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  1. Thread AuthorThread Author   #1  
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    Default iPhone 5 Camera Question

    I currently have an iPhone 4S, and while I obviously use it for all the smartphone features, I take a lot of pictures with it and there is one area in which it doesn't excel...indoors without a flash. I'm a serious photographer and understand the primary reason for the graininess in these pictures is simply the small sensor. However, can anyone confirm the iPhone 5 lives up to Apple's claim of doing a better job at correcting this with adding the automatic increase of up to 3200 ISO?

    I'm perfectly happy with the iPhone 4S (in fact I like the form factor a little better than the thiner, longer iPhone 5) but If the camera in the iPhone 5 is even a little bit better I'll purchase it. Thanks for any help.
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    Massie's Avatar
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    I think the difference is pretty noticeable—and probably worth if if you take a lot of photos in those situations. See here for a comparison:
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    That's pretty much a review of the updated Camera+ app. Having just gotten the iPhone 5 a few days ago, I just took pics (no apps) with both phones, and really see no difference.
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Thanks, Massie. Your photos do show a remarkable difference, especially outdoors at night. Seeing these, and noting your comment about the low-light boost adding a little noise, makes me now think the iPhone 5 might not be any better at all for the problem I'm having, which is noise on indoor photos without flash. Every picture I take indoors without flash I have to edit out the noise, yet I see a lot of pictures posted from the iPhone 4S are taken indoors, without flash, and are not all that noisy. Maybe my iPhone 4S is defective? If that's the case, I'll just get the iPhone 5. Thanks for your help!
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Alli View Post
    That's pretty much a review of the updated Camera+ app. Having just gotten the iPhone 5 a few days ago, I just took pics (no apps) with both phones, and really see no difference.
    Thanks, Alli. I've also seen comments such as yours, so I guess my dilemma is really the noise I get on indoor pictures without flash. I'll have to determine whether my iPhone 4S is defective or this is just normal. I know some noise is normal...but what I'm seeing are photos that are almost useless, which is a shame as some were of museum tours, trips, etc. and I can't replicate them easily.
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Alli View Post
    That's pretty much a review of the updated Camera+ app. Having just gotten the iPhone 5 a few days ago, I just took pics (no apps) with both phones, and really see no difference.
    I guess everyone sees it differently; for me there is definitely a noticeable difference--whether or not that makes it a worthwhile upgrade is up to each user obviously. The Cam+ article uses the app as an example but is specifically about the low-light boost built into iOS 6. Here is another review:

    Perhaps most helpful of all, though, is this gallery comparing the results when shot with a 4S vs. the 5:

    Again, it won't be a big deal for everyone, but for people who take a ton of photos in dim/dark conditions it might make a big difference.
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    SeanHRCC's Avatar
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    The noise level difference between the phones is substantial in my opinion...there have been several threads where examples were shown, but in low light settings, the iPhone 5 definitely shows a performance boost over previous generation iPhones (and pretty much every other phone on the market outside of the Lumia 920).
    "Speed has never killed anyone; suddenly becoming stationary...that's what gets you." - Jeremy Clarkson
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Quote Originally Posted by larrymcj View Post
    Thanks, Alli. I've also seen comments such as yours, so I guess my dilemma is really the noise I get on indoor pictures without flash. I'll have to determine whether my iPhone 4S is defective or this is just normal. I know some noise is normal...but what I'm seeing are photos that are almost useless, which is a shame as some were of museum tours, trips, etc. and I can't replicate them easily.

    Would it be possible for you to upload an example or two of the pics you consider to be poor? This would allow us to better ascertain if we see similar results, or whether you might indeed have a faulty camera.
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    I have been putting a lot of thought into this lately as it's been bugging me, the reason why is because in October I shattered my iPhone 4 screen and needed a new phone so I bought a Galaxy 3. Now I haven't heard much of anything about the camera in the GS3 so I figured it was pretty bad like most Android phones (from what I've heard). To my huge surprise on Halloween night I discovered it had a night mode in the camera settings, and even more surprising, it took amazing night shots, with almost imperceptible levels of noise, I was taking pictures that look like they were done with a point and shoot camera. So I end up returning it after 2 weeks for an iphone 5, believing the hype that the the new iPhone took even better night shots (not the only reason I switched). Oh was I disappointed to find out the iPhone 5 does horrible in low light, just bumping up the iso number does not equate to good low light photography, it just brightens up the pictures and adds a ton of noise, worse than my iPhone 4 at night.

    So if you are happy with your 4s, I'd keep it, and just get a nice slim p&s like I plan on doing.. The 5 is a lot faster, and the bigger screen is nice, but I wouldn't spend the money and waste the update for the camera alone. It is after all the exact same sensor as in the 4S. I'm not sure what goes into taking good low light pictures in good cameras, but there's a lot more to them than just artificially high iso numbers. On that note, I want to find out who makes the best pocket able point and shoot..
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    ^^^ That's unfortunate you haven't had a good experience with the iPhone 5's camera...it seems pretty much every other person who has done a legitimate comparison has though, including myself, so i have to go with the opposite suggestion...this review seems to echo across the net, take it for what it's worth...

    "Speed has never killed anyone; suddenly becoming stationary...that's what gets you." - Jeremy Clarkson
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    Now don't get me wrong, shots out in the daylight look really good, just haven't had much opportunity to test it out yet, that will happen tomorrow though. And it does take better video, not sure how the stabilization works but it seems to work really good, the Galaxy videos I took were all bouncy looking no matter how still I held it. I just happen to love low light picture taking, and I hate using the flash, and for some reason I was able to take amazing low light shots on that GS3. I hope the next iPhone has a larger sensor and whatever other tricks to boost low light shooting without adding all the noise.
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Well, I went to the Apple Store this afternoon and got the iPhone 5, so after doing some comparisons (I still have the 4S) I'll post what I find. FWIW, one of the Apple Geniuses at the store was a very knowledgeable photography aficionado, and I feel like he did a really great job explaining why the iPhone has, in fact, a superior camera. One iPhone sale certainly didn't matter to him but he was eager to point out the differences and show me some examples they already had there.

    First, the lens is completely different in the iPhone 5. There's the obvious crystal for protection, but most importantly it's set at 1.8 instead of 2.4 (iPhone 4S) so there will be a lot more light in low-light conditions. Then there is the circuitry they've added to enhance pictures in low light. It must have been enough to sway me as I walked out with a new iPhone 5.

    Someone asked that I upload some of the noisy photos...I'll include a good example of one here taken on a recent trip the C&W Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville. Bear in mind these are photos in well-lighted areas, but they're still too noisy to be useful. I have NOT edited out the noise in these and I know that will help...just wanted you to see the original pictures.

    The Wurlitzer picture was the least noisy...but it was under a virtual flood light.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails iPhone 5 Camera Question-studio-b.jpg   iPhone 5 Camera Question-elvis-cadillac.jpg   iPhone 5 Camera Question-wurlitzer.jpg  
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Quote Originally Posted by redbeard View Post
    Now don't get me wrong, shots out in the daylight look really good, just haven't had much opportunity to test it out yet, that will happen tomorrow though. And it does take better video, not sure how the stabilization works but it seems to work really good, the Galaxy videos I took were all bouncy looking no matter how still I held it. I just happen to love low light picture taking, and I hate using the flash, and for some reason I was able to take amazing low light shots on that GS3. I hope the next iPhone has a larger sensor and whatever other tricks to boost low light shooting without adding all the noise.
    Apple could certainly learn a thing or two from Nokia...their new camera is quite simply amazing.
    "Speed has never killed anyone; suddenly becoming stationary...that's what gets you." - Jeremy Clarkson
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Quote Originally Posted by larrymcj View Post
    Someone asked that I upload some of the noisy photos...I'll include a good example of one here taken on a recent trip the C&W Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville. Bear in mind these are photos in well-lighted areas, but they're still too noisy to be useful. I have NOT edited out the noise in these and I know that will help...just wanted you to see the original pictures.

    The Wurlitzer picture was the least noisy...but it was under a virtual flood light.
    I am going to be honest. I was anticipating much worse pictures than this based on how you described them. Given the small sensor in the phone, combined with an LED flash (don't believe it was used in these pics) I am not sure I would expect anything more than what I see in these pics. I would love to hear others' thoughts because if these are considered to be too noisy, all these considered, then perhaps it is me with a faulty camera
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    Quote Originally Posted by finn5975 View Post
    I am going to be honest. I was anticipating much worse pictures than this based on how you described them. Given the small sensor in the phone, combined with an LED flash (don't believe it was used in these pics) I am not sure I would expect anything more than what I see in these pics. I would love to hear others' thoughts because if these are considered to be too noisy, all these considered, then perhaps it is me with a faulty camera
    I tried to show the ones that were middle-of-the road noise. Here is another taken in the same Studio B with nothing but the ambient lighting (and there was quite a bit of it). Notice the piano keys are just fine on the left under the higher light...but the faces of the people on the right have a LOT of noise. Surely this can't be normal?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails iPhone 5 Camera Question-more-noise.jpg  
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    I think the simple answer in that case is the inability of the iPhone to balance the light sources right...on the left side you have a pretty substantial amount of focused light, and on the right, none at all really...I'd ask my wife but she's dead asleep from 18 hours on set today lol.
    "Speed has never killed anyone; suddenly becoming stationary...that's what gets you." - Jeremy Clarkson
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Maybe next week when I get out of the hospital I'll do a specific comparison series since I have both phones. A controlled environment is important here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by larrymcj View Post
    I tried to show the ones that were middle-of-the road noise. Here is another taken in the same Studio B with nothing but the ambient lighting (and there was quite a bit of it). Notice the piano keys are just fine on the left under the higher light...but the faces of the people on the right have a LOT of noise. Surely this can't be normal?
    Actually, that picture is what I would expect to see, if not a little better. I will provide two examples of pictures I took with my iphone 5 last night in limited lighting. I used the stock camera, tapped to focus, and a steady hand. They are loaded with noise, and represent what I always see in this type of lighting.

    iPhone 5 Camera Question-example-2.jpg
    iPhone 5 Camera Question-example-1.jpg
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    Quote Originally Posted by larrymcj View Post
    I tried to show the ones that were middle-of-the road noise. Here is another taken in the same Studio B with nothing but the ambient lighting (and there was quite a bit of it). Notice the piano keys are just fine on the left under the higher light...but the faces of the people on the right have a LOT of noise. Surely this can't be normal?
    I'm not sure how much of a difference this will make, but how are you setting focus and exposure for these? Are you just using the default Camera app--and if so, are you tapping on any particular areas of a photo like that to set things?

    I ask because for me using an app that allows for separate focus and exposure controls (like or ) has been game-changing when it comes to photography. You can, in the default app, lock the exposure by doing a tap/hold on the screen until the focus box pulsates, but it's not really the same. If you do a lot of photography, I think you'd really enjoy one of those other apps.

    Other people might have other suggestions; those are just the two I like the most as camera replacement apps. They mostly do the same basic things, although KitCam also records video, which Camera+ does not.
  20. Thread AuthorThread Author   #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Massie View Post
    I'm not sure how much of a difference this will make, but how are you setting focus and exposure for these? Are you just using the default Camera app--and if so, are you tapping on any particular areas of a photo like that to set things?

    I ask because for me using an app that allows for separate focus and exposure controls (like or ) has been game-changing when it comes to photography. You can, in the default app, lock the exposure by doing a tap/hold on the screen until the focus box pulsates, but it's not really the same. If you do a lot of photography, I think you'd really enjoy one of those other apps.

    Other people might have other suggestions; those are just the two I like the most as camera replacement apps. They mostly do the same basic things, although KitCam also records video, which Camera+ does not.
    Actually, these pictures were taken with Camera+ which is my default camera app on the home screen. I have an entire page of other camera app that are all related, including KitCam, but so far Camera+ seems best to me. KitCam is probably second, and might jump into the top slot if I ever take time to play with it and learn it better. I just bought it a couple of days ago.

    But to answer your question...no, these noisy photos were simply taken at Camera+ default settings. I know I should experiment more with the features of both Camera+ and KitCam but I just haven't done so. I'm sure if I did, I'd be a lot happier.

    My next project is finding a good editing suite (short of PhotoShop) that is "EASY" to use but still handles things like noise reduction well. I tried the touted Snapseed desktop app, but even though it was supposed to have noise reduction, I couldn't find it in the tools.
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    Default Re: iPhone 5 Camera Question

    @Massie: one other thing I dislike about KitCam (and even sent them feedback about) is the size of text they use in the GUI. I have good vision but have to put drug store glasses on to read the text below the icons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by larrymcj View Post
    Actually, these pictures were taken with Camera+ which is my default camera app on the home screen. I have an entire page of other camera app that are all related, including KitCam, but so far Camera+ seems best to me. KitCam is probably second, and might jump into the top slot if I ever take time to play with it and learn it better. I just bought it a couple of days ago.

    But to answer your question...no, these noisy photos were simply taken at Camera+ default settings. I know I should experiment more with the features of both Camera+ and KitCam but I just haven't done so. I'm sure if I did, I'd be a lot happier.

    My next project is finding a good editing suite (short of PhotoShop) that is "EASY" to use but still handles things like noise reduction well. I tried the touted Snapseed desktop app, but even though it was supposed to have noise reduction, I couldn't find it in the tools.
    Well, the focus/exposure controls in Cam+ are simple: just tap the + sign in the corner of the focus box, and a separate exposure control ring will appear; drag that around until you get the exposure you want:



    Of course, if you're looking for desktop apps to reduce noise, you really may just want to get a point-and-shoot. If you feel like it's that bad that you need to do post-processing to every low light shot.

    As for Snapseed, while it does have Sharpening, I don't believe I've ever read about it having a Noise Reduction option (in fact, a few reviews make a point of wishing it did) but there are other apps that do offer it: Photoshop Express and Perfectly Clear are two off the top of my head, but I can't vouch for quality as I haven't used either. Hope that helps!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails iPhone 5 Camera Question-cameraplusindependentfocusandexposure.jpg  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Massie View Post
    Of course, if you're looking for desktop apps to reduce noise, you really may just want to get a point-and-shoot. If you feel like it's that bad that you need to do post-processing to every low light shot.
    Thanks, Massie. Actually, I have a Canon PowerShot SD 780/IS Elph which takes really great pictures indoors, but I think the iPhone beats it for outdoors scenery shots. And as they always say...the best camera in the world is the one you have with you :-) I'm just trying to do a compromise here and in retrospect, I should be taking the one-chance photos on planned trips with the Canon...it's almost as small as the iPhone.

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