iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3GS: Side-by-Side Camera War!

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So I got an iPhone 4 yesterday, and so far I’m very pleased with it. One of the chief reasons I bought it is the camera, which of course has been touted far and wide as vastly superior to the camera on the 3GS.

Since my wife has an iPhone 3GS, and couldn’t upgrade without a huge fee because her contract isn’t up until next year, I decided I would take advantage of the situation and do a true side-by-side comparison of the cameras. Since this is GeekDad, I decided to compare the cameras taking the kind of photograph and video that parents take most — in other words, pictures and video of our kids doing cool things.

I asked my kids to put on a skit. Being geek kids, they chose to portray Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. (If on seeing the pictures you wonder why Beaker is wearing part of a Princess Leia costume, I assure you you’re not alone.) I shot a bunch of still pictures of the kids “rehearsing” the skit, and then took video of them performing it, with the iPhones literally side-by-side. I held the phones, one in each hand, with the 3GS on the right and the 4 on the left, and attempted to snap pictures and start the videos at the exact same time.

I have not modified the photos in any way other than to shrink the originals and combine each pair into one JPEG. I have not modified the videos in any way apart from whatever YouTube does during the upload process. I should point out that the original photos from the 3GS were 1536 x 2048, while the originals from the 4 were 1936 x 2592, which are almost — but not quite — the same aspect ratio (0.75 vs 0.7469136); this doesn’t generally make much of a difference, of course, but in the side-by-side photos you may notice a slight discrepancy in the heights. I should also note that the 3GS video was 63.1MB in size, while the 4 video was 186MB, owing to the fact that the iPhone 4 video is HD. I will let you judge the relative quality for yourself.

If there’s enough interest (leave a comment!) I will extend this series to some outdoor videos, maybe at the pool, at the playground, on vacation, etc.

See all the photos on Flickr. The videos are embedded after the jump.

(I should add one more caveat to anyone getting an iPhone 4: If you take photos and/or videos before plugging it into a computer with iTunes on it, make sure you get them off the phone before you let iTunes do anything with it. Because if you don’t, there’s a pretty good chance iTunes will wipe out anything you’ve just taken. Trust me.)

(All photos and video by Matt Blum.)

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