Essex Young Farmers Annual Show – Leica M9 vs iPhone 4 – Your Hometown by Roy Strutt

Essex Young Farmers Annual Show – Leica M9 vs iPhone 4 – Your Hometown 

By Roy Strutt

Hi Steve,

Last Sunday the Essex Young Farmers annual show was held in Roxwell near Chelmsford in Essex (UK) close to our hometown.

Young Farmers are a youth organisation across the UK with a powerful following of young people either interested or working in farming or who are naturally succeeding their parents as the next generation on the family farm. I have been using the iPhone 4 on a frequent basis lately as a camera and decided to use both the iPhone and the M9 to see how they compared. These images represent two near extremes of photography equipment – the excellent camera on the iPhone 4 versus the Leica M9 rangefinder camera with a Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8 lens.

I used the M9 with a lens profile to match the 28mm Elmarit ASPH which seemed to do a good job apart from some slight vignetting in the corners. All the M9 shots were at ISO 320 and the DNG’s were worked on with Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS3 – the lens was wide open most of the time except when bright sunlight caused me to stop it down a little.

The iPhone 4 was used in the standard auto mode and normal composition / light direction / hold very steady for a few moments rules were applied ! See if you can identify which camera was used in these images (answer at the end)

The Images…

The first eight images were taken with the iPhone 4 – from the black puppy onwards (*) the M9 was used with the Zeiss Biogon 25mm. Depending upon your browser you can also get the technical information by right clicking the image and go to Image Properties.

With careful use the iPhone 4 is an excellent camera !

Roy Strutt Photography


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  1. Several decades before I was born, some people had already made fantastic photos with basic equipment.

    So the fact is, if I do mediocre, not worth spending thousands in a camera. One mobile phone can very well make the work, for sure !!

  2. I have an iphone 4 and I am impressed ! particularly by pictures 5-7. 5 and 6 due to not seeing any movement blur on the dogs and horse at all, and on picture 7 by the amount of detail it displays, considering how tiny the iphone sensor is and its rather crappy lens….

    I challenge you to make the same ballsy comparison with low light pictures using the noctilux on the Leica…

  3. I’ve always said if I ever get an iPhone, it’ll be because of the camera feature (and Pixmatic). Nice comparison…not pointless at all. Ignore the curmudgeons:-)

  4. I love and enjoy this crossover comparison. If you want to catch the spirit of the moment the small camera is a good choise.

  5. I went to an amusement park with my kids. I had tons of cameras and lenses to choose from: d700, M8, ep-1, cle, etc etc — took the iPhone 3GS only. Had fun with the kids, took a few photos and some videos — the photos are good memory aides, but nothing special.

    • Why is it pointless Richard ? Whats the harm in having a little fun between an amazing RF camera and what is quickly becoming the most used “camera” for many people, the iPhone ?

      Did you not enjoy trying to pick which result was which in what should of been a totally lopsided set of images ?

      If not to you perhaps enjoy making short snide remarks with no value either ? I mean really now, what was the point in your rude little comment ?

  6. I use the iPhone 4 camera often and I like how it renders color. The only thing this set of comparison photos is that its all taken in a extremely well lit day. Once it gets dark the noise level on the iPhone 4 goes to shame =)

  7. He..he. That is a funny comparison 🙂

    I’m sure full size images or a little pixel peeping on full size images would very quickly have revealed which images were taken with the iPhone and which were taken with the Leica. It is hard to judge these small sizes even on a good graphical monitor.

    But it is still pretty amazing that you can get such nice images from an iPhone when plenty of light is available. The big difference will be very clear when there is less light available.

  8. Way to go, iPhone 4, I’m not able to enlarge each individual image, from looking at these small size image, iPhone is doing a great job, but it’s not hard to find out due to the small sensor and tiny lens, there are lots of highlight blown outs, conner softness, one thing stands out strong is the fringing control, I think iPhone is doing a better job than the $10k camera, surprise. I had a Sony Ericson C902 cellphone which features a 8mp camera, a tiny G vario 40mm equiv. Lens, lots of manual control, great macro capability, took some awesome pictures for me, I’ll post some image when I get home.

  9. Hard to tell from these images, due to depth of field comparisons, harsh lighting, and websized prints. Interesting comparison nonetheless that shoes that in some instances, the differences are small. In others, they are immense…

  10. Out of the 17 photographs shown here, I only guessed 6 correctly and of those 6 pictures that I got right, I only managed to correctly identify 2 as being taken by the M9. I would probably have done better, if I had flicked a coin.
    In a lot of these pictures, the highlights are blown away – so I assumed they were taken with a telephone camera with a tiny sensor and a limited dynamic range. I have never used an iPhone camera but I would reckon a guess that there is no manual control to override the automatic exposure.
    I am surprised by the pictures taken with the M9. They appear to me to be overexposed. Now, this could be because my computer monitor is over-bright, but the lack of tone detail in the clouds and in the coat of the white horse (in the picture with the blacksmith) leads me to suspect over-exposed pictures.

    • There actually are some iPhone apps for the camera that give more exposure control. Camera+ is one I like where you tap the screen where you want the focus point and then can touch it again for where you want the exposure set, in other words, not linking the focus point and exposure. Its not full manual control per say, however it does allow you to set the exposure for a brighter area such as the sky and blow less highlights

      There are also some fantastic in camera HDR programs that give a great deal of control over the blending and give some really natural looking results, far better than what I’ve got in my S95 and other compacts.

      Then there are also the in camera pano apps as well which also let you automatically or manually stitch together a pano, and even the fairy limited iPhone camera can produce some pretty impressive files that way.

      All in all a pretty powerful photographic tool even before you factor in the ability to instantly email or message your photos right after you take them to friends/family/facebook etc

      I still have some compacts, like the G12 and XZ1, but for most of my true day to day shooting, I’m really pleased with the iPhone 4 camera.

    • Very interesting comparison indeed!

      Actually with the iPhone the exposure point is finger selectable by clicking on a spot of the screen, which also selects the focal point. Camera+ is an app which permits individual selection of focal and exposure points.

  11. Gutsiest crazy comparison ever and seen from an iPhone 3 gs, I will definitely think twice before I buy another point and shoot. I may just upgrade to an iphone4. Thanks for sharing

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