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Image Quality, iPhone 11: DNG vs JPG vs HEIC

reidthaler

Reid
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I've always been a pretty dedicated raw shooter, and was really excited when it became available on the smart phone a few years ago, and have been shooting with it pretty much exclusively. A few days ago, I got an iPhone 11, and just thought I'd do some tests, especially since I'm teaching smartphone photography tonight. I shot in the Lightroom app in both the DNG an JPEG formats . In the native camera app, I shot in the HEIC format.

I was little surprised by the results. I found that the JPEG image had superior noise reduction than what I could get in Lightroom, either in the app, or on the desktop. My sharpening was about 50, mask 50 and defaults for detail and radius. I found that I just couldn't get rid of the pebble glass look. The HEIC fared worse than the JPG.

It's making me question my ongoing recommendation of always shooting in raw. It may be that JPEG is fine unless you have high contrast lighting where you need to bring that details in the shadows and the highlights. Otherwise maybe JPEG is the better choice with the finer detail less mottely noise, and smaller file size. Maybe I haven't tweaked the sharpening and noise reduction setting sufficiently, but tried, and had trouble matching what I can get with the JPEG.

Thoughts and comments appreciated!

Thanks,

Reid

rjh.jpg



rhj highlights 2.jpg
 
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The JPEG is a processed (in the Phone) image. There is no doubt that Apple has gone to great lengths to produce the best "point and click" photos out of the iOS platform. Their Android competition keeps them on their toes.

It may take more skill than you (or I) have to process a Lightroom image to the quality that Apple is spitting out of the camera. That said, the images look like they were shot with a slow shutter speed and there appears to me to be some motion blur in all of the images. Also the lens and the sensor are sub standard compared to the typical SDSLR/Mirrorless with a much larger lens to gather light and generally a better quality over all.
 

Klaas

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On my iPhone XR I changed from HEIC to JPEG, since JPEG is a more common format. And my old LR-Version doesn't support the more modern HEIC. Apple did a good job with their processing software, I think. It's very seldom, that I have to do changes on the phootographs with my LR.

Klaas
 

reidthaler

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That said, the images look like they were shot with a slow shutter speed and there appears to me to be some motion blur in all of the images. Also the lens and the sensor are sub standard compared to the typical SDSLR/Mirrorless with a much larger lens to gather light and generally a better quality over all.

They were shot at 1/60, on tripod, with a remote shutter release.
 

reidthaler

Reid
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On my iPhone XR I changed from HEIC to JPEG, since JPEG is a more common format. And my old LR-Version doesn't support the more modern HEIC. Apple did a good job with their processing software, I think. It's very seldom, that I have to do changes on the phootographs with my LR.

Klaas

I think I'll have to shoot more outside, with scenes where I think RAW would excel and see where they actually do. The JPG was actually taken with the Lightroom app, so I would think it would be excluded by Apple's processing.
 

reidthaler

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What was the aperture and ISO?

Look at the brass door hinge wither it is OOF or motion blur.

I think that's reflection. Everything else looks pretty sharp.

I just did some more shots outside. Raw deftly holds the edge when there are extreme adjustments that need to be done, but I'm pretty surprised how well JPEG's hold their own. JPEG's from both the Lightroom app and the camera app look functionally similar
 

PhilBurton

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The JPEG is a processed (in the Phone) image. There is no doubt that Apple has gone to great lengths to produce the best "point and click" photos out of the iOS platform. Their Android competition keeps them on their toes.

It may take more skill than you (or I) have to process a Lightroom image to the quality that Apple is spitting out of the camera. That said, the images look like they were shot with a slow shutter speed and there appears to me to be some motion blur in all of the images. Also the lens and the sensor are sub standard compared to the typical SDSLR/Mirrorless with a much larger lens to gather light and generally a better quality over all.
My son has been sending us a lot of pictures recently of their new baby. Looking at those photos, I can see that image quality is not as good as RAW photos I took a few months ago. Of course he doesn't have the latest model iPhone. With the price of the newest iPhones, it's hard to justify an upgrade if you have a perfectly good slightly older model.

As much as Apple may do superior processing, based on AI and noise reduction algorithms, there are still physical limits.
 
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Of course he doesn't have the latest model iPhone. With the price of the newest iPhones, it's hard to justify an upgrade if you have a perfectly good slightly older model.
I think the better develop features are in iOS13 so that could be a factor. Also, The "dual cameras in iPhone 11 work together to create stunning Portrait mode images of people, pets, objects and more". This is possibly one reason the iPhone 11 take better pictures over older cameras with only one rear camera.
 

reidthaler

Reid
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My son has been sending us a lot of pictures recently of their new baby. Looking at those photos, I can see that image quality is not as good as RAW photos I took a few months ago. Of course he doesn't have the latest model iPhone. With the price of the newest iPhones, it's hard to justify an upgrade if you have a perfectly good slightly older model.

As much as Apple may do superior processing, based on AI and noise reduction algorithms, there are still physical limits.

I agree. I had the iPhone 7 and the image quality was very reasonable. Even my iPhone 6s with the ability to shoot RAW was impressive. My wife wanted to upgrade her iPhone 6 and let me take the iPhone 11 instead. I called our carrier's retention department and was able to get the iPhone 11 for $450, so that seems reasonable. I thought about the iPhone 12, and then realized the most import features to me were a larger screen, better battery life and an optical zoom (or at least 70mm equivalent). Two of the three I can get now, and one that's not coming soon

As far as JPG processing in the Lightroom app, the file is a bigger than the iPhone processing, which isn't a big deal. But considering the superior noise reduction of jpgs, I may shoot more of them and save shooting RAW for image than need more aggressive highlight and shadow recovery
 
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