iPhone 15 Pro vs ARRI ALEXA Mini – Can You Pick the Image Differences?

It’s new iPhone season! That always means some upgrades to the camera and the past few years have been fairly substantial by including features like ProRes.

There are definitely some solid changes this year and the iPhone 15 Pro finally brings us a USB-C port instead of Lightning. Improved image quality is also always on the list, but is a phone really going to stand up against a pro-grade cinema camera?

Why not test things out by putting the latest iPhone up against the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF? Matti Haapoja enjoys doing these kinds of tests and wanted to see if you can see a difference between the vastly different camera systems.

Keep in mind, the ARRI costs about 100x more than an iPhone. The ALEXA Mini LF that Matti uses will run you around $100,000 for the whole rig. There should be a noticeable difference between these cameras.

This comparison does rely on the standard camera on the iPhone since that one will provide the best image quality. It is a lot easier to see the difference between the iPhone and the other camera options.

He recorded a few clips for you to check out and see if you can tell the difference. You should given the time to actually look at the shots closely. However, it is shocking that this video can be made at all.

It hasn’t been that long since we started relying on smartphones to take good photos and videos and now they can almost stand a chance against professional camera systems costing many times as much.

Image Credit: Apple

In Matti’s words, you can probably tell about 60% without much effort. About another 30% you probably are pretty sure it is an iPhone. The last 10% might just fool anyone. Depending on the type of shot you are working with the iPhone might just nail it.

You could be intercutting an iPhone shot alongside cinema camera footage and get away with it.

The best part about the iPhone’s progress is that it is now the best beginner camera for anyone looking to start creating video. Many people will already have it and it is impressive. Add a mic and maybe a rig for not much money and you are good to go.

With a direct comparison, I think most of us would say the ARRI just looks better in so many ways. Then the workflow is also something to consider. The ARRI footage was much easier to color grade while the iPhone clips needed some work. Also, getting footage off the iPhone isn’t the most fun – though that USB-C port does help.

Part of the issue with the iPhone is how much processing Apple does to the footage before it records it. It does a lot of work in the phone to make sure things look good, but if it is off a little bit then it can make the footage harder to deal with.

Image Credit: ARRI

It is impressive to see what Apple has done with dynamic range. The iPhone can handle some major dynamic range thanks to the computational aspect and it makes the footage look much more expensive than it actually is.

The consistency is an issue though. ARRI is going to be reliable and you are going to know exactly what you are going to get with it.

iPhones are great cameras and I think the fact that everyone has one opens the door for many more people to start creating. Will it replace your traditional cinema cameras? Not just yet.

What did you think about this test? Impressed with the iPhone 15 Pro?

[source: Matti Haapoja]

Order Links:

  • ARRI ALEXA Mini LF Cinema Camera (B&H)

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