Can an iPhone 6 Plus Camera Replace Your Point and Shoot?

The new iPhone 6 Plus Camera stands out as one of the best feature upgrades for the phone, but is the camera good enough to replace that point-and-shoot camera that many people still carry around? The iPhone 6 Plus camera alone led some iPhone 6 buyers to go with the larger iPhone 6 Plus over the smaller iPhone 6 because it comes with optical image stabilization. Optical Image Stabilization helps reduce camera shake in low light settings, like indoor shots or at night shots. The lens vibrates when a user taps on the camera’s virtual shutter release button or the volume key, but OIS helps reduce this vibration.

sony nex 6 plus on iphone 6 plus
Can the iPhone 6 Plus camera replace your regular point-and-shoot camera?

The iPhone 6 Plus camera does a great job of giving users some of the best smartphone camera pictures. Until now, many photography enthusiasts enjoyed the camera on the iPhone, but still used a regular camera for important shots. It’s one thing to grab a selfie with friends at a restaurant, but would people want to trust a phone camera to take pictures of their kid’s graduation?

We’ll show some picture comparisons and then discuss the benefits of one over the other.

Picture Comparisons

Picture quality will win out over any other issue when it comes to comparing two cameras. So here are a few samples of shots taken with a Sony NEX 6 advanced compact camera and then the same shot taken with an iPhone 6 Plus. The Sony goes for about $550 on Amazon, and it takes some wonderful shots. Click any image to see a full sized shot unedited.

First, here are a pair of close up shots in medium light.

sony nex 6 close up candy
Sony NEX 6 shot of some candy
iphone 6 plus candy
iPhone 6 Plus shot of some candy close up

It’s hard to decide which one offers the better image quality. The Sony gives only slightly better color accuracy.

iphone 6 plus close up low light
iPhone 6 Plus snapshot taken in low light
sony nex 6 closeup low light
Sony NEX 6 snapshot taken in low light.

I took the shots above of a friend’s kid catching some zzz’s at my son’s soccer game. The stadium lights came on, but it was a low light situation and I sat just a few feet from the boy. Notice how much brighter the iPhone 6 Plus image looks compared to the Sony shot below. It’s also a little warmer, but the Sony shot looks more accurate.

iphone 6 plus soccer
iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t offer optical zoom
sony nex 6 soccer zoom
Zoomed in using Sony NEX 6 optical zoom lens

The top shot comes from the iPhone 6 Plus. See how much further the goal looks. We sat equal-distance from each goal. The Sony shot on the bottom zooms in using the optical zoom lens, while the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t offer any zoom. A user can pinch to zoom, but that’s digital zoom and it makes the shot look washed out and blurry compared to optical zoom.

shoes taken on iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 Plus looks brighter.
shoes taken on sony nex 6
The Sony NEX 6 looks darker,

Don’t pay any attention to the zoom of these shots. Instead notice the exposure of these unedited images of a pair of shoes outside my house at night with a dim porch light turned on. The Sony shot, again, looks darker in auto mode. The iPhone 6 Plus camera boosts exposure automatically in low light, making the image look better out of the camera without any changes in photo editing software.

iphone 6 plus early morning low
The iPhone 6 Plus early morning shot looks brighter, but not as color accurate.
sony nex 6 early morning
The Sony NEX 6 shot color looks great.

The iPhone 6 Plus shot on top looks brighter again, but this time the blue sky’s color changed a lot from the actual scene. The Sony gives a more faithful rendering of the scene. A bit of editing or using the advanced exposure settings on the camera will produce a better image.

panorama taken on iphone 6 plus
The iPhone 6 Plus panorama mode plus in-camera video editing produced a stylized panorama that you can’t get on the Sony.

I took the above image using the Panorama mode of the iPhone 6 Plus. I then exported it to Snapseed and gave it the stylized HDR look. This is something a photographer can’t get on a Sony NEX 6 Plus. Other advanced point-and-shoot consumer level cameras offer panorama modes and in-camera HDR, but editing on a touchscreen device works so much better than using the dials and buttons most cameras use to edit images.

The video above comes as a result of the iPhone 6 slow motion mode that shoots at 240 fps. The Sony NEX 6 doesn’t include a slow motion mode. Some consumer level point-and-shoot cameras do.

Comparing the above images leads to some conclusions.

  • The iPhone 6 Plus camera takes great shots straight out of the camera without any editing. Adding a little editing using the built-in editing tools, or a third-party tool like Snapseed, makes producing wonderful snapshots easy.
  • The iPhone 6 Plus offers some modes that most consumer-level cameras don’t, like the built-in panorama, filters, slow motion video and ability to share over LTE to social networks or photo backup sites like Flickr or 500px.
  • Even an expensive $500+ advanced compact camera, which takes better shots with more faithful color accuracy and better zoomed in shots, doesn’t offer enough to make it worth the extra cost or loss of convenience of carrying around a second device just for taking photos. Leaven the camera home except for special occasions.
  • The iPhone 6 Plus handles low light really well.

Image and video quality isn’t the only thing to consider, though. There are other features that matter when it comes to comparing the iPhone 6 Plus camera and a point-and-shoot.

Benefits of the iPhone 6 Plus Camera Over a Regular Camera

iphone 6 plus front
The iPhone 6 Plus will already come with you, so you get more convenience compared to bringing a second device just for pictures and video.

Replacing the camera with an iPhone would make life more convenient in some ways, including…

  • Fewer accessories – Who wants to carry another charger for their camera? Using the phone means not worrying about keeping up with two devices or flash cards to store pictures.
  • Easier photo transfer – Move photos to the cloud or back them up to a Mac via iCloud more easily than removing and SD card, plugging it into a computer or even turning on the camera’s Wi-Fi feature.
  • Editing photos immediately – Some cameras offer in-camera editing features, but they’re never as good as apps like Snapseed, Fotor or the built-in iOS photo editing features.
  • Big preview screens – The large 5.5-inch screen gives a bigger preview of a shot than any point-and-shoot camera screen.
  • iPhone price – Even though the iPhone 6 Plus costs more than the iPhone 6, it’s still cheaper than a good point-and-shoot camera, which can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to as much as a grand. Most people will already buy a phone, so adding $100 to get the iPhone 6 Plus instead of the cheaper iPhone 6 only adds $100 instead of hundreds for a good camera.

 

iphone 6 plus tripod
Bring a tiny tripod like the Joby Griptight XL for stable shots. It’s tiny and fits in a pocket.

Benefits of a Regular Camera Over iPhone 6 Plus Camera

sony nex 6 lens
An advanced compact camera like the Sony NEX 6 lets users add great zoom or prime lenses for better close up shots.

The iPhone 6 Plus Camera takes great shots, but using a regular point-and-shoot camera does come with some benefits.

  • Hand holding stability – It’s easier to hold a camera designed for hand-held pictures
  • SD Card storage – Even with a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus, filling that up with apps and videos can limit users.  Meanwhile, users of a regular digital camera can swap out SD Cards infinitely. They’re also easy to find at grocery stores, pharmacies or technology stores.
  • Lenses – most point-and-shoot cameras come with one lens built-in, but higher end compact cameras let users swap out lenses. Even the ones with a single dedicated lens will often come with a huge optical zoom range. The iPhone’s camera only zooms digitally, which means the image gets blown up by making pixels bigger, so shots don’t look as good.
  • Batteries – Most point-and-shoot cameras come with a replaceable battery while the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t. A user can get a battery case, but it would be easier to carry a few camera batteries and swap them out when needed instead of pausing to charge the phone battery.
  • Dedicated settings buttons – The setting controls in the iPhone 6 Plus camera make it easier to get better shots in challenging situations, but nothing beats dedicated settings buttons for things like Aperture and Shutter priority, scene modes or other settings buttons on high-end point-and-shoot cameras.
  • Hotshoe Accessories – A camera like my Sony NEX 6 comes with what’s called a hotshoe, a connector that lets the user add accessories like a mic for video recording or a flash for night-time or in-door shots

sony nex 6 plus hotshoe

Conclusion

The iPhone 6 Plus can replace a point-and-shoot camera. There’s no good reason for an iPhone 6 Plus owner to buy a cheap camera. But it makes sense to own a good camera with zoom lenses for those who want really great shots. Advanced photo enthusiasts will want to own an advanced compact camera or DSLR, but they can leave it home and use the iPhone for the snapshots that they plan to share online. As is, the iPhone 6 Plus takes excellent pictures and video and can easily replace most of the point-and-shoot cameras the average person uses. With a camera tripod like the Joby Griptight XL mentioned above or an Ollo Clip (when an iPhone 6 Plus version finally comes out) iPhone users might also get help for some zoom or macro shots.

11 Comments

  1. Hildy J

    10/11/2014 at 12:33 pm

    I would add that you need to consider what you are taking pictures of. Smartphones excel at taking pictures of things (ideally at close range), dedicated phones excel at taking pictures of scenes. This is most evident in the low light shots, especially the early morning shot. If you were interested in a picture of the parking lot (a thing), the phone is fine, but if you wanted a picture of the parking lot at sunrise (a scene), you need the camera.

    Reply

  2. William

    10/11/2014 at 11:06 pm

    “So here are a few samples of shots taken with a Sony NEX 6 advanced compact camera and then the same shot taken with an iPhone 6 Plus.”

    Except for the first sample (with the candy), all your samples show the iPhone 6 Plus image first, then the Sony NEX 6 image, so it’s the opposite of what you said.

    Reply

  3. William

    10/11/2014 at 11:08 pm

    “See how much further the goal looks.”

    It should be “farther”, not “further”, in this case. Also, why not also show the non-zoomed in version of the NEX 6 image, since, as you said, the iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t have optical zoom?

    Reply

  4. William

    10/11/2014 at 11:10 pm

    “Leaven the camera home except for special occasions.”

    “Leave”, not “Leaven”.

    Reply

  5. Richpal

    10/12/2014 at 1:27 am

    Musthave been writing it in the iPhone

    Reply

  6. Dirile

    10/12/2014 at 1:54 am

    Kirkles. if you think Deniel`s artlclee is inconceivable… last monday I bought a gorgeous Jaguar XJ after bringing in $4479 this-past/5 weeks and-in excess of, $10 thousand this past-month . it’s realy the coolest job I’ve had . I actually started 5 months ago and immediately started to make more than $73, per-hour . learn the facts here now … http://is.gd/dj9o53

    Reply

  7. Katy

    10/12/2014 at 2:24 am

    I don’t think so! An image captured from a Smartphone Camera’s has low quality as compare to professional digital camera with higher resolution. So it is not true. Well, I have Smartphones, tablets and other digital gadgets at my home. To charge all these devices simultaneously, I recently purchased a Multi Port USB Charger from Amazon that can charge up to 6 USB Charging support devices simultaneously that too at fast speed with its overall capacity of 10Amps.

    Reply

  8. mohommed Ghouse

    10/12/2014 at 6:29 am

    Yeah it all depends on your application. You want the a phone which can also take pictures or a camera which can raje only picture. Most if the user’s are not photo shooting junkies. They take pictures as part of their routine v and to share socially. My vote for iPhone 6 plus.

    Reply

  9. Ratnok

    10/12/2014 at 7:33 am

    I stopped reading at “don’t pay attention to zoom.” I realized at that point that this was an Apple advertisement.

    Reply

  10. Ron Liddle

    10/18/2014 at 10:34 am

    I learned something today. Btw, Binfer is a great tool for sending entire albums to someone. Check it out: http://www.binfer.com

    Reply

  11. Al

    12/23/2014 at 2:47 pm

    I have a sony nex-6 and it has a built in panorama feature as well as auto HDR. Admittedly, the auto HDR feature requires some menu diving to enable it, but the panorama has its own section on the mode dial, how’d you miss that!? Might have been a good start to get someone who can use a camera for this comparison.

    Reply

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