Comparing an iPhone 7 Camera with a Hollywood Camera

You've probably seen all the ads about how nice the camera is on the new iPhone 7 Plus, especially it's "portrait" modes. They've been airing on television and online so much that you'd practically have to live under a rock to avoid some of them - especially the barbershop ad, or the one with a young couple in the city. Never mind the ads with beautiful, sweeping videography that say, "this ad was shot using an iPhone camera!" 

So, exactly how good is this camera, really? A young man on YouTube decided to show the world just that, with side-by-side comparisons. 

He had a heavy-duty camera, a model called the "Arri Alexa," worth roughly $82,000, which supposedly is the kind of camera capable of producing Hollywood-quality film results. It was used for blockbusters like Revenant (2015), Arrival (2016), Logan (2017), Game of Thrones, and many more. Reportedly, Steven Spielberg himself is known to use the Alexa.

There's no question that, for its value, the iPhone 7 Plus can create some very nice, quality video footage. You'll have to watch the video for yourself, though, to really see the difference that a major professional camera like Alexa can make...

A couple of notes that the can be taken away from this videos commentary:

  • While many smartphones are able to capture 4k video (resolution), there at least 10 other factors in camera quality that can significantly impact your end result.
  • The iPhone seems to struggle in low light, like a dim indoor setting - something most people encounter every day.
  • The Alexa gave a ton of additional control to the videographer when it came to how the final result looked.
  • When it comes to color, if the iPhone camera is a nice 16-pack of Crayola crayons, the Alexa is more like the big 64-pack. Both can create great images, but the bigger one gives the artist a lot more range for a lot less work.

The takeaway at the end, here, is probably exactly what you expected. The iPhone 7 camera, compared with other present-day expectations for phone cameras, is really pretty impressive. It will almost certainly cover the needs of any casual amateur who happens to like taking pictures or video for fun. It might even cover the needs of a professional who happens to need to cut together photos or videos every once in a while. 

It does have limitations, though, and on an advanced technical level it still doesn't really have anything on serious professional video equipment. Ads showing how much video quality the phone can produce aren't ever going to show off the things it's not good at, after all.

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