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Briefly: iPhone Software 3.0 taking better camera snapshots

post #1 of 171
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Beta versions of Apple's iPhone 3.0 software are consistently producing clearer, more detailed photos when running on the same iPhone 3G hardware as the latest public release of the software, new tests show.

The folks over at iPhones.ru ran a series of tests 30 times over in which they compared photos of the same objects or scenes taken on an iPhone 3G running iPhone Software 2.2.1 with another running a beta of iPhone Software 3.0.

They claim that in most cases, the iPhone running 3.0 produced photos with noticeably better quality and clarity than the iPhone running 2.2.1. A pair of comparison photos exemplifying their findings can be seen below.

Intrigued, Gizmodo followed up with a brief test of its own in a dark lighting scenario -- one of the iPhone camera's weak spots -- and similarly found the iPhone running 3.0 to have produced a much clearer snapshot with better detail in dark areas of the scene (seen, below, in the second pair of photos).

There's therefore some speculation that Apple may be making tweaks to the iPhone's Camera software that make it better at exposing bright light sources while reducing overexposure of photos taken in low lighting scenarios.

A handful of third-party iPhone apps have long attempted to address the iPhone's propensity to produce poor photos in dark lighting, like Night Camera, which leverages the handset's accelerometer to snap a photo the instant it feels the iPhone is most stable in the user's hand.



If Apple is indeed making improvements to the iPhone's camera app, those changes should benefit users of both the original iPhone and iPhone 3G, both of which sport a 2.0 megapixel digital camera.



The company's next-generation iPhone hardware has been rumored to include a 3.2 megapixel camera. AppleInsider was also first to report in March that this new camera will be capable of taking video.

iPhone Software 3.0 is due out sometime this summer.
post #2 of 171
Yep, they look better.

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post #3 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Yep, they look better.

Definitely.
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post #4 of 171
I'm just waiting for 3.0...delta, not beta.
post #5 of 171
A feature to improve video capture?
post #6 of 171
While it's interesting that they "look better" now, it also rather sad that 2 years later with the same camera only now produces better results. Video could have also been captured with the same camera- no doubt. In other words it's not the camera but the software that was lacking- as I've always stated but was struck down by the fanboyz.
post #7 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by 801 View Post

A feature to improve video capture?

I thought I had read somewhere that the camera doesn't lend itself to video capture very well. I'm not able to find the article though.
post #8 of 171
Sweet! That's quite an improvement indeed. I see it as proof that megapixel count is highly overrated, there's too many other factors at work.

I wonder if it's also able to snap closeups such as UPC symbols, etc. in better focus. I suspect not though as that's a limitation of the lens?
post #9 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by steviet02 View Post

I thought I had read somewhere that the camera doesn't lend itself to video capture very well. I'm not able to find the article though.

Dude- a $29 no name brand cellphone can capture video if the software is there. Blame Apple on not having that for 2 years not the camera.
post #10 of 171
It was quite clear when taking pictures that there was something wrong with the software as the image quality changes dynamically based on the light intensity. If you put an object on a dark background vs a light background, the iphone automatically corrects the overall image in software and can make the same object appear completely different.

Some color noise removal would have been a nice addition but you can see in the shadows that problem is still there. A Photoshop filter improves this but they could have implemented it directly on the phone.
post #11 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

While it's interesting that they "look better" now, it also rather sad that 2 years later with the same camera only now produces better results. Video could have also been captured with the same camera- no doubt. In other words it's not the camera but the software that was lacking- as I've always stated but was struck down by the fanboyz.

Can't argue with you on that, but hey at least there is an improvement. Makes me feel that my 3G phone won't be completely obsolete!
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Just say no to MacMall.  They don't honor their promotions and won't respond to customer inquiries.  There are better retailers out there.
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post #12 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Dude- a $29 no name brand camera can capture video if the software is there. Blame Apple on not having that for 2 years not the camera.

Dude - If it's just software why isn't the jailbroken program good at capturing it? Cause it sucks.
post #13 of 171
I think it's cool they can make the camera better through better programming, but I don't think it's cool that they package it up and wait 2 years to attempt to do so. Maybe another 2 years from now they'll allow flash and that'll be just another little incentive not to jump ship when the contract expires.

I wish HTC would take a lesson from Apple and update their camera on the touch pro. It's a decent camera for a phone, but it definitely has much more potential.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steviet02 View Post

Dude - If it's just software why isn't the jailbroken program good at capturing it? Cause it sucks.

This IS just software. People can say it's an artificial limitation, but it could also just be a planned upgrade. There is such thing as a software development life cycle, and some SDLC's last longer than others. Why hold back the release of a good phone because one piece of the software isn't finished?
post #14 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

It was quite clear when taking pictures that there was something wrong with the software as the image quality changes dynamically based on the light intensity. If you put an object on a dark background vs a light background, the iphone automatically corrects the overall image in software and can make the same object appear completely different.

Some color noise removal would have been a nice addition but you can see in the shadows that problem is still there. A Photoshop filter improves this but they could have implemented it directly on the phone.

The noise can to some degree be put down to the sensor and the lens though can't it? This same software running on the newer, better hardware would produce excellent pictures. At least as good as your average Canon point and click IMO.

If as the rumour goes, Apple is coming out with a new iPhone and a new "video" iPhone, it wouldn't make sense for them to use the same hardware, otherwise why not enable video on the non video enabled iPhone? So if it's true that this is in the plans, then this would allow Apple to say that the picture quality has been improved across the board (even for 3G!), but that if you really want to you can go full HD, and full video by buying the new high end model.
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post #15 of 171
Hey Ballmer! It's the software, stupid!
post #16 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

Why hold back the release of a good phone because one piece of the software isn't finished?

Thank you, iStink - well said. Now tell that to all the other haters who nitpick about individual features lacking from the iPhone while they neglect the "big picture." It's quite obvious that at least 17 million people are willing to overlook a small number of individual features in exchange for a superior overall experience.
post #17 of 171
the differences between pictures seem indeed to be introduced by digital processing. No cheating is seen.

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post #18 of 171
The difference in photo quality looks suspiciously drastic for just a software upgrade. I wouldn't be surprised if most of what the comparison photos are showing is grease on the lense of the iphone running 2.2.1
post #19 of 171
Who knows what that machine is?

My guess Russian ATM???

So if thats the case Pussy & Money are the photographers subjects?

Woah.

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

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post #20 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

While it's interesting that they "look better" now, it also rather sad that 2 years later with the same camera only now produces better results. Video could have also been captured with the same camera- no doubt. In other words it's not the camera but the software that was lacking- as I've always stated but was struck down by the fanboyz.

Dude, there is this little thing called "time," and this other thing called "work."

Something being possible, does not equate to there being "no reason" why it can't be done. The first camera software was a fantastic achievement considering the pictures it produces are far better than any other camera with the same modest specs can produce. After years of hard work by lots and lots of people it's about to get a bit better, but you are critical of this? WTF?

I know I bug you sometimes by referring to your arguments as juvenile, but this goes to the heart of that. Apple is getting set to present you with this great present wherein the iPhone camera will take better pictures than it has before, it's FREE, and all you have to say is (effectively) "shoulda come sooner?"

And you wonder why people sometimes think of your statements as petulant or immature?

If someone invented an anti-gravity device tomorrow morning, would you just say "it's about time?" Or do you actually have any idea of the amount of hard work that goes into things like software development (and anti-gravity devices)?

Why don't you just buy an iPhone and get it over with? We all know you rarely criticise the Apple products you actually buy, just the ones you know nothing about.
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post #21 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTL215 View Post

Thank you, iStink - well said. Now tell that to all the other haters who nitpick about individual features lacking from the iPhone while they neglect the "big picture." It's quite obvious that at least 17 million people are willing to overlook a small number of individual features in exchange for a superior overall experience.

Well the only gripe I have about it is how they release the updates. Wouldn't it be better to release things as they're finished, and not bundle them up as one big release? For all we know this camera enhancement has been finished for the past 4 months, know what I mean? It doesn't matter much now because all that waiting will result in what people have been asking for, but if MMS was done at Christmas, imagine how many Christmas photos could have been sent lol.

But that's all speculation. Each development team could have just been given a deadline and some teams worked feverishly everyday to meet the deadline while others spread their work out and lollygagged because they knew they would be done in time no problem.

Ok, I'm done ranting
post #22 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

I think it's cool they can make the camera better through better programming, but I don't think it's cool that they package it up and wait 2 years to attempt to do so. Maybe another 2 years from now they'll allow flash and that'll be just another little incentive not to jump ship when the contract expires.

I wish HTC would take a lesson from Apple and update their camera on the touch pro. It's a decent camera for a phone, but it definitely has much more potential.



This IS just software. People can say it's an artificial limitation, but it could also just be a planned upgrade. There is such thing as a software development life cycle, and some SDLC's last longer than others. Why hold back the release of a good phone because one piece of the software isn't finished?

iPhone 3.0 allows communication through the docking port for third-party apps. If a flash isn't built in to the machine, you can bet there'll be some kind of add-on.
post #23 of 171
wtf sort of test candidate is a cat? A CAT!
post #24 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by fezzasus View Post

The difference in photo quality looks suspiciously drastic for just a software upgrade. I wouldn't be surprised if most of what the comparison photos are showing is grease on the lense of the iphone running 2.2.1

Night pictures are very realistic. This is exactly how iPhone 3G 2.2.1 does it. Digitally processed, for sure. No one can guarantee, thought, this wasn't done with Photoshop on a desktop computer.

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post #25 of 171
Hmm, two years late and many dollars short, but hey, better late than never!
post #26 of 171
Those are Russian words on the machine.
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post #27 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

Well the only gripe I have about it is how they release the updates. Wouldn't it be better to release things as they're finished, and not bundle them up as one big release? For all we know this camera enhancement has been finished for the past 4 months, know what I mean? It doesn't matter much now because all that waiting will result in what people have been asking for, but if MMS was done at Christmas, imagine how many Christmas photos could have been sent lol.

But that's all speculation. Each development team could have just been given a deadline and some teams worked feverishly everyday to meet the deadline while others spread their work out and lollygagged because they knew they would be done in time no problem.

Ok, I'm done ranting

It's about priorities. Most people can wait on improvement in features but no one would wait on an unstable apps. Since the 2.0 there were many problems ranging from crashing Safari to crashing 3rd party apps. There is also the needed iPhone SDK improvements. All of this need to be coordinated between many teams and many engineers. Remember the iPhone OS is less than 2 year old, built solely by Apple, and started from almost a scratch. Look how long it took Android to even be used on one device. We need more stable phone first then we need more features.
post #28 of 171
That would be the .ru in the article then.
post #29 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

It was quite clear when taking pictures that there was something wrong with the software as the image quality changes dynamically based on the light intensity. If you put an object on a dark background vs a light background, the iphone automatically corrects the overall image in software and can make the same object appear completely different.

Some color noise removal would have been a nice addition but you can see in the shadows that problem is still there. A Photoshop filter improves this but they could have implemented it directly on the phone.

It's not that simple.

Even D-SLR manufacturers disagree on where to go with built-in noise removal.

If noise could be removed without damaging the image, all would do it as much as possible. But it can't. Every bit of extra noise removal softens the picture further.

When you start with a camera that has low resolution to begin with, it's too much.

Most manufacturers of D-SLRs give a choice of minimal reduction to high reduction.

I'd always rather have no noise reduction in the camera, and decide how much to add, and how to add it, later.
post #30 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

Well the only gripe I have about it is how they release the updates. Wouldn't it be better to release things as they're finished, and not bundle them up as one big release? For all we know this camera enhancement has been finished for the past 4 months, know what I mean? It doesn't matter much now because all that waiting will result in what people have been asking for, but if MMS was done at Christmas, imagine how many Christmas photos could have been sent lol.

But that's all speculation. Each development team could have just been given a deadline and some teams worked feverishly everyday to meet the deadline while others spread their work out and lollygagged because they knew they would be done in time no problem.

Ok, I'm done ranting

Testing out new features doesn't work that way because of the amount of Q&A involved with every release before it gets sent to the public. It is far easier to have fewer releases with more features that are better tested than to constantly be testing new features incrementally. The problem arises when features are interdependent on each other and it's all too easy for something to break.
post #31 of 171
I thought I heard that the reason video isn't that good has more to do with the access times on the internal storage than anything else.
post #32 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by iStink View Post

Well the only gripe I have about it is how they release the updates. Wouldn't it be better to release things as they're finished, and not bundle them up as one big release? For all we know this camera enhancement has been finished for the past 4 months, know what I mean? It doesn't matter much now because all that waiting will result in what people have been asking for, but if MMS was done at Christmas, imagine how many Christmas photos could have been sent lol.

But that's all speculation. Each development team could have just been given a deadline and some teams worked feverishly everyday to meet the deadline while others spread their work out and lollygagged because they knew they would be done in time no problem.

Ok, I'm done ranting

But we don't know if it's done, do we?

And you know what? This isn't such a big deal. I don't want to get little updates every month or so that add trivial fixes and features that just add to the chance of screwing other apps or features.

It's better to do it all at once, so that all can be tested together, and third party developers don't have to go crazy trying their apps with every insignificant update.

This is why MS wraps up all new developments into one big update once a year or so. Their developers are much happier that way.

In fact, Apple consistently criticized for having updates to its OS every few months.

As we seem to get a major upgrade to the phone OS every year, its not too long to wait.
post #33 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

While it's interesting that they "look better" now, it also rather sad that 2 years later with the same camera only now produces better results. Video could have also been captured with the same camera- no doubt. In other words it's not the camera but the software that was lacking- as I've always stated but was struck down by the fanboyz.

but this is the beauty of the iPhone.


instead of being stuck with horrid software, like on the Treo 750, knowing that things could be improved, apple is actually making the first phones they sold BETTER.


Palm (especially) would sell you a new phone, but not improve the old
apple will offer software upgrades to improve both the oldest and the newest phones.


THIS is why the iPhone is a strong seller and changing the marketplace. Apple is the first major player to realize it is about software.
post #34 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by akf2000 View Post

wtf sort of test candidate is a cat? A CAT!

Lots of testing is done with cats and dogs because the fur gives a good test of sharpness.
post #35 of 171
Um, there's something called an App store, filled with useful apps.

Darkroom: Free

Makes the iPhone camera shots better.
post #36 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwarf420 View Post

I thought I heard that the reason video isn't that good has more to do with the access times on the internal storage than anything else.

And a few other little details like processor speed, available memory, and battery impact. Adding quality video is more complicated than just software. That said, it's good to see some improvement on pics from software updates. If Apple adds the right hardware changes to the next model, video will be worth the wait.
post #37 of 171
Praise the Lord!!

The crappy quality of the camera is my biggest of my very few gripes about the glorious iPhone 3G! If the picture quality can be improved without me having to get another phone, I am officially stoked!

I never though that the 2 megapixel size or fixed-focus were necessarily the causes of the lousiness. I had a 0.3MP camera that took some pretty good shots.
post #38 of 171
At what point does Apple decide its software is good enough to release? Essentially, all you folks complaining that these improvements should have happened earlier, would have had the exact same complaints if they had done as you suggest.

If Apple had waited a couple of months to develop, test and integrate these improvements before releasing this, then:

1) The iPhone would have been a few months late.
2) Other features would not have been as well developed
3) If they added any new features, or made any improvements, then the exact same complaints would have come out.

Saying that "Apple should have done this x time ago" is equivalent to saying "I will complain, except if Apple stops improving the iPhone".

Fact is, while it wasn't as good as it could be, the iPhone camera S/W was good enough that it became the most popular device for pics on flickr, and it was used by certain photographers as part of their image portfolio. And there haven't really been any complaints regarding the poor quality of the camera.

Apple releases stuff when its good enough for normal usage, and then keeps improving it...
post #39 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

The first camera software was a fantastic achievement considering the pictures it produces are far better than any other camera with the same modest specs can produce. ?"

Seriously -take your blinders off. That statment is a joke. It's pictures were the same if not slightly worse than some cameras with the same specs. And now it's better (improved). If it was so great why did it need to be improved?



Quote:
Why don't you just buy an iPhone and get it over with? We all know you rarely criticise the Apple products you actually buy, just the ones you know nothing about.

I may just surprise you and do just that now that the iPhone finally has all the specs I've demanded (except AT&T)for the last 2 years and have been answered- texting, texting pics, video recording and hopefully sending video, cut and paste and last but not least bluetooth stereo.
post #40 of 171
I can also imagine that some of the same people who complain about it taking so long to release updates would be the first ones to complain that it was buggy if Apple released it early.
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