iPhone 7 Plus vs. iPhone 8 Plus battle with music photography & video and Atlas Genius

To me, the ultimate test for the iPhone is low-light photography and high dynamic range situations. So I decided to take the iPhone 7 plus and the iPhone 8 plus with me on assignment as I covered one of my favorite bands, Atlas Genius perform at The Fillmore. There is nothing harder for a camera than a concert with crazy colored spotlights turning on and off. 

I wondered - could the iPhone 8 plus hang with me and keep up with my full frame DSLR? Would it do a better job than the iPhone 7 plus? 

I arrived at The Fillmore just barely in time, thanks to the awesome San Francisco traffic and my super slow and cautious Lyft driver. I quickly rushed to get my ticket and press pass at will call. I passed through the staircase and arrived at the lobby that hung photos of legends that have performed at historic venue. I worked my way through the crowd and positioned myself at the entrance of the photographer pit, waiting for Atlas Genius to come on stage.

Once I was in the photographer pit I had my iPhones on each side, like a gun slinger at a western show, ready for a showdown. To be honest, I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it to take them out of my pocket and use up part of the precious 3 songs that photographers get in the pit. I had better nail some great shots with the big camera first so my editor wouldn’t kill me!

So first, let’s do a scientific-ish side by side. Apologies for them not being EXACTLY the same. I honestly tried to click most at the same time but for some reason one phone would register faster than the other. For video - I had to use 2 hands to hold the iPhone to prevent shake. So the videos are for sure not the exact same. These are all unedited photos and videos.

(click on photos for larger view)

iPhone 7 Plus using the 3.9mm f1.8 back camera

iPhone 8 Plus using the 3.9mm f1.8 back camera

iPhone 7 Plus using the 3.9mm f1.8 back camera

iPhone 8 Plus using the 3.9mm f1.8 back camera

iPhone 7 Plus using the 3.9mm f1.8 back lens

iPhone 8 Plus using the 3.9mm f1.8 back lens

And here’s where I THOUGHT I was using the telephoto 6.6 f/2.8 back lens on both iPhones but looking at the specs, it looks like my iPhone 8 decided to use the OTHER lens anyway. Shame on me for using the stock native camera app and not Camera+ or another app. (Many times the iPhone decides which lens to use in any given situation. )

iPhone 7 Plus using the 6.6 f2.8 back lens

FAKE 6.6 f2.8 back lens. This actually used the 3.3 f1.8 lens.

And finally, what I was most curious about since video is super important to me- the 4k video at 60 frames per second!

iPhone 7 1920 x 1080 at 60 frames per second.

iPhone 8 4K at 60 frames per second

And I was happy to discover something that  Apple did NOT mention, but really matters, is that the stock camera app now let's you also record 4k at 24 frames per second. Woo hoo to those of us that always have to use another app like Filmic Pro to get that cinematic look at 4K! 

iPhone 8 4k 24 frames per second using the stock iPhone camera app. Woo hoo! 24 fps is but a swipe away from the home screen!

And funny enough, just when I put my big DSLR away because the show was over,  Keith decides to do his epic jump. No worries, iPhone 8 plus had me covered.

After the show, I hung out with the guys and goofed around backstage. I decided to just use my iPhone 8 to take some behind-the-scenes photos. I notice that everyone feels and acts more natural when you don't have a big lens in their face. I showed them the new Portrait mode on the iPhone 8 plus. Michael Jeffery himself being a photographer, played around with it and took a few portraits of fellow band members. I finally got him to stay still for me and give me his best goofy pose. 

Michael gives me his best zombie look for his iPhone 8 plus portrait.

Keith talks seriously about being vegan and why he first decided to become one 8 years ago.

I liked the studio mode for Josh. Shot by Michael.

I liked the studio mode for Josh. Shot by Michael.

Keith and I turned out to both be wearing our Doc Martens! Except his shoes are vegan.

Keith and I turned out to both be wearing our Doc Martens! Except his shoes are vegan.

Goofing around on their tour bus. "This is how you get to the top bunk!"

Goofing around on their tour bus. "This is how you get to the top bunk!"

So what's the verdict? 

Oh Atlas Genius was an AMAZING SHOW! You should have seen the crowd go crazy and loud as they sang along to the hit song "Trojans"! And their new song "63 Days"? It was the crowd's second favorite. One guy kept yelling "14! 14!" (The song being #14 on the music charts right now.) Keith, unlike many artists on stage, interacted with us and had us crouching down and jumping up! He even came down from the stage and joined us fans on the floor. The guys are a lot of fun! They are one of the most down to earth bands I've ever hung out with. And now Keith has me trying the vegan diet for a month.

Oh, you mean the verdict with the iPhones? :P I do think the iPhone 8 plus is better than the iPhone 7 plus. Where I think it shines, though, and what would persuade ME to get it (if I didn't already have it) are the video upgrades which no one has talked about that much. Oh and the new Portrait Mode is definitely a lot of fun. But you decide for yourself, whether the differences are big enough for you.