As smartphone technology and sensor image quality have improved so much in recent years, phone manufacturers are competing with photos taken by larger mirrorless and DSLR cameras. But is it true?
In this new six-minute video, Canadian photographer Kevin Raposo (aka The Speedy Photographer) decided to put the new Pixel 7 Pro to the test with a professional-grade $7,000 Canon EOS R5 mirrorless system with the same lenses. Focal lengths are available on the mobile platform (specifically 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8) to see how much difference there is between the two.
To be clear, the Pixel 7 Pro has a 50-megapixel sensor and three lenses, including a 14mm ultra-wide lens, a 24mm “standard” lens, and a 120mm telephoto lens, so Raposo has Canon camera-compatible lenses. which is 45 megapixels) to repeat the shot as close as possible.
Pixel 7 Pro vs Canon EOS R5
For testing purposes, Raposo captured all images in JPEG and made only basic adjustments to exposure and cropping to ensure the photos matched the contrast. The video files were completely unedited and captured in 4K at 60 frames per second (fps) from each system.
Starting the comparison with the widest angle lens, Raposo says that the image captured by the Pixel 7 is a little easier to distinguish, with most ultra-wide-angle lenses, the sharpness of images in the extreme corners is typical. A weakness (even with professional-grade systems), and as such, the Pixel 7 Pro can’t produce the same level of detail as a much larger “dedicated” lens like the Canon 16-35mm f/4.
The next set of images were taken with both the standard and telephoto lenses where things got a little tricky to tell which was which. At a glance in the video, Raposo says that the images of both devices are strikingly similar, and the differences only become apparent upon closer inspection of the specifications.
In further image tests, things became more challenging to tell the difference, but the secret gift of smartphone images comes directly from the Pixel 7’s “heavy HDR processing and upscaling” of JPEGs from the Canon EOS R5 camera, which look a little more natural.
Comparing telephoto lenses, things start to get a little fair, as a smartphone’s small zoom lens can’t compete with a mirrorless telephoto lens. While the images look similar at “glance”, photographers will find that the level of detail is lacking compared to a mirrorless system if they show any detail in the photo. The Pixel 7 Pro has none of the “bokeh” found using the professional system.
Still, Raposo says there’s an argument to be made that the level of detail captured by the Pixel 7 is very comparable to the R5, making it the best smartphone camera and comparison ever made. At full size, the Pixel 7 Pro performs well with the R5, making it incredibly useful for small images used on social media. It’s only when photographers start zooming in and focusing on smaller details that the differences become apparent…except in video comparisons.
According to the test, the Pixel 7 Pro produces a very compact image with HDR view, and the difference in video recording is most noticeable, while the Canon EOS R5 produces a cinematic look that cannot be achieved using C-Log. It is related to the smartphone.
Even though the two devices are aimed at two different markets, it’s still amazing to see how far computational photography has come in the last ten years. It will be interesting to see what improvements are made to the technology in the coming years, but even with those advances, the Pixel 7 Pro will not replace a professional camera just yet.
Be sure to visit his YouTube channel, Instagram, and website to see more of Raposo’s work.
Image Credits: All photos by Kevin Raposo.