In 2018 Apple continued its quest to keep its leading position as an innovator in smartphone camera technologies with the introduction of the latest iPhone back in September. With a 12-megapixel dual camera system, capable of shooting 4K video capture at up to 60fps, Smart HDR mode and advanced optical image stabilization, the Cupertino-based tech giant hopes to deliver stunning video and photo-taking capabilities to the hands of consumers with the iPhone XS, XR, and XS Max – from an Insta-loving adolescent to creative professionals working in the industry and everyone in between.
With high expectations associated with the iPhone XS’ camera system, it’s no surprise to see filmmakers test the limits of the smartphone optics and figure out how far one can get. Long story short, the team behind the Photos In Color YouTube channel puts an iPhone XS Max to its paces by comparing its video quality to the cinema-grade Canon C200.
Before delving into the details, it’s worth mentioning that as with any smartphone versus cinema camera comparison, neither the video, nor this article aims to prove which camera is better, but rather showcase how the iPhone XS Max’s video capabilities stack up against a piece of professional video gear.
For this particular comparison, the Canon C200 records to Cinema Raw Light while using the C-Log 3 color profile whereas all the footage shot with the iPhone XS Max was captured with the stock camera app. Furthermore, the two devices were placed in a montage that shifts from one camera to the other, midway through the video segment.
When evaluating the footage, it’s pretty easy to differentiate between the two cameras as the differences seem pretty apparent even to the untrained eye. In the iPhone footage, you can see that the highlights are clearly blown out on the edges of large tree trunks/branches, in addition to the clear daylight sky. Meanwhile, the Canon is far superior in regards to color rendition and dynamic range. One can easily spot the soft highlights with subtle roll-offs, coupled with a discernible amount of image detail in darker areas.
Another noticeable discrepancy between the two clips can be found in the amount of image detail from each camera. When it comes to the iPhone footage, the face of the talent in the frame looks pretty flat. On the other hand, the Canon camera produces a soft complexion on the subject.
Finally, one major limitation to the iPhone XS Max’s footage over the Canon C200 involves the level of sharpening produced by the camera. For some reason, Apple has chosen to add an overindulgent amount of post-sharpening to their footage, delivering video that seems pretty harsh and unrealistic. Meanwhile, the C200 is detailed, yet soft – reminiscent of a more cinematic look.
Again, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the C200 outshines the XS Max. That being said, it’s amazing to see how much the iPhone has improved in regards to camera quality. When looking at the footage from the iPhone itself, you can see that Apple has indeed managed to produce a camera with decent dynamic range regardless of the physical limitations that smartphone technology still poses.
As the video points out, the iPhone XS Max is a great phone that is equipped with a decent camera system and some excellent video capabilities. In other words, even without an expensive cinema camera, it’s more than possible to produce great-looking images, as long as you get creative and work around the limitations imposed by the gear you currently have.