The cameras built into iOS devices are among the most popular features ever offered, and Apple is paying attention to photo buffs with some significant updates in the iPhone 5s and some strong camera specs in the new iPhone 5c.
Apple says it wanted the camera to be "better and smarter." The camera in the iPhone 5s has a new Apple-designed, five-element lens with f/2.2 aperture. The sensor has a 15 percent larger area, and Apple claims the bigger pixels will make for a better picture.
Coupled with iOS 7, the new iPhone automatically sets white balance, exposure level and can create a a dynamic local tone map. Apple also points out that, like many DSLRs, the new iPhone will do autofocus matrix metering.
The flash has also been updated for the iPhone 5s. It uses an Apple technology called True Tone. It is said to solve the problems of photos with mixed color temperatures, like indoor lighting combined with sunlight through a window. Apple has added a second LED flash to the new iPhone, one balanced for daylight, the other for indoor lighting. Apple says there are 1,000 unique variations and combinations using the two LEDs. Skin tones and colors should be improved.
Apple has also added auto image stabilization, something we've seen in some third-party apps. And the new processor in the camera will give you a 10-frames-per-second burst mode for as long as you hold the shutter button down. Then the camera can analyze the shots and pick what it thinks are the best ones.
The camera also supports slow motion for video, capturing 120 frames per second at 720P. Panoramas (up to 28 MB) aren't forgotten either. It looks like the camera will adjust exposure in real time as you pan across a scene. That's always a problem with panoramas, and it will be interesting to see if Apple has greatly reduced that issue.
There are also some nice touches in the new lower-cost iPhone 5c. The camera is 8MP, with backside illumination, and a five-element lens. The camera is claimed to be better in low light, with a 1.9-micron pixel size.
All in all, these are significant upgrades in photo quality for the iPhone 5s, and most seem based on the new faster A7 processor. The 5c gets some photo-love as well, and at a lower cost, it will bring high photo quality to a less expensive iPhone.