Got a tip for us? Share it...

Photography Pros Review the iPhone 5's Camera

Photography site dpreview.com has published a lengthy review of the iPhone 5's camera. Last year, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz called the iPhone "the snapshot camera of today", and the iPhone has been the most popular camera on Flickr for years.

NewImage
The full review is worth a read, but this excerpt looks at interesting questions about the future of casual photography and how the simple "camera phone" has revolutionized both the mobile phone and camera industries.
This is great news for people like us who write about digital photography, because it signals a paradigm shift. This doesn't happen often, and it's very exciting when it does. Already, we're seeing mainstream camera manufacturers scrabbling to add connectivity to their products, and it's not just desperation that's making them do it. If the iPhone, and devices like it, have had a transformative effect on the industry it's because they've had a transformative effect on peoples' expectations of cameras, and photography. And the industry is doing what it always does - moving to fulfill a need.

The iPhone 5 is a fine mobile device, with an excellent camera. In qualititative terms it's not the best camera out there, and nor is it the best camera on a smartphone (the Nokia 808 has that honor, for now) but it offers satisfying image quality, some neat functions like auto panorama and HDR mode, and - crucially - it is supremely easy to use. It isn't much better than the iPhone 4S, as far as its photographic performance is concerned, but it isn't any worse (notwithstanding a somewhat more noticeable propensity towards lens flare). When manufacturers employ pixel-binning to achieve higher ISO settings we don't normally celebrate the fact, but in the case of the iPhone 5, it gives you greater flexibility in poor light (i.e., you might actually get a picture now, where you just wouldn't with the iPhone 4S) and the drop in quality is unnoticeable when the images are used for sharing/web display.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

Posted: 20 months ago
For the photography snobs: The best camera is the one you have with you, and any shot you take is better than one you didn't.

For the phone camera supporters: A phone camera will never compare to a same-gen DSLR. Period, end of story.

The iPhone is simply a different tool than a traditional camera. It's nice that the iPhone 5 camera is solid, but I don't see how this is a paradigm shift any more than the previous iPhone cameras.

I WILL say that the iPhone has totally replaced a point-n-shoot for my purposes.
Rating: 16 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago
I've been a reader of dpreview for years. They publish very credible info.
Rating: 14 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

Ok, I don't get DSLRs anymore. I firmly believe they are fundamentally obsolete.


OK. Well, a lot of professional photographers might disagree with you, along with all the major manufacturers of cameras.


The "viewfinder" on an iPhone shows exactly what the final captured image is going to be (modulo resolution), because it is displaying exactly what the CCD is capturing. It's, in fact, better than a traditional SLR, because you don't have to hold the camera up to your eye to see through the lens!


Again, a lot of people who make their living taking photographs specifically WANT a viewfinder because it helps with composition and is one less source of battery drain. And if you're seriously pretending the iPhone is a better camera than, say, a high-end Canon or Nikon DSLR (which, incidentally, also have live-view LCDs on the back) -- well, you're fooling yourself.

So if a DSLR is named that because it retains the mirror-prism-viewfinder system, then that is a ridiculous anachronism that does nothing but raise the price needlessly.


There are new camera systems (micro 4/3s, for example) that don't rely on a flip-up mirror. But the DSLR seems to be a proven form factor that works for a lot of professionals.

Also, you fail to realize that legacy lenses and accessories are a major investment for photographers and nobody's going to just throw all that stuff away because it's supposedly "obsolete".
Rating: 12 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

For the photography snobs:


Appreciation for good photography automatically makes someone a snob?

The iPhone 5 is nice, but it doesn't come even close to the DSLR. Not that I expect it to.


It doesn't need to, it only needs to fill the gap where a full-sized rig is too much to carry.
Rating: 11 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

But lens flares are awesome :D


Not if you're a photographer :/
Rating: 10 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

I have a DSLR but on our recent trip to Disney we used an iPhone 4 and 4S for all of our picture taking and for the most part they were satisfactory. Even when we printed them out at 4x6. Each tool serves its purpose and for a trip to Disney it definitely served its purpose over a DSLR.


The thing about using a DSLR is they've come so far down in price, that practically anyone can own one now. I think that's a good thing in most regards, but you still have inexperienced photographers walking around not really knowing how to properly use a DSLR. And that's when you see people start using an iPhone as a replacement for a professional camera.

The iPhone can take very nice pictures, but the degree of control you have with a DSLR is something you cannot accomplish with an iPhone. Sure the iPhone can simulate some basic manual controls, but if you decide the picture you just took needs adjustment that cannot be accomplished in PP, you have very little options at your disposal. Not to mention, the increments and sensitivity between each adjustment is like the difference between using a hammer and a fine chisel.

I'm not trying to demean your choice to bring an iPhone instead of a DSLR on vacation. But if you want to "wow" people with your vacation photos... an iPhone is not the right tool. Not to mention any decent printer and/or lcd monitor is going to reveal stark differences between a APS-C/FullFrame sensor and the tiny sensor found in an iPhone
Rating: 7 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

I'm not trying to demean your choice to bring an iPhone instead of a DSLR on vacation. But if you want to "wow" people with your vacation photos... an iPhone is not the right tool. Not to mention any printer and/or lcd monitor is going to reveal stark differences between a APS-C/FullFrame sensor and the tiny sensor found in your iPhone.

Basically this.

http://dcurt.is/iphone-5-vs-5d-mark-iii

The iPhone 5 is nice, but it doesn't come even close to the DSLR. Not that I expect it to.
Rating: 7 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

Still doesn't seem reason enough to upgrade from the 4s.....


Pretty sure that was not the purpose.
Rating: 6 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

For the photography snobs: The best camera is the one you have with you, and any shot you take is better than one you didn't.


Did you come up with that all on your own? Thanks, Chase. LOL.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Best-Camera-Thats-With/dp/0321684788
Rating: 6 Positives
Posted: 20 months ago

\
The next iPhone will probably get Sony's recently announced 13MP Exmor RS sensor. You'll probably have an even better reason to upgrade a year from now if the camera is your main concern.


YEAHHHH 13MP!!!! That will fix everything!!!!! Sigh...... Increasing the MP count will almost certainly make the image quality worse as if you don't know what noise is now, you certainly will then. Squeezing even current MP counts on tiny sensors is pointless... I doubt the level of detail at 13mp can even be resolved given many cell camera today use extremely cheap optics, such as plastic instead of glass parts.
Rating: 5 Positives

[ Read All Comments ]