Apple pictures the future with new cameras in the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2015
The iPhone has long been the most popular camera on the planet, and Apple has worked to make the lives of point-and-shoot manufacturers even worse --?and the lives of selfie hounds even better --?with the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. AppleInsider took a look at the glass and silicon inside Apple's latest shooters.




The biggest change is on the tin --?for the first time in a long time, Apple has bumped the pixel count in the iPhone's rear camera. After being stuck at 8 megapixels since 2011, the new 6s and 6s Plus pack 12-megapixel sensors behind an f/2.2 5-element lens.

Apple has previously justified its staying out of the megapixel madness by explaining that more pixels do not equal a better picture, and they're right. Much like the addition of the plus-sized iPhone, though, the market has spoken and forced Apple's hand.

To pack more pixels in, Apple has had to make each individual subpixel smaller and put them closer together. This often leads to slightly worse image quality as light tends to leak between subpixels, a problem known as optical crosstalk.

Apple says they've avoided potential quality loss by doing two things: shrinking the space between the photoreceptors and their color filters, and manufacturing the pixels with a process called "deep trench isolation."

While bringing the color filters closer to the photoreceptors is important --?it gives photons less room to bounce around before entering the pixels -- deep trench isolation is the key to preventing optical crosstalk.




Broadly, deep trench isolation refers to a process by which tiny voids are created between pixels during sensor fabrication. Those voids are then filled with insulating material, preventing photons from moving between pixels after passing through the photoreceptors --?and making for crisper shots at higher resolutions.

Aside from making it easier to get nice crops for Instagram, the resolution bump also enables the 6s and 6s Plus to capture 4K video, a first for Apple. 4K, sometimes called "Quad HD" because it roughly represents a doubling of 1080p on each axis, is the new standard in high-definition video.

The addition of 4K capture --?and the ability to edit 4K in the iOS version of iMovie and automatically upload in 4K to YouTube --?is notable primarily because Apple has a singular ability to drive wide adoption of new technologies. Thanks to the iPhone's popularity, tens of millions more 4K-capable cameras will be in the hands of everyday consumers by the end of 2015, leading to an exponential growth in the availability of 4K content and helping to expand the still-nascent ecosystem.




Alongside the new features and redesigned silicon, two technologies introduced in the iPhone 6 series --?optical image stabilization and Focus Pixels --?have been upgraded in the 6s.

Optical image stabilization remains exclusive to the plus-sized model, but it can now be used when shooting video as well as still images. Apple has also increased the number of Focus Pixels --?or phase detection sensors, in photography parlance --?making autofocus noticeably faster.

The selfie cam hasn't been left out of the party. It received a significant resolution bump, going from 1.2 megapixels to 5 megapixels, and gained automatic face detection as well as Retina Flash.

As AppleInsider detailed last week, Retina Flash is Apple's way of describing a new technology that lets the iPhone's display function as a flash. Using a combination of specialized hardware --?a custom display driver that increases brightness by up to 3 times over normal levels --?and clever software techniques, the company has managed to approximate its well-received True Tone flash without building in additional parts.

To make Retina Flash work, the iPhone analyzes the lightning conditions using both the ambient light sensor and pixel intensity analysis of the camera's image stream. It then adjusts the brightness and color of the display to compensate, while ensuring that the flash and shutter are timed precisely together for the best results.

The excellent imaging systems have long been a differentiator for the iPhone, and Apple has doubled down on that bet with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70

    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.

  • Reply 2 of 70
    I have an old school all manual Leica Camera...my iPhone 5S shoots pictures that hold their own with photographic film. I can't wait to check out my 6S's photographic abilities.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,599member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     

    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.


    Don't know about that for me yet. The lens choices just give me more flexibility when I know I'll have my DSLR available like on vacations or during the holidays or special events. However, the current iPhone 6 camera is outstanding for all other applications and I don't see the need to ever buy another point-and-shoot. That's for sure.

  • Reply 4 of 70
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,599member

    "Apple has previously justified its staying out of the megapixel madness by explaining that more pixels do not equal a better picture, and they're right. Much like the addition of the plus-sized iPhone, though, the market has spoken and forced Apple's hand."

     

     

    I don't think anything forced their hand. Fact is just adding more pixels does not necessarily improve the picture. It can actually cause other problems. If they can resolve those other problems and add more pixels, then you can have better photos. They are not just adding more pixels.

  • Reply 5 of 70
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The addition of 4K capture --?and the ability to edit 4K in the iOS version of iMovie and automatically upload in 4K to YouTube --?is notable primarily because Apple has a singular ability to drive wide adoption of new technologies. Thanks to the iPhone's popularity, tens of millions more 4K-capable cameras will be in the hands of everyday consumers by the end of 2015, leading to an exponential growth in the availability of 4K content and helping to expand the still-nascent ecosystem.

    Unfortunately they may not have many places to play them. I'm still perplexed that the new ?TV doesn't play 4K video at least over AirPlay, especially after being announced at the same event as the new iPhone which now shoots in 4K. 

  • Reply 6 of 70
    poksipoksi Posts: 481member

    Hell, no, Apple! At least 23MP, 800dpi, some 48 cores and 10 days of battery!  6s is no way to beat the specs war at all!

  • Reply 7 of 70
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     

    "Apple has previously justified its staying out of the megapixel madness by explaining that more pixels do not equal a better picture, and they're right. Much like the addition of the plus-sized iPhone, though, the market has spoken and forced Apple's hand."

     

     

    I don't think anything forced their hand. Fact is just adding more pixels does not necessarily improve the picture. It can actually cause other problems. If they can resolve those other problems and add more pixels, then you can have better photos. They are not just adding more pixels.


     

    Also, how on earth has the market forced Apple's hand when Sony and Samsung are selling phones with 16Mpx and 20Mpx sensors when those pixels are essentially meaningless except in very bright outside lighting, and provide worse or at best equivalent shots (if post processing works hard), in low lighting.  The fact those camera have to handle this large frame also means shot to shot and focus is also slower in these cameras, especially in low light. This is very important for a point and shoot.

  • Reply 8 of 70
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     

    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.


     

    I've got a lowly G16, a mid range Canon camera and the Iphone 6, G6 are not even close, let alone close to a top end DSLR. The difference is taggering in my eye. Low light shots in particular are ridiculously bad on all smart phone cameras. But, I guess people have gotten used to them.

     

    I can shoot in total darkness with just a bit light on buildings on a remote and get a very good shot on a the G16 (not a top end camera), while it would be total crap (if it could even focus) on the Iphone.

  • Reply 9 of 70
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,530member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     

    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.




    I love the camera in my iP6+.  Still, when it comes to serious photos and quality, it's still no match for my Canon 5DM3.  Yes, the size difference is substantial, but when I see the final results... I'm happy to lug my dSLR around. :)



    That being said, the best camera is the one I have on me, so my iP6+ is a nice and convenient second choice. :)

  • Reply 10 of 70
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     

    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.


    Perhaps you bought your DSLR in anticipation of photographic needs that did not quite require an ILC. A fixed aperture, fixed focal length camera isn't going to replace the sheer flexability and speed of a DSLR anytime soon. The iPhone simply serves quite a different purpose.

  • Reply 11 of 70
    mac_128 wrote: »
    Unfortunately they may not have many places to play them. I'm still perplexed that the new ?TV doesn't play 4K video at least over AirPlay, especially after being announced at the same event as the new iPhone which now shoots in 4K. 
    I think it's because only 1.4% of TVs in use are 4K. Even though the iPhone 6s can shoot 4K, I personally will stay at 1080 60 frames. It is nice that it is there if it is needed.
  • Reply 12 of 70
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

     

    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.


     

    I see a lot of DSLR users mentioning switching to the Micro Four thirds mirrorless system  where the lenses and bodies are much smaller.  I like the convenience of a camera in a phone but they are no substitute for a much larger sensor and being able to choose different focal lengths.

  • Reply 13 of 70
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     

    "Apple has previously justified its staying out of the megapixel madness by explaining that more pixels do not equal a better picture, and they're right. Much like the addition of the plus-sized iPhone, though, the market has spoken and forced Apple's hand."

     

     

    I don't think anything forced their hand. Fact is just adding more pixels does not necessarily improve the picture. It can actually cause other problems. If they can resolve those other problems and add more pixels, then you can have better photos. They are not just adding more pixels.


    I'd love to have an iPhone 6s, but it's $900+ cost in CDA is just too much for me, even though it is a first class phone.

    The USA to CDN exchange rate is about 1.3 .

    My current iPhone5C is 16GB, which is barely enough memory to handle my use.

    A 32gb iPhone6s would serve me well, but I'd have to jump to a 64GB iPhone6s for over C$1,000.

     

    Hey Apple you don't make or import the CDN  iPhone from the USA !    :???:  ;)

  • Reply 14 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by staticx57 View Post

     

    Perhaps you bought your DSLR in anticipation of photographic needs that did not quite require an ILC. A fixed aperture, fixed focal length camera isn't going to replace the sheer flexability and speed of a DSLR anytime soon. The iPhone simply serves quite a different purpose.


     

    The iPhone currently serves a different purpose, but I don't think you should underestimate where this is headed.
  • Reply 15 of 70
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,959member
    mac_128 wrote: »
    Unfortunately they may not have many places to play them. I'm still perplexed that the new ?TV doesn't play 4K video at least over AirPlay, especially after being announced at the same event as the new iPhone which now shoots in 4K. 

    It is strange, particularly considering that one of their partners, Netflix, streams 4K, though with high compression.

    MYbe they will update it later on through software, as the A8, as far as I know, CAN play 4K.

    But, then again, I was surprised that neither the phones, or the ATv has h.265 compression. Being that Apple was one of those that pushed h.265 adoption, it's especially odd it's missing.
  • Reply 16 of 70
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,959member
    staticx57 wrote: »
    Perhaps you bought your DSLR in anticipation of photographic needs that did not quite require an ILC. A fixed aperture, fixed focal length camera isn't going to replace the sheer flexability and speed of a DSLR anytime soon. The iPhone simply serves quite a different purpose.

    I got rid of my Leicas in 1985. Rangefinders were simply obsolete by then. I only bought the M5 and the three lenses to shoot specific things where noise was very important, and I couldn't use flash.

    But I've got a large range of "L" lenses for my various Canon 5D models, and I used to use them a lot. I'm even considering the new 5Dr s.

    But, I use my iPhone for almost 90% of the time I shoot these days, and rarely take my DSLR around. I'm not going to upgrade my 6+ this year, but I'm looking forwards to next year. I've bought several lens systems for my iPhones, but have been disappointed in several ways. Sometimes, the lens quality delivers a pretty good picture, but is clumsy to use, with the case, and all. But what bothers me as that new phones require new lenses and cases, or attachments.

    What I would absolutely love for Apple to do, which would absolutely kill the entire compact camera industry, which is already sliding very badly, is if they made a small bayonet around the lens on the phone. It could even have some electrical connections for focus, aperture, etc. This could be pretty small, and Apple could have standards as to what could attach, and how they would work, just as the major camera manufacturers do now.

    It would be great if we could have a small lens bayonet on, have Apple's lens go to infinity focus, and have focus and aperture controlled by the camera on auto, or even manual. If Apple could do that, and I see no reason why they couldn't, a standard for iPhones would go a long way to making the camera a more serious instrument. Even now, it's used with big mounts for pro video and photography. But I certainly would buy a Zeiss Otus lens series for this, as they would only need to cost between $250 to $400 per lens, for high pro quality. That's because of the small sensor size, and the resultant small lens size.

    Edit:

    I just thought of an addendum. What if Apple made a slightly higher end model called the Photo iPhone, say. That could have the lens mount I suggest, but would allow for the removal of Apple's lens when putting another lens on. This would eliminate all of the problems of trying to make a really good, fast lens, such as a 1.4 aperture version, or a proper wide angle, or high quality zoom.
  • Reply 17 of 70

    As a long-time amateur (very amateur) photographer, I can say that modern iPhones have made all but the most zoom-capable point-and-shoots obsolete. Still, there is no sensor or software replacement for good ol' optical zoom. My 7 year-old Canon Rebel XSi will still outperform my iPhone 6 in virtually every aspect from focus time to low light capability to focal range to color accuracy and of course optical zoom. The iPhone 6 has the advantage of always being with me. For casual, day-to-day shots where zoom isn't a requirement the iPhone is extremely capable, but the tiny sensor and lens assembly in a smartphone will never replace an SLR design - you simply can't overcome the laws of physics.

  • Reply 18 of 70
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JoshA View Post

     

    I'd love to have an iPhone 6s, but it's $900+ cost in CDA is just too much for me, even though it is a first class phone.

    The USA to CDN exchange rate is about 1.3 .

    My current iPhone5C is 16GB, which is barely enough memory to handle my use.

    A 32gb iPhone6s would serve me well, but I'd have to jump to a 64GB iPhone6s for over C$1,000.

     

    Hey Apple you don't make or import the CDN  iPhone from the USA !    :???:  ;)




    There are still the other 6 series phones in the upgrade path before the big jump... and both of them are available in 64GB storage sizes if you need that. The performance jump from the 5c to the 6 is quite substantial.

  • Reply 19 of 70
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,369member
    One more iteration and my DSLR is taking a trip to eBay. Images from the iPhone are starting to look pretty good nowadays., but it's the convenience factor which will ultimately kill my Canon.

    Before the advent of digital I carried around an RZ67, which is a "monstrosity" but boy could a person take pictures with that machine. The problem is you can't carry such a camera in your pocket 9it in fact required a backpack). While I'm not sure a 12 megapixel camera will ever replace that camera but at this point for the photograph I do, a 12 megapixel camera might be good enough to replace point and shoots. It is absolutely shocking how far digital photography has come since its debut awhile back.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,959member
    zroger73 wrote: »
    As a long-time amateur (very amateur) photographer, I can say that modern iPhones have made all but the most zoom-capable point-and-shoots obsolete. Still, there is no sensor or software replacement for good ol' optical zoom. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">My 7 year-old Canon Rebel XSi will still outperform my iPhone 6 in virtually every aspect from focus time to low light capability to focal range to color accuracy and of course optical zoom. The iPhone 6 has the advantage of always being with me. For casual, day-to-day shots where zoom isn't a requirement the iPhone is extremely capable, but the tiny sensor and lens assembly in a smartphone will never replace an SLR design - you simply can't overcome the laws of physics.</span>

    I basically agree. But one needs to talk about not what is best, but what is ok enough. My first modern DSLR was the first 5D, which I still have That's 12.8MP. Seemed like a lot at the time, lRticularly since its full frame, but now, it's fairly low Rez. The difference between that and the new iPhone series isn't enough to notice. As far as pixel quality goes, I'm sure it's still better, but by how much? I keep telling people that if you want to pixel peep on the screen, that's one thing, but if you Rez it down a lot for e-mail or Facebook, then much of that doesn't matter at all. If you want to make a really high quality print, much of the noise and shadow detail also goes away. If you do four color reproduction, forget it.

    So for many purposes, if this new camera does what Apple says it will do, in terms of quality, that's going to be pretty good.

    But really, the main problem Apple has yet to fix with their camera system is the inability of giving us a RAW file out if it. It's really hard to express just how important that it. Most of the time, a really good JPEG, and Apple's JPEGs are pretty good, is sufficient. But there are times when it's not. If you shoot, and the light is off in color, it's almost impossible to correct that on a JPEG. But the RAW file keeps all of the info, as it doesn't really know anything about light color, and you can adjust it. If you've blown out the highlights, a good sensor has some of that info, and you can bring it back, even with an HDR. But not with a JPEG.

    Since Android already allows for RAW, and a number of Android cameras already have it, there's no good reason why Apple shouldn't have it too. It's the next step up.
Sign In or Register to comment.