updated 06:51 pm EDT, Wed September 12, 2012
Shows off rich color, sharpness in 8MP shots
Having spent a fair portion of today's iPhone 5 rollout talking about improvements to both the camera itself and the processing chips and software that polish the results, Apple has now posted a gallery of actual photos taken with the device, albeit in the hands of a professional photographer. The images reveal a richness and quality that rivals most consumer-level point-and-shoot cameras, and the gallery offers downloads of the full-resolution pictures so that users can examine them in detail.
Two of the photos in particular illustrate an improved "macro" ability, with closeups on a flower (with a nicely bokeh'd background) and an antique license plate that reveal excellent sharpness at close range. A pair of distant landscape shots demonstrate a slightly softer view at a distance, but seem to have excellent color and lighting balance, though some compression artifacts and "fringing" are evident in the full-resolution shots, which are 3264x2448.
All in all, the results exceed results a typical user could have expected from most point-and-shoot pocket cameras from a few years ago, a remarkable miniaturization of technology that also includes Full HD video, a new sapphire cover glass element, better low-light shooting and a new hand-held panorama shooting (and auto-stitching) technology. We have reproduced some of the pictures below (not at full resolution).
According to EXIF information gathered from the posted photos, the new lens on the iPhone 5, while largely similar to that of the iPhone 4S, offers a slightly smaller focal length of 4.13mm rather than the 4.3mm found in the 4S. Less heralded but still of interest to iPhoneographers will be the upgrade to the front-side camera, which is also utilizing a backside-illuminated sensor and now captures at 1280x720 (stills and video), a big upgrade from its 640x480 iPhone 4S and earlier resolution.
The camera is still using a f/2.4 aperture, but has a new "dynamic" low-light mode that the company says can provide two full f-stops better lighting performance than the iPhone 4S, trading some resolution for better sensitivity in conjunction with a new "spatial noise reduction" post-processor. As mentioned, the camera includes an auto-panorama maker than can create files with up to 28MP of combined resolution, and is said to execute routine functions (like starting up and saving files) about twice as fast as the previous model, part of the advanced graphics capabilities of the new A6 processor.
Most remarkably, however, is that Apple says the entire camera module achieves all these extra abilities while being 25 percent smaller than in the iPhone 4S, and using less battery power. This, combined with other factors, allows the iPhone 5 to offer better photo capabilities while being nearly 20 percent thinner and lighter than its predecessor.