iPhone 4S Camera Put To Test Against Professional Cameras Like Olympus XZ-1 & Canon 20D DSLR


In case you’ve been wondering whether iPhone 4S can make you can ditch your everyday digital “point-n-shoot” or “DSLR” camera, this comprehensive camera war from Ars Techinca should probably give you the answer. Along with an iPhone 4S, the testers took sample shots with a 5MP iPhone 4, an 8MP Samsung Galaxy SII, an 8MP Canon 20D and a 10MP Olympus XZ-1. The test was carried out on a series of subjects in a couple different lighting scenarios such as flowers in outdoor lighting, a building at sunset, and some shots in very low indoor lighting at home and at a bar.

According to the source:

What we were interested in was evaluating the iPhone 4S as a still camera that could possibly replace a ‘real’ digital camera. To try and keep things as fair as possible, our Canon 20D was outfitted with a Canon 10-22mm EF-S lens was set to 22mm (a roughly 35mm equivalent) and left at f/4.5. Exposure was set automatically using aperture priority, just as most smartphones do. ISO was set manually (the 20D doesn’t have auto ISO available in aperture priority mode) but was set to our best guess for the situation at hand.

Likewise, the Olympus was put into aperture priority mode, with its aperture set to f/2.5—similar to the smartphones we compared against. ISO was set automatically, and the lens was left all the way at the wide end—roughly 28mm focal length equivalent.

Below are some random test shots comparing iPhone 4S camera with Canon 20D, Olympus XZ-1, iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II:

(iPhone 4S vs Canon 20D)

(iPhone 4S vs Olympus XZ-1)

(From left to right: iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy SII, Olympus XZ-1, Canon 20D)

( iPhone 4S (left) vs iPhone 4 (right) )

( iPhone 4S (left) vs Canon 20D (right) )

You can visit this link to see more images with detailed comparison and explanation of each image. If you just want to skip to the conclusion, here’s what the testers think:

For snapshot purposes, the iPhone 4S is comparable to the 8MP Canon 20D when it comes to image quality. But that comparison is a little unfair—you can easily achieve better results with newer DSLRs in terms of exposure, noise, and megapixel count.

As we said at the outset, every camera choice comes with its own set of compromises and won’t suit every individual photographer. Still, we have no qualms recommending the iPhone 4S as great alternative to compact, point-n-shoot cameras. It can take great photos when traveling or out with friends. Since it’s also your phone, you’ll always have it with you, so you may be able to grab shots in situations when you might not be able to otherwise take pictures at all.


  • Kraken

    It’s good replacement for a low-end compact, but obviously isn’t a replacement for a DSLR.  Duh!  It’s no where near the quality of  even an entry-level DSLR due it’s small sensor.

  • Anonymous

    Not to mention lack of optical zoom and stabilization, shutter/aperture controls… But for sure, my 4S is replacing my Canon P&S for day-to-day shots.

  • RC

    I sold my Canon S95 to subsidize the new 4S totally for this reason.  For point and shoot purposes, 4S is super handy and convenient.  Not to mention the smooth way of posting the pic on social networking like facebook or twitter.  Now I don’t need to take out the memory card, copy the pic to my laptop before posting them to the web.  I definitely post pic to fb and tw a lot more frequently.  For serious photography, I am still relying on my Nikon D3s.

  • Sara Thomas

    @0544c347294d23c63731470a3d4fe831:disqus Record and work immediately. my co-worker’s mother makes $80 an hour on the internet. She has been fired for 7 months but last month her income was $7897 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it on this web site >>> MakeCash2,com

  • pure_4

    I think the 4S has stabilization.. or is that only for videos?

  • Anonymous

    Software video stabilization, and video only. It does this by reducing the effective recording area, so tiny jerky motions can be smoothed out using video beyond the recording edges, if necessary.

    For still shots, Apple should have done what several other camera apps do–an option to delay the shot until the gyros and accelerometers read as fairly stable.

  • Yukontina

    Anyone noticed strange behavior from the 4S camera in cold weather? Both my husband and I took our phones along cross-country skiing, temp was around -15C. I was listening to music and, when I tried to take a pic, entire phone shut down. Same deal for my husband’s 4S.

    Today, at -35C, I took pictures, but I was only outside for a couple of minutes.

  • 1his_nibs1

    Is it just me or does the close-up shots of the stamen appear crisper or have less noise in the shots taken with the iPhone4 & Samsung cameras?

  • Guest

    Get out of here you waste of oxygen.

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  • Weeding professional shutters is going to replace his hardware by a 4s!!!!! Also I am thinking into replace my xz-1 by the 4S (I lost a bit of zoom, a bit of stabilisation a bit of aperture, a bit of iso  a bit of sarper lenses a bit of control but nothing important). This review  is a joke no?