbs of Austin. I had a great time with my wife and meeting friends, though my once yearly suit-wearing was decidedly uncomfortable. Of course, I was also doing photography tests because my mind never drifts too far from photography.

I’ve played with and extolled the virtues of the Fujifilm XQ1, which I called the ultimate party camera. It’s my latest camera that I recently purchased from a friend. This compact enthusiast camera fits well in a suit pocket and has the awesome flash and ambient light blending technology. So how does the newest iPhone 11 stack up against the Fuji?

Very well, actually. Surprisingly so. The new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro night mode is a game-changer. I’ve mentioned in my newsletter and maybe on the blog, that for 99% of the people, the iPhone 11 will make better pictures than with any other camera. If you have the top 1% of photographic expertise, perhaps a more sophisticated camera will yield better images. But, it takes a lot of knowledge and a lot of work.

I’ve compared the iPhone 11 vs my other cameras before, at the Driskill Hotel Christmas Tree. The iPhone did great, though my family thought my other cameras yielded better images. But, for today’s quick test, I’m testing a 2013 vintage enthusiast camera against the newest smartphone technology.

In all honesty, I think the iPhone 11 produced a better image than the Fuji XQ1. Keep in mind that I have a lot more photographic expertise than most people. I shot the XQ1 to optimize image quality. I post-processed the RAW image using Capture One, a professional image processing software. Then, I did AI-based noise reduction using Topaz Software. Yet a simple snap from the iPhone 11 yielded a better picture. I did slightly alter the iPhone image to match the colors, but that’s about it.

Quite amazing, really. Sure, If I used my larger cameras with a bigger sensor, I can still make a high-quality photograph. I can also use a tripod to make the image at the lowest ISO. But, in a real-world, hand-held test of compact cameras, the iPhone has bested a 2013 enthusiast camera.

The bottom line is that, for most people, their most recent iPhone will make spectacular images in even tough conditions. It’s truly extraordinary how the latest sensor and AI technologies have leveled the playing field.

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8 thoughts on “iPhone 11 vs. Fujifilm XQ1

  1. Phones take good pictures nowadays, but: (i) good ones are expensive (how much did you pay your iphone and your xq1?); (ii) phones are limited in the choice of lenses, especially teles (they call tele a 50 mm equivalent); (iii) their ergonomics is dreadful.

    1. Yes, agree Andrea. The iPhone is significantly more expensive than the 7-year-old Fuji compact camera. I don’t use my iPhone for serious photography, but it’s nice to know that it can now make decent photos in a pinch.

  2. It’s hard to see a difference. On a computer screen, especially mobile screens, most images will look good. A truer test is what these images will look like printed, especially at sizes above 10”. But most people aren’t making prints anymore.

    1. I used to say that smartphone photos only look good on small smartphone screens. That’s changed. A dark mode photo even looks decent on a 27″ monitor. But, yes, I agree with you. These smaller pictures work fine for blogging or for memories of an event. It’s not the kind of photo that I would print, large or small.

  3. impressive comparison. I would suspect most photographers would get both anyway (the camera and the phone), but considering the price difference (specially in $$ per year, phones don’t last that long) it is not really a fair comparison. Or maybe it is, since phones do other things than just taking pictures. I just don’t know lol. Agree with Andrea, though. At the end, the possibility of using different lenses is quite a critical difference.

    1. I suspect for most people, their smartphone is the only camera they use. Only crazy enthusiasts like me (and some others who visit this blog) continue to shoot with dedicated cameras. It was a fun comparison to make.

      The new iPhone does really impressive things automatically. It shows how dumb all the dedicated cameras are. They solely rely upon the expertise of the photographer.

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