iPhone 7 Camera/Nikon D3300 DSLR - Photography Comparison


Well-known member
Sep 9, 2014
Every year, Apple brings advancements to the camera systems in their iPhone and this year the iPhone 7 is no exception. While iPhones have surpassed basic compact cameras in terms of image quality and popularity and become the number one most used camera for photos submitted online, the technology inside our mobile devices is fundamentally different to that of a professional DSLR, and thus images produced may also differ in quality. Phil Schiller said so himself that you're not going to "throw out your DSLRs" in favour of the iPhone. But what he didn't say was how similar the images produced by an iPhone would be to that of a DSLR, and that's something I've tried to compare in this thread.

Note: This isn't a scientific test or anything, the idea is to compare the images taken on both devices, not to see "who is better". iPhones and DSLRs serve fundamentally different purposes and therefore a direct comparison would not exactly be a fair test. Also, due to the changing lighting conditions between shots, some variation in lighting may occur between images. Images had to be downsized during the upload process but otherwise they still reasonably represent the results from their respective devices.

Camera specs

iPhone 7
12MP backside-illuminated sensor
f/1.8 fixed aperture
6-element lens with optical image stabilisation

Nikon D3300
24.2MP APS-C sensor
Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VRII 11-element lens

The Nikon D3300 with its kit lens was used as an entry-level DSLR. Photos were taken on iPhone 7 using the stock camera app in Photo mode with default settings, and on the Nikon D3300 with Auto mode.

Sample Images (iPhone on LEFT, D3300 on RIGHT)





Overall, the D3300 images had more contrast and richer colours while the iPhone could pick out more details in the shadows. For the tree perspective shots, the iPhone did quite well in managing the contrast between the bright background sky and the darker tree bark.
In this landscape shot, the results are very similar between the two devices. Distant details were excellent for both the iPhone and the D3300.
On the wooden steps, the colour from the iPhone actually seemed more accurate than the D3300.


The bokeh effect isn't exclusive to the iPhone 7 Plus. It can technically be achieved with most cameras with a little bit of time and setup. Here we see some close-ups taken on both devices with bokeh'd backgrounds. While the iPhone 7 could focus on the subject a lot faster (owing to tap-to-focus whereas it took several attempts with the D3300's autofocus system), backgrounds were more blurred on the D3300.
In some cases, the bokeh effect is much more pronounced with a DSLR than a smartphone.

As the famous saying goes, the best camera is always the one you have with you. From this unscientific comparison, we can see how both cameras detect and interpret scenes differently, and what result you want is ultimately your own choice. Please feel free to post your own photos taken on your iPhones, particularly any interesting bokeh shots. Happy snapping!

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