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Inside Apple's iPhone 4S and its 8MP camera: 'S' is for Shutter

post #1 of 53
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The iPhone 4S sports a higher-resolution 8-megapixel camera, but beyond the pixels is a greatly improved lens that will allow for faster picture taking, and image stabilization when shooting 1080p video.

Leading up to this Friday's launch of the iPhone 4S, AppleInsider will offer a closer look at some of the features of the next-generation handset. Given that the 'S' in the device's moniker was never officially defined by Apple, we offer five potential definitions. Today: 'S' is for the camera Shutter.

Not just pixels

One of the defining features of the iPhone 4S is its 8-megapixel camera, besting the 5-megapixel shooter found in the iPhone 4 by 60 percent. That offers photos with a much higher resolution, as demonstrated by sample pictures provided by Apple, and can even be used in prints as large as 8x10. But there is much more to the new camera than picture pixel density.

One new aspect of the lens is a larger f/2.4 aperture that catches 73 percent more light than the one found in the iPhone 4. Apple says that the custom lens in the iPhone 4S uses five precision lenses, up from four in the iPhone 4, to shape incoming light and provide sharper images.

The iPhone 4S camera also features a high-end infrared filter, which gives it greater color accuracy and uniformity when shooting photos.

A new illumination sensor has also been engineered with increased sensitivity and a shorter exposure time. This means the camera will offer better pictures in both low-light and bright situations.

The lens also starts up a third faster, allowing for users to snap pictures even more quickly. And with iOS 5, a double-tap of the home button when the handset is locked displays a camera icon on the lock screen. From there, users can access their camera even more quickly, with just one tap. Apple has said that the time to shoot a photo is the fastest in the industry.



iOS 5 also gives users the ability to use the volume-up button to snap pictures. Users can simply press the hardware button on top of the device for picture taking, rather than tapping on the screen.

And the software update will allow users to edit photos on their iPhone as well, from right within the Camera application. Built-in editing features include photo cropping and rotation, image enhancements, and red-eye removal.

On the front side of the device, the iPhone 4S maintains a forward-facing camera for FaceTime video chat and more picture taking options. That camera is believed to be unchanged from the iPhone 4, shooting VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second.

A5-powered pictures

Exclusive to the iPhone 4S and its dual-core A5 processor is face detection in still images. With face detection, the iPhone 4S will intelligently recognize and focus on individuals' faces.

Using this feature, the new iPhone can focus on the most prominent face in a frame, and will balance exposure for the digital picture for up to 10 faces in a single photo.

That functionality may be powered in part by Polar Rose, a Swedish company that has created technology for facial recognition. Apple bought Polar Rose in September of 2010 for a price believed to be around $29 million.



Apple's promotional materials state that the A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S includes an image signal processor "just as good as the ones found in DSLR cameras." With the power of the A5, the iPhone 4S promises "zero shutter lag."

"The camera also uses advanced algorithms in iOS 5 for even more color accuracy, better white balance, and greater dynamic range," the company says. "When you see your photos, you'll see exactly what that means."

Click to see full-size.

High-def, stabilized video

The iPhone 4S now shoots video in full HD 1080p, outperforming the 720p video of the iPhone 4. Shot at 30 frames per second, the 1080p video is also boosted by the advanced illumination sensor found in the iPhone 4S lens.

Coupled with the camera's larger aperture, even more light is captured with the iPhone 4S lens, resulting in brighter and more accurate videos. The new iPhone also boasts improved auto white balance for accurate colors, and temporal noise reduction for improvements with low-light video shooting.



The addition of real-time video image stabilization will greatly reduce the shakiness that often occurs when shooting video with a smartphone. The image stabilization functionality is boosted by the gyroscope found in the iPhone 4S.

Apple's plans to use the sensors in the iPhone to stabilize video recording was revealed last month in a patent application detailed by AppleInsider. It described a system using motion sensing data to compensate for any jittering in a recorded video.

The iPhone 4S also features "tap to focus" like the iPhone 4, but expands on its functionality. When recording a video with subjects in the foreground and background, the iPhone 4S allows users to focus where they want by tapping the screen.

Users can change the focus of a video while recording with the iPhone 4S by tapping on various subjects displayed on the handset's touchscreen. When the focus changes, the iPhone 4S automatically adjusts the lens exposure to match the appropriate lighting.

iOS 5 also adds built-in video editing functionality that allows users to quickly trim a clip from within the Camera application on their iPhone. More advanced editing features remain available through the iMovie application sold on the App Store.

For more, see AppleInsider's first installment of "Inside Apple's iPhone 4S," entitled "'S' is for Siri voice recognition."
post #2 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The iPhone 4S sports a higher-resolution 8-megapixel camera, but beyond the pixels is a greatly improved lens that will allow for faster picture taking, and image stabilization when shooting 1080p video. ...

How can you have an entire article entitled "s is for shutter'" when the iPhone doesn't actually have a shutter? Are we getting that lax now? Do facts not matter at all?
post #3 of 53
One thing I do wish they would have improved in the camera app is the tiny still/video toggle. I can't count the times in an outdoor setting that I've had it set opposite what I wanted and couldn't see. Lost lots of good pictures that way.
post #4 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

How can you have an entire article entitled "s is for shutter'" when the iPhone doesn't actually have a shutter? Are we getting that lax now? Do facts not matter at all?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shutter_%28photography%29
post #5 of 53
Does gyro-aided image stabilization work with still photographs or just video?
post #6 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

How can you have an entire article entitled "s is for shutter'" when the iPhone doesn't actually have a shutter

I question your contention that there is or isn't a shutter. However I do agree that saying 'S is for Shutter' is banking on a meh detail. All the truly amazing changes are tied to the sensors so that should the S.
post #7 of 53
Holy crap, that's pretty amazing. Give it some kind of effective optical zoom, and I could throw away my point & shoot.
post #8 of 53
I'm just hoping the rolling shutter artefacts aren't too bad with the video camera.
post #9 of 53
Assuming this is real, this is pretty impressive…

http://cdn.macrumors.com/article-new/2011/10/IMG.jpg (JPEG, 1.3MB)
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post #10 of 53
Sherman's professor is still correct... there's no actual shutter. There is an electronic/digital function that is comparable to a shutter... but no actual shutter.
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post #11 of 53
Argh! Giant squirrel!
post #12 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

One thing I do wish they would have improved in the camera app is the tiny still/video toggle. I can't count the times in an outdoor setting that I've had it set opposite what I wanted and couldn't see. Lost lots of good pictures that way.

And when you do see, the delay in the toggle has led to more than a few lost photographic moments.
post #13 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Assuming this is real, this is pretty impressive
http://cdn.macrumors.com/article-new/2011/10/IMG.jpg (JPEG, 1.3MB)

No, that's a counterfeit greenback, for sure.
post #14 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

How can you have an entire article entitled "s is for shutter'" when the iPhone doesn't actually have a shutter? Are we getting that lax now? Do facts not matter at all?

This was my favorite:

"The lens also starts up a third faster".


Umm...iPhone lenses don't "start up".
post #15 of 53
S is for Siri
S is for Shutter
S is for Speed
S is for Steve
S is for ??
post #16 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

How can you have an entire article entitled "s is for shutter'" when the iPhone doesn't actually have a shutter? Are we getting that lax now? Do facts not matter at all?

What makes you think it would not? The shutter can be controlled 100% electronically (hence the name "electronic shutter") and can have many different values for shutter speed. View EXIF for more information.
post #17 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

This was my favorite:

"The lens also starts up a third faster".

Umm...iPhone lenses don't "start up".

Since the lenses are not static, there may be spinup time for the servos controlling the AF.
post #18 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neves View Post

I still think this time when I get the 4S, the S will always be for Steve...



neves
www.onedayoneapp.com

you myself and several others online have said the same

i got the steve edition
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post #19 of 53
Quote:

Exactly.

Cell phones and other digital cameras of this type do not have a shutter. They imitate the effects of the shutter digitally. To do an article about a cell phone camera and imply that it's new and improved because now it has a shutter, is a misrepresentation.

There is also hardly even a mention of shutters in the article, and nothing about the new camera's digital approximation of a shutter that is either different from the last iPhone camera or any other cell phone camera. At least as far as the article describes.

It's just a generally poor and misleading title.
S is for speed, S is for Steve maybe, but S is definitely not for shutter.
post #20 of 53
Very good camera, which will certainly affect the compact camera market, but here's hoping the camera load doesn't slow down as bad as it did on the iPhone 4. It used to be a lot quicker, but now takes around 4-5 seconds to open for me now. Or maybe it just seemed quicker before.
post #21 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Exactly.

Cell phones and other digital cameras of this type do not have a shutter. They imitate the effects of the shutter digitally. To do an article about a cell phone camera and imply that it's new and improved because now it has a shutter, is a misrepresentation.

There is also hardly even a mention of shutters in the article, and nothing about the new camera's digital approximation of a shutter that is either different from the last iPhone camera or any other cell phone camera. At least as far as the article describes.

It's just a generally poor and misleading title.
S is for speed, S is for Steve maybe, but S is definitely not for shutter.

Maybe 'S' is for sense of humor?
post #22 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Argh! Giant squirrel!

But impressive. I no longer need to look for a complimentary point and shoot for my DSLR and it just justified the 4S even though I have a 4 now.

Wow... I'm just blown away by how good that is from a phone as thin as the iPhone!
post #23 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

This was my favorite:
"The lens also starts up a third faster".
Umm...iPhone lenses don't "start up".

Er, I think they mean the speed of the lense vs. starting like a car.

Hey, one pedant deserves another
post #24 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Maybe 'S' is for sense of humor?

Come on now, profusely pontificating is what Internet forums are for. Isn't that why we are all here?
post #25 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh2012 View Post

S is for Siri
S is for Shutter
S is for Speed
S is for Steve
S is for ??

*Suh-weet or Subpar (the buying public is obviously voting for the former, while some posters and pundits still kvetch it's the latter)
*Stealthgrade (the improvements reveal themselves in use not on sight)
*Sprint
*Sixty-four (GB) (You'll need it to keep many 1080p vids stored locally)

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post #26 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh2012 View Post

S is for Siri
S is for Shutter
S is for Speed
S is for Steve
S is for ??

S is for $$$

The amount of money Apple will make (though, not technically as "S")
post #27 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post

Wow... I'm just blown away by how good that is from a phone as thin as the iPhone!

I think that is a point the anti-Apple crowd will conveniently ignore. There are many great phone cameras but they are either very thick phones or relatively thin phones with a huge camera goiter hanging off its neck.
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post #28 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by retiarius View Post

Does gyro-aided image stabilization work with still photographs or just video?

Gyro stabilization doesn’t remove motion blur as far as I know (doing so would give moving video an odd look anyway). It removes travel/jitter so that objects are in the same place from frame to frame.

That doesn’t apply to stills: there only IS one frame. There’s no jitter or travel to remove.

But if you’re hoping that motion blur can be avoided when you take a still shot while moving too much, the 4S probably does help with that a bit, simply by having a shorter exposure time and better light sensitivity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think that is a poor te anti-Apple crowd will conveniently ignore. There are many great phone cameras but they are either very thick phones or relatively thin phones with a huge camera goiter hanging off its neck.

And do they have HDR? And the same selection of really outstanding photo apps? The iPhone 4 is an amazing all-around camera, so much more capable (in ways that matter to me) than any standalone camera. And the 4S is better yet! Now, what’s better than both? Next year’s iPhone I’ll be getting
post #29 of 53
My iphone 4 with ios 5 gm does tap to focus during video also.
post #30 of 53
S doesn't stand for anything. It's the Harry Truman edition.
post #31 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Exactly.

Cell phones and other digital cameras of this type do not have a shutter. They imitate the effects of the shutter digitally. To do an article about a cell phone camera and imply that it's new and improved because now it has a shutter, is a misrepresentation.

There is also hardly even a mention of shutters in the article, and nothing about the new camera's digital approximation of a shutter that is either different from the last iPhone camera or any other cell phone camera. At least as far as the article describes.

It's just a generally poor and misleading title.
S is for speed, S is for Steve maybe, but S is definitely not for shutter.

Actually my Nokia N8 does have a mechanical shutter for photos (not video). And I was really disappointed the one and only time I was in a propeller aircraft and it turned out I couldn't get a weird assed picture of the props.
post #32 of 53
I won't be able to fully tell how good this is until I see a comparison of the same images from the iPhone 4 and the 4S.
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post #33 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

How can you have an entire article entitled "s is for shutter'" when the iPhone doesn't actually have a shutter? Are we getting that lax now? Do facts not matter at all?

Oh come on. I guess if a person loves taking pictures with their iPhone they cannot be called a "shutterbug" due to aforementioned lack of shutter...
post #34 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

It's just a generally poor and misleading title.
S is for speed, S is for Steve maybe, but S is definitely not for shutter.

To anyone who has even an ounce of "common sense" it is obvious that AI wanted to have a word that we would all associate with a camera and would start with an S.

Tell me, are all "Professors" lacking in common sense or perhaps you just didn't want to "waste an opportunity" to be nit-picky, yet again.
I would suggest to you, that anyone who displays the amount of misunderstanding that you do, most times, should not have the title (even abbreviated) of "Prof." in their name. Talk about misleading!
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post #35 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

Oh come on. I guess if a person loves taking pictures with their iPhone they cannot be called a "shutterbug" due to aforementioned lack of shutter...

When it comes to a digital camera shutter I don't think the shutter being virtual/electronic is incorrect for demotic speak. If this were a technical forum detailing camera HW then I could see the distinction needing to be made.

PS: We've had the same argument about calling a motion picture a film if it's not actually produced on celluloid. Oxford American Dictionary defines film as "a motion picture; a movie: a horror film" and "movies considered as an art or industry."
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post #36 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

S is for $$$

The amount of money Apple will make (though, not technically as "S")

S is for Selfish

Me want! Bad!
post #37 of 53
The problem with the current iPhone 4 camera is the amount of post-processing that goes on. If you compare the shots it produces to a quality standalone camera (or the current gold standard in cameraphones, the Nokia N8), you can see how unnatural the colours look. Photos taken by the iPhone 4 tend to end up looking very cartoony - they're too colourful.

Hopefully the bigger aperture will mean that less post-processing will need to be done.
post #38 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierrajeff View Post

Holy crap, that's pretty amazing. Give it some kind of effective optical zoom, and I could throw away my point & shoot.

Don't worry they are getting there. I was in Best Buy(oh god why!) last year looking for a digital camera for my girlfriend and I tested them all out. Not one and I mean not one could compare to my iphone 4's camera. Not even a $500.00 sony cyber shot. Damn!
post #39 of 53
At WWDC 2009, Phil Schiller said the S in iPhone 3GS was for "speed". Why is there any reason to think that it would stand for something different with regards to the iPhone 4S?

post #40 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Assuming this is real, this is pretty impressive
http://cdn.macrumors.com/article-new/2011/10/IMG.jpg (JPEG, 1.3MB)

S is for 'shudder' at how good that picture is.
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