Over the past few years, Apple has devoted a lot of time and attention toward improving the camera on the iPhone. Indeed, one only needs to take a look at this great commercial to see the immense pride Apple takes in churning out iPhone cameras that consumers absolutely love to use.
With the iPhone 5s, Apple has really upped the ante, introducing a number of new software enhancements and hardware improvements that, together, make the 5s a compelling device for mobile photography enthusiasts.
As is often the case when any new camera-based phone hits the market, an frequently asked question is: How does the device perform from the vantage point of a photography professional?
To help answer that question, Dean Holland of TakeBetterPhotos.com recently penned a detailed review of the iPhone 5s camera.
Holland acknowledges that he began his review with a skeptical eye, but was soon won over by the iPhone 5s' snappy performance.
Compared to the iPhone 5, the camera on the 5s flies. The new burst mode discreetly shoots 10 full-quality pictures per second for 100 seconds, and it works very well. Too well. If you pick up the phone the wrong way, you can take 999 photos before you know what's happened. I did.
That's not to say the iPhone 5s is an adequate replacement for a standalone point-and-shoot. As part of his review, Holland compared iPhone 5s shots against photos taken with the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and a Panasonic LX5 point-and-shoot released in 2010. Holland found that the Panasonic still reigned supreme, if only by an arguably small margin.
If you're a serious photography-head, the entire review is worth a read. While Holland, overall, likes many of the improvements on the iPhone 5s, he still believes there's room for improvement (i.e., focusing issues, no zoom, battery life).
If getting the best technical quality and detail is important to you, none of the improvements in the iPhone 5s is likely to appeal. Picture quality in good light hasn't improved compared to the iPhone 5 -- arguably it's deteriorated a little. Picture quality in poor light has improved considerably, but is still far short of both the quality and usability of a dedicated camera for night photography.
Holland's concluding remarks, however, help to illustrate why the iPhone camera is the most popular one around. It's just so darn fun and easy to use.
Looked at from a technical perspective, the iPhone 5s camera is another casual step forward for iPhones. And with the exception of the clever flash system, most of the photographic improvements seem to come from its processor, rather than from revolutionary hardware. The biggest change lies in the extra speed and flexibility.
But I'd argue that technical innovation is not what this phone is about. I've found the iPhone 5s to be the most fun iPhone camera to date. Instead of extra pixels, I'm enjoying the speed, performance and the new party tricks of burst shooting, slow-motion video and easier, better low-light shooting. It's the most 'invisible' of the phones, as it just gets out of your way, so you can enjoy what you're doing. If you like shooting on smartphones, I'd recommend that you give it a try.
And speaking of slow-motion video, yesterday we highlighted how creative and funky slow-motion videos shot with an iPhone 5s are beginning to flood YouTube. I can only imagine that this trend will increase tremendously in the weeks and months to come.
And while some videophiles might rightfully gripe that slo-mo on the iPhone 5s isn't slow enough to be to their liking, the easy-to-use software lets folks who would never otherwise even touch a video-editing program shoot slow-mo video with ease.