Bob Nuttmann

Photos – Sony A7iii vs iPhone XS Max vs Kodak Ektar vs Sony HX99

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The top shot was Kodak Ektar and this one iPhone XS Max.  Taken at the same spot one day apart.  

Both of these photos are basically as taken.  I used Apple Photos to edit the iPhone shot and Lightroom Classic for the Ektar one.  But other than hitting auto on the iPhone shot that was about it.  I can tell you that both look better in full resolution and on a high quality monitor.  If you want full size copies let me know in the comments.  I am undecided which I like better.  And my wife was the same.



iPhone is the top one.  The bottom one was the Sony A7iii with 55mm f1.8 Zeiss lens.  If you pixel peep with the full size file on a good monitor you can see just a bit more detail in the Sony shot.  The iPhone one is warmer.




The three shots above are not the same perspective, but the closest ones from my files.  The top one is Ektar, middle is Sony HX99 pocket camera, bottom iPhone.  I much prefer the top shot, but a lot of that comes from the light when taken.  Of the two lower ones I like the Sony color better than the warmer iPhone.

All the Ektar film shots are taken with a 1980 Olympus OM2n and 28mm f2.8 lens.  The developing and scans were done by North Coast Photographic in Carlsbad CA.



I much prefer the Ektar shot at the bottom.



Again I much prefer the Ektar shot at the top.



This is to show how advanced the iPhone exposure can be.  The top shot is with the iPhone.  It did this automatically with a bit of editing.  The bottom shot is with the Sony A7iii.  I shot this in raw and tried to do as best as I could but just went with the iPhone when I saw how much better the exposure was.  iPhone was 28mm and Sony was 55mm lenses.


All three of these are film shots.


And all three of these are iPhone XS Max shots.  I suppose I prefer the iPhone shots ever so slightly.  I love the colors in all of these.  The iPhone shots I knew immediately that they were iconic beach shots in mid coast California.  I did not edit them at all except I think I had to level the horizon a bit.


The Sony A7iii did a very good job too and these are some of the shots I liked the best.  The Sony A7iii was the best in low light when using the f1.8 lens.  It gave the sharpest results and best video.  The exception was when you needed a longer lens.  The Sony HX99 gave the best seals on the beach video.  But the A7iii had the best quality image video.  You could tell when waves broke that the Sony A7iii was doing the best render job.

I did not get the film developed until two months after the trip.  I was happy with the digital shots and so was not in a hurry.  When I got them back a few weeks ago they just put a smile on my face.  Film still does a great job with outdoor landscape shots.  If you use a good film like Kodak Ektar, a good camera like the Olympus OM2n, and have the film developed and scanned by a high quality lab you will not be disappointed.  To my eye the film shots are not better or worse than the digital, but they do look different.  In this case I loved the sunset colors of Ektar.  In the shots where there were structures there just seemed to be more texture and depth to the film shots vs digital.  I think they can turn somewhat mundane subjects into interesting ones, or at least more interesting than digital.


It is a challenge to use film.  When you find film types you like, stick with them.  When you find cameras that expose correctly, stick with them.  When you find a lab that does a good job, stick with them.  I almost never use film indoors any more.  Too many different types of light sources these days, incandescent, LED, fluorescent, natural.  But for outdoor natural light most film works well.  I especially like Ektar and Ektachrome.  Fujicolor 200 is pretty good too.  And black and white Tmax 100 is a great film as is Tmax.


2 Replies to “Photos – Sony A7iii vs iPhone XS Max vs Kodak Ektar vs Sony HX99”

  1. Just found your site by chance looking for some info on the HX99. I have just gotten into film myself as well as owning a DSLR and it was fun reading the comparison here. Even more as I have also been trying to decide if a compact camera is the right purchase for my partner or if phone cameras fill that function.. Thanks for writing this, it was an interesting read!

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. I used to use an Olympus XA and then an Olympus Stylus Infinity, both pocket compact cameras. I sold both of those on eBay about 3-4 years ago. But from about 1982-2000 I shot many many rolls of film through them. If I were buying a compact film camera again I am not sure which one of those I would re buy. The Olympus XA has a slightly better lens and is mostly manual. Manual focus but with A setting so you can set the aperture and it will set the speed. The flash is separate but very compact. The Stylus is fully automatic with auto focus, auto built in flash, auto film load, auto film advance and rewind. Both give good results.

      I sold them for three reasons. 1. I prefer a walk around 50mm lens to the 28 or 35 those compacts came with. And the compact camera zoom lenses of those days were not very good. 2. I had/have a very nice Olympus OM2n SLR with several lenses that is will not fit in your pocket but is not big. And I also have a Minolta and Voightlander SLRs with a bunch of lenses. 3. Back before 2000 film and developing was cheap and pretty good. So you could shoot lots of exposures and some would be good enough. Today film + developing costs quite a bit and I get more consistent results using higher end SLRs.

      Every year for the last 4-5 I buy a new iPhone. Before that I got a high end Android with a good camera. I currently have an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. It takes excellent photos and video. However, after spending lots of thousands of dollars with both Nikon and Sony in my opinion cell phone cameras do not replace regular cameras, but in many circumstances they are good enough or have some special features that work really really well. Like the newer iPhones low light ability or the iPhones ability to take 10 shots and then blend exposures. But iPhones do not fit in your had the way regular cameras do and iPhones (or other cell phones) do not have look through viewfinders like DSLRs or compacts like the Sony HX99 or HX80. And you cannot easily put filters on cell phones. Even $1,200 iPhones have cameras that flare in full sun. A big problem with my latest iPhone. So here is the bad news (or good if you are well off and like to buy cameras) a bunch of cameras helps you get good photos and video. Latterly I have been shooting more video after a lifetime of mostly taking still shots.

      Film is in my opinion a different art form than digital as the results are different from digital. I still have 5 SLR sets of bodies and lenses. I love the results I get sometimes. The colors and look is not the same as digital and in many cases is better or more pleasing. However, everything depends of using a good lab if you are not developing yourself. I recently took my 9 year old and 11 year old grand daughters out and the three of us all had identical Minolta SLR cameras with similar lenses. These are full auto film SLRS. We all shot one roll. The lab muffed all three rolls and the results were poor. But I have found that when you use a good lab many many times you get some absolutely wonderful results you just could not get with digital.

      BTW – I really liked the Sony HX99. I used to have it in my pocket and paired it with a cell phone. The compact Sony is a great hiking camera with a long lens and good stabilization. It also has very good focus. I gave mine to my daughter and I keep thinking of buying another one.

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