How Much Did Photigy Do to That Amazing iPhone vs Hasselblad Photo in Post?

Last week we shared a video that got both incredibly popular and controversial. It was put together by Photigy’s Alex Koloskov, and showed how he created nearly-identical product shots of a glass of whisky using an iPhone and a Hasselblad.

Now he’s back to answer some of the concerns that readers brought up after watching that video, specifically regarding how much post-processing went into the image and if it would be printable on the large scale.

His point with the original video was that the camera shouldn’t be your first upgrade. Spend money on lighting, surfaces, modifiers and acquiring skill before you drop tens of thousands on a camera because, while a Hasselblad or any ‘real’ camera can and will outdo the iPhone, you can create amazing photos regardless of what camera you’re using.


But even though his point wasn’t that the iPhone is just as good as *insert camera here* for product shots, that doesn’t mean it’s not good enough, which is what Koloskov is addressing in this followup video/post. As he writes over on Photigy:

Of course, the iPhone is not the best camera for a professional photographer, but let’s see how a decent image from an iPhone will look like after a short (12-minute) post-production effort… I also included the high-res retouched file to download and print for those who want to see it as an A3 print. Remember the 4Mpx Canon 1D? It was a true professional camera and images taken with it were printed quite large.

That 12-minute post-production — which includes aligning, dust and spot removal, de-noising, resizing and sharpening — is all that was done to the image, which you can download in full res over on Photigy.

iPhone in-studio shot: retouching in Photoshop (real image quality) [Photigy]

  • slvrscoobie

    But look at the image, its VERY low frequency stuff! You can enlarge that a lot because there are NO details. Try this trick with a portrait or mountain scene with tons of high frequency detail and this is gonna fall apart.

  • James

    So pretty much, the same level of post production that any respectable photographer is going to do to any photo they’re going to put their name on.

  • James

    Okay? I mean he never said that the iPhone 5s was ready to replace your Hassy.

  • Rob Elliott

    and? This was about what can be done with the lighting, and the materials outside of the camera. It was also to show that with the right extra camera gear, a lot of retouching isn’t needed.

    This isn’t about a portrait or a mountain scene.

  • Mike Randolph

    I agree with Alex…4 megapixels can be enough for a lot of uses! I recently wrote a post about a National Geographic photographer using an 8 MP Canon Rebel to shoot double-page spreads. (You can check it out here ) I suppose it could be argued that for some professional uses, having more MPs is beneficial, but I think the point is, the overwhelming majority of photographers only ever view their images on a screen, and in that case, an iPhone–resolution wise, at any rate–is more than enough.

  • sdtransfertomich

    I believe no matter what camera, you can still spend a lot of time post process.

    The thing with iPhones, as long as the image needs very little cropping or zooming and there aren’t many shadow areas you have to illuminate, you will get a pretty decent image.

    Imagine this like a venn diagram of “good results of subject opportunities” where the Hass (or many DSLR’s) have a large circle, iPhone smaller, but there still is an area of over-lap.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    As a graphic designer I can tell you most images are actually used below 4 mp unless you are doing a cover (8 mp) or a spread (12 mp). Beyond that extra resolution is rarely useful, consider the case of a full size movie poster whose visualization distance is of at least two feet: you can get away with 120 dpi.

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    I am glad we live in a time where claiming that x camera is just as good as y camera is considered controversial.

  • Bill Binns

    This is a good message. Getting over Gear Aquisition Syndrome was probably the biggest leap forward I made as an enthusiastic amateur. Amateur’s do not want to hear this message. It’s so much easier to blame your disapointing results on your equiipment than on your own skill or lack of style.

    Now, if your entire passion for photography is bird / wildlife, underwater or sports, you are going to need to come up with some money. For almost any other area, the barrier to entry barely exists. Want to take amazing landscape photos? Grab whatever camera you can get your hands on and drag your ass out of bed at 4AM to catch the good light. Want to take great portraits? Grab whatever camera you can get your hands on and seat your subject next to a nice window. Want to take long exposure shots? Buy a thrift store or ebay film SLR and a bulb release or an ebay Canon digital point and shoot and load up CHDK.

    This all finally locked in for me a few years ago. I was about to drop something like $3500 on a 5DMkII and a lens. At the last minute, I realized that for the same price me and my “entry level” T2i and cheap aluminum tripod could travel through South America for 2 weeks. That trip was life changing and sure beat the hell out of walking around my own city, re-taking shots I had already taken at slightly higher resolution and image quality.

  • Matt

    But must have new toys. LOL, I’m guilty of that for a lot of things. I was in a similar situation with a D350. But I got the 5D II, and it served it’s intended purpose which was to take reasonable quality photos in low light. So, I was able to get some photos that I had not been able to get before. But, I agree with you. Taking photos is what it is about. If you are stranded because you blew your entire budget on toys, it is not good. But, also, if you don’t have gear that can get the photo you want, then you are in kind of the same position. No photos.

    I took my south America trip before the 5D II came out. Actually used some film (actually the last time I used film) as well as the D350. Love the photos I got.

    I eventually parted with my D350, but not because I did not like it. I sold it to my niece’s boyfriend for a photography class in college. Gave him a great deal on it with a 50mm, just to get him in to photography. His prof was envious of the combo, so he was loving it. Otherwise, I would still have it. I still look at some photos from it and marvel at the quality.