top of page
  • Writer's pictureyzhensiang

Is mobile phones now good enough to make commercial images?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

With the recent rapid development and advancement in smartphone camera technology, I can’t help but to revisit this topic that I have previously discussed 3 years back. To understand whether it is all about the hype up marketing or has it become a truly usable daily camera, I’ve got my hand on the latest iPhone 14pro last November and have been testing it out on various conditions extensively for almost 5 months now.

I have to say, I am pretty impress to see how far it has come as my entire photography journey was literally build up from 1mp phone camera back in the days. To properly answer the question above, I would like to split my explanation into 2 major parts. 1) Is the image from mobile phone good enough? 2) Does it qualify to make commercial images?

1. Is the image from mobile phone good enough?

My short answer for the question above is YES. Long answer, NOT YET. Hear me out, it is no doubt that they are pretty good now and packs a ton of megapixels with impressive dynamic range and processing power to even mimic pretty realistic bokeh (out of focus areas). Not to mention they are very snappy, convenient and responsive as well. The images that comes out from it is generally good enough to be used on the web or print up to an A5 size if you do not have much technical requirements. The reason why it is NOT YET good enough is because they are very inconsistent. Under good lighting the files can be very impressive and sometimes exceed what a conventional camera can do (Only if you look at them at a thumbnail size). Blow it up to 100% and you will see artifacts here and there. That being said, are those important to you? Most probably not if you are just looking to document memories and take pictures for social media.

Below are some of the unedited images that I have collected across 5 months of testing the iPhone 14pro camera.

2. Does it qualify to make commercial images?

This is the part where it is shady. To answer this, you will need to understand what are commercial images, what are they used for, and what are the industry standards? This is a very difficult question to tackle as the industry “commercial standards” are all over the place with self proclaim professional commercial photographer who has no idea what commercial images are to real world professionals doing big ad campaigns. They stood at the very end of each spectrum producing mere snapshots to very polished and well crafted images.

To me it all comes down to your own standard, style of work and client requirement. If you could not even tell how a good or bad image looks like then yes it certainly qualifies. Otherwise it is just trash if it does not even meet the basic requirement for your style of work. That being said, a camera is just a tool to make images. Being able to interpret light, craft it and knowing when and what to shoot is much more crucial in producing a good image than to have a max out specs when it comes to a camera.

Real world example, I was doing a shoot last week and after setting up all the lights and background, I realise the existing interior LED light was so good that I took an attempt to shoot the product (croissant) with my iPhone, the whole process took me less than 5 seconds to get the shot with zero lighting equipment. In contrast, the other image was shot using Canon 5DSR + EF100mm F2.8L Macro, 2 strobe lights (600w and 400w) with softbox and diffusion material. Take a guess which was shot with what?

Behind the scene.

Answer reveal. (I did cut out the image from the iPhone and place on the same background for a more consistent comparison). An important thing to note is that both images has also undergone some level of treatment in lightroom and photoshop.

In thumbnail form, it is pretty hard to tell one apart from the other. And if I were to nitpick, I would say the blue cast on the croissant is a little disturbing. When zoom in at 100%, clearly there were lots of artifacts and the croissant texture looks fake (Image below).

Another real world comparison below (Both images unedited), the image on the left was shot with the iPhone 14pro (48mp Raw Mode) while the one on the right is shot with Canon 5D Mark 3 with EF 24-105mm. In thumbnail, the iPhone image was able to preserve much more highlight details straight out of the camera. The difference in highlight areas is pretty much negligible in between 2 cameras as well. Shadow details is still weak on the iPhone.

To sum this up, our technology has surpass the days where you ask which camera is capable of producing great images. I truly believe every camera from the past 5-10 years and phones from the past 2 years is capable of doing that pretty well. If you are looking for convenience, by all means shoot with your phone. On the other hand, if you are looking for a little more finesse, flexibility in files and control your output, go for a much proper camera. At the end of the day if the process of image making makes you happy then just continue shooting!


bottom of page