While working on some photos this weekend, I noticed that I'd taken two nearly-identical photos of the Enola Gay at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center—nearly identical, but separated by four years:
The left image was taken in 2014 with a 2011 Pansonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 pocket camera (specifications); the right image was taken in 2018 with my 2017 iPhone 8 Plus. (Interesting to note that I didn't bring my DSLR on either trip…the best camera is the one you have with you, right?)
Neither of the above images has been edited, beyond whatever algorithms the cameras use when saving the photo. Frankly, I was amazed at just how much better the iPhone 8 Plus photo is compared to the one from the Lumix: The Lumix photo is skewed heavily blue, edges aren't well defined, and detail in shadow areas is obscured. The iPhone's image is perhaps just a bit towards the yellow end of the spectrum, but it's miles better than that of the Lumix.
The differences are even more apparent if you zoom in a bit—here's a 300% zoom on the fuselage stenciling in both photos:
So why is the iPhone's photo so much better? "Because technology advances", yes, but just what's happened in those seven years?
A quick look at the EXIF information for both photos reveals just how much things have changed…
|iPhone 8 Plus||4032x3024||1.3MB||640||2.8||1/60|
In near-identical conditions (check the light in the windows behind the plane), the iPhone was able to shoot at a lower f-stop, with a lower ISO, and at a faster shutter speed. That's pretty amazing. Also note the efficiency of the HEIC file format: The iPhone photo is 22% of the size of the Lumix photo!
It's impressive to see how much camera technology has advanced in just six years—my iPhone is taking shots that are notably better than those of a six-year-old dedicated camera (which included a Leica lens and optical image stabilization). I assume today's pocket cameras have seen similar improvements, but I don't have one here to compare.