Can a Canon EOS R5 Stand Up to an iPhone 12 Pro Max?

It’s the battle of the best of the best from two titans of the photography industry. No, I’m not talking about Sony versus Canon. I’m talking about the Canon EOS R5 versus an iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the results are surprising, to say the least.

YouTuber Matti Haapoja pits a Canon EOS R5 against an iPhone 12 Pro Max in this video, where he asks viewers at home to play along with him in a blind test of both cameras in various shooting situations around Toronto. He takes you through a series of seven photos shot with each camera to look almost exactly the same, and in the end, even he himself doesn’t get all of them right (I ended up guessing five out of the seven photos correctly).

There are a couple of shots that are easy to spot, such as when they outfit the R5 with a Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens against an iPhone with not a lot of space for the background; almost any photographer could spot the difference in depth of field when the iPhone’s portrait mode was not used.

What’s surprising, perhaps most of all, is how close the iPhone’s computational-imaging-powered portrait mode got to the Canon EOS R5. Much of my research for a doctorate degree has been in the area of computational imaging, and I had a hard time telling the difference because the new iPhone seems to have gotten rid of a lot of the tell-tale signs of portrait mode, especially when it comes to edge detection around people and objects.

What does all of this say for those of us who just spent north of $4,000 on a camera and lens? Should photography purchases begin and end with an iPhone? For one, I’d say no.

Haapoja correctly points out that while in many situations and in the right conditions, an iPhone will come pretty darn close or even beat a “real” camera, but for other situations, like the shot where there is no leeway to move the subject from a busy background, a DSLR or mirrorless camera will always show its strengths. I’ll add to that situations such as sporting events or weddings, where a zoom and fast autofocus are critical.

Did you play along with the video? Which ones did you guess wrong? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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