How does the image quality of a top-of-the-line smartphone camera stack up against a top-of-the-line professional camera these days? Photographer Tyler Stalman decided to find out by pitting a Google Pixel 2 smartphone against a $20,000 Hasselblad medium format camera in the 8-minute video above.
The Google Pixel 2 XL costs around $1,000 and currently holds the highest overall score (98) over at DxOMark for its camera quality.
Stalman invited photographer Jason Eng and his Hasselblad camera to his studio and shot the same model in the same scenes and lighting setups with both the Pixel 2 and the Hasselblad camera.
For one comparison, Stalman set up lights to have a high ratio between the brightest and darkest points in order to stretch the dynamic range of both cameras.
Stalman found that the Pixel 2’s photos were very usable, especially at smaller sizes. But where it falls short is the details lost in the highlights and shadows of the scenes.
The Pixel 2 managed to nail focus better than the Hasselblad and the photos from the two cameras have similar perceived sharpness when viewed in smaller sizes, but the differences in quality are very apparent when you zoom into the shots.
Depth of Field
The Pixel 2 does a pretty good job at creating a blurred background in software using its dual pixels, but certain subjects give away the fact that it’s artificially created bokeh. Stalman found that the quality of blurred Christmas lights was completely different than the clean look produced by the Hasselblad.
While the Pixel 2’s photos may stack up well against the Hasselblad’s images on a smartphone screen while you’re flicking through Instagram, you’re not going to be fooled by the image quality if you look a little more closely at the finer details of the shots.
“Remember: anytime you see somebody telling you that a smartphone is going to be replacing your DSLR, it’s probably just clickbait… just like doing a comparison between a $20,000 camera and a smartphone.”
Image credits: Photographs by Tyler Stalman and used with permission