I am the proud owner and writer of this article on the iPhone 7 Plus camera versus the Sony a6000 mirrorless camera.
I am not a professional photographer as of yet, so lets just get that out of the way. But I’m working on it. This comparison of these two wonderful pieces of technology is from my amateur enthusiast point of view.
I have both the iPhone 7 plus and the Sony a6000.
iPhone 7 Plus Camera Basics.
The iPhone has an impressive array of features for a camera phone. The camera has two different lenses. An 28mm f 1.8 and a 56mm 2.8. The face time/ selfie camera is a 7mp with a f2.2 and 32 mm lens.
Video: 4K 30 frames per second (fps). Or you can go with 1080p HD 30 fps or 60 fps, and the rarely used 720p HD video at 30 fps.
The 56mm lens is what Apple considers their telephoto lens. But don’t get your hopes up. It’s not great. It’s good enough for family fun photos and if you don’t have your DSLR and a 200mm on hand.
Examples Of iPhone 7 Plus Photos.
Here is a picture of a hawk I took in the rain using the telephoto lens straight out of camera, no editing. I was standing about 15 feet away, I’m not sure. I did feel like the zoom was not very good because I remember standing about 30 or 40 feet away and it did not zoom in very well so I went as close to it as I could without scaring it away. I remember feeling like I was right up on it when I used the iPhone 7 Plus camera.
Here is the hawk cropped and edited in Lightroom.
You access the zoom by touching the x1 or x2 on the screen (you can see it hidden in the hammock below).
One very cool feature that the iPhone 7 Plus has is you can take what are called ‘Live’ photos. In other words when you click the little sun thingy on the left hand side of the camera it will turn regular photos into ‘Live’ photos so that you get a 1.5 second long video clip which you can view on your phone when you press your finger in the image.
When you export the ‘Live’ image as an unmodified original you’ll get both the .jpeg and the .mov file.
Unique Portrait Feature!
Common features amongst camera phones are the ability to shoot in HDR, HD video (4K video for the iPhone 7 plus) setting a timer etc. But the iPhone 7 plus has a unique feature called ‘Portrait’ photos. In other words you can use the camera to create Bokeh (blurred background), which is very cool. It probably does not produce professional quality bokeh but it’s good enough.
iPhone 7 Plus Is Not For Action Photography!
Don’t get me wrong, you can take action photos. But your target must not be moving fast because it can take the shutter quite long to actually take the photo. But what it does capture is usually pretty good.
You can use the ‘Live’ feature to be sure you don’t miss that one action you wanted and then you can get the precise shot through editing the video.
For true action photos you need a camera with a fast frame rate (and a good lens). Back in the day (10 years ago) 4 frames per second (fps) in continuous shooting mode was amazing. If you had 6 or 7 frames per second you were living high and mighty. Many camera manufacturers use 6 and 7 frames per second as their standard.
Sony A6000 (or A6300).
Since we are talking about speed, the Sony A6000 is amazingly fast in continuous hi speed shooting mode. 11 frames per second!
If you forget to switch this down to single shots when you are taking portraits or nature shots you’ll take upwards of 20 photos by accident!
I’ll get straight to the point. The Sony A6000 or A6300 and A6500 are great mirrorless cameras. You can take professional quality photos and video with it. I do not use it for video yet, but I do enjoy using the camera for specific types of photography.
It’s particularly good for action photographs. It has an amazing focusing system that requires a separate video or article (stay tuned), but basically it finds and tracks the nearest moving subject for you, and it does an amazing job of it.
For landscapes or nature photography I go with my 5d Mark 2. But this camera still competes in these areas and I am considering selling my canon rig and buying two lenses for my Sony
I am not going to get into the nitty gritty details of this camera but I’ll cover what I think are the more important aspects of the camera from my point of view.
First off, it’s a 24.3 megapixel CMOS mirrorless camera and it shoot up to 11 frames per second. And you get this and plenty of advanced features for under $600! A no brainer.
If you don’t know what CMOS is you can look up the definitions. Basically it’s a smaller sensor and you are not getting as much into the frame compared to a full frame sensor.
But if you want to take landscapes you can simply get a wide angle lens and you are approaching the quality of a full frame camera.
Anyway, 24.3 megapixels as of 2017 is plenty of megapixels packed into a CMOS sensor. In other words you can crop down a photo and still have a plenty of resolution for printing.
Take for instance the Canon 5D Mark 2 a professional full frame DSLR which came out several years ago. It has a 20 megapixel full frame sensor and it’s still an awesome camera (I own one and love it).
It’s more about the lens than it is about the camera body (but that’s a discussion for another time.
For example, here is a photo of a seagull in flight. This photo was take straight out of the camera, no cropping or editing.
Here is the seagull again, but this time I cropped way down and did not edit the photo. There is still very good detail captured. Compare this to the hawk taken with the iPhone 7 plus above. And keep in mind that I was about 15 feet away from the hawk. I was hundreds of feet from this seagull.
So lets compare Bokeh (blurred background) in terms of the Sony a6000 and the iPhone 7 Plus.
Here is a photo of a blue bottle with the background blurred using the Portrait mode in the iPhone 7 plus. Aperture 2.8, Focal length 6.6, exposure time 1/317 (shutterspeed).
Here is the same photo taken with the Sony a6000 straight out of camera at 5.6, focal length 50, shutterspeed 1/200:The first thing that stands out is the difference in bokeh (blurred background). It’s more dramatic with the sony a6000 and my F stop was only 5.6 compared to 2.8 for the iPhone. In other words if I had a better lens, perhaps one the went up to an F number of 1.8 or 2.8 it would be even better (if you don’t why I said ‘up’ in regards to the F number comment below or email me).
The second thing that stands out is that the iPhone 7 Plus has more color. It may look better to some. Here’s the thing, the iPhone shoots in automatic unless you use an app like Lightroom, which is great by the way.
But it does a good job for day to day photos in auto. However, the iPhone does not shoot RAW. Meaning, you only get a .jpg image which has much less information to work with when you edit the photo. However, you can use the Lightroom app to shoot in RAW but it produces a .DNG file which is good for editing the photos but not nearly as good as shooting in RAW in the Sony A6000.
So what I am getting at is this; you can edit a raw image to increase or decrease exposure, highlights and much more. And therefore I can match or surpass the image quality (easily) with a little editing. All I need to do with this image is decrease exposure and play with the the highlights. All but one photo on this page was taken straight out of camera with no editing.
What About Landscapes?
The iPhone 7 Plus does a great job with landscapes.
The a6000 also does a great job, and like I mentioned above you can shoot in RAW and tweak the image to where you want. I did find that the Sony a6000 was about one stop over exposed even if the exposure was right at 0. It was a sunny day and I was using a kit lens.
The Bottom Line:
- The iPhone 7 Plus is a great day to day camera for taking portraits, landscapes, and video. The timelpase and slow motion features are really fun and you can take close to professional quality video and timelpases with it. The photos are very good and it does an impeccable job as an automatic camera.
- It’s a great option for a family vacation, and it’s a really good back up video camera. The portrait feature alone is worth it my opinion. But I use it all the time for basic video (like product reviews) because I don’t have to worry about focusing and the results are very good and it requires very little setup compared to other video cameras.
- For better quality photos and action photography I use the Sony a6000. I also use it for landscapes. It depends on what I am doing. For example, if I am going on a hike I want a light weight quality camera. So the Sony is perfect.
- If I am going to shoot surf photography I will choose the Sony. But I also bring along my iPhone to take landscapes, timelapse, and of course video. So they both serve their purpose and I can bring both with me wherever I go.
- Also, it the screen can tilt up or down which is really handy in tight spots or to reduce glare.
- My only complaint is that the Sony a6000 has a very complicated menu system and it’s not all the ergonomic. It took me a little while to get used to it. But what you get in return is a small powerhouse of a camera.
- Conversely, my Canon 5d Mark 2 is good for nature photography, landscapes, and it’s good for action shots but not as good as the sony, and it’s the menu and buttons are easy to figure out.