iPhone 7 vs. 8 RAW Comparison

Started Sep 24, 2017 | Discussions thread
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Ketan G Regular Member • Posts: 348
iPhone 7 vs. 8 RAW Comparison
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Hi everyone,

Here is a quick and admittedly imperfect comparison between RAWs from the iPhone 7 Plus' wide angle camera and the iPhone 8 camera. In short, I'm not seeing a significant difference between the two for noise or dynamic range in at either base ISO or higher ISO.

For both of these comparison shots I used the Lightroom Mobile app to take DNG files which I then put into ACR. Here are the notes/caveats:

  • The lowest selectable ISO in LRM app is ISO 25, though if you leave it in auto in good light it can go down to ISO 20, at least on my 7 Plus. To keep things somewhat equal, I chose the same ISO and shutter speed, even though it prevented use of ISO 20.
  • I didn't check to ensure the same point of focus. As such, you can't compare sharpness with these images, only noise and dynamic range.
  • For the ISO 25 shot I brought back highlights -100 and boosted shadows +100. For the ISO 400 shot I brought back highlights -50, boosted shadows 50, and boosted exposure 1EV. I tried to match white balance on each using the dropper tool.
  • I zero-ed noise reduction and did not add anything beyond the default ACR sharpening.

Here are the images (open the originals):

ISO 25 Comparison

ISO 400 Comparison

I did an outdoor comparison for dynamic range, but in leaving things to auto the 7 Plus selected ISO 20 and the 8 selected ISO 25. This, and the slightly brighter result for the 7 Plus on the other two comparisons leads me to believe the 7 Plus's ISO ratings may be more sensitive than rated relative to the 8. In the comparison below I selected two parts of the image to cover shadows, midtones, and highlights. I also added sharpening to exacerbate the appearance of the noise.

Outdoor Comparison

My conclusions based on this short test:

  • There is no significant RAW sensor difference between the two. In some cases I see slightly better highlight detail from the 8, but in the same image I see what looks like a brighter exposure from the 7 Plus. At ISO 400 the 8 seems to have slightly lower noise in the darkest shadows, but there is no additional detail.
  • JPEG differences may be more significant and it would be better to evaluate them on those merits.
  • I did a HDR comparison using LRM to see if the "faster" sensor on the 8 would make any difference. It didn't seem to in a good light situation.
  • The EXIF show both at 3.99mm with the 7 Plus at 28mm equivalent and the 8 at 29mm equivalent. If anything, that would suggest the 7 Plus has the larger sensor, but I'm guessing they are the same size and any EXIF difference is within the margin of error.
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