The iPhone 4 as a camera

One of the most interesting features of the new iPhone 4 is the new 5 megapixel camera that comes built with it. The design comes with a 3.85mm focal length on a 5.67mm diagonal sensor… as a point & shoot this would measure as a 1/3.2″ sensor. This is equivalent to a crop factor of 7.64 compared to a 35mm full frame camera. Images are captured at a 2592 x 1936 resolution, which is more than sufficient for up to an 8 x 6 printouts at 300 dpi.

This tiny little camera has a fixed f/2.8 aperture which is plenty for low light shooting. The ISO ranges from 80 to 1000… noise is present during low light shooting however the grain is consistent has a rather smooth looking feel to it. The camera software which comes with the phone is rather basic without any controls besides the touch auto-focus system & the shutter release. Basically the camera auto-focuses on a center weighted area in the middle of the frame. However selective focusing is possible by touching the area of the screen where you want to camera to focus on. At this point, the processing takes into account the exposure that is required, based on a spot metering system right in the middle of the spot where you touched the screen. This goes with the auto white balance as well at the same time.

While there are no manual controls on the camera, it is possible to control the exposure of the image by selecting the focus area. Alternatively you can install some 3rd party apps that you can download from the Apple app store which has some manual controls. Using free apps like “almost DSLR“, it is possible to lock exposure or focus while you recompose to take the shot. There is even a “PS Express” by Adobe which allows the user to perform minor edits on your photos. The window photo below was edited using PS Express.

How good is the camera?

Well… one word. Good! It’s better than my older point & shoot cameras that I have owned before! Seriously no kidding. I’ve started an album on my Flickr account just yesterday & I will be adding more photos over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

What is good?

  • The photos are sharp & crisp even right out of the camera
  • Quite decent low light shooting capabilities

What needs improvement?

  • The auto white balance is a bit off, perhaps due to the fact it takes the reading in one spot rather than averaging the entire frame.
  • Images in low light are noisy… this is subjective. I find it acceptable for a camera with a tiny sensor like this one.
  • A dedicated button for the shutter release is preferred rather than using the touch screen… you will cause some minor camera shake when you touch the shutter release on the screen.

You can visit my iPhone photo album on my Flickr for updates if you’d like. Here are the two images from the album so far…


4 responses to “The iPhone 4 as a camera”

  1. Leena says :

    I would like to say very nicely that the camera of Nokia N( is a little bit better !! Colours are more natural and it has 8 mega-pixels. But Nokia is Finnish and I am Finn 😉

  2. Leena says :

    I mean Nokia N8 !!

  3. Leena says :

    Actually it was not I, who has said it with a bias or not, it was a comparison in some English magazine and I was speaking only about a quality of photos and Nokia N8 camera, which has 12 megapixels – not 8 as I remembered 🙂
    The magazine was writing just about those colours.

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