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I have an iPhone X, and it's incredible.
I use it every single day, and currently have 19,287 images on it (and counting!).
It's leaps and bounds better than my last iPhone, and having seen my friends and family use other smartphones for photography, I know I have the best one on the market today.
But there's just one problem...
It will never replace my DSLR.
Here's a few reasons why I'll be hanging onto my Nikon D850 for a while.
Ease of Use
Obviously, my iPhone X wins in the portability department over my D850.
But that portability is precisely what makes it more difficult to use as a camera.
There's no grip, so you're forced to tightly grasp the edges of the phone to keep it steady.
Of course, the fact that you have to hold the phone at arm's length in front of you means that keeping it steady is a tall task anyway.
That's not to mention how hard it is to actually see how everything fits into the frame.
Granted, the iPhone X has a gorgeous, large screen that's much easier to see in broad daylight than previous iPhones I've owned.
But it still can't match the experience of bringing my D850 to my eye and getting a precise view of the scene in the viewfinder.
Additionally, to focus the iPhone, you have to somehow tap the screen while maintaining a death grip on the phone to keep it steady. You know as well as I do that that's a difficult task.
In contrast, my D850 has a big, chunky grip for my right hand and the body sits perfectly in my left hand for stable shooting.
I can reach all the buttons and dials on the camera and lens while it's raised to my eye, so I don't have to fumble around trying to hold it while acquiring focus or changing a camera setting like I do with my iPhone.
And, best of all, my D850 was actually designed to be a camera and a camera alone. That means it's easier to compose a photo, see what the photo looks like, adjust camera settings, and so forth, that way I get the best shot possible.
Apple made sure the iPhone X had excellent capabilities as a camera when it included dual cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto.
The improved versatility of having the telephoto camera has proven to be a lifesaver for me time and time again when I wanted a closer, more intimate shot of the subject.
I even invested in some excellent aftermarket lenses from Sandmarc that give me fisheye, macro, and wide-angle options.
But even with all those lenses, it still doesn't match up to the incredible variety of lenses I can get for my D850.
I can use a telephoto lens with my D850 to capture distant landscape elements up close.
I can head to the beach and get a beautiful ultra-wide-angle shot of the sunset with a 12mm lens.
There's an 85mm lens for portraits, a 50mm lens for street photography, a 100mm lens for macro...you get the point.
The lenses I can use with my D850 simply provide better sharpness and better image quality than what the iPhone brings to the table, as you can see in the side-by-side comparison above.
Perhaps the most important reason why my iPhone will never replace my DSLR is the difference in sensor size and what that means in image quality.
As shown in the graph above, camera sensors are much larger than smartphone sensors.
It's beneficial to have a larger sensor because the bigger it is, the more light it can record.
What's more, larger sensors have the ability to record more information, which means the photos I take with my D850 have better colors, improved dynamic range, and less noise. That's particularly true when shooting in low light.
But the benefit of a larger sensor is also seen during daytime shooting as well.
Just like a larger sensor has a greater ability to retain the detail in shadows in low-light situations, it's able to retain detail in highlights in bright shooting conditions as well.
In the image below, you can see how the D850 does a much better job of retaining the detail and color not just in the highlighted areas, but in the shadows as well.
Additionally, the larger a camera's sensor, the higher the resolution of its photos.
That means that when you take a photo with your iPhone, you might only be able to muster an 8x10 print before the image quality degrades to the point that the image is blurry and pixelated.
But with a DSLR like the D850, you can print enormous photos without losing image quality.
And this is an area that DSLRs will always win over smartphones. There's simply no room in a smartphone to fit a bigger sensor.
Having manual control over things like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is critical for getting the best shots.
Yet, as far as iPhones have come, the native camera app still doesn't support this kind of manual functionality.
That's a problem because, just like full auto mode on a DSLR doesn't get you the best results, it doesn't get you the best results on your phone, either.
Looking at the difference in the images above, you can see how the D850 is more adept at minimizing depth of field and getting the white balance spot-on.
Granted, you can download third-party apps for your phone to give you manual controls, but even then, the performance of a smartphone in this regard is restricted because there's only so much leeway that you get for ISO and shutter speed.
Likewise, smartphones have fixed apertures, so manipulating depth of field is difficult.
Not so with a DSLR, though.
I have full control over how the camera behaves and performs, so I get images that have better colors, more accurate white balance, and a more creative look.
That is, I can change the aperture to manipulate the depth of field as well as control the shutter speed to determine if motion is blurred or tack-sharp.
Though it sounds like I'm bashing my iPhone, I'm not.
I absolutely love it, and it works great as a camera in many situations.
But as I've pointed out, no matter how great the iPhone X is, it still cannot compete with "real" cameras like the Nikon D850. It can't even compete with an entry-level DSLR like a Canon T7i.
So, keep your smartphones handy for quick snapshots, but if you want to take the highest-quality photos, your phone simply cannot replace your DSLR.