Canon 5D Mark II vs. iPhone 4S video: Yes, but…

The Canon 5D Mark II, on the other hand, is the biz. It's used to make films, television shows. It's a professional grade camera with professional grade features.

iPhone 4S vs Canon 5D Mark IV

iPhone 4S vs Canon 5D Mark IV

Yes iPhone 4S has impressive video quality, but no way is it ever going to come close to replacing a Canon 5D Mark II.

It’s interesting and fun-and-all to compare the two as many have been doing over the past few days, it amazes how far video quality has come in phones. But the iPhone 4S video capability is replacing the basic consumer camcorder, just like it improving photo quality has replaced the consumer point-and-click camera. It really is a big win- you get all of this great capability in one device without sacrificing quality.

The Canon 5D Mark II, on the other hand, is the biz. It’s used to make films, television shows. It’s a professional grade camera with professional grade features. At $2,499, while not stratospheric given its level of performance (and about a 1/3 the price of the recently released MacDaddy EOS 1D Mark IV, puts it out of range for the casual hobbyist.

It’s all fun and games until someone reaches for the Bokeh

Meanwhile we continue to shoot vids here on Stark Insider with a trusty Canon T2i (now mostly used as a 2nd camera angle), and a Canon EOS 60D (the price/performance sweet spot in my books). A quick aside: the new 1D is killer stuff (full frame!) but if I were in the market, I’d seriously consider still getting the 5D and put the difference towards some top-of-the-line lenses. Sure the body is important, but the glass can make or break your results.

Regardless, none of that will stop insanely giddy new iPhone 4S owners who wield their new fast-selling (fastest ever?) uber smartphone as some kind of key to the universe. “What is the meaning of life?” 42. Ah ha! You learn something new everyday. As one recent headline read, you can’t be “Siri-ous” Uh… I’d like to be a professional independent film-maker. Mr. Lucas, there’s an app for that!

Me? I outright refuse–possibly out of principal now–to move from Android to iPhone. Occupy Closed Systems! I like the idea Android is open, and I like the fact that it’s a favorite among the tech-set. I’m also huge into all things Google including gmail, calendar, docs, etc. Oddly, I’m willing to capitulate somewhat- I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro, and I use the iPad to read Businessweek, listen to Pandora. Maybe I’m not so cut out for this revolution thing.

This I do know:

Canon 5D Mark II – serious kit for the serious videographer, indie filmmaker, even television director.

iPhone 4S – less a phone, more an all-in-one app machine. Greetings to those that march to a monochromatic drum.

Video Comparison: iPhone 4S vs. Canon 5D Mark II

Robino Films produced this throwdown, and did a nice job – though it does lack close-ups. With over 434K views it seems many are interested in the comparison. According to the notes on Vimeo it was made using a rig that allowed the filmmaker to use both cameras at the same time. All the settings used are included as well. The conclusion: “This test shows that the tiny F2.4 lens and sensor on the iPhone are pretty nice. It even got a little depth of field!”

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  • Gfunk

    Great comparison!  When side by side I notice that there is a difference but in reality I don’t think many eyes would catch the subtle differences.  That being said I think the iPhone 4S camera quality is superb! I don’t own an iPhone anymore because I found its basic phone functions left much to be desired, plus it was bulky for a phone, but everything else on it makes it quite an amazing gadget.

  • Thanks for the comparison.  Hey, that looks like Pico Blvd!

  • Bezone

    Yeah.. If they wanted to create a professional grade camera they would have done so.. But the iphone 4s is a mobile phone..

  • Costy

    Hehe, apple marketing claptrap knows no limit.

  • 100% agree !

  • Martin Wallgren

    Nice article! Did you ever consider using the Panasonic GH2 for the serious work? With the firmware hack from Vitality Kiselev it will smoke the 5D mk II for just about everything except maybe slightly less DR. They’ve got 176Mbit AVC-Intra working down to the fastest SD-Cards, and the IQ of the footage exceeds most of the stuff I’ve seen except, well the RED cameras. :) Cheers!

    • @37fd65f9c649388aa04be0b91a24c61c:disqus Yes I’ve considered but have yet to actually try GH2. There are some interesting comparisons vs. the 60D on YouTube. And dpreview said “The GH2 is easily the best video-equipped stills camera that we’ve ever used.” High praise indeed! One thing I think I would miss is the heft of the DSLRs. It helps stabilize the camera, at least in my experience. Then again, there’s always room in the bag for another slick bit of kit!

  • Karndean

    I think the Iphone 4s camera is incredible.You’re comparing it against a professional grade camera build(and priced tagged) for semi pro use.The iphone on the other hand is a phone with a built in camera.

    There is very little disconcernable difference in quality for people who are not hobbiests or professionals.
    Nice test and I think it actually shows the iphone 4s camera is better than most thought it would be,