The iPhone 4S is receiving rave reviews for its fantastic camera, which can record surprisingly good video at 1080p. One videographer, in fact, was so impressed with the camera’s performance, he decided to test how it measures up to a full-fledged DSLR camera used for HD video capture.
Robino Films compared the HD video shot with an iPhone 4S with the video from a Canon 5D MK II, a popular DSLR, on similar settings. The iPhone 4S, which can shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second, could theoretically give amateurs a great way to capture high-quality video, even in various tricky lighting situations — much like the iPhone 4 did for still photography.
“I was blown away by how good the video quality was,” said Robino Jones of the iPhone 4S’ video capabilities. “The resolution was nice. There was very little aliasing and moire was not visible. I really think that Apple made an amazing 1080p video camera, and to be able to carry that much power in your pocket is awesome.”
Knowing that the iPhone was “crippled” in comparison to the DSLR, Robino did his best to use similar settings when comparing the two cameras. The Canon 5D Mark II was set with an ISO of 160 to 640 and an F-stop of 7 to 22 (varied to match that of the iPhone). The DSLR was also set to a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second, automatic white balance, standard picture style, and 1080p at 30 fps.
Despite its great-for-a-smartphone camera specs (which we describe below), Robino Films said the iPhone fell short of the DSLR in six areas: compression (the iPhone 4S produces noisy video, even in daytime shots); sensor size (the iPhone’s is extremely small); lens quality (great for a smartphone, but nowhere near that of a DSLR); and the inability to adjust frame rate, shutter speed or picture style. However, Jones said, “the iPhone 4S is holding very well against the 5D’s standard picture style.” The smartphone also produces a warmer image overall.
Jones said the iPhone scores points on resolution (which is better than on the 5D) and portability. He also praised really great dynamic range. The 5D’s video has a softer overall look, and more aliasing and moire.
In a comment on Vimeo, Jones said, “This test is really only to show that the 4S is coming close to the 5D but in NO WAY is it better. The iPhone is a great 1080p pocket camera and shows us where technology is heading. Give it two, three years, and we should see some interesting micro high performance cameras.”
As for the iPhone camera of today, the 4S features impressive specs. It shoots 1080p video with real-time image stabilization (to help mitigate the problems of a wobbly hand) as well as temporal noise reduction (to enhance low-light capture). The camera boasts a maximum aperture of f/2.4 and five lenses for sharper, brighter photos with a shallower field of focus. A backside-illuminated sensor paired with an image-processor on the phone’s A5 chip help things run quickly and smoothly.
Check out the video below to see how the iPhone 4S and Canon 5D Mark II’s 1080p video footage measures up side-by-side. Vimeo’s HD content only goes up to 720p, but you can download the 1080p footage to check it out yourself.