"Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

iPhone 6 vs. Olympus XZ-10

4/10/15, 3:02 PM

I took my Oly XZ-10 with me on my run this morning. Thought I'd try to get a shot of the Vystar Credit Union building reflecting into the retention pond. The water is usually pretty still in the early morning. I wanted to shoot the same scene with the iPhone 6 and demonstrate the difference (again) between a mobile phone camera, and a halfway decent compact camera shooting in the hour before sunrise. The Oly XZ-10 has been discontinued, but it has a 1/2.3" sensor (about the smallest sensor in a compact camera these days) and a decent lens. The iPhone 6 is one of the best mobile phone cameras, but it has an even smaller sensor and a tiny lens.

The iPhone is always with me because I'm using RunKeeper, and it's a good safety feature to have a phone along with you on a run. The XZ-10 is small enough that I can easily carry it in my hand without tiring. I carried it with me on the Donna Half Marathon, but I used a pouch which bounced a bit as I ran. For a five mile run, I can just carry it without the pouch, providing no rain is anticipated.

First, the iPhone 6, handheld:

Picture of a building reflected in a pond taken before dawn on an iPhone 6

Next, the Oly XZ-10, also handheld:

Picture of a building reflected in a pond taken before dawn on an Olympus XZ-10

Lastly, I switched the XZ-10 from auto-ISO to ISO 100 and placed the camera on brick retaining wall next to where I'd been standing. I was in a hurry to get back to my run, or I'd have pulled that fern out of the frame.

Picture of a building reflected in a pond taken before dawn on an Olympus XZ-10

You can see that the iPhone 6 image is much noisier, and the character of the "grain" isn't pleasing, details are smeared. And the white balance is wrong, the XZ-10 captures the colors more accurately. The XZ-10 is at ISO 800 in the handheld shot, while the iPhone 6 is at ISO 400. The iPhone chose 1/15s shutter speed, while the XZ-10, with the slightly faster lens and higher ISO chose 1/20s shutter speed. You can see noise in the XZ-10 image, but it's of a finer grain and relatively pleasing compared to the iPhone 6's smudgy sky and water. At ISO 100, the shutter speed on the XZ-10 is 1/3s and there is little to no noise in the image. While you can hold an iPhone against a steady object, it has a rounded case and it's still not easy to keep still. The flat bottom of the compact camera makes it easy to put it on a low wall, a car, I've even held them in portrait orientation against tree trunks. Of course, a tripod makes all that moot, but if you're going to carry a tripod for your phone, you might as well just carry a better camera. The noise filter is turned off in the XZ-10's images. I don't mind the noise in the images, and with it turned off, more detail is preserved.

I could have made better images with both cameras, but I was just doing snapshots, which is what is what most of us do, most of the time.

If you like taking pictures, and sometimes or often do so in low light, you should consider getting a decent camera. Even a small compact (2012 or later) can outperform a mobile phone camera.