Is the iPhone 7 Really Better than a DSLR? Fstoppers Took a Look

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Updated June 27, 2022

Along with the big iPhone 7 announcement, Apple made an interesting statement on stage: That its new iPhone camera could compete with a real DSLR camera. At first glance these sounds ridiculous. The best DSLR cameras of 2019 use optical zoom lenses and manual adjustments – how can software compare with that? So Fstoppers decided to check out the claim by comparing the iPhone 7 Plus with the 7-year-old Nikon D300s

Short version: It’s not a very scientific study. An iPhone camera and a full DSLR are not so much separate species as different planets. Comparing what they do is very hard. But overall the iPhone seems to fair better than we expected. Image quality, of course, went to the Nikon model, but camera speed was a tie as the iPhone’s software proved a match to the DSLR.

Nikon D300
For a better idea, here’s a look at the D300 competition.

The iPhone 7 actually won the video quality round, but there’s a caveat here: The Nikon D300s’s video sucks – it can barely even make it to 720p. There are DSLRs out there that can do far better, so take this one with an extra-large grain of salt. Another interesting outcome was that the iPhone 7 beat out the DSLR when it came to ISO performance – in other words, it seems the iPhone works better in low light. They didn’t actually test for durability but guessed that the iPhone would win that round, and we have to agree on that point.

For more information, you can check out the summary here. Essentially, if you stack the deck with a DSLR that’s seven years old, the iPhone 7 can win in a couple respects, even if you’re a photographer. Frankly, that’s better than we expected the iPhone to do.

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