With new cameras, Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are a boon for mobile photographers

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2014
With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple added numerous features designed to make life better for users. Photographers are no exception, getting goodies like phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilization --?AppleInsider took a look at all of the imaging upgrades coming to the next-generation handsets.


Still Imaging

The iPhone has largely derailed the once-booming point-and-shoot camera industry --?as the old saying goes, "the best camera is the one you have with you," and that has proven to most often be an iPhone. The iPhone 5, 5s, 4S, and 4 hold four of the top five spots for the most popular cameras on photo sharing site Flickr.

Focus Pixels
Both iPhone 6 models feature new Focus Pixels, which is Apple's way of saying that they've added paired focus detection points to enable phase detection autofocus. This technique has been used in digital SLR cameras for years, and -- broadly speaking -- works by comparing the images received by each detection point in the pair.

If the images on each detection point are the same, the sensor knows that it's focused properly. If the images differ --?because light reaches the detection points at different angles --?the image processor can calculate the difference and adjust the lens to compensate, enabling autofocus that Apple says is twice as fast as the iPhone 5s.

Face Detection
With the new A8 chip inside the iPhone 6 series comes an updated image processor. Apple has added dedicated hardware inside the processor for face detection, making it faster, and enhancing blink and smile detection to help the iPhone automatically choose burst photos where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling with their eyes open.

Image Stabilization
Image stabilization is the only area where the cameras in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus differ. The iPhone 6 offers software-assisted stabilization, which takes four photos at once --?each with a short exposure time -?and combines them into a single image to alleviate noise and motion.

The iPhone 6 Plus, however, adds optical image stabilization. It uses motion data from the handset's gyroscope and M8 motion coprocessor to compensate for hand shake by adjusting the physical position of the lens, and then applies the same software-assisted stabilization as the iPhone 6. This helps most in low-light situations, allowing longer exposures without excessive blur or noise.

Panorama
The new sensor in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has also enhanced the popular Panorama feature introduced in iOS 6. In addition to higher-resolution panoramas -- up to 43 megapixels -- and dynamic auto exposure, Apple says the new gyroscope in the iPhone 6 series makes for more seamless image stitching.

Video




Apple is particularly proud of the iPhone 6 series's video-shooting bona fides. The marketing site boasts that the "camera that changed photos now does the same for video," and Apple executives were no less boastful during the handset's on-stage introduction.

60 FPS 1080p HD
High-definition 1080p video recording came to the iPhone 5s, but the handset was only capable of recording at 30 frames per second. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus bump that to 60 frames per second, though users can still choose to record at 30 frames per second if they prefer that speed.

240 FPS Slo-mo
Like high-definition video recording, slow-motion capture appeared alongside the iPhone 5s. Apple has doubled the 5s's 120 frames per second slo-mo capability to 240 frames per second in the iPhone 6 series.

Continuous Autofocus
Apple's new Focus Pixels are also used for video autofocus, and allow the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to continuously adjust the autofocus when capturing video. Imagine pointing the iPhone at a distant skyline, and then walking in front of the camera -- when enabled, it would automatically adjust the video's focus to the nearer subject, and return to the skyline once they walk out of frame.

Cinematic Video Stabilization
The iPhone 6 series's new Cinematic Video Stabilization is essentially automatic still image stabilization applied to video capture. It's not yet clear whether the iPhone 6 Plus's optical image stabilization system will be used to augment the software stabilization algorithms, and likely will not be until tests are performed following the handsets' release.

Time-lapse
The new Time-lapse feature in iOS 8 allows users to record time-lapse videos with a single tap. Photo intervals will be dynamically selected by the device, and Apple says that it will record for as long as the handset's battery will last.

It's not exclusive to the iPhone 6 series, however --?it will also available on the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s after they've been upgraded to the new operating system.

FaceTime HD




The front-facing FaceTime camera got a boost to high-definition with the iPhone 5, and now gains many of the advancements that have hit the rear-facing cameras in the interim. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will ship with a FaceTime HD camera that sports an f/2.2 aperture, as well as a sensor that Apple says will capture 81 percent more light.

Additionally, it can take advantage of the A8's new image processor for face detection and HDR video. Apple has also brought burst mode -- up to 10 photos per second --?and timer mode to the "selfie cam."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    Slowly, but surely they are disrupting every single industry they decide to invade. Forcing conservative corporate boards to rethink their business models... sony, panasonic, nikon, casio, nokia, garmin, dell, intel, microsoft, VISA, master card, amex, swatch, rolex... and the list goes on. They all have one thing in common at their board meetings - a panicky feeling of being on the defensive. Apple is quietly going about this without even considering what everyone else is doing.
  • Reply 2 of 60
    Too bad the resolution has not improved. It has remained fixed at 8 megapixels since the 4s. That's six different phone models with the same resolution: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 plus. I realize that image quality matters more than resolution but resolution also matters. They could have squeezed in 12 megapixels by now and still had excellent quality.

    One other problem they need to solve: The phone should be able to take landscape photos and videos when it is held in portrait orientation. That will get rid of the issue of portrait videos that everyone hates. It is natural to hold the phone vertically but that does not imply we want a portrait aspect ratio. The camera sensor is square so there is no reason at all why it cannot take landscape images and videos from any orientation. Sure give us the option to do portrait if we want (at least for still images) but video should always default to landscape.
  • Reply 3 of 60
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    GrangerFX wrote: »
    Too bad the resolution has not improved. It has remained fixed at 8 megapixels since the 4s. That's six different phone models with the same resolution: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 plus. I realize that image quality matters more than resolution but resolution also matters. They could have squeezed in 12 megapixels by now and still had excellent quality.

    Yeah, look at all the higher megapixel camera phones overtaking the iPhones on Flickr...

    ...oh hang on.

    At the size of a phone sensor, the compromise with more pixels is more noise to deal with.

    Apple gets it, HTC gets it, the rest it's more about kudos regarding a number on a spec sheet.
  • Reply 4 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by johnnybleiss View Post



    without even considering what everyone else is doing.

     

    Right, because making a 4.7 and 5.5 inch phone is not because of what other people are doing.

  • Reply 5 of 60
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,926member
    GrangerFX wrote: »
    Too bad the resolution has not improved. It has remained fixed at 8 megapixels since the 4s. That's six different phone models with the same resolution: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 plus. I realize that image quality matters more than resolution but resolution also matters. They could have squeezed in 12 megapixels by now and still had excellent quality.

    One other problem they need to solve: The phone should be able to take landscape photos and videos when it is held in portrait orientation. That will get rid of the issue of portrait videos that everyone hates. It is natural to hold the phone vertically but that does not imply we want a portrait aspect ratio. The camera sensor is square so there is no reason at all why it cannot take landscape images and videos from any orientation. Sure give us the option to do portrait if we want (at least for still images) but video should always default to landscape.

    Do you print out images in poster sizes? 8 MP is more than enough for 8x10s and below. Don't get me wrong, higher MP would be nice but at what cost: file size.
    I still have a point and shoot mainly to zoom in farther.
  • Reply 6 of 60
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,301member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post



    Too bad the resolution has not improved. It has remained fixed at 8 megapixels since the 4s. That's six different phone models with the same resolution: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 plus. I realize that image quality matters more than resolution but resolution also matters. They could have squeezed in 12 megapixels by now and still had excellent quality.



    One other problem they need to solve: The phone should be able to take landscape photos and videos when it is held in portrait orientation. That will get rid of the issue of portrait videos that everyone hates. It is natural to hold the phone vertically but that does not imply we want a portrait aspect ratio. The camera sensor is square so there is no reason at all why it cannot take landscape images and videos from any orientation. Sure give us the option to do portrait if we want (at least for still images) but video should always default to landscape.



    So, are you printing photos at poster size? If not, then 12MP would never be necessary.

  • Reply 7 of 60
    Any indication whether 120fps and 240fps slow mo is now 1080p resolution or still 720p?
  • Reply 8 of 60
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,729member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by johnnybleiss View Post



    Slowly, but surely they are disrupting every single industry they decide to invade. Forcing conservative corporate boards to rethink their business models... sony, panasonic, nikon, casio, nokia, garmin, dell, intel, microsoft, VISA, master card, amex, swatch, rolex... and the list goes on. They all have one thing in common at their board meetings - a panicky feeling of being on the defensive. Apple is quietly going about this without even considering what everyone else is doing.

    Apple is not really disrupting anything much in terms of Amex, MC and Visa. More like partnering with them. If Apple was to disrupt this marked they would let us use them for credit card payments but bypass them entirely for debit card payments a la Dwolla.

  • Reply 9 of 60

    The new HDR images/ videos show off some great dynamic range in the RAW data. I love that they finally acknowledge the importance of dynamic range. Most new photos show off a completely different interpretation curve. Both in colours, contrasts and dynamic range. I like it.

  • Reply 10 of 60
    They are not making bigger phones because others are doing it, but because customers want it. They are rarely first with anything. Pretty clever if you ask me. Leave it to samsung to spend money on testing 2000 versions of a smartphone to see what sticks....
  • Reply 11 of 60
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    Selfies are more important these days and the FaceTime camera sucks- same as the 5C basically.
  • Reply 12 of 60
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    What's great is since I (like most) buy every 2 years , and am upgrading from a 5, I also get all the improvements from the 5S (low light etc.). This week's new "stuff" is not the ONLY new stuff for most people.

    5 to 6 is quite a nice jump.
  • Reply 13 of 60
    why are people complaining about the resolution only being 8mp? glad apple is restraining from engaging in the mp arms race and focusing on great photo quality.
  • Reply 14 of 60

    I'm also a little bummed at remaining at 8 megapixels.  We've been here forever.  But it's definitely not a deal breaker for me.  Can't wait to preorder!   :)

  • Reply 15 of 60
    Spot on
  • Reply 16 of 60
    paxman wrote: »
    Apple is not really disrupting anything much in terms of Amex, MC and Visa. More like partnering with them. If Apple was to disrupt this marked they would let us use them for credit card payments but bypass them entirely for debit card payments a la Dwolla.

    Apple is disrupting the payment industry and yes, you are right, you better be a partner in that game... If you are not on apple's side, you are in trouble. Look at eBay/paypal and how the stock reacted to the news...
  • Reply 17 of 60
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,384member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post



    Too bad the resolution has not improved. It has remained fixed at 8 megapixels since the 4s. That's six different phone models with the same resolution: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 plus. I realize that image quality matters more than resolution but resolution also matters. They could have squeezed in 12 megapixels by now and still had excellent quality.



    One other problem they need to solve: The phone should be able to take landscape photos and videos when it is held in portrait orientation. That will get rid of the issue of portrait videos that everyone hates. It is natural to hold the phone vertically but that does not imply we want a portrait aspect ratio. The camera sensor is square so there is no reason at all why it cannot take landscape images and videos from any orientation. Sure give us the option to do portrait if we want (at least for still images) but video should always default to landscape.

     

    If you truly need more than 8MP, that means you need to develop at least full page magazine prints, in which case you shouldn't be shooting those with a phone to begin with. 8MP is more than enough for 95% of use case scenarios. 

  • Reply 18 of 60
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thetorrey View Post

     

    I'm also a little bummed at remaining at 8 megapixels.  We've been here forever.  But it's definitely not a deal breaker for me.  Can't wait to preorder!   :)


     

    So you would rather have a 16 megapixel camera that takes crappier pictures? Are you saying that, based on specs alone, the more megapixels the better? Do you know that professional photographers have labeled the iPhone camera the best in mobile? It’s the SOFTWARE, stupid.

  • Reply 19 of 60
    Originally Posted by johnnybleiss View Post

    They are not making bigger phones because others are doing it, but because customers want it.

     

    But they don’t want it. And Apple isn’t in the business of creating what people think they want, anyway.

  • Reply 20 of 60
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,228member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    But they don’t want it. And Apple isn’t in the business of creating what people think they want, anyway.


     

    imo the 5.5" ship dates are going to quickly get push, a lot faster than the 4.7"

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