Everything You Need To Know About iPhone 5’s Camera

BY Jason

Published 13 Sep 2012

iPhone 5 Camera

Apple finally unveiled their hotly anticipated 6th generation iPhone – the iPhone 5 at the media event on Wednesday. iPhone 5 is 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the previous generation and comes packed with new features and improvements such as a taller 4-inch display, faster A6 chip, support for faster 4G LTE networks, improved battery life and more.

As we predicted, iPhone 5 also comes with improved front and back-facing iSight cameras.

Here’s everything we know about iPhone 5’s camera:

  • iPhone 5’s back-facing camera has the same 8-megapixel, five-element lens with 2.4 aperture, which is similar to the iPhone 4S, but is 25% smaller. The camera also has the same 3,264 by 2,448 backside-illuminated sensor. The lens is protected by sapphire crystal, which Apple says is a lot more durable and clear.
  • iPhone 5 comes with a new dynamic ‘low-light’ mode, which Dpreview explains “evaluates nearby pixels to give photographers up to two f-stops great performance in low light”.
  • The Camera app also comes with improvements including 40% faster photo capture, low-light performance as we explained earlier, and improved noise reduction.
  • Apple has also improved iPhone 5’s video recording capabilities. While the back-facing iSight camera allows you to record 1080p videos like iPhone 4S, the front-facing camera has been upgraded to allow you to record HD video (720p) up to 30 frames per second. It also means you can make FaceTime HD video calls.
  • iPhone 5 comes with three microphones — one on the front, one on the back and one of the bottom of the device. The new microphones with improved noise cancellation and wideband audio should further enhance video recording capabilities. It also means clearer-sounding FaceTime calls.
  • It comes with improved image stabalization to prevent shaky videos.
  • You will now be able to take still photos while you’re recording videos.
  • The Camera app includes a face detection feature (for up to 10 faces) (a feature that was introduced in iOS 5.1).
  • One of the major new features is the new Panorama mode, which allows you to take multiple photos, which are then stitched together to create a panoramic photo of up to 28 megapixels.

To find out what this means to picture quality, Apple has posted a series of original and unretouched photographs taken using iPhone 5′ camera on the Camera features page.

Click on the image to see all the sample photos taken using iPhone 5’s camera (and high resolution images here)

Coincidentally, Dpreview’s Scott Everett had recently taken a photo with his iPhone 4S at the same location as the image above (Big Sur in California). So he has been able to compare the photos. Here’s what he has to say:

Comparing the EXIF data of these two images supports the idea that the iPhone 5 does have a different sensor to the 4S. The 4S selected ISO 64, while the iPhone 5 has been able to drop to ISO 50. For images taken in such bright light, this strongly suggests the newer model has a lower minimum sensitivity. 

Looking at the EXIF data of the images confirms Apple’s assertion that this is a new sensor, despite the pixel count remaining the same. Close examination shows the iPhone 5 is using a 4.1mm lens to give a 33mm equivalent field of view, rather than the 4S’s 4.3mm lens, which gave a 35mm equivalent view. This means the new sensor is a tiny fraction larger. The iPhone 5 has also selected ISO 50, 1/3EV below the 4S’s minimum sensitivity of ISO 64.

Are you impressed? Will iPhone 5 replace your point and shoot camera? Let us know your views in the comments below.