iPhone vs Canon Rebel SL3

iPhone (inset) and Canon SL3. 100% magnification (“actual pixels”) samples from the center of both images. Click to see a larger version.

Last night (Monday) I was photographing a band concert for our weekly, small town newspaper. The problem is the photo deadline is 5 pm Monday for the Thursday paper and the concert began at 7:30 pm, 2 1/2 hours after the deadline. Depending on where the newspaper staff is in producing the issue, sometimes they can squeeze in another photo or two that come in after the deadline. The sooner I can get them photos, the better, so I sent the paper two photos taken with my iPhone, one of the elementary school band and one of the high school band. But I used a Canon SL3 for most of the concert. I downloaded the SL3 memory card and sent the paper two more photos just in case they were running really late. Why? The Canon SL3 creates dramatically better photos in less than optimum lighting conditions.

Canon 7D Mark II with Canon EF 100-400mm. Canon SL3 with Canon EFS 55-250mm.

The Canon SL3 is an inexpensive featherweight option compared to bigger and much more expensive Canon cameras. I bought my SL3 as a “refurb” directly from Canon for less than $300. I used the SL3 for most of the concert so I would have better quality images and the paper might run more concert photos next week.

With concert photos from my iPhone and SL3 both open and processed on my computer desktop, I though I would do a quick comparison.

I processed both photos with Topaz Sharpen AI at the exact same settings to remove noise (see this article). I looked at both photos at 100% magnification (“actual pixels”) which means one pixel in the photo is one pixel on the computer monitor. At the same magnification the Canon SL3 file is bigger because it has a larger image sensor and more pixels. I also had to crop the iPhone photo a bit. I took the center of the iPhone image and dropped it on to the SL3 image so you can compare them side by side. Be sure to click on the image to see a bigger version and the difference in quality will be even more obvious.

The SL3 image is bigger and it clearly has better image quality.

I made 8×10 inch prints of both files. At 8×10 the iPhone photo is just beginning to fall apart. Any bigger print size and the image quality would deteriorate. The 8×10 print from the SL3 looks very good and the file could easily be made into an 10×15 or 12×18 inch print.

Outside during the day in bright light, the iPhone would do much better job and a 12×18 inch print would be no problem.

But inside in low light, the camera in the iPhone is no match for an inexpensive “consumer grade” Canon camera.

The whole iPhone image resized for the web. Click for a larger version.
The whole SL3 image resized for the web. Click for a larger version.

Photo Data: iPhone 11, 4.25mm (equivalent to 26mm lens on a 35mm camera). f/11, 1/30 second, ISO 400.

Photo Data: Canon SL3 body, Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens at 31 mm. f/8, 1/60 second, ISO 1600


Topaz Software: Concert photo