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.