iPhone 7 vs. $5000 Sony a7rII, can you tell the difference?

Soooo I picked up an iPhone 7 over the weekend.  I’ve named it Regina, and she’s great.

Anyway, quickly moving past why the heck someone would name an iPhone, my immediate priority was to test out the new camera!  Like I mentioned in my reaction post about the iPhone 7, it features a 12 megapixel camera and for the first time can shoot in RAW format!

(for those of you who don’t know what RAW format is, basically it’s a flat readout of everything the sensor sees, so although the images tend to look worse right out of the camera, when you edit them in software you can really bring them to life in ways a JPG cannot.  I shoot literally every picture I take in RAW format)

Since the iPhone now shoots in RAW, it bears the question: is it in any way comparable to my Sony a7rII?  Should I throw away my Sony or give it to a random reader in my next giveaway?

The Challengers

This is my Sony a7rII.  It’s a beast of a camera with a massive 42.4 megapixel sensor.

Sony a7rII

Sony a7rII

Affixed to the beast is one of the best lenses Sony makes, the 24-70 f2.8 G Master.

sony g master

G Master lens on my a7rII

And this is the press image of my iPhone 7.  It’s jet black and very sleek.  It has a 12 megapixel camera and no interchangeable lens.

apple iphone 7

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The Challenge

I took my favorite Dr. Mario Amiibo figurine and put it on my balcony.  I took a picture with the a7rII and then with the iPhone 7.  I then edited the images in Lightroom Mobile using the exact same settings and cropped the images so they would look as similar as possible.  I then exported them to 2048 pixels on each end, which is pretty high resolution for viewing on a website.   What I’m now going to do is post them in a gallery with the order randomized.

Can you tell which is which?


Well…did you get it right?

You may have gotten it right, but you’re missing the point.  My new smartphone’s camera quality isn’t that much different than a camera and lens combo that cost over $5000!  I’m very pleased at the camera quality on the iPhone 7!  While yeah you’re right I couldn’t blow up the image from the iPhone as big as I could the image from the a7rII, for sharing images on social media the difference is honestly much more narrow than I thought it would be.

So no more excuses, whether you choose to use your smartphone or your massive awesome beastly camera, get out there and get some photos!


What did you think?  Isn’t the camera quality impressive?!


  1. Well the difference seems pretty huge in terms of contrast, dynamic range and noise. And you have rather forgiving scene here, I’d like to see some comparison in not ideal situations.
    Anyway it’s also great illustration of why that 1.8. aperture of iPhone lens is just massive gimmick. 😀

  2. Are you kidding?
    The difference is huge, and it takes only a glimpse in the thumbnail to notice which one is which

  3. Well, I believe this depends on what you wanna do with your camera / smart-phone. To take above snapshot, considering the way it is taken, it will agree there is not point to grab an A7 + GM lens ;).

  4. You know what would be better? Take a photo in pitch black using each camera and both photos would be identical.

  5. The best camera is the one that is always with you.

  6. You’re absolutely joking if you think comparing a couple of jpegs taken on a 12MP/ 1/2.3″ sensor is going to go anywhere near a 42MP/full frame RAW. Your talking less

    The difference in quality and perception is visual and obvious… your comparing 3 PMP to ~35. Thats right the A7 is going to hold more than 10 times the information coming out of an iPhone. What you have done is basically compare apples to oranges by seeing how sweet apple juice is versus orange juice. I sincerely hope no one is fooled by this article.

  7. It all depends on the situation you find yourself in. As RolandDeVir said – the best one is the one you have with you.
    if you’re going to do a great looking headshot with studio lights and softboxes you’re going to be very hard-pressed to get the iPhone to do what you want to get the high quality results you expect.
    On the other hand if you’re walking down the road and see something interesting developing you might not have your A7RII with you and hence the best image will be from the iPhone.

  8. I spent 15 years making my living in photography. Today it is fact that I always have my phone with be but don’t always lug my DSLR around. In fact, I seldom have it with me. My favorite personal image was done with my iPhone 5 in 2013. There’s a 16×20 of it hanging on my wall.


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