Mobility

Game-changer: Photos that show off new iPhone 5s camera sensor

iPhone 5s may look the same, but the camera is new

Since 2011, Apple's iPhone is the most widely-used camera on earth. That's mostly due to the fact that the iPhone is so easy to use, but it's also because it takes remarkably good photos for a point-and-shoot camera. 

While the iPhone 5s camera still features an 8 megapixel image sensor, it makes a number of important improvements to the camera sensor. It increases the size of the sensor by 15%. It improves its aperture from ƒ/2.4 to ƒ/2.2. The sensor increases light sensitivity by 33%. And, it includes a new two-tone flash that adjusts automatically to light conditions.
In the weeks after the iPhone 5s was first released, I had several personal and business trips that gave me the opportunity to try out the new camera. Here are my photos from Hilton Head, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia to Louisville, Kentucky to Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco, California.
Also check out this TechRepublic gallery: Cracking Open the iPhone 5s

Image: Jason Hiner

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

21 comments
Tayvl
Tayvl

The photos are impressive. No, I don't own an iPhone. No, I'm not an Apple fan. And no, I'm not here to make an inane argument and try to impress anyone with how much I know about photography... Thanks for the pics.

SiO2
SiO2

Pic 9 - it takes better photos than real life.

Sorry Jason, but you just lost all credibility with me. Granted I have a photographic memory and am unimpressed by holiday snaps taken on anything less than dedicated equipment but your evidence is particularly uninspiring.

Washed out foregrounds, poor depth of field and no comparison with similar devices that would show that even to an amateur eye made your article worthless as a review. Its a game changer only if you are currently using an earlier iPhone with even crappier hardware. Nokias latest work blows this out of the water, and I dropped them as a favourite manufacturer for also pandering to the lowest common denominator with false claims (interpolated 38MPx is not 41MPx, never mind Lumia's awful interface.)

I'm not a professional either, nor do I claim to be, but reading the comments from a few obviously knowledgeable photographers prompts me to wonder whether being paid (indeed, by Apple?) gives anyone the right to profess an opinion.

I get that you like Apple, its not a sin. I get that you like looking sophisticated too, but sophistication simply means paying for something unavailable to the average person. And smartphones with half-decent cameras are ten a penny even available in white. I suppose if I had the attitude that 'good enough' is really good enough, I'd probably be an Apple fan myself because thats all you can say about what they shove into their latest cashmaker. It changes nothing to point it out.

If you really want to see game-changing hardware innovation, take a look at Jolla. It wouldnt surprise me if someone - Jolla themselves possibly - builds an 'Other Half' DSLR backplane. Now that really would be the best of both worlds.

333239
333239

What this shows is simply that the 5S's camera is good enough for holiday snaps and is pretty much up there with point and shoot cameras from a few years ago. Nobody is saying it will replace an DSLR.

pmshah
pmshah

When you talk about aperture size you fail to mention its implications. Wider the aperture , read -smaller number, means more light gets in, brighter viewfinder  and depth of field is reduced. This is useful only in low light conditions. Tell me, what knowledgeable professional actually shoots at aperture wide open? One would need the camera on a stand or have very steady hands or for throwing everything other than the actual subject matter out of ficus !

geek49203_z
geek49203_z

I don't buy that the DSLR market is in decline 'cause of phone cameras. A DSLR camera is a different market than a point-and-shoot or a phone camera.

Perhaps a better answer is that a flood of damned good entry DSLR's (ie, my Nikon d3100) do everything 99% of the photographers want to do, and they will
last for a decade or more. Even a hardened pro is hard-pressed to trade up to, say, the new Nikon D4 because their current cameras do everything they need to do and still work great.

In addition, the market for professional photographers' work has dried up, meaning that there are fewer deep pockets for the newer stuff. Newspapers are firing photo staffs and scarcely are buying new cameras for remaining staff, for instance.

greggwon
greggwon

The important thing about phone cameras is the size and connectivity for publishing photos.  There is not a chance in hell that a real lens with all the features of a DSLR will appear on a phone.  Maybe a tablet, but the space requirements and the actual physical wear and tear will just not allow.  With the moving parts being physically stressed by, and the seams giving access for dirt and grime from pockets and purses and other places people put their phones, it would not survive.


Apple has a platform and a form for their device which constrains the choices they can make.  Yet, they keep finding ways to provide improvement through engineering and hard work, instead of by "buying" all the solutions and just fitting them into something that will hold all the pieces.  


All of you Apple haters can keep spending your time, focused on how bad you can make Apple look, so that you can feel better about your half baked hardware and software running on your "other" phones.  Go ahead, just keep bashing.  It's funny to watch, and I just keep enjoying my devices because I don't have to worry about them. 


Look at what Samsung is doing.  They are trying to recreate the Apple way by having all kinds of customer service.  They are replacing devices for small failures in their business customer relationships, trying to grab a larger and larger market.  All the time, while just copying what Apple has found to be successful.  No innovations, except the innovation of being successful without actually innovating anything.

hector
hector

Tenis shoes on the beach??? now that is odd

ragnar.moller
ragnar.moller

Game-changer like Siri or the introduction of an App Store, my foot. This is an evolutionary change even though the software might be easy to use and the sansor is 15% !!! larger.

The real game changer came from Nokia two yeers ago with their 40 Mpixel sensor unfortunateliy with an old OS. This was followed by all sorts of large sensor models in the camera world. Finally large sensors followed up with the Nokia 1020 and the Sony Experia Z1 this year.

But what a pity the 40 Mpix was not brought out by Apple. It would have been en even bigger game changer: Iphone 6 with Iris photography and zoom in the image just like in the movies. Getting this into the iPhone, would have motivated Apple buying Nokia alltogether. I bet they sorely regret missing that move. Jobs must be turning over in his grave.

timpatco-1f3c3
timpatco-1f3c3

Really, to treat this camera seriously is quite absurd. The butterfly shot shows appalling depth of field and the leaves in the foreground are completely washed out with no detail whatsoever. For heavens sake get a grip! This device is useful when you have left your real camera at home and is at best, the digital  equivalent of a box brownie..

barzee
barzee

The Nokia Pure View technology IS the real game-changer!!!

jerang@
jerang@ Staff

The 5s camera is fantastic!

Gisabun
Gisabun

"Game changer"? Give me a break. Sounds like a fan boi title. Apple is now playing catch up. From others with higher pixels to others with better picture taking capabilities. The days of Apple being an innovative company is gone - gone since Cook took over and the stock prices plunged. Why is he still in charge?

MadBunny
MadBunny

About 4 months ago I switched from an iPhone 5 to a S4  - (and ironically, just this month, Google's "pissed me off for the last time" so I've been deleting all my accounts with them....but am stuck with a "new" phone contract....lol)

In terms of photography, I've noticed that my iPhone took consistently better quality photos in a wider range of situations and environments but when the planets are aligned just right, the S4 takes some shots that my 5 couldn't even come close too.

I don't think Apple has the best camera hardware but, I think they have some of the best programmers working on the hardware.


Right now, anyway.  They used to be similarly poised in the audio field but, not anymore.

adornoe
adornoe

I've been taking better photos than those from Mr Hiner with my LG G2 smartphone. 

Besides, a series of shots from a single smartphone without a similar set from a competitor for comparison, doesn't mean much.  I'm pretty sure that there are much better cameras on smartphones than the one in the 5S. 

zazimi
zazimi

I'm not an Apple fan by any means, but props to them not going overboard with resolution on the sensor... they focused on the right areas!  Keep the resolution reasonable (too high a pixel density on such a small sensor can be detrimental to the quality and light reception of a sensor), make the lens "faster" with larger aperature, and increase sensor size (something no one seems to care about,  yet is one of THE most important things, at the cell phone level, to increase).  So once again, from an Android/Canon fan, props to Apple.  Still far from the quality of a modern SLR APS-C/H/FullFrame dSLR by leagues, but it doesn't mean the photographer can't get creative and still take good shots for sharing on the web, which is what they're made for :)

brent.wiley
brent.wiley

Wow, it's been so long since I received anything of relevance from Jason Hiner and Tech Republic in an article that I just unsubscribed for good.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

So THAT'S what obligatory food looks like!  :-)

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Some nice shots. To my amateur eye, anyway.

JonathanSeer
JonathanSeer

@SiO2What you said bears repeating --- Its a game changer only if you are currently using an earlier iPhone with even crappier hardware.

jjog22
jjog22

@greggwon Really? at least Samsung is manufacturer and they create their own products and make software for that (best help in automatic shots) now Apple is a good buyer and designer but the real manufacturer of iphone are Sony, Samsung, LG, Asus. When is the real innovation? The real comparison should be between iphone camera (of Sony) and Sony DSLR A67 or A99.... You must read more for that conclusions.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner moderator

@brent.wiley Is it photo galleries you don't like? If you prefer information in article format, here are a couple to try: 

How Israel is rewriting the future of cybersecurity and creating the next Silicon Valley
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-israel-is-rewriting-the-future-of-cybersecurity-and-creating-the-next-silicon-valley/

I interfaced Google Glass 2.0, and I liked it
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-sanity-check/i-interfaced-google-glass-20-and-i-liked-it/