I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s Super Mega Epic Camera Battle at Zion National Park between the iPhone 12 Pro and the Sony a7rIV with the 12-24mm f2.8 G Master lens.  I loved seeing all the votes and the results were pretty surprising to me.

It’s time to see how you did, but first: my thoughts on the battle itself.

Here’s what was important about the camera battle

It’s important that you know just how powerful that little phone in your pocket can be!  Things like composition and lighting will always make an image great, no matter how good or “not good” your camera is.  So, again, don’t feel like you have to go out and drop a ton of money on camera equipment in order to take good pictures!

Also, Zion National Park and the Angels Landing hike there is just absurdly beautiful.

Here’s what fascinated me about the camera battle

First of all, the cameras weren’t on an even playing field.  The Sony a7rIV has a 64-megapixel sensor, so basically every time I take a picture it’s 20″ x 30″ at full resolution.  When putting an incredible lens on it like the 12-24mm f2.8 G Master you can pick out incredible details and everything will be crisp and sharp in every corner of the image.  The iPhone 12 Pro, on the other hand, has a 12-megapixel sensor, which means the images wouldn’t blow up to nearly the same size as the Sony without losing critical amounts of detail.  For the image test, everything was reduced to between 1-2 megapixels on purpose, since most people who come to this blog are on their phone or their desktop and not at an art gallery with massive prints hanging on the wall.  So basically the Sony is playing down to the iPhone when the results wouldn’t be anywhere as close if the iPhone images were scaled up to the size of the Sony’s.

At the smaller resolution I wasn’t as interested in who got the answer correct, more so how close the voting was, and it was super close on almost every image!  I was also intrigued with certain pictures where the answer was wrong, I tried to think about why and realized there was probably some bias from every reader who subconsciously thought about the moment itself and how they would’ve taken the picture, in other words, was it a quick snap?  If so, probably a phone shot.  A more epic landscape?  Probably the nicer camera.  There’s probably a lot to unpack there psychologically, honestly, BUT YOU’RE NOT HERE FOR PSYCHOLOGY YOU’RE HERE FOR THE EPIC SUPER ULTRA MEGA CAMERA BATTLE RESULTS.

Picture 1

68% guessed this was with the iPhone 12 Pro…and you’re right!  Credit where it’s due, Apple’s Night Mode is incredible, this was a handheld exposure of 2 seconds and the cloud looks great.  Sure, up close it’s kind of pixelated but for viewing on a phone it’s fantastic.

1-0, good start.

Picture 2

60% of you guessed this was the a7rIV…and you’re right!  The giveaway was probably the shadow detail, but honestly Apple did pretty good with a similar shot.  Every time you take a picture with the iPhone it will pick and choose certain areas to combine together into one harmonious image.  With the Sony I was in more control of how I wanted to edit the image and bring out specific features.  This one was closer than I expected, I thought it would’ve been a landslide in favor of the Sony.

2-0, those first two were easy though.

Picture 3

57% of you guessed this was the iPhone 12 Pro…and you’re right!  I felt this one was pretty obvious in favor of the iPhone, since it lacked some of the critical sharpness and detail that the Sony would’ve showed.  The image is a little heavy on the contrast as well, which is different than my editing style.  Closer than I expected.

3-0?  Man y’all are good.

Picture 4

75% of you guessed this was the iPhone 12 Pro…and you nailed it.  I’m curious what made it so obvious?  For me, the detail on the rock on the foreground looks a little “computational” to me, but I really think this was such a landslide because it seems like I would’ve looked back at the scene and been like “oh cool let me get a quick picture”…and that’s exactly what happened.

4-0, this could be a blowout.

Picture 5

53% of you guessed the iPhone 12 Pro…and you got it right.  This one was SUPER close and the a7rIV was out in front for quite a while.  This image shows just how good the iPhone can be, it blended a brighter shot of the rock and a darker shot of the sky together to make it a harmonious image.  I’m impressed with yall, I thought you would guess the a7rIV here.

5-0, but this was almost a tie.

Picture 6

This one was also SUPER close.  54% of you guessed the iPhone 12 Pro…and you’re right.  I thought this one would trip you up because it’s such a beautiful image and I wouldn’t have held it against you if you guessed the a7rIV.  I really wish I would’ve grabbed a snap of this with my Sony for my portfolio but oh well.

OMG 6-0, this is crazy!

Picture 7

58% of you guessed the Sony a7rIV here…and you’re wrong!  This was the iPhone 12 Pro!  Having taken this image with other cameras plenty of times, it’s an incredible vista and the iPhone captured it so well.  I don’t know if my Sony could’ve done better honestly.

6-1, y’all are human after all

Picture 8

78% of you guessed the iPhone 12 Pro…and you were wrong!  This was taken with the a7rIV and I think it’s one of those situations where it looks like I just stopped and grabbed a quick snap with my phone.  The easiest way to tell it was with my Sony is the bush on the left, there’s a prettier difference between the in-focus area and out-of-focus area than the murkier differences of the iPhone shots.

I figured this one would trip you up [laughs smugly to himself]

6-2, eek maybe a new streak is starting

Picture 9

60% of you thought this was with the iPhone 12 Pro…and you were wrong!  This was with the a7rIV and the only reason I took it was I still had it in my hand after taking the previous one.  Look at the transition in the colors on the left in the sky from blue to white as it gets close to being overexposed…the iPhone wouldn’t have allowed for that gradual of a color change, it would’ve been more “perfect” and blue across the sky, if that makes sense.

Y’all started off with 6 in a row correct and have missed the last 3!

Picture 10

60% of you guessed the a7rIV…and you’re wrong!  This was an iPhone shot.  The differences between the light rocks and dark rocks aren’t as crisp as they would be with the Sony, but it’s still a really really good shot from the phone, this one was tough.

6-4, will you all recover in time for the win?

Picture 11

54% of you guess the iPhone 12 Pro…and you were right!  This one was really close but the Sony would have represented the shadows a little better I think.  Good spotting here.

7-4, back on the right track.

Picture 12

54% of you guessed the iPhone 12 Pro…and you were wrong!  This was a Sony shot.  I think I fooled you here because it looks like I used the ultra-wide angle lens on the iPhone when really I was using an ultra-wide angle lens on my camera.  This image looks a little blurry in the foreground because I was focused on the cliffs in the distance, that might’ve tripped some people up too.

7-5, this is going to come down to the wire.

Picture 13

63% of you guessed iPhone 12 Pro…and you got it right!  “Hey hang on you look majestic” is literally what I said as I pulled my phone up.  This was actually taken just moments after Picture 11 so I still had my phone out.

8-5, just one more and you’ll seal the win.

Picture 14

58% of you guessed iPhone 12 Pro…and you got it right!  This was one of those HEY QUICK A PICTURE photos that makes phone cameras so perfect.  I had my phone in my front pocket and my camera in my backpack so I pulled out the closest camera I could, which was obviously the phone.

9-5, y’all got the win!  Let’s see how you finish up though.

Picture 15

58% guessed the iPhone 12 Pro…and you’re right!  I thought this one would trip you up, but I can hear you smugly saying “Andy, come on, that shadow detail in the distance would’ve looked better with the Sony” and you’re right.

10-5, one more to go.

Picture 16

51% of you guessed a7rIV…the closest vote of all…and you’re wrong!  This was an iPhone shot as we began our walk back to the lodge.

The final results and what they mean

Now, there are probably some reasons so many of the votes were close.  First off, I wasn’t really planning on doing anything like this during the hike, I just ended up with enough pictures from both cameras to make it an interesting post so I went with it.  Using an ultra-wide angle lens on my Sony made things look a little more similar to what the iPhone ultra-wide angle lens looks like too, so by no means was this an easy test.

My faithful and loyal readers, many of whom are photographers themselves, got 10 right and 6 wrong.  But really it boils down to this: the votes being as close as they were means the iPhone won.  

Now, by no means am I giving up my Sony equipment or anything like that.  Being an artist means using the right tool for the job, and, for this job, clearly the iPhone was just as capable as the $3500 a7rIV and the $3000 12-24mm f2.8 G Master lens.  If I were to do a similar test taking pictures at a high school football game at night, the iPhone wouldn’t be able to keep up at all.  It’s all about perspective (pun intended).

Thanks all for participating in this little camera battle, I hope you found it interesting!


What do you think about the results?  Did you do better or worse than you thought?  Tell me in the comments below!


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