Just for fun! The iPhone 4s vs the NEX-7 and Fuji X100.

Just for fun! The iPhone 4s vs the NEX-7 and Fuji X100.

So I am out in Chicago and today with the beautiful weather I decided to take a stroll through my old neighborhood that I grew up in. I found that it still looked great, and in some ways better than it used to look when I was a kid. Was pretty fun to take a walk down memory lane and enjoy the fall colors and cool breeze. Next week I will be back home in AZ with the 100+ degree sun so I am enjoying this cool weather while I can.

I had the NEX-7 with me as well as the Fuji X100 and my new iPhone 4s, which Apple claims has a really kick ass camera built in. In fact, it is a huge improvement over the standard camera in the 4 and it is interesting to see camera tech evolve in these mobile devices. I mean, the iPhone 4s takes better pictures than many $300-$400 digital cameras did just 1-2 years ago.

So what I did today was shoot a few scenes with each camera to see how each one rendered its JPEGs.

Now, keep in mind that the iPhone could not be a replacement for the NEX or the X100 simply due to it being more like a P&S camera with no way of controlling aperture or depth of field. One day these mobile devices will have better lenses with Aperture control and most likely artificial shallow DOF control unless someone ends up putting in a large imaging sensor in one, then that is when things would get interesting. Still, the camera has improved dramatically in the 4s so let’s see how it does with everyday snaps compared  to the other two enthusiast cameras.

These are all out of camera JPEGS resized to 1800 pixels wide. The iPhone doesn’t shoot RAW so this is just a simple, just for fun JPEG comparison.

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE for the larger version! These are ALL straight out of camera!

Sample #1. 1st image is the X100, 2nd is the iPhone 4s and third is the NEX-7

seems to me the Sony underexposed a little, and I have been noticing this trend with the camera in general. This could be to save highlights and richen the color but out of the three above, which do you prefer?

Sample #2. Same thing. 1st one is from the X100, 2nd from the NEX-7 and last from the iPhone 4s. Sony had the Zeiss 24 and the NEX and Fuji were set to f/5.6

Three different cameras and three different color signatures. Which do you prefer? 

Sample #3 – X100, iPhone 4s, NEX-7

Sample #4 – X100, iPhone 4s and NEX-7

Sample #5 – X100, iPhone 4s and NEX-7

Even with the new improved camera, the iPhone 4s suffers from noise (you can see it in the sky pretty heavily) – Still, its a damn good take everywhere camera and with apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram it’s a great take anywhere camera. (see below)

and one more from the X100 and Sony to show how the Sony is choosing a different exposure than the Fuji. The Fuji has more shadow detail but loses some of the highlights. The Sony protected the highlights a bit more. Again, these are OOC JPEGS. 

I’m hoping to have my NEX-7 review up NEXT WEEK as I have been using it non stop since I acquired it. I have also been shooting the X100 more and have to say that in regards to OOC color with JPEGS, I prefer the X100. But I have yet to tweak any Sony RAW files so we shall see. Still, the NEX-7 has been doing no wrong (almost). Review soon!

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  1. Hi to everybody.
    Very funny comparison but not more than funny. I’m not scared at all;-)
    I’m a very enthusiastic user of x100. I take it with me every day in my little normal (non photographic) bag or in my jacket. I think it has a very right size. Just question of organisation. Near 5,5 cm of total depht It’s far from a DSLR medium size but processor size and quality is the same.
    In X100 i like the pictures with their quality and beautiful colours, i can shot picture with little depth of field but sharp in focus zone. I can crop in PP adeguate size pictures from original when i need. I love the Fujinon fast and sharp lens, the ergonomy, the high iso performance, Raw ability, the usability in condition of low light, the viewfinder, the retro style, the possibility to print the picture i take day by day in large format if i want now or in the future etc.etc.etc.
    The question is how may of the quality’s/ability above a toy camera has? The answer is ……….. just it was a crazy/funny comparison as great Steve Huff clarify from start in every case like this.

    When i shot I love to feel like a photografer. With a smartphone i can’t feel like this than i’ll stay happy with my Fuji. 😉

    Luca from Italy

  2. Michael Kaufman,

    Come on guys, in which community do you remain stuck? Extend your horizon, read more pro-photography lectures, go search for more info on Google about this type of photographers, please. This is real passionate photography. They are real specialist. There are too many of them, I will introduce two random names to you:

    Cor Bosman is an experienced Dutch hacker/millionaire, founder of the internet service provider xs4all, his speciality is micro-underwaterphotography. His motto: The perfect image comes straight from your camera. Some statements: There is no need to purchase an expensive camerabody to make beautiful images. Rather invest in lenses. No time for photoshopping.

    Rene de Haan is also a Dutch photographer, works for Playboy since 1999. His speciality is nudephotography. His motto: Keep it simple, use existent light. Antithesis of photoshopping, therefore no postprocessing to his own work. His statement: Keep things natural.

  3. I love teh Fuji x100 pictures but the Iphone pictures are just amazing for web purposes, and family pictures, remember you can take the pictures in NY and your family will take a look at the pictures at home in Argentina in thir apple Tv trough Icloud or mobile me !!! this is just great for my mother to show her their grand children pictures every day !!

    I really think non photographers will use the camera in a very diferent way than us. I;m use to film and range finders and Reflex pictures, but i really think the future of point PS cameras is on the iphone side.


  4. Steve, ONLY YOU are the BEST JUDGE. Because only you can tell What was the RIGHT color,contrast,exposure,white balance your EYE would see right there. Taking example of Sample 3 & 5 they all look fine, only you can tell which picture is the closest to what you eye would see in terms of right color,contrast,white balance exposure etc. Only you can tell what color was the building there, was it more white as in x100 or was it more beige/brown as in iphone. Same with Color green on grass or blue sky.Because all shades of blue or green is possible or natural. Only you can say WHICH WAS THE CLOSEST TO WHAT YOU SAW. In your Full Review it will very good if you can put a NOTE which closest what you saw while comparing.Then it make a great review.

  5. Good on you Steve for getting all tis up so quickly – the NEX7 hasn’t even hit the shelves yet & the frenzy of curiosity is insane!

    I’d love to see how the Ricoh GXR stacks up against the NEX7..using the GXR’s A12 50mm & 28mm native units plus some Leica glass vs some comparable lenses & Leica glass on the NEX.


  6. Comparing jpgs on the web is the best way to judge comparative image quality. No doubt about it.

  7. The Fuji wins for me as this is a camera with a normal viewfinder and i’m hoping see more of these cameras in the future from different brands.

    My D700 is most of the time in b+w mode shooting raw and the lcd is off, so i can look trough the viewfinder and look at what’s happening, with a normal digital camera i look all the time at the lcd and stop noticing what is happening around me.

  8. Ahhhhhh this is so refreshing. I love seeing the panic, disagreement, and speculation that a little comparo like this sparks on the internet. Quotes like, “I’m so happy I didn’t buy a Nex-7” “The I phone 4S is so much better” “I get film like results…”

    These comments and panacea over a test shot is exactly why I love to stick with the more stable film world. You buy one camera, and it never goes out of date. You buy one lens, and it never goes out of date. You learn to shoot one to three films that cover all your bases. Done. No reason to panic as long as they make your film stock….. No need to ever update as long as you master one system.

    That is the problem with these cameras is that they are disposable just like our cell phones. Instead of mastering them we dispose of them and move on…

    • Nick – I like your reasoning until the part where you said ” …. as long as they make your film stock…..”

      Sadly, that’s the situation we are now facing. Despite early optimism, film may well have a limited life.

      Also – no camera is ‘disposable’ (film OR digital) whilst it still works and gives the results you desire. I’ve ‘old’ digital and film cameras that produce the same results they produced as when new. Newer cameras did not make them obsolete just because they have ‘newer’ features or ‘better’ specs.

      • I feel pretty comfortable in the film hanging around for quite sometime. In fact, I found the introduction of Ektar, and new Portra to be highly suprising in terms of quality, advances, and investment on Kodak part. Furthermore, I have a feeling at least black and white will be around for a very long time kind of like records.

        You are correct in your statement that digital cameras are not disposable in the sense that whilst they work they are still functional, but with cell phones and modern electronics on the cutting edge they do have some form of a disposable nature. We have all gone through countless phones, digital cameras and so forth. The actual camera itself has not advanced very much, and the good thing is that the film camera is just a light box.

        I just like the concept of picking something and mastering it as opposed to buying a camera, selling it for another, playing with that one, selling it for the newest one, and they arguing about how much better the latest generation is…

        With film, you pick a system that meets you demand, and master it. You’re done. Of course that is a abbreviated story of mastery, but its much easier to get consistent results and develop your artistic interpretations working inside one box then a new one every six months…

        • I’m not sure who you have been talking to, but there actually isn’t anyone out there forcing people to upgrade their digital camera.

          > “With film, you pick a system that meets you demand, and master it.”

          With digital, this is possible as well. It you are happy with one body and a couple of lenses, there is nothing stopping you form buying a single digital camera and a few lenses and then using it for the next 20 years. Its a common misconception that cameras stop working when the newer models come out.

          The people who upgrade every six months are the same people who probably would be purchasing new bodies and lenses if they were using film instead.

          • > and then using it for the next 20 years.

            Do you really believe any current digital camera can live through 20 years of use?

          • I guess a forum counts in some form as talking to people. I am willing to bet most forum users are hobbyist or amateurs, so changing with the times is normal. I am sure professional pick a system and stay with it (for some time, but not 20 years), and even more to that point I am sure many digital photographer stick with one camera and lens. Most “professional” photographers I see have the latest and greatest. D3’s, Mark 5DII, D700’s, Not many D1’s, and mark 1, and D100 hanging around the neck of pros. Maybe its the internet that amplifies the hype about things to the point of lunacy, but again its quotes like“I’m so happy I didn’t buy a Nex-7, look at those X100 exposures!″ “The I phone 4S is so much better” “I get film like results from my X100 but not my Nex-5n…”

            Companies wouldn’t be making new products if people were not buying them, and just look at how many versions of the Oly Ep camera exist in a span of like less than 5 years! Its crazy. I can’t decided what digital I want because I can’t keep up with the market or variants of just one model Examples: Nex-3,5,5n,7…. EP1,2,3 EPL1,2, EP-ad infinitum…

            I’m just proposing that sticking with a camera or system might improve photography for the majority of people interested in photography than following the latest product. I personally feel that film cameras especially manual cameras have an innate ability to teach more about photography than the latest update. You’ll learn that camera’s don’t blow highlights, people do within in the limits of your DR, but you can only learn those limits if you stick with a system!

          • ‘Peter NO’ asks if any current digital camera can live through 20 years of use – I recall the early LCD displays (of expensive pro cameras) were given working lives of 5-10 years at best. Most are still trundling along – unaffected by time – over 20 or more years later.

            What is in a digital camera that is not in say, an EOS 1 or F4 from the Eighties? Just a silicon sensor and an LCD – rather than a roll of film, and, as the above example illustrates, silicon chips and LCD technology proved more durable than their inventors envisaged.

            Both film/digital cameras are filled with complex electronics that are at the mercy of the user – rather than simply the passage of time. Which is why you find mint condition cameras and battered to hell cameras – no matter how old they are.

        • Some swung that way with film gear too – every new SLR was always bigger, better, newer – just as it is now with digital equipment.

          I don’t disagree with the ‘stick with it philosophy’ either …. I’ve cameras older than me, plus some I’ve owned from new that are now clocking up 30 years continuous use. At the last count I owned 34 film cameras and 4 digital ones!

          I never part with ANY equipment that delivers the goods – digital the same as film. Mastery of both camera and medium is the answer – no matter what ‘food’ the light-tight box uses! No-one learns their craft if they simply latch on to the next best thing all the time.

          It’s why some still swear by Leica, or Hasselblad, or Nikon, or Canon, etc. where a marque’s technological advance is married to familiar control layouts or venerable operational methods.

          No-one has to sit either side of the film/digital fence – both have their merits. I just wish film was cheaper and more readily available in everyday life. The further it recedes into specialist retailing arenas, the more it will be overlooked by the mass market, which may speed it’s premature death.

          I’m happy to play with both but agree with your enthusiasm for silver halide and plastic ….. Keep up the film crusade!

          • Thanks Photozopia. You pretty much summed up what I am trying to say. Again I don’t have any data to support my claim that people are treating digital camera’s more as a disposable good, but its been my gut feeling looking at the market and other digital products. Its not that digital products do not last, but the go out of date quickly.

            At the end of the day, I am arguing for sticking with a system or camera or lens or medium… I felt like I was in a rut as a photographer, and then I took a printing class… WOW learned about an entirely new realm of photography: the Print.

            One day when I buy a digital system I that I will stick with, I hope to learn more about digital post processing just like toning, dodging, and burning in the class wet print setting.

            All I was trying to say is how easily a fun simple, silly test shot comparo will confirm or entrench people’s bias to a product. Its a freaking test shot.

  9. to show how the Sony is choosing a different exposure than the Fuji. The Fuji has more shadow detail but loses some of the highlights. The Sony protected the highlights a bit more. Again, these are OOC JPEGS

    Thanks for your review, Steve. I am wondering if the Nex 7 cis calibrated for exosure the same as the Nex 5n. Am very satisfied with how the Nex 5n handles exposure and am hoping the Nex 7 is calibrated the same.

  10. I really wonder whether these cams are both set to the same metering mode?
    I have seen a big difference with my Olympus when exposure metering was set to ESP (whole frame) & gradation either “normal” or “auto”. I suspect that the cameras are set way differently.

    At least compensating exposure manually with a look at the histogram would be usefull
    to narrow down the differences and empasize the existing rendering differences between both cams.

    Another option would be to set both to center-weighted.

  11. At the end of the day, Sony is laughing cause they are making money on all 3 devices. (Sony sensors)

  12. I guess one could call this a comparison “out of the box” or at default settings. No matter which camera you have, it is necessary to know and understand its meetering system to get the shot you want.

    With similar metering and white balance setting, these samples would be closer in looks (colors for sure:-).

    If you only use default settings you end up paying alot for features and technology you don’t use. On the other hand, many buy Leica M9 because they love the default look:-)

    This comment is not written to detract from the fun of these comparisons, but to say it is not to be used for chosing a camera or claim a winner:-)

    • Last picture says it all – use RAW, not JPEG for difficult lighting – that’s why the X100 is ‘blown’ (although it’s not noted if Steve used it’s auto dynamic range setting or not – it is designed to minimise this).

      JPEG’s are essentially ‘finished’ images, with limited shadow or highlight retrieval. Quite why, in the days of cheap memory cards, users still insist on JPEG only shooting is a mystery.

      Like B&W or Colour Print film – RAW allows post-processing. Why anyone wants to ruin great shots by opting for camera defined JPEG only images, God only knows.

      I suspect Steve only used OOC JPEG as ‘pro’ Nex-7 RAW profiles in PS5 or Lightroom etc. have yet to surface ….

  13. The photos look different, but could almost certainly all be made to look similar, and great, in post processing. Makes you wonder a bit. Maybe most digital cameras can make great pictures, particularly with normal light. Next time, for extra fun, just number the photos and ask people to guess which came from which camera, and to rate them, say 1 to 5 as to which they like best. Give the answers and tabulate the results a few days later. I have a M8, SLT A55, NEX 3, iPhone4, and a NEX 7 on order, I like each of them for different reasons, (the iPhone makes the best phone calls by far) but the pictures can all be made to look about the same, particularly if you don’t feel compelled to pixel peep. I love photography and the equipment and have for decades. I’m 74, a retired Urologist.

  14. Ahh, how I love my M8 after looking at all of this. I am interested in the NEX 7 but something tells me the M8 will kill it and many other cameras at ISO 640 and under. I am amazed at what I can pull out of M8 raw files in terms of sharpness, highlight and shadow detail. The X100 seems great too but not having a lens mount to take other lenses is the bummer for me. One ray of hope: Fuji is making a new camera with a lens mount and will probably be APS H the same as the M8. My bet is the sensor that will come with the Fuji in 2012 will work much better with Leica mount lenses, maybe better than the M9!

    • Ed I agree! I was really hoping the NEX-7 would be a great addition to my m9 to give me basically extra reach with my leica lenses (crop factor effective focal length multiplier). For now I agree I would just hold on to your m8 and see how it all plays out. I was really hoping for better things from this NEX-7!!

  15. I know how to use exposure compensation so a little under or over exposure doesn’t bother me. Especially when it is consistent and predictable. Find a camera that you are comfortable and content with – then take the time to master it.

      • Electronics aren’t perfect and something like photography is highly subjective. I personally feel that most the X100 shots in this article are overexposed and the NEX 7 are underexposed. Others will draw their own conclusions.

        Either camera is no doubt capable of producing consistent and stunning results in the hands of a capable user. It is just a matter of becoming familiar with one’s tools.

  16. The most apparent difference to me seems to be the White Balance settings. However, someone else shooting these same photos with these same cameras and lenses might compile a totally different set of images. Not sure what value these kinds of evaluations have and how a potential purchaser of any of these cameras can use these images to make a purchase decision. However, its always worthwhile to see Steve’s work. His photography skills are outstanding and one can always assume that his photos are valuable examples to consider. Thanks Steve.

    • For those that don’t want to bother with constant manual intervention, comparisons like this show whether a camera can produce great looking images straight off the bat. And in this regard the iPhone 4s is far more capable than the NEX7.

      • people who seriously consider comparison like these i. e. between camera phone and cameras like nex 7 or fuji x100 should just by camera phone and save money (well relativelly speaking)

        • You miss the point. If a phone can product a great looking image all on it’s own, then why can’t a dedicated, cutting edge camera like the NEX7?

          • The thing is, what general consumers want from the photos is well known variable-they want bright, contrasty pictures with punchy colours and usually oversharpened a bit and this is how processing in point and shoot and phone cameras is set up as manufactures know that those consumers don’t want to bother with any post-processing and just want colourful snaps of their vacations etc which is perfectly understandable.

            What professionals and enthusiasts want from their cameras is a different thing, for professionals it depends on their employers demand and on a personal aesthetics to an extent and for enthusiast it depends almost entirelly on their own aesthetics. So the emphasis is mainly on raw photos that you can tweak after as much as you want and jpegs are secondary and it is preferable that they are neutral-you can always add just s curve to the nex 7 image and get image you want in 5 seconds but it is much more dificilut to back up on contrast if it already there. Also those people tend to know how to use exposure compensation as well.

            So as I said different approaches for different target audience. If you are at all interested in nex 7 have a look at the preview on luminous landscapes as from the snapshots above you can’t tell a thing.

          • Why would you even be looking at a camera with manual controls if all you want is to point and shoot and be done with it?! To me the NEX-7 pictures here give me a lot more room to work with, things like the blue/green tint in the X100 that makes the greens pop and the overexposure in the highlights are things I would be doing in postprocessing or in camera tweaking. I definitely wouldn’t want all my images to have this look, and that is why the more natural look in the NEX-7 for me as a pro camera wins here. If you like they way the X100 processes pictures and you don’t want to to tweak or do postprocessing then by all means go for the X100.

  17. Thank you for interesting comparison Steve.

    Usually I love colors from x100, and don’t like samples from nex7, but here is a bit different.
    The samples from nex7 are defnintely underexposed, but if you add some light, they seem to be more contrasty and toned (at last on my monitor). The color is brownish a bit (looks like typical extra magenta from sony?), but I actually like it, and especially those sample from nex7 with a branch – the sky is blue (not greenish as in the case of x100), and the whole seems to be more contrasty.

    Just my opinion.

    • That could be due to the Zeiss lens. I know, at least for their ZM rangefinder lenses, that they tend to have a strong contrast, which is sometimes mentioned as a negative, especially for black & white.

  18. More to the point, how do the Fuji X100, Sony NEX-7 and iPhone 4s compare as, er, phones? I think we should be told.

    Thank you.

  19. you all are forgetting that X100 has this automatic dynamic range. So the overexposed above is basically the camera try to balance the shadows and highlights automatically, which I think it did it perfectly

  20. Thanks Steve for all the work!
    I was just wondering if you could compare a few shoots between your Olympus E-P3 and the NEX7. This seems to be a battle ground and I’m just wondering about the differences, since I own a E-P3.

  21. As always lucky Apple. Their iPhone always enjoys lot of free promotion as it’s the first best. At least that’s the perspective people get when they see lot of famous photography sites and blogs start talking about only iPhone cameras. But you have to do some crazy comparison between 4s, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, Nokia N9, and Samsung GSII. Outdoor all four will be close for outdoor pictures with maybe N9 enjoying some advantage but indoors, Arc is going to do better than 4s and the phone is 7 months old complered to 4s.

    Some pictures I took with Xperia Arc http://www.flickr.com/photos/kitsva/sets/72157627698411163/ . I love having always available and dependable camera phone. I almost use it at least once daily.

  22. As I see the images right from the X100, I have to say that I am astonished again how the X100 produces such a clean & pure colours!!!! Still all the credits go to Fujifilm. I have pre-ordered the X10 for daily P&S use, I hope this little guy will give me the same quality or something in that direction.

    • For me the X100 exaggerates on the colors, it adds a blue tint making the greens pop out more than anything else, and it overexposes the highlights. The thing is this are the kind of stuff you’d be doing in postprocessing, so if you don’t want to do postprocessing and like the way the X100 processes the photos to begin with then that’s fine I guess, to me the NEX-7 gives me more room to work with. The reason most people are dissing the NEX-7 here is simply because the images are underexposed and look dull compared to the other two, which can easily be fixed in camera or in postprocessing if you wanted to do that. It shows just how many of you are just looking at quick P&S type of photography than something more pro.

      • I don’t think a professional photographer will choose one of these camera’s, they all rather go for FX or larger. So for me these camera’s still haven’t reached the pro status. By the way you can turn off the vivid colour set-up of the X100 and under expose it too. It’s all about how the photographer wants his picture, not the camera.
        What I have learned at the academy is that a Pro doesn’t need postprocessing, he knows his equipments and just need a external light meter. That’s all! Yeah, the basic of photography.

        • I said “something more pro” nor a solid pro, this camera is notch above your average mirrorless camera. And I’m pretty sure there are professionals out there who from time to time like to take something lighter and smaller with them, this would be it.

          • No doubt about it. It’s the latest Sony 24 megapixels sensor plus the oppertunity to use some Leica & Carl Zeiss lenses, it seems like an amazing combo. The expectation level is very high, I hope it will not disappoint the Pro’s. I think the lenses are a bit too large for this system, but this is pure personally. The Nex 7 still has a long way to go. Next year Fujifilm will launch a new type of sensor systemcamera’s and Canon will asap anounce theirs. The X100 has already received 4 awards in its class. I think next year will be a very interesting year for the consumers. I’m only interested in the Nikon D800.

        • As for the postprocessing part, I said that you can also do this from the camera as well, if that makes you feel less of a hack than if you did postprocessing. I don’t think I know a profesional photographer that doesn’t use postprocessing btw.

          • I know there are still a lots of professional photographers use filmcamera’s for their jobs without photoshopping. They do exist, OK.

          • Alvino,

            Name one.

            With the possible exception of a couple of street photographers, there is no one working professionally that I have ever heard of that doesn’t post process.

            I actually don’t think they do exist.

        • In fact I read a q&a for one of National Geographic’s photographers and 20 veteran and he said that he shoots all his images with postprocessing in mind.

          • For me photography is pure studying and practising “the art of seeing” on a place at that moment. This has totally nothing to do with postprocessing. Why should I change or manupulate an image that reflect the moment of reality. I know it’s an easy way to perfect the image. But wasn’t the essence of photography to be a better photo shooter???

          • Alvino,

            I assume that you do all of your shooting at F32. Limiting DOF would certainly change reality. I suppose you only shoot at 50mm so as to not distort anything with a changed FOV. I assume your shutter speed is always set so as exactly get the correct exposure, since under or over exposing would certainly change reality.

            This doesn’t even get into the issue of what you do when you select a composition. If you exaggerate or emphasize something in an image, you aren’t strictly reporting reality.

            Face it, almost every shot does something to change reality. Why is changing reality in-camera ok, but changing it after the fact is not?

  23. Which one of the camera’s nailed the ‘in your eyes’ REAL colour best ?
    It would be interesting to know for the foto’s of the house, shadow in the path and curbestone with leave/twines, because in my eyes, the Iphone simply switched to another colourscheme with the curbestonepicture (if it’s the second one).
    To my eye, Iphone goes more red’isch except for the curbestone picture, where bleu’s are more visible (in the curbestone at least).
    Hit and miss?

    Might that also be a problem with all other phonecamera’s (and P&S) the incorrect white balance?


  24. coming from a film perspective i am not used to having to go to post processing to get a decent image. “but you can pull the shadows in lightroom” is not a solution. It needs to be correct OOC (with the correct metering and exp comp). I have still yet to see a manipulated digital image that is CGI free. Without manipulation digital images look superb but usually the scene must not have high contrast. If the only way to shoot the NEX7 is with manipulation then it is out for me. I suspect though with different metering and exp comp the OOC for the NEX 7 will be better.

  25. This is pretty funny, X100 fans and owners saying NEX-7 is bad compared to X100 and iPhone 4S whose sensor are made by Sony? Not very surprising if you ask me. I’ve gone through all pictures like 20 times and i still pick NEX-7.

    First set of pictures, X100 and iPhone 4S look washed compared to NEX-7. X100 and iPhone make the color of the sky look green in some areas but there are more detail in the X100 and NEX 7 is underexposed.

    Second set of pictures, X100 and iPhone look grainy in the shadow areas while NEX-7 has less grain. iPhone looks washed, X100 looks sharper than NEX7 but has a green tint.

    I can keep going on but my point is you lots are looking at these pictures with fanboy glasses and these are JPEGS, you can shoot with a Nikon or Canon DSLR in JPEG and it wont look any different from shooting with a cell phone or a Point and Shoot. The reason why they are called pro camera’s are not because of they can shoot JPEGS.

    • Who cares if Sony makes the sensor. Nikon cranks out better pictures despite using Sony made sensors in the D7000 and D3X. Olympus outputs fantastic JPEGs over Panasonic’s Lumix line despite using the same 12mp MOS sensor. What matters is image processing. I’ve used all NEX cameras extensively and honestly their image processing is still rather bland.

      • I’ve not used any of the NEXs but some of my friends do and they prefer the NEXs to any other cameras in same category. From what i’ve seen i have to concur, they produce accurate colors with less grain and while sometimes are underexposed, they protect shadow detail and highlights which can be pulled out in post whereas some of the competition blow highlights and end up looking washed like those of the X100 and iPhone 4S with more grain.

    • Sony makes the sensors – the processing algorithms (the bit that makes the picture) are – usually – manufacturer in-house designs. Nikon’s are different to Pentax (another Sony user) as are Fuji’s, or Apple ….. or anyone else who use Sony’s sensors!

      Sony are well known for their lack of processing finesse. As in ‘over-done’ …..

      I don’t think your ‘… can shoot with a Nikon or Canon DSLR in JPEG and it wont look any different from shooting with a cell phone or a Point and Shoot …’ argument bears any scrutiny if you think a Sony sensor is comparable to any other Sony sensor, regardless of size, lens, or associated hardware/software processing chain.

      According to you, unless you shoot RAW, we are all wasting money on ‘pro’ gear – because cheapo point ‘n shoots do exactly the same job – despite the fact that most can’t do RAW – only JPEG ….. Huh?

      • So what you got from my comment was “we are all wasting money on ‘pro’ gear – because cheapo point ‘n shoots do exactly the same job – despite the fact that most can’t do RAW – only JPEG ….. Huh”

        Pro cameras are not pro cameras because they can shoot JPEGS, it is because they can shoot Raw and their versatility. You can customize them to your hearts content to get what look you want whereas with Point and Shoots, what you see is what you get half of the time.

        And yes shooting in JPEG with any pro camera would most like yield pictures on par with those shot using point and shoots. You lots have some preconceived idea in your head about Sony hence all the “i prefer the X100 to NEX 7” total BS, I dont own any Sony cameras but i quite prefer the pictures produced by the NEX 7 to those of X100 and iPhone 4S. Even further, i prefer the pictures produced by Nokia N8 to those produced by the iPhone 4S since i own both devices.

        Get your head outa your ass man, NEX 7 is the first camera to come out in the past 3 to 4 years that has peaked my interest a little but i’m waiting to see what the competition has to offer.

        NEX5N has the highest scores in every review of any camera in its category and more than likely uses same algorithm as NEX7 but oh no Sony is known for “their lack of processing finesse” they have some of the best low-light cameras with accurate color reproductions that rival film cameras. I suggest you go watch the great camera shootout done by scientists and professional cinematographers.

        • That you say “I dont own any Sony cameras” says it all. I do – Nex 3 + DSC R1 (with Zeiss lens) plus Sony sensored items like the X100. I’ve also owned numerous Nikon’s – all Sony sensors – not to mention Canon sensored items – the ‘other side of the coin’ as it were in the mainstream sensor world.

          I can tell you now, in my real life use, the X100 creams Sony in processed JPEG (that’s what everyone is talking about here – NOT comparing JPEG to RAW performance) or the relevance of sensors – most know the sensor technology in both comes from the same company. If the X100 and Nex-7 had used RAW, everyone would have said ‘unfair on the iPhone’. That the iPhone can compete at all in this comparison is in the use of low ISO, well lit image choices – like most P&S cameras, it’s low light performance is poor.

          I suggest you buy and actually USE the cameras you discuss (like most of the respondents here do) before you call people idiots.

          P.S. For the same reason, stop reading sites that give ‘scores’ to equipment – half the stuff they print makes no sense in use – get out and shoot real life images with the cameras you choose to discuss!

    • You surely never owned a Nikon DSLR when you can say that jpegs looks the same as a cell phone or a Point and Shoot. Nikons jpeg engines produces extremely good results and the output is light years ahead of any cell phone or P&S. Even high end APS-C cameras shooting raw are easily surpassed in IQ by high end Nikon or Canon full frame DSLRs shooting jpeg.

  26. Oh dear, the overpriced NEX-7 bombs a bit there (Has this thing been just a bit too over hyped so far I wonder?). X100 the clear winner but the ifone does just great for what it is.

    Think I’ll just stick with my almost 6 year old out of date M8 which I easily prefer over all of these though and won’t cause me to waste any money and disappointment in buying a newer, inferior product. Why even consider changing I ask?

    • sorry, could you clarify in wht way exactly is nex 7 overpriced when it can be had with zeiss 24mm 1.8 for the same money as 6 year m8 and body only. Talking about having an open mind-there are a few snapshots here that really don’t tell a thing and those are jpegs so no raw so it would help me and I guess others if you can explain how you arrived at that conclusion.

      Actually those snapshots tell us that nex 7, if you don’t use exposure compensation will give you slightly darker exposures than x100, invaluable

      • If an iPhone can produce great looking images that are exposed correctly with superb colours in camera (phone), why can’t the cutting edge NEX 7? Who wants to bother with exposure compensation and manual white balance adjustments?

        • Well, person interested in photography wants to “bother” with things you mentioned as in this way he/she can produce images that suits his taste. Lot of people don’t want to do that but that’s the reason why they are sticking with point and shoot cameras or camera phones and the reason why they shouldn’t splash so much many for high end cameras when they are just not going to use their potential, if you don’t want to “bother” wth setting white balance and dialing in exsposure compensation or heaven forbids switching to spot metering then I presume you are not big on photoshop either

  27. Yeah, I have the iPhone 4 and have been unimpressed with the photo quality so I got the X100 which I endeavour to keep in my work bag unless I have too much other crap.
    I’m a rail enthusiast and I often ride the trains and trams after work and the X100 hits the spot.

  28. Well, I hate to say this, but the NEX 7 images aren’t that impressive. In several of them, the X100 and iPhone shots looked sharper. And even accounting for exposure differences, the NEX seems to have a tendency to really block up the shadows. Badly. Even if, as some noted, you can pull a lot of detail out of the NEX shadows, the camera seems to be consistently forcing you to do this, which just adds work to the workflow. I so want to like the NEX 7, and had been considering getting one, but these shots give me pause.

  29. The X100 has to be set to -0.7EV, and exposure is perfectly fine. Overall, I’m still more impressed by the Fuji than the Sony. Waiting for the new Fuji interchangeable lens system and enjoying X100 and EP3 until then looks like the right decision at this point in time. Will be interesting to see RAW comparisons.

  30. Persiyan. That doesn’t mean anything.

    They metering was so different between shots its not what any photographer would do. I understand why Steve posted this and did what he did but in the real world histograms and exposure compensation exist for a reason.

    There’s a ton of latitude in the shadows of a properly exposed x100 image. More than a. 5d2 that’s for sure!

  31. Interesting comparison. Here is my own little flick project for the Iphone. Most of these were not only shot with the 3GS (not much of a camera in there but also modified with it. Some had pretty dramatic tweeking…they are not great, just great fun…

    For the NEXvs the X100, each camera can be over or under exposed a tad, depending on what you need. The last pict, everything is blown up with the X-100 but this could be brought down in PP and you could be surprised with the amount of deatail you will get.

    The X100 would be a great camera if it had an exchangeable lens. On the NEX 7 I will shoot mainly the 24mm and my cron 35, the Nocton 1.1 will come out for fun once in a while and the Biogon 21 will see action when traveling in Europe where the streets are narrow and you want to shoot wider (becomes a 32 so not much wider than the Zeiss 24.

    But for VDO, I will buy an 18-200, I do kitesurfing and shooting video is fun when your done or when the conditions are good for the others and not you…. with 18-200, 28-300, I will get nice footage of what is happening on the water from the dry land…


  32. Steve

    My x100 is in the shop for the past several weeks due to stuck aperture blade. Apparently it’s something that a lot of x100 suffers and many been recalled. It’s started off to give me over exposed photo whatever aperture I used. Works fine at aperture 2 but over exposed on the rest.

  33. when I shoot X100 jpeg, I usually set the exposure compensation to -1/3 or -1/2, that exposure will be perfectly fine.

  34. for mobile phone camera…N8 is the one to beat. It has the biggest sensor among mobile phones. But all the mobile phones does badly in even moderately lowlight, this is where sensor size matters so much so that a $200-300 compact will still beat iphone 4s.
    I doubt 4s image could trump the current N9, that having the widest aperture 2.2 (although n8 is still the champion in phone camera)

    • totally agree on the low light issue with all smart phone cam. the advantage on the phone cam is take everywhere, the major disadvantage is not only the low light capability, but also the usability, the shutter lag and controls, i would prefer something like a rich grd for a take everywhere camera, but some ppl may not want to take a dedicated camera all the time.

  35. Just read that the new iPhone 4S is using a Sony sensor. Pretty impressive for a carry everywhere in your pocket camera.

    • Hi Chad,

      Looking at Steve’s photos I come to a conclusion that the new iPhone camera would do just fine in most cases people use cameras for nowadays. I mean casual snapshots, of course. Don’t expect your iPhone pics hanging on gallery walls (although, you never know…)

      I never owned an iPhone. Survived 4.5 generations without it. Two main reasons: it’s too mainstream to my taste and the camera was always so-so. Now, although it gets even more disgustingly gross in the former turn-off category, I see a considerable improvement in the latter. It looks like an attractive device to me for the first time. I always carry my (cheap, featureless) phone with me anyway and I never live home without a camera and an electronic book reader. That’s three devices to carry everywhere. Now I start thinking: what if I could just have one instead. Not that I would live my Leica back home that easily but at least I’d have an option of going out light when I want to.

      I don’t know, Steve… You may have just sold an iPhone.

      Chad, I still use my wife’s X100 from time to time and I am still loving it every time I do. Such a great little marvel of a camera. I prefer my M9 anytime (as it is a much better camera and suits my style of photography just perfectly) but you can’t eat the same brand of ice-cream every day, sometimes you try another brand, so that you could go back to your favorite one afresh.


  36. i actually checked this to see the x100 vs. nex 7 comparison. I prefer x100. As for iPhone, my iPhone 4 contract expires next year, so I’ll wait for iPhone 6 or whatever it’s called. I can guarantee that it will have comparable or better camera than 4S :p lol

    • It seems overexposed, you can bring more detail in the shadows from the NEX-7 without overexposing the highlights, bring out that same detail in the X100 will virtually make the highlights white space. The color is a different story, although I find that in some instances the X100 has too much of a blue hue compared to the red hue in the NEX-7.

  37. The NEX-7 look underexposed on all those shots. Given how well the newer Sony sensors preserve shadow detail I’m not too worried but that could mean more post processing on every image.

    With the exposure taken into account I don’t think the NEX-7’s colors are any more muted. To me the most interesting difference is white balance. I believe that’s a lot of the reason for the color differences.

  38. all good fun!!! but i did notice that the NEX 7 colors always seem a little bit …MUTED? Flat? could be the word? i know you’ve seen more shots from the 7. is this always the case with the Sony Steve? the X100 blows the highlights a little bit. but i learned to go around it by over exposing half stop in bright out doors. can’t get enough of the wonderful color of the X100.

    • I would say that’s a plus, since you can bring out the details in the shadows out without overexposing the highlights in postprocessing. I took two of the samples here and was able to bring out more detail in the shadows from the NEX-7 than the unedited X100 photo, without overexposing the highlights. Trying to bring the same level of detail in shadows from the X100 caused way too overexposed highlights, to the point that they are just going completely white.

      • yea. well that makes more sense from a manufacturer point of view, where the image would be created in the most neutral way so the photog can taylor it to their likings. now that i think about it it actually makes more sense. thanks for the comment. i’m actually liking the 7 more because of that.

  39. I would not swap X100 (If I had one) for the new iPhone, but If I got this new toy from Apple (which I, sadly, won’t) it would take over large part of the photography I got the Ricoh GRDIII for. No, it is not better, but would be good enough very often … (I would not believe I would ever say this 2 years ago)

    How ever – these kind of iPhone versus cameras comparisons seem to emerge recently and it would be fair to see other high end phones to be compared too – I believe the iPhone is not the only game in the town.

    Still – my hat if off to Apple for the picture quality.

    • Almost all cameras can be used with ok output if the light is good. But overall the iPhone camera cannot be compared to the IQ of even a cheap point and shoot.

  40. A bit worried about how the shadows were lost by the Sony there. Steve, how were you metering these? #SonyNEX7Mbackup

    • I would be more worried about the X100 blowing the highlights than the Sony blocking the shadows – the newer Sony Sensors have very low shadow noise allowing a greater dynamic range.

      Besides, metering isn’t up to the camera, especially with the excellent accessibility to exposure compensation these days – make your own metering decisions and enjoy the results.

      Iphone 4S looks great at Websize!

    • I took both photos in LightRoom, increasing the NEX-7’s exposure brought out a lot of detail in the shadows, more detail than the unedited X100, and yet still less overexposed highlights than the X100. On the other hand trying to bring that detail in the shadows from the NEX-7 to the X100’s photo way overexposed the already overexposed highlights.

    • I don’t agree with that shadow noise part. Its what made me decide to forgo the A77 and simply get the A900.

  41. Interesting comparison.

    Its not just about the quality its about the camera you have with you at the time. Yes we’d all like to have our very best kit around our necks every second of every day but we don’t. Sad as it may seem I do have my iPhone with me under the above circumstances and some of my best images have been captured with it.

    Do I wish I’d had my Nikon with me – yes and no.

    Yes, because I could have had complete control over the image and I could have frame the results.

    No, because I’m not convinced I’m at my most creative when I’m behind a ‘proper’ viewfinder. There is something about the ‘press it and see’ style you get with a basic camera that, certainly in my case, produces an image with less constraints.

    I’m not saying a mobile phone is a replacement for our main kit but I do feel with the apps available it can become a part of our photographic style. For me personally the iPhone and in particular Instagram has changed the way I take pictures. I ‘snap’ more these days, at random things, knowing it isn’t a serious photograph but in the knowledge that I will run it through some apps, post it and it and hopefully get a positive comment.

    If someone else likes it then isn’t that good enough?

  42. x100 is the winner for me …color, rendition, film like look … the best of the 3
    but the best camera is the camera always in your pocket 😀

        • Nothing like shooting digital to get the “film” look 🙂 Funny how some people naturally tend to settle for less when they can have the real thing. Oh yeah..I forgot…that takes more work.

          • Max, some people just have to settle for digital film emulation. Like I, for instance, much as I would love shooting only film, I can’t do it due to ethical reasons.

            I am sure you’re aware of this but some people might not know that all film (as well as photographic paper) is coated with gelatin, which is derived from animal bones. So, with every picture you shoot or print you’re creating demand for killing more animals. Of course, if you are not vegetarian or not into those ideas this wouldn’t mean much to you but I am and it means a lot to me. I don’t want to make art (in the best case scenario) at the cost of someone’s life.

            I love the look of film photography. I think digital is just not there (yet?). But I am forced to use digital and print only on gelatin-free inkjet paper. So, in my case, I am trying my best to create a film-like look in some of my pictures just because there’s no other choice.

            By the way, Max, I like your work very much.


          • Greg,

            Just so you know, if you want, you can take pretty much all the film pictures you want without an animal being killed. People eat so much meat that all other uses of the cows (ie leather, gelatin, etc) are byproducts of the killing of the animal for food.


          • Michael, I am aware of that. The thing is, though, I don’t want to touch even the by-products of what I consider grossly unethical. Any use of such products would be taking advantage of the killing, meaning that I appreciate the killing in some way, for without it having happened I wouldn’t get access to those films, shoes or whatever else.

            Just to give you a (rather gross) example: in Nazi Germany there were some leather products made of human skin. Those people weren’t killed for their skin, they were killed for being Jews. So, in a way, their skin was a by-product, which was used for making fancy leather items and then sold on the market. Can you imagine anyone in their right mind buying and using such items? In my book the same logic goes with animal slaughter and all related industries.

            Again, sorry for such a gruesome example.


      • Sometimes you want salmon steaks with sauce and all the trimming – but sometimes tuna salad sandwiches with a sprinkle of fresh lemon are just as tasty.

        I love film and the results you can get, but I don’t miss the grainy mess that high ISO brings – nor the missed/ruined shots that sub-100 ISO ‘quality’ often demanded.

        As I’ve commented on other Huff posts, digital ‘film quality’ is a very subjective term. Give me variable speed ISO 1600 rated film stock, but with near ISO 100 quality/results on every frame and I’ll dump my X100 and go back to my Contax and Zeiss film equipment.

        Until then, I’ll go with the tuna sandwich brigade (that’s tuna on rye, to go)

  43. It just goes to show you that if you only plan to post resized images on a web gallery then the iPhone is a perfectly good camera.

    • To the extent that that is true, its only true in good light. In low light, the iPhone camera (well, the iPhone 4 camera, I haven’t gotten my 4s yet), is pretty useless. Either the shutter speed is too long, or the noise is pretty overwhelming. Usually both.

      For good light shooting, the iPhone is pretty handy.

  44. I’d have to vote for the colour signature of the X100. Rather surprised that the X100 blows out the highlights so much and that the Nex7 loses the shadows. Do you think its a problem with their JPEG engines Steve or is down to their sensors?

    • Darell:

      This really isn’t a “problem”. The two cameras meter differently. If you use one, you’ll learn how it meters and adapt.

  45. That’s crazy, at base size some of those iPhone 4s shots look better than either the X100 or NEX7

      • The N8 does take some nice pictures. Too bad the whole line of N phones were end-of-lifed before the n8 was even released.

        If you are only buying the N8 for the camera, you might as well buy a dedicated camera.

      • Lol are you kidding Endgaget did a camera comparison which the major smartphones and the iPhone 4S produced better pictures each time even though the N8 could offer more detail in places many images were left underexposed or blurred and noisy in some when zoomed in.

    • Agreed, that’s extremely impressive for a phone. I hadn’t really paid much attention to what was new in the 4S since my 4 is still in good shape.

      Equally impressive is how dedicated the X100 users and/or fans seem to be. I spent a couple of weeks with one and could never get (even vaguely) comfortable with the controls, so I sold it. Given the fervor its owners show, maybe I made a mistake.

  46. Hi Steve
    Thanks for keeping these coming.
    Underexposure seems to be standard on Sony cameras. I permanently set + 2/3 stop on my A900. It would great to see exposures equalised on some of the image comparisons.
    Overall I also prefer the X100’s JPG colour renderings to the NEX-7’s, and its sharpening too – the NEX-7 sharpening looks coarse and heavy by comparison to the fine pixels of the Fuji.
    But I’m in the market for the NEX-7, not the X100! I hope raw processing tells another story.

    • In other words the NEX underexposes, has inferior JPG colors and improper sharpness. Of course you should spend $ 2000 on a NEX: it stands for Notgoodsharpening Exposure set wrong and Xtra bad JPG color renderings.

    • > Underexposure seems to be standard on Sony cameras.

      Better than blown highlights.
      My 5N doesnt overexpose anyway I think.

      > hope raw processing tells another story.

      Sure it does. You dont have to hope. Thats what RAW is for and everyone knows it.

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