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Two Cameras At The Museum Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

30 April 2015

Two cameras walked into a museum and the smartphone said to the dSLR, "Is this a joke?"

No joke.

Through May 31, the de Young Museum is hosting Botticelli to Braque, a traveling exhibit from the National Galleries of Scotland.

And photography is permitted.

So we went through the exhibit with a Nikon D300 and a 50mm f.14 prime lens which only focuses manually. A few days later, we went through again with our iPhone 6 Plus with autofocus and image stabilization.

So what happened?


The D300 images are 4320x2868-pixel captures. The Botticelli was taken at f2.0, 1/30 second and ISO 400 while the Domenichino was taken at f4.0, 1/15 second and ISO 800.

The iPhone images are 3264x2448-pixel captures at f2.2, a stabilized 1/15 second and ISO 250.

Only the museum lighting was used, with a light value of 4.9. Quite dim, in plain English.


Sandro Botticelli painted The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child in 1490. It's unusual both for its use of canvas and its depiction of a sleeping infant.

Nikon D300

iPhone 6 Plus

These crops are pretty close, reduced from the full frame captures, which included the frame.


Domenico Zampieri painted The Adoration of the Shepherds around 1606 to 1608.

Nikon D300

iPhone 6 Plus

We were trying to bring home the central scene in the D300 capture but when we went back with the iPhone we got the whole canvas so the crops don't match.


You're seeing sRGB thumbnails of the captures in your browser. But that's sufficient to demonstrate the different color captures.

There's a bit too much red in the iPhone images, so the color is slightly off. Online reproductions vary too much to provide a standard but the D300 images are very close.

We also made prints of both sets of images. The softer D300 images sharpened up at print size and the iPhone images were quite pleasing when seen on their own.

So the dSLR delivered better color and tone while the iPhone captured sharper images.

We did use a WhiBal so we can correct the color on all the images. And we could get sharper images from the dSLR with a stabilized lens.

Good thing the exhibit runs through the end of May.

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