iPhone 11 Pro camera holds its own against $20,000 Leica

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Sawyer Hartman compares iPhone 11 Pro to Leica
The iPhone 11 Pro gave a mind-blowing performance against a Leica.
Screenshot: Sawyer Hartman/YouTube

YouTube is full of photographers comparing their professional kits with the latest iPhone camera.

But a recent test and conclusion by Sawyer Hartman risked sounding blasphemes. Could a $1,300 iPhone 11 Pro outshoot $20,000 worth of some of the best gear produced by the iconic German brand, Leica?

That may depend on who’s looking.

Hartman, who has more than 1.8 million subscribers to his channel, brings in four photographer friends for side-by-side comparisons to guess which photos came from the iPhone and the Leica M10-P.

In some shots, the iPhone’s portrait mode, featuring simulated background blur, was up against the blur created by Leica’s Noctilux 50 mm f/0.95. The f/0.95 is a numerical way of saying the lens is a bokeh beast. For purists, true bokeh, or shallow depth of field, comes from a conventional lens shot wide open on a full-frame camera.

This video lets you join the judging so I won’t spoil it for you. The bokeh comparison is where the trained eye can easily spot the iPhone’s attempt at a natural-looking blur. Leica users will also spot their brand in the colors.

But if anything, the video shows just how fast in one or two generations, the iPhone camera has evolved. The iPhone has nearly wiped out sales of point-and-shoot cameras. DSLR sales continue to decline.

The judges weren’t so sure and even sounded as if they were guessing when they correctly selected the Leica image.

“I’ve always been able to tell the difference,” Hartman says. “Even if they are close, there need to be 19,000 more reasons why (the Leica) is better and I don’t think there are.

“Maybe I can tell the difference but most people apparently can not.”