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.


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