Art and Photography

Are new(er) Sony E-mount cameras as capable as my Iphone (in challenging situations)?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 14th, 2019 1:41 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 24, 2014
121 posts
68 upvotes
Toronto, ON

Are new(er) Sony E-mount cameras as capable as my Iphone (in challenging situations)?

This is not a troll post, I totally understand the difference between the two photo capturing platforms, I just have a question about the operational functionality of current cameras in terms of capturing images of my kids.
I have a Sony A5100 (circa 2014) and had a first gen Nex-5 (c.2010) before that, I am interested in an a6400 but the situations I want to test are often not available in store. (...kids running around a cake in a room dimly lit by birthday candles for example)
Even with the phase detection of the A5100, this is a challenging picture . My phone however has no problem capturing it. Sure it's highly processed and lower quality but perfectly fine for preserving the memory.
Would the A6400 or other current 'compact' Sony cameras be capable of shooting in this situation? (I am not looking to go full frame or DSLR at the moment)

TLDR
Phone capable of capturing lowlight action shots. Is this because of it's Back Illuminated sensor and image processing algorithms? Can new Sony compact cameras do this too?

Thanks
12 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 17, 2004
4888 posts
305 upvotes
The camera itself is more capable than an iphone in challenging light conditions because a larger sensor can capture more light. Though you may struggle a bit with the kit lens because it's aperture doesn't open very wide. Some iphones have a large aperture but the sensor is small. A room lit only with birthday candles would be challenging for basically any camera. Unless you were going to get an A7SII and use a lense with a really large aperture like f/1.8. But even the a6400 with the kit lens itself should work better than the iPhone.
Deal Addict
Aug 12, 2004
4102 posts
1455 upvotes
Calgary
Short answer, Iphones are more or less 'dummy' proof. It will and can take photos in any situation regardless of how poor the shot will be. Algorithm will process the shot straight out of phone (newer phones will take multiple shots of the same scene and cross stitch them to get better low light shots). Think of a kid bike with training wheels.

Dslrs and mirrorless are more about knowing how to use them. A poor lens and camera will hunt in low light situations (heck it will still hunt to a degree with a good one), as it doesn't know what to lock on as everything is dark. An iphone will simply allow you to shoot in that same scenario. Put your camera in manual focus and all of a sudden everyone of those problems disappears. Also note you are comparing current iPhones to 5 year old entry level camera models.

Moving from the A5100 to the A6400 is a very significant upgrade for autofocusing and the A5100 was never very good.
Sr. Member
Aug 7, 2014
546 posts
220 upvotes
I like the comments of the following guy comparing the iphone vs sony camera photography:

" Sony is the first to embrace computational photography! The fact that there is Eye Focus tells you everything. A Sony mirrorless with Eye Focus must be able to understand that it is looking at a human being (not a tree or table) and then discern what is an "eye" in order to lock focus on it. Not to mention the insane ability to track and follow the eye as it moves. Even when the head turns, the eye focus seamlessly switches from one eye to another. Next stop ... Eye AF for animals too, which Sony has already demonstrated, sort of and announced that it is what they are working on making available next.

No iPhone can do eye focus. Not even any of the Nikon Z6/Z7 or Canon EOS-R new entrant pretenders. In fact, a friend told me that a software firmware update on his old A7II (or was it A7rII?) brought eye focus to it as well. He was ecstatic and couldn't stop gushing about it! Even though he has an A9 already. "


"I don't think you or the others understand the difference in target market. The Sony mirrorless needs to catch photos ACCURATELY and FAST. The computational photography capabilities are meant to achieve those objectives - not mutilating photos by removing/cropping/etching out details arbitrarily and artificially saturating colors and overly sharpen images that playthings like Apple does, much less doing AR. All EVFs are a form of AR anyway, overlaying data like Terminator or a fighter pilot's heads up display.

Sony's market of professionals & serious photographers will only choose to do all that enhancement in Photoshop as they wish once they have the most accurate files captured.

Those gushing about iPhones are treating photos as play things. iPhone tracking? Yeah right, is it capable of accurately capturing photos compared to Sony with all that tracking? Its all fangirl stuff.

Have you seen how fast the Sony eye AF tracking is? The subject and camera can move in random directions (case of a moving child) while the head rotates randomly and the tracking will still be flawless.

Android has got even more advanced computational photography. There's a reason why iPhones are not even top in terms of camera quality. The crown belongs to Google Pixel (AI computational chops) and Huawei P20 Pro (triple cam hardware + AI chops) - they are unequivocally tops in terms of smartphone image quality."

https://www.sonyalpharumors.com/iphone- ... ax-yuryev/
Sr. Member
Oct 27, 2013
796 posts
156 upvotes
Mississauga
When comparing to your iPhone, keep in mind that it has nearly infinite depth of field, so you wouldn't know if something is in focus or not a lot of the time.

The NEX-5 was essentially a first gen product, and the a5100 is so-so by today's standards. The A6400 is not only one of the best Sonys, but one of the best cameras as far as autofocusing is concerned. As someone above me said, they use some computational photography, which is awesome. Eye-af is a fantastic feature, and does an incredible job keeping a person in focus, even on my A7III, and even with a Samyang lens (one of the worst options for af).

BTW, up to 4 new cameras are on their way, possibly being announced tomorrow. Wait and check that out first. Whether you get an a6400 or something else, I'd suggest you get a nice, fast (large aperture) lens. And I'd even suggest you consider full frame. The way I look at it, I either use my phone, or I want the best quality realistically possible, so full frame + great primes.
Member
Jul 12, 2010
443 posts
69 upvotes
Tbh OP is right.. he brought in sony early crappy mirrorless models. An A5100 focus will struggle and be slow compared to like an iphone 8.

Sony only got good in the last 2 years with A7III and A9... A6400 is the newer gen so they got way better auto focus system. its like 1350 .. I still think you should still need to spend like 800 on a good prime or constant zoom range to fully utilize the camera and not waste it on a kit lense in my opinion depending on your type of photography if more portraits vs more wide environmental with the kids.

Also batteries life is bad .. grab more batteries... video no IBIS so you either going to have to get a gimbal or OSS lenses for smooth video.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 24, 2014
121 posts
68 upvotes
Toronto, ON
Thank you all for your input.
I fortunately have a lot of E-mount glass (16mm with fish eye and wide angle accessory lenses, 35mm 1.8 OSS, A -mount adapter, SIgma 30mm 1.4 etc and an even larger assortment of MF vintage glass, so I'm interested/invested in staying with the system for now. (unfortunately I'm equally invested in the Apple ecosystem with a whole family using imessage/facetime and an sizeable investement in legit copies of non-subscription Adobe creative suite and lightroom. Neutral Face)

It's just with kids and their uncooperative tendencies I find that it is difficult to get the shot I want when indoors or in the evening (unfortunately I don't like flash photography).
I can get good shots with my equipment when there is posing or great light, but right now it's all about capturing/preserving the memories and less about quality images.
I'm hoping to be able to accomplish both.
Deal Addict
Aug 12, 2004
4102 posts
1455 upvotes
Calgary
dieseldub wrote:
Jul 16th, 2019 11:04 am
It's just with kids and their uncooperative tendencies I find that it is difficult to get the shot I want when indoors or in the evening (unfortunately I don't like flash photography).
I can get good shots with my equipment when there is posing or great light, but right now it's all about capturing/preserving the memories and less about quality images.
I'm hoping to be able to accomplish both.
Low light situations are low light situation. You need light to get a photo. You also need light for a camera to focus. You want to shoot scenes without light. And you want to do photos without light of children moving around. You are asking for something that is not technologically possible without heavy compromises.

Your iphone may get things in focus but thats only because of the flat unlimited depth of field. A phone will compute the compromises for you, the shot will be blurry because a phone just wants to get the photo looking good for you. The phone uses software gimmicks to make up for physics (such as faking bokeh, stiching images together, etc).

You need to learn your camera and its limitations. In indoor situations you will always have a compromise. Do you know anything about aperture, ISO, shutter speed and their relation? If you do, you will realize that heavy compromises are needed for indoors (either thin depth of field and out of focus, blurred, or major noise). So called natural light photographers meet their makers as soon as they go anywhere that's not full of sunlight. If you are investing in gear, you should know how to use it.

The fix? What I posted above in bold. Light. And that means flash, flash, flash. And I'm not talking about the dingy flash on your A5100. Get a proper flash with an adjustable head, and learn to bounce (you don't need to learn off camera flash for taking photos of your kids). Learn to balance ambient and flash light and you will get sharp, well lit photos with motion frozen while still keeping the ambient light.
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 5, 2010
1118 posts
395 upvotes
Hey OP,

It's chill, you use what you have and how you like to use it. Flash or no flash, if it can't focus, it's all for naught.

I have equipment that can do better at dim light, but sometime, I might to be using my A6000 (for when I need something light and small), which is a few steps below what A6400 can do, and I'll do my best to utilise it for what I want to do.
I often have the Sigma 30mm F2.8 on it and when I need to capture something moving that I'm confident my camera + lens combo won't be able to focus fast or accurate enough, outdoor or indoor, bright or not, I'll use manual focus with focus peaking (red works well for me) with a smaller aperture, fast burst drive mode and I try to crop a bit wider (if the space allows). So when you factor how the physic of depth of field works, with a lot of shoots per second, you will have a bunch that will be in focus or relatively in focus. The downside? It'll take you more time to review later and you'll have to use higher ISO for that safety of having larger depth of field.

To be honest, I'll prefer to have the right camera for the job but I don't alway have a couple thousands to spend whenever I feel limited by my current gears.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 29, 2006
7585 posts
1472 upvotes
Is funny you mentioned the iPhone back lite sensor and guess who made them for Apple ?? It is .... SONY and the sensor in the a6400 is way bigger so it captures more light. I probably would wait for the rumored replacement of a6500 and or a pro grade a7000/a9000 annocument before deciding however.
The Devil made me buy it - RFD. :twisted:
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 24, 2014
121 posts
68 upvotes
Toronto, ON
Firebot wrote:
Jul 16th, 2019 1:12 pm
You need to learn your camera and its limitations. In indoor situations you will always have a compromise. Do you know anything about aperture, ISO, shutter speed and their relation? If you do, you will realize that heavy compromises are needed for indoors (either thin depth of field and out of focus, blurred, or major noise). So called natural light photographers meet their makers as soon as they go anywhere that's not full of sunlight. If you are investing in gear, you should know how to use it.

The fix? What I posted above in bold. Light. And that means flash, flash, flash. And I'm not talking about the dingy flash on your A5100. Get a proper flash with an adjustable head, and learn to bounce (you don't need to learn off camera flash for taking photos of your kids). Learn to balance ambient and flash light and you will get sharp, well lit photos with motion frozen while still keeping the ambient light.
Thanks for the reply.
I trained as a large format studio photographer so I am well aware of how to use flash, that said, my aesthetic interests lie in non flash candid style photography.
I have and use mostly fast lenses, pre focus when possible, I don't shoot auto and prefer not to post process all of my images.

It's like being a gourmet chef. I know how to cook, I have the ingredients and equipment to cook, i appreciate good cooking but sometimes I just want to eat and eat quickly.
Sometimes KFC/Macdonalds/Apple gets that done.
I just wanted to know if there were other options.
Last edited by dieseldub on Jul 17th, 2019 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 24, 2014
121 posts
68 upvotes
Toronto, ON
hdom wrote:
Jul 17th, 2019 2:06 am
Is funny you mentioned the iPhone back lite sensor and guess who made them for Apple ?? It is .... SONY and the sensor in the a6400 is way bigger so it captures more light. I probably would wait for the rumored replacement of a6500 and or a pro grade a7000/a9000 annocument before deciding however.
I know right? I have been a sony sensor fan longer than an Apple iphone user. I know the A7rII uses a back lit sensor, but I havent noticed it specifically mentioned for other 'newer' Sony cameras.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 22, 2004
1891 posts
334 upvotes
Richmond, BC
Firebot wrote:
Jul 16th, 2019 1:12 pm
Low light situations are low light situation. You need light to get a photo. You also need light for a camera to focus. You want to shoot scenes without light. And you want to do photos without light of children moving around. You are asking for something that is not technologically possible without heavy compromises.

Your iphone may get things in focus but thats only because of the flat unlimited depth of field. A phone will compute the compromises for you, the shot will be blurry because a phone just wants to get the photo looking good for you. The phone uses software gimmicks to make up for physics (such as faking bokeh, stiching images together, etc).

You need to learn your camera and its limitations. In indoor situations you will always have a compromise. Do you know anything about aperture, ISO, shutter speed and their relation? If you do, you will realize that heavy compromises are needed for indoors (either thin depth of field and out of focus, blurred, or major noise). So called natural light photographers meet their makers as soon as they go anywhere that's not full of sunlight. If you are investing in gear, you should know how to use it.

The fix? What I posted above in bold. Light. And that means flash, flash, flash. And I'm not talking about the dingy flash on your A5100. Get a proper flash with an adjustable head, and learn to bounce (you don't need to learn off camera flash for taking photos of your kids). Learn to balance ambient and flash light and you will get sharp, well lit photos with motion frozen while still keeping the ambient light.

Just make/get a good diffuser..

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