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Galaxy Note 4 dominates our blind camera comparison, beats a Canon DSLR and the iPhone 6 Plus

Galaxy Note 4 dominates our blind camera comparison, beats a Canon DSLR and the iPhone 6 Plus

So, which one's better at taking photos – a modern DSLR camera, an iPhone 6 Plus, or a Samsung Galaxy Note 4? That's the question we wanted to answer with our recent blind camera comparison, and you might be surprised by the results we're about to share. Long story short, votes are greatly in favor of Samsung's phablet. The Galaxy Note 4 took first place in five out of six scenes, thus solidifying its name as one of the best cameraphones in existence. As for the camera we threw in the race, a Canon EOS 650D, it lagged quite a bit behind the Note 4 and Apple's finest.

Now, you're probably wondering how a quality DSLR lost to a couple of smartphone cameras. The answer, in our opinion, has a lot to do with what people perceive as a good-looking image. The iPhone, for example, usually produces colors that are warmer than they actually look – colors are somewhat inaccurate, but very eye-pleasing. In the meantime, the Galaxy Note 4 adds a hint of sharpness to its images, thus making details more pronounced. As for the DSLR camera, we had it set to automatic settings while shooting. Its RAW images were exported as JPEG by adding as little processing as possible, which produced faithful, yet not-so-catchy photos. 

So at the end of the day, is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 a better camera than a DSLR? Well, that depends on your priorities and on how you look at these two devices. The latter's RAW images look soft and uninspiring as they are, but can be made to look as good, if not better than the Note's – all it takes is a few minutes of simple editing. The Galaxy Note 4, on the other hand, as well as the iPhone 6 Plus, take care of all the post-processing for you – you get a pleasing picture with as little effort as possible. And we don't even have to mention that they fit in a pocket, unlike a DSLR. 

Are you surprised by the results from our blind camera comparison? Or were you expecting to see a smartphone collecting more votes than a DSLR? Let us know in the comments!

Scene 1 - indoors


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Phonearena polls
sort by
Scene 1: Which photo do you like best?
Canon EOS 650D (Photo A) 35.42% (5919 votes) (5919 votes)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo B) 61.61% (10295 votes) (10295 votes)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo C) 2.96% (495 votes) (495 votes)

16709 votes



Scene 2 - outdoors


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Phonearena polls
sort by
Scene 2: Which photo do you like best?
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo D) 9.13% (1442 votes) (1442 votes)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo E) 2.78% (439 votes) (439 votes)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo F) 88.09% (13911 votes) (13911 votes)

15792 votes



Scene 3 - close-up


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Phonearena polls
sort by
Scene 3: Which photo do you like best?
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo G) 83.94% (13052 votes) (13052 votes)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo H) 13.83% (2150 votes) (2150 votes)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo I) 2.24% (348 votes) (348 votes)

15550 votes



Scene 4 - outdoors


Side-by-side preview

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Phonearena polls
sort by
Scene 4: Which photo do you like best?
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo J) 77% (11597 votes) (11597 votes)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo K) 21.11% (3180 votes) (3180 votes)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo L) 1.89% (284 votes) (284 votes)

15061 votes



Scene 5 - outdoors


Side-by-side preview

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Phonearena polls
sort by
Scene 5: Which photo do you like best?
Canon EOS 650D (Photo M) 1.3% (192 votes) (192 votes)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo N) 6.23% (920 votes) (920 votes)
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo O) 92.48% (13666 votes) (13666 votes)

14778 votes



Scene 6 - night


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Phonearena polls
sort by
Scene 6: Which photo do you like best?
Galaxy Note 4 (Photo P) 57.85% (7928 votes) (7928 votes)
Canon EOS 650D (Photo Q) 31.58% (4328 votes) (4328 votes)
iPhone 6 Plus (Photo R) 10.57% (1448 votes) (1448 votes)

13704 votes

193 Comments
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posted on 17 Feb 2015, 07:06 72

1. ilovephablets (Posts: 45; Member since: 08 Dec 2014)


Samsung all the way

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 07:37 16

28. lalalaman (Posts: 636; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)


Tbh, this was so obvious, this comparison is done by looking at Megapixel of the camera, obviously more will win, plus iPhone had no chance... Canon eos is old compared to note and obviously it had less pixels(dslr pics depend on quality than pixels, pics are good if u have a good lens to attached).... But still I don't understand why canon lost in night pics

Ps,I love note 4, it's the best phone in the market right now

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 07:46 7

35. Kumar123 (unregistered)


This comparison just showed us that you can't take Blind comparison seriously, this is for fan. We had our fun in this comparison now it's time to move on.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 07:54 6

38. Settings (Posts: 2155; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)


Hahaha!
Samsung fans rejoice their battle with just a 3 year old entry-level DSLR.
How about a rematch using Nikon D810 or a Canon EOS 70D?

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 07:58 49

45. tedkord (Posts: 13140; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


No one expects a smartphone camera to best a good DSLR. The point of the article is that the Note 4 clearly beat the iPhone 6 plus (for the third straight time), even in the night photo.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:02 17

49. SamsungEU (Posts: 147; Member since: 29 Dec 2014)


calm down ,your arse must be sore

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:02 5

51. Kumar123 (unregistered)


Even the lastest gen smartphone camera tech is still not there to beat 3 year old entry-level DSLR camera. Like i said this comparison is for fun, nothing else. People with least knowledge with camera knows that. Having said that it's truly is amazing how far smartphone camera tech has come. Looking forward to two lens tech in the future gen smartphone.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:31 1

57. Gulliver (Posts: 49; Member since: 18 Sep 2013)


Bear in mind this DSLR is most probably with junk optic and the result you see. If you have proper optic may be other story.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:39 7

59. Diezparda (Posts: 879; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)


You've taken simply matter way seriously. Can you put any dslr inside your pocket? C'mon even iPhone camera are pretty decent even if it lost in camera comparison. Unless you expecting much for what you paid.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:54 4

64. ingloryon (Posts: 8; Member since: 11 Feb 2015)


People... read the fking article

"The latter's RAW images look soft and uninspiring as they are, but can be made to look as good, if not better than the Note's – all it takes is a few minutes of simple editing."

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 08:57 22

66. maherk (Posts: 4547; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I didn't see you complaining about what DSLR they were using when they did the test, but now when the result came in an absolute favor for the Note 4 you started nagging and complaining??
typical iCryBaby

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 09:23 9

69. GalaxyS5 (banned) (Posts: 430; Member since: 05 Aug 2014)


haha! how about using the crap phone you use. haha!

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 09:56 18

76. doejon (Posts: 401; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)


with the note 4 u dont need any time man this is for normal user
if somebody wants to take photos professionall this person would buy a dslr.. but overall the note 4 is one of the best if not the best camera phone out there

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 09:59 8

77. Macready (Posts: 1364; Member since: 08 Dec 2014)


Proper optics and manual editing, yes. But let's not forget that the majority of DSLR users buy:
A) entry level DSLR's like the one used
B) stick to the kitlens used
C) use out of camera jpegs (even worse than RAW, let alone fully processed RAW)

So in a way, this is a valid comparison to the most common DSLR users out there (in more serious forums often referred to as "hockey moms").

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 10:39 7

85. engineer-1701d (unregistered)


tbh we all thought it was the dslr dont change the point that we all got taken for a happy surprise
if the gs6 is supposed to be better than the note 4 camera then why ever buy a dslr.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 11:36 8

97. Slammer (Posts: 1515; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)


I believe there were three contenders in this comparison and you left out one of them just to slam Samsung? How would the results have changed if the DSLR was removed from the test? Not a damn thing.

The directive is prove that in a pinch, the Galaxy is a formidable back up for those that didn't have their DSLRs handy.

John B

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 11:59 2

99. tntwit (Posts: 45; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)


The typical entry level DSLR user doesn't even know what RAW is, so why use it for this comparison then?

You can shoot RAW + JPEG, so I would like to see the JPEG straight out of the camera.

The whole idea of RAW is so that you can fully process them as you like, so minimally processing as the article states seems to put the Canon at a disadvantage. Also, that is the the 18-55 or 18-135 kit lens that is normally packaged with the Canon. It actually looks like a Tamron 3rd party lens, which are not impressive from my experience.

Also of note, is that DSLR have a larger sensor and a comparatively narrow depth of field if not adjusted. This will make parts of the image soft, which is often desirable, such as portraits where the background is blurred out to emphasize the subject. Depth of field can be adjusted, but the Auto setting generally opens the lens wide which gives shallow depth of field.

Most important, these comparisons continue to focus on static subjects. Put a flash on the DSLR and take photos of subjects that move and the results will be different. Anyone who ever tried to take pictures of their kids indoors with a cell phone would know it doesn't work well unless you ask them to sit as still as possible. I can take pictures indoors of my kids jumping in mid air with DSLR and get sharp images and capture them at the moment that I want. Cell phones are not there yet.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 12:51 2

101. RodStiffington (Posts: 32; Member since: 20 Feb 2014)


Why would you compare a $3000 DSLR (without lens) to a $700 smartphone?

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 12:56 1

102. Niva. (Posts: 431; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


The Tamron lens they used is fine except in extreme zoom cases, it's a good all around lens. If you need that extreme zoom, it will still produce better results than the note 4 would at the same range I assure you.

My problem with this shootout, and I predicted this would happen as soon as I saw the original post, is the weight being placed on the highly zoomed in sections of the photos. Almost every time I found myself voting for the one which had the most zoomed in details and I knew I probably wasn't voting for the DSLR due to the way cameras are reset up on the phone. I am sure in each one of those instances by using manual focus (just that) the DSLR could've bested the note4 in each one of those zommed in sections. Alas they used full automatic for all 3 devices and really, people shouldn't even be judging the details in these shots in this case but look at the photos for the whole.

That dark scene in the last shot, I honestly thought the iPhone actually produced the most realistic overall scene, and I know I voted for the note 4 for the details, and surely the DSLR can stomp either with manual control.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:06 1

107. T-rex (unregistered)


u can't be serious

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:40 12

111. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 12983; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


Are you mad because the results aren't too your liking?

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:50 1

114. datagrab (Posts: 34; Member since: 13 Feb 2015)


What I don't get was why on earth they included a DSLR. I watched the original article last week and thought "dafuq is that doing here?" Should've been, I dunno, Z3 or M9 or whatever flagships present for the moment.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 14:53 6

115. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 12983; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


Why not. Here is why I can answer It easily. Because people think that because something costs more it must be better.

Example?

Pen And Teller did a skit about bottled water. They went to a fancy restaurant and put tap water into different bottles. People looked at the bottle and thought they were drinking what it said, and they even said yes this tastes like blah blah blah. Only to be taken later to the back and see he was filling the bottles with tap water.

People expect that since a DSLR and the iPhone both cost more than the Note 4, they expect everything on them to do better.

Facts in the past, the present and in the future will always show this fact - Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes you don't. It's not better because it costs more, it only costs more when it breaks.

I am not surprised that a DSLR failed. I went to a gathering where the professional photographer took photos with a Canon and I used my Note 4, but with customized settings. I took roughly 25 pictures and when I offload them to my friends computer, he took most of them over the ones the pro took and he gave me money even though I didn't ask for any.

I simply took them at 16MP and I changed the ISO and a few other things. They all came out minty clean, had very good color saturation (no bleeding, no red eye, no washed out colors) and tone. Oh and I also had the HDR on.

Now, The Note 4 isn't going to beat every DSLR obviously, especially with expensive lens. But what it does show is, for a device that cost $700 it can put more expensive devices to shame.

After all, there are cars that don't cost 6 figures, that can get from 0-60 faster than many exotics.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 15:15

119. RodStiffington (Posts: 32; Member since: 20 Feb 2014)


Hi. The Canon EOS 650D retails for about $700, similar to both smartphones in this comparison article. Probabily why PA choose that DSLR.

A Nikon D810 (see #38 above) retails for about $3000. Hence reply #101.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 17:22

126. GalaxyNote4IsBoss2015 (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Feb 2015)


this was a easy win forthe Note 4

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 17:41 1

127. theo14461 (unregistered)


Right! This was a blind comparison. I honestly believed the DSLR would have the most votes. Samsung wins this experiment this time.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 17:53 1

128. Penny (Posts: 1662; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)


No, we all didn't, and this is starting to annoy me. I said it during the original vote and I'll say it again, PhoneArena does not know how to operate a real camera. The dSLR shots were so out of focus in the areas that PA decided to magnify that most readers here mistook it for low quality and lack of sharpness. The only thing PA did right here is correctly judging that their readers know NOTHING about photography.

I am truly annoyed with how poorly PA operates a dSLR, not to mention how tech illiterate PA readers in general are.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 17:59

129. Penny (Posts: 1662; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)


You are absolutely right and I felt the same way during the initial vote. I was rather annoyed knowing that the dSLR was set up for failure because the magnified sections were so far out of focus.

They don't even need to use full manual, just use aperture priority and set it to 8, and use a single center autofocus point on the area you intend to magnify. That's it, and the results would be 10 times better.

Also, 100% agree that the iPhone shot looked best in the night scene.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 19:55 1

156. FriendlyFoe09 (Posts: 82; Member since: 09 Jan 2012)


This is a dumb comparison. Anyone who uses a DSLR and shoots on auto is just a poser. The software on the smartphone camera apps all use some image processing to make the image better to compensate for their tiny lenses and sensors. They program the app to make the image look great on the screens.
DSLRs are designed to shoot images closest to what it sees even on auto. That's why "real" photographers use them, that's why you hear photographers talk about getting the right lighting. That's why they have courses in photography so you can understand light which is essentially what photography is "Capturing light". Photographers wait for the right lighting conditions or they create the conditions. If they are still not happy with it they do some post processing on their computers.

If shot in manual and with a person who knows how to use the camera and with preparation you can get way better results with the DSLR. If you don't use the DSLR properly you can get worse results than a smart phone camera from 3 years ago. But for most people who just want to take pictures this isn't the case so they would be better of with a smartphone camera or a small point in shoot with superb auto settings.

I just laugh at people who hang cameras off their necks with giant lenses and giant flashes when its daytime and they are only taking photos of themselves in front of statues.

posted on 17 Feb 2015, 23:25 2

171. whoami_amiu (Posts: 10; Member since: 22 Aug 2013)


Buddy, no offense intended - I dont see how the depth of field (which is quite blur in the Canon, and a little lesser blur in the i6) can be brought to the same quality of the N4 even after post processing! TBH :-)

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