One of my favorite websites of all time is Digital Photography Review. Until recently, any DSLR I bought was based upon detailed reviews and comparisons from the writers and photographers on DPReview.
Until recently? What happened? DPReview focuses on the perfect combination of hardware details and usability, and photo and video results. You won’t find many shootouts but you can compare almost any camera or photo with ease. So, why are shootouts dead to me now?
The era of smartphone cameras– and this applies as much to videography as it does photography– has blurred the line between a photo or video taken on an inexpensive device vs. expensive professional gear. Don’t get me wrong. The most expensive Canon or Nikon anything will take better photos than your iPhone.
In far too many cases, smartphone photos and videos may require an experienced professional to tell the difference, and nobody can tell which photos or videos came from which camera or which smartphone.
Yes, smartphone photos, as exemplified by the iPhone’s notorious ease-of-use and simplicity, are that good. Videos are even better. In fact, I’ve often said that my iPhone’s camera takes better photos and videos than the subject, object, or scene actually was. Without post manipulation.
I bring this up because the past dozen or so such photo shootouts I’ve viewed online have displayed side-by-side photos which varied little to the average photographer– with one exception. Night Mode, as exemplified by Google’s Pixel 3. Samsung’s new Note 10 has a similar mode which looks remarkably, well, similar. Expect Apple’s newest iPhone models– due in a few weeks– to have a similar capability for low light excellence.
I use DPReview as my example because nearly every camera reviewed produces excellent results; photos or videos. Yes, some DSLRs are better, some are worse, but none of them are junk and all of them produce instant images or videos that top any film camera or video camera I’ve ever owned in the pre-digital era, and it has become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between similar scenes shot on an iPhone vs. those same scenes shot on a DSLR.
Detailed hardware and photo or video shootouts are almost meaningless to those of us of average experience. Computational photography means that a simple point and shoot yields excellent results, even from a smartphone camera lens which cannot compare to any DSLR.
I’ve grown bored looking at online photo shootouts that offer comparisons with hardly any notable differences.