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Can you tell the difference between an iPhone and DSLR photo?

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Curious users can look at 10 sets of similar photos from different cameras.

Camera geeks are always fighting over what gear takes the best photos. The folks at Snapsort have created a website dedicated to settling the arguments once and for all.

Camera Showdown pits similar photos taken on different cameras up against each other and asks viewers to choose which photo is the best without knowing what camera was used to take the photo. The results are sometimes shocking—I expected the Canon 5D Mark III to clobber the iPhone 5 in my test, but the DSLR only won by 60%.

The site is trying to function as a Pepsi Taste Challenge for photography and is more of a game than a way to quantify a camera's photographic potential. Without going out and taking the exact same composition with the same settings and similar lenses, Camera Showdown can never provide an absolutely precise comparison, but the site is still fun to play with to see if your gear prejudices are warranted.

Click here to compare your favorite gear with Camera Showdown.

Comments

Total comments: 54
quickmatch
By quickmatch (8 months ago)

I didn't see any picture that stretched the resolution limits. I couldn't tell which images were taken in or out of focus, at high or low aperture, were subjected to camera shake, suffered lack of resolution due to lens quality. Comparing two images taken under different conditions at different lighting levels or incidence angles of different subjects is not a reasonable way to determine camera imaging quality differences. It's like asking which is a better chef by comparing Chef Mike's liver and onions with Chef Joe's meatloaf.
I suppose I will have to fall back on the answer to this question: what proportion of professional photographers, or serious amateurs, choose to use the iPhone as their camera of choice?

0 upvotes
Velocitydreamer
By Velocitydreamer (10 months ago)

I have an old Canon 30D... so I thought it'd be fun to do the 30D vs the iPhone 5... yeaaahhhh... 30D 80%. No, I didn't cheat in any way, I picked the better QUALITY photo, not who framed the best photo. That would be comparing the photographer's eye and/or lucky opportunity for a good shot vs the camera. I don't get how you can compare cameras with different shots, saying you like the content of the shot better than the actual quality of the shot. Comparisons like these aren't the best methods at all.

0 upvotes
Velocitydreamer
By Velocitydreamer (10 months ago)

On a side-note... some of those photos had some pretty... well... blan content :-/ From MY opinion of course, but.... wow :P

0 upvotes
2001
By 2001 (Mar 17, 2013)

I don't understand, a low resolution jpeg is a low resolution jpeg. No matter what it was taken with or how it was manipulated.

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Michael Rubin
By Michael Rubin (Mar 15, 2013)

Because they list the full Exif information, it is easy to know which was taken with a DSLR and which was taken with a camera phone. The iPhone 5 will alway show (at least here) f/2.4 @ 4mm Focal length.

0 upvotes
npires
By npires (Mar 15, 2013)

I compared the iPhone 5 to the NEX-5N and the 5N won 9/10 the only photo chosen better than the NEX was due to the composition.

0 upvotes
The Squire
By The Squire (Mar 15, 2013)

Interesting. But the quality of random Flickr photos is so variable, this is just a game, not a real comparison. Fun though.

Wouldn't it be batter if they pulled in DPReview review studio shots instead for a blind comparison test ;) "Which of these two images of a bottle show the least chorma noise? YOU DECIDE"

0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Mar 14, 2013)

Totally absurd and sad. As these I-phone advertisements are.

2 upvotes
JavierDiaz
By JavierDiaz (Mar 12, 2013)

Totally absurd. One photo says "4mm", the other varies (say, 60mm, 24mm, etc). Not hard to guess what is what. They oughto to HIDE the foot notes to make it a "blind" test, sort of...

2 upvotes
Thorbard
By Thorbard (Mar 11, 2013)

I found that the SLRs trashed the iPhones and, surprisingly, that my personal choice of camera did better than the competitors (doesn't matter which is which!).

What I found interesting though was that I was drawn to the better images and didn't pick the images apart looking for some clue as to which was which. The better images were always "better". Also iPhone images that I chose were ones that you'd be unlikely to see for an SLR.

I guess this means both have a place in photography...

0 upvotes
toomanycanons
By toomanycanons (Mar 11, 2013)

Just remember, folks: if you hold your phone out at arms length and snap away, Instagram it to Facebook or whatever with some funky "cool" effect, that means without a doubt you're a photographer.

1 upvote
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Mar 11, 2013)

I am shocked that photos on Flickr have so weak copyright that such services are legal.

This photo game is offered by a third party and probably for a commercial reason.

But then, real photographers don't use flickr, right?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Thorbard
By Thorbard (Mar 11, 2013)

All the photos seem to be rated "C all rights reserved" so this "service" is really using photos it shouldn't. A shame when there are dozens of good quality creative commons images out there.

0 upvotes
Banaan
By Banaan (Mar 12, 2013)

I'm curious as to how both of you can conclude / know that permission wasn't given for the use of the pictures that also appear in Flickr

1 upvote
The Squire
By The Squire (Mar 15, 2013)

But it's just using the flickr API to display publicly viewable images from flickr. It's not selling the images, or using them for promotional material. That the website might be making money in some way (although I see no direct monetization) doesn't matter. It's no different from Google image search showing you a page full of images pulled from other sites.

0 upvotes
jlhinpa
By jlhinpa (Mar 11, 2013)

There is no substitute for experience! Give a professional golfer a set of clubs with wooden shafts and match him up with the once a month amateur who has the best golf equipment money can buy... Guess who will outperform 99 percent of the time? The equipment is only as good as the individual handling it.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to display some of my photography at a local show. My entries consisted of a display of smartphone photographs. I actually believed that my shots were unique and had some value. All I can say it was a humbling experience when I tried to compare what I have done to that of the professionals' works.

If you want to link the iPhone with photography this is my solution... Take the smartphone and call, text or surf for businesses that offer quality photography equipment and services.

If you have the chance to go to a wedding and see the designated photographer use an iPhone then you are probably in Las Vegas. Happy shooting!

1 upvote
Velocitydreamer
By Velocitydreamer (10 months ago)

Amen brother! Just because someone frames up a good shot, doesn't mean it's a QUALITY shot. How about we disect those photos... CA, vignetting, noise, etc... SLRs have a bigger sensor for a reason, amongst a million other features the toyPhone can't match. Once again, I'll repeat, someone can frame up a good shot on an iPhone, and the photo be "nice" but quality is a whole different story people, PERIOD.

0 upvotes
Abhijith Kannankavil
By Abhijith Kannankavil (Mar 11, 2013)

play that with some canon vs nikon cameras in same segment.
thing'll get interesting.
But, mind you, this will not be a lab chart shoots comparison. these photos are taken by different people at different moods n a thousand other different things. So, camera is just one of the things in a thousand variables that effect each pic you see there

1 upvote
Banaan
By Banaan (Mar 12, 2013)

At first I thought I noticed a trend with the canon vs nikon "test" and it was that there seemed to be a difference depending on the type of photography, i.e. arty vs documentary, but after a while that no longer applied. Sometimes favouritism conquers mood, a building vs a bridge, a drink vs a girl, a bird vs a landscape and so on.

0 upvotes
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (Mar 11, 2013)

Quite pointless actually. A Carpy picture is a Carpy piture on any device. Most of those where Carpy pictures any way. I did get 70% for the DSLR though.

1 upvote
Hetvenhet
By Hetvenhet (Mar 11, 2013)

Try to compare Canikon in the same category...
e.g. Markd DIII and D600
now you are lost!

0 upvotes
Hugo600si
By Hugo600si (Mar 11, 2013)

Comparing rubbish photo's on a DSLR with rubbish photo's from an iPhone. No comparible subject matter, no comparible composition, what's the point? Give the iPhone to a top photographer and the DSLR to a novice and guess which get the better composition. Yet another time waster on the internet.

1 upvote
ultimitsu
By ultimitsu (Mar 11, 2013)

http://camerashowdown.com/Canon-EOS-5D-Mark-III-vs-Apple-iPhone-5?r=F352037128989XDRWWU

5D3 wins every time. the clarity and contrast is hugely better.

iPhone's camera is a wide angle, there is a lot distortion if photographer does not avoid them. it is only not so obvious in landscape shots. and it only has good contrast and clarity in bright daylight.

0 upvotes
Sovern
By Sovern (Mar 11, 2013)

I got 10 out of 10 right comparing Canon T4i to Iphone4. Definitely a huge difference.

1 upvote
ptodd
By ptodd (Mar 11, 2013)

The way I see it, there wasn't supposed to be a right or wrong answer; you're supposed to say which picture is better, not which was taken with a better camera.

It's very easy to see the difference, from the metadata apart from anything else...

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Lng0004
By Lng0004 (Mar 11, 2013)

Here's an easy way to identify smartphone photos in those camera showdowns.

Does it have some sort of vintage effect?
If yes, it's probably a smartphone photo.
If no, go to next question.

Is it square?
If yes, most likely a smartphone photo.
If no, go to next question.

Is depth-of-field from camera to infinity?
If yes, more than likely a smartphone photo.
If no, go to next question.

Is it a bad photo?
If yes, smartphone photo it is.

1 upvote
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Mar 10, 2013)

Can you tell the difference between an iPhone and Pentax 645D ?

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8512/8546776456_8b4cc0d4ac_o.jpg

1 upvote
hwalker
By hwalker (Mar 10, 2013)

In my play through it was too easy even without looking at the EXIF information. You just have to look at the bokeh and if the field of view is particularly wide or narrow.

Also there are a ton of instagram-ed photos, coupled with the small image size, it makes the comparison a bit meaningless.

However the point of the site probably still stands that for the purpose of online viewing on a small size and if the scene doesn't require a particularly thin DoF or wide/long focal length, a decent smartphone camera is good enough for most users.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Lonerwolf
By Lonerwolf (Mar 10, 2013)

I loved it. It shows that resolution as well as focus of picture can be just as important as the camera used.
I recently bought myself an Olympus 82OUZ and so far every scenic view photo I've ever taken with my old fujifinepix 2200 has been far superior everytime, although the Olympus is better at short distances, the fuji didn't need any messing about with picture resolutions somehow.

0 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (Mar 10, 2013)

i seriously disagree with the methodology used. it shouldn't even be called a test or a comparison tool. there's nothing to compare.

i'm seeing the most retarded "comparisons". who in their right mind would choose a photo of an office buiding ceiling shot with flat light over a super grainy but dynamic sunset shot of a beach resort? and yet, this "test" tool gives us that comparison.

i don't care how good your camera is, if you take a photo of a ceiling with general office lighting, it will never look good or be appealing.

if this was a like for like photo comparison web app, i'd be all for it. the way it's set out now, it should strike "test" and "comparison" from its description.

2 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Mar 10, 2013)

OMG, what a bonehead test since it shows the iPhone 4mm FL so anyone with half a brain will get 100%.

2 upvotes
ConanFuji
By ConanFuji (Mar 10, 2013)

I got ten out of ten. It's easy to tell apart a dslr from an iPhone pic, unless you've never used a dslr before.

1 upvote
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (Mar 10, 2013)

Galaxy S3 much better and faster than iPhone 5.
Galaxy's lens is wider too.

1 upvote
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Mar 10, 2013)

In my test the DSLR won by 100%. Anyway I agree with what other users said: a comparison done this way is worth nothing.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Waimak Stud
By Waimak Stud (Mar 10, 2013)

It's flawed because it didn't ask which was taken by which camera, it said "Which photo is better?" Of course some working photos have been taken with good equipment. Then it showed a picture of two fat blokes building something versus a beach sunset. 90% of my choices were for the canon 5d III not the iphone but on the subject and beauty, not the quality.

It's not a camera showdown at all, it's a picture comparison and compares some stupid choices.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
David Lal
By David Lal (Mar 9, 2013)

Silly question! I did not even bother looking at the site.

0 upvotes
Philip Goh
By Philip Goh (Mar 9, 2013)

While not a scientific comparison, it was a fun site :) I think it's quite easy for keen photographers to tell the images apart. You pick the images that have the better dynamic range, shallower depth of field, less garish HDR, better transitions between highlights and shadows and you're almost certainly picking the DSLR.

I would have been far more impressed if the images were more difficult to tell apart.

1 upvote
aliquis
By aliquis (Mar 9, 2013)

Since they show focal length that was pretty useless.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 9, 2013)

Yeah, pretty obvious that the 4mm f2.4 ones are the iphone.

0 upvotes
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner

Only if you care to cheat. The point of the site is to help someone decide between two potential cameras, so choosing the more pleasing image, in theory, helps come up with a result that means something.

The problem I had was I felt some of the images were just not similar enough, one was obviously just nicer in terms of composition which had nothing to do with which camera took what.

0 upvotes
Bruce Bracken
By Bruce Bracken (Mar 9, 2013)

Why was a news article written about this? That site is gimmick, and does not offer real camera image comparisons. It might as well be a Hot or Not for photographers.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Mar 9, 2013)

Cheer up, of course it is a gimmick but it might provide some entertainment value to some readers.

3 upvotes
joe6pack
By joe6pack (Mar 9, 2013)

This is a game to compare Apple and Orange.

The photos are clearly taken by different photographers with different level of skills, different environment, different intention, different post processing...

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Mar 9, 2013)

So you are concluding that often the camera isn't a significant part of the equation, right?

I think that's the point.

1 upvote
wansai
By wansai (Mar 10, 2013)

the point is, had the same photographer taken the same shot with different equipment, he will get different results. the same iphone scene as a dslr will conclusively show how big the difference is.

if the conclussion was as u stated, the site itself fails horribly. if you take a dslr and shoot a blank wall then take a phone camera and take a portrait, obviously the portrait will always be better. now take a portrait with a dslr and compare that to a phone portrait.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Digitall
By Digitall (Mar 8, 2013)

90% I guess which camera is better, and because I missed one and know what was :)

0 upvotes
AdventureRob
By AdventureRob (Mar 9, 2013)

Me too. I know which 1/10 of the shots I picked the iphone over, and it was because it was the better photo, not because of the camera.

0 upvotes
absentaneous
By absentaneous (Mar 8, 2013)

it's only good to have some fun. also, you really must have no clue about whatsoever that you are shocked that it's not that easy to make a difference when you compare 640px images.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Mar 8, 2013)

I agree, it's a game, nothing else. Let's see how they can improve it, I think they only just launched this.

1 upvote
Guy Swarbrick
By Guy Swarbrick (Mar 8, 2013)

Yes, the EXIF data makes it obvious. So does the fact that the vast majority of the iPhone photos are dreadful - technically.

And the pictures that are compared are almost always poorly matched.

0 upvotes
jcmarfilph
By jcmarfilph (Mar 8, 2013)

Yes, look at the DPR studio comparison tool or Imaging-Resource, you will see how miserable is the camera-wannabee iPhone compared to even a cheap digicam.

2 upvotes
ChristianHass
By ChristianHass (Mar 8, 2013)

Having the exif info at the bottom of each shot makes it blatantly obvious which camera took which picture if the lens, iso range or other differs between the two.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Mar 8, 2013)

Apparently they are working on solutions for that, according to this reddit-discussion: http://www.reddit.com/r/photography/comments/19wxdq/heyrphotographywejustlaunchedcamerashowdown/c8s16p0

1 upvote
Jonathan Brady
By Jonathan Brady (Mar 8, 2013)

I didn't even notice the exif data and I picked all but one correctly. The problem with that test is that it asks "which is the better picture?" and not "which picture was taken with an iPhone?" The composition and subject matter was better in some of the iPhone pictures so to me, THOSE were the better pics, even though I knew they were taken with an iPhone.

1 upvote
Total comments: 54
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