Today on The Slanted Lens, we are comparing 6 cameras on our mountain man and woman shoot. We were working in Utah shooting for a client in late February and had a day off to shoot some lessons. We found a great location with teepees and hired a horse and mountain man and woman to be in our shot. With all the talk about iPhones and 4K, I wanted to see how much difference it really makes. Samy’s Camera in Los Angeles was nice enough to ship us several cameras so we could do a camera comparison. What an awesome package to receive! First, I’ll set up the lighting, then move into our camera comparison.
I want to really take a look at how the following images from these different cameras compare to one another. The camera profiles will all be on neutral where applicable. We will use about a 100mm lens where applicable. The question from today’s lesson: can you match the images to the camera that took them? We will shoot the same scene of our mountain people using six cameras:
- The iPhone 5C with its 8MP camera and a 15% larger CMOS sensor – very impressive
- The iPad – Not the iPad 2 or Air, just an iPad
- The Nikon D800 with a 36.3MP full-frame sensor – I am not a Nikon guy, but this is a great camera.
- The mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R with a 36.4MP full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor
- The Canon Mark 3 with its 22.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor
- The Canon 1D C (I love this camera) – It’s 4K and a great camera to shoot stills and pull frames from. It takes great images. It has an 18.1MP on a full-frame sensor.
So there is our lineup. Let’s see how they compare with each other. I chose a scene that was lighted by direct sun, so the comparison would be easier to see and give a bit of an advantage to the iPhone. Shadows are a place where you will see the camera break down very fast.
I shot as quickly as we could, so the scene would remain the same. Smoke was flying, and the cameras were flying in and out.
#1 When I first set up the camera, I usually want the sun as a rim light. I set up looking southeast. Because I am not using a strobe, I cannot overpower the sun and bring a pleasant exposure in the blue sky. It would have been a fight and never looked very good. I could see very quickly that we needed to move to the other side of the teepees and shoot looking northwest.
#2 Here was our first shot. This is a much better angle, one that will be easier to light and will look so much better. I won’t be fighting the sky from this direction. I will need to open up the shadows on his face. With reflectors this will be very possible.
#3 Let’s look at our image lighting. I turned the subject to look into the sun. This allows me to expose for his skin and keep a nice deep blue background with clouds. There is a bit of cloud, although not much. This is our first image. The shadows are very heavy. This is when a good reflector makes such a great difference. We will add a 39-inch gold/silver reflector on the camera left side to open up the shadows on the left side of his face.
#4 This starts to open up his face and makes a much nicer image. I can shoot with him looking into the sun with a good reflector. For our last light, we will add a gold/silver pop-up reflector on the camera right side. It’s a full length reflector.
#5 This opens up his face, but does not destroy the shadow. It still feels real. There is our final lighting set up. We added smoke in the background with the Rosco 1900 smoker. I want the smoke to create some atmosphere in the background.
Now, let's look at how the 6 cameras compare.
#6 Let’s look at each image full-frame and with its name and see what we can learn. This is the Canon 1DC. It has great range and hold up in the shadows. The image is crisp and the color is vivid.
#7 This is the iPhone. It looks diffused and out of focus. The image quality is not very good. It scares me that we are taking all our future family images with this device. It’s not a very good camera.
#8 This is the Nikon D800. The image quality is very good. There is a bit more contrast, but a very good image.
#9 This is the iPad. It’s very obvious. This is a more contrast-y and soft feeling. Again, not a good camera.
#10 This is the Sony Alpha 7R. It’s probably the most contrast-y, but a very good image. I was impressed with the image quality of this little mirrorless camera.
#11 And last of all, the Mark 3. Open shadows and a bit orange, but great image quality. I like the dynamic range and image quality of this camera.
In my opinion, the full frame cameras out there are all very good, but the iPad and iPhone have a long way to go to even be a good camera to take family photos with. Buy a Rebel or something that will give you better images to pass on to your kids. As for me, I like the dynamic range, contrast, and color rendition of the Canon cameras. It works for me.
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!
-Jay P Morgan