1. Jman1313's Avatar
    I decided to do a little lower light comparison shot between the 4 and 4S to give an idea of the improvements in low light the 4S camera has made. For those who were saying that there wasn't much improvement, you'll probably change your mind after this.

    This is indoors at night under a chandelier. It's not dark, but not bright, and is somewhat typical of indoor shooting. The auto ISO of the iPhones tries to get about 1/15 sec, so you need to be steady. I took three shots, braced, with each phone, and took the sharpest from each (though frankly, all shots were pretty sharp). Note, for those who are not familiar with how these comparisons work at 100%, the 4S shots are larger because the file is larger (8MP vs 5MP)...the crops show the images at 100%, or 1 pixel of image for 1 pixel of monitor.

    First, the full frame, web reduced:

    iPhone 4:


    iPhone 4S:


    And 100% crops from four different areas (please click to view full size, or you really won't see much):


    My observations:

    1) The auto white balance of both cameras is somewhat off, and is quite different between them. I like the 4S shot better here in white balance, though it's a tad too magenta, while the 4 is too green.

    2) The dynamic range is DRAMATICALLY better on the 4S. I didn't even realize just how big a difference there was. The iPhone 4 shot has blown part of the white in the tablecloth, and has absolutely no detail in the statue's face, while the 4S has significant detail in both areas. Note that HDR was turned off for both shots.

    3) Obviously, there is a significant resolution advantage, and I think it exceeds the megapixel increase. The 4S file has more detail per pixel as well.

    4) And part of that is because the 4S shot has much lower noise, especially in the shadows. Now, neither shot is low-noise, especially when you consider the 4S is at ISO 200 and the 4 at ISO 250. Both are very noisy at the per pixel level, but the 4S shot is actually usable and could make a decent small print. The 4 shot, not so much.
    10-19-2011 09:21 PM
  2. ame's Avatar
    Oh wow, excellent test. Of the two, which is more color accurate. I can see your green vs magenta but my guess was that the 4s was still more accurate to real life.
    10-19-2011 09:50 PM
  3. Duvi's Avatar
    Good stuff... thanks for the test.
    10-19-2011 11:31 PM
  4. iJanaka's Avatar
    Wow... nice
    10-20-2011 12:25 AM
  5. ebedoun's Avatar
    great write up and test. I'm also noticing some white balance issues on the 4S.
    10-20-2011 12:31 AM
  6. Jman1313's Avatar
    I also took some shots with my real camera, and it chose the same WB as the 4S...it is also much closer to reality than what the 4 chose.
    10-20-2011 08:22 AM
  7. ame's Avatar
    that's what I was thinking you'd say. Just looking at the color of the table is where I felt like it was probably closer to reality, esp considering the tungsten lighting.
    10-20-2011 11:15 AM
  8. Infiniti7's Avatar
    LOL the iphone4 looks better in the first two pictures where the pics are blown up haha
    10-20-2011 11:44 AM
  9. Infiniti7's Avatar
    just looks a little brighter maybe?
    10-20-2011 11:44 AM
  10. Jman1313's Avatar
    LOL the iphone4 looks better in the first two pictures where the pics are blown up haha
    What are you smoking? The 4 has much worse resolution, about 3x the noise and horrible dynamic range. It's showing more contrast, which might be what you're reacting to, but that's because the blacks are blocking up and washing out all detail at that end. If I want, I can adjust the black point of the 4S shot, and still have the detail. I can't bring back the lost detail in the 4 shot.
    10-20-2011 12:36 PM
  11. Infiniti7's Avatar
    sure! lets see it
    10-20-2011 12:40 PM
  12. Jellotime91's Avatar
    The 4S picture looks like it's been put through instagram or something.

    Much better range, but the colour.. eufhh
    10-20-2011 12:42 PM
  13. Jman1313's Avatar
    The 4S picture looks like it's been put through instagram or something.

    Much better range, but the colour.. eufhh
    It's just a different white balance, and I can tell you from being there: it's FAR more accurate color wise in this scene than the 4's white balance. As mentioned, it's a little too magenta, but that's easily fixed in post if desired, but the 4's green cast is really, really off.

    I will tell you that the gourds, flowers (that look like peppers), and walls are all actually the color of the 4S shot.
    10-20-2011 01:35 PM
  14. Jman1313's Avatar
    Ok, so to show an accurate WB, I did this WB adjustment in PhotoForge in 3 seconds on my phone.
    10-20-2011 01:39 PM
  15. DamienTyler's Avatar
    Great test. Have bee wanting to do this same test...may have to now, just to compare to what I see in real life. that is the hard part, the photographer saw the real lighting, and it's hard to compare what is more real without that. Now saying that, clearly the 4S are better quality, real color or not.
    10-20-2011 08:43 PM
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