Inside Apple’s iPhone 5s Camera: Slo-mo video, True Tone flash, better lens and more

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One of the key features of the iPhone 5s, apart from the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, is the upgraded camera system, which includes the rear iSight camera as well as the front-facing FaceTime camera.

Apple has upgraded the iSight camera lens with “a new, five-element Apple-designed lens” that has a larger f/2.2 aperture, as compared to the iPhone 5’s f/2.4 aperture.

  • Larger Image sensor: Notably, the megapixel count remains the same at 8MP. Apple instead choose to make the sensor area itself 15 percent larger than before to let each pixel become bigger at 1.5 microns, capturing more light, and resulting in a better photo.
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  • The f/2.2 aperture helps increase light sensitivity by 33 percent, which results in better, brighter images with even more accurate colors. The aperture upgrade and the larger sensor, collectively explain Apple’s cryptic “This should brighten everyone’s day” tagline.
  • Apple calls the dual LED flash that was leaked before the “True Tone flash” with the name being a reference to the camera system’s capabilities to intelligently figure out how much light a shot needs. Of the two LEDs, one is white and the other is amber, and the software on the iPhone 5s determines the color temperature of the scene and accordingly illuminates the two LEDs.
  • If you’ve ever used a camera flash on a phone before, you know that the resulting images are almost always of very bad quality. Apple’s new flash should make those images more impressive. Here’s an image from Apple’s site illustrating the difference:
  • Burst Mode: Apple’s latest A7 chip has an all-new image signal processor on-board which can autofocus and shoot photos much faster. This new snappiness enables a “Burst mode” in the iPhone 5s camera, which lets you take up to 10 shots per second so that you don’t miss a moment. iOS will later analyse these photos to select ones with a good combination of sharpness and clarity, and where the subject doesn’t have his or her eyes closed.
  • The new hardware on the iPhone 5s enables shooting panoramas at 30 frames-per-second, which means you won’t get that annoying alert telling you to rotate the phone slowly very often.
  • The new camera can shoot 720p videos at 120 fps, which means the video can be slowed down to quarter speed and still appear normal to the human eye. After shooting a video, you have the option of selecting a certain portion to play in “slo-mo” mode.
  • With the iPhone 5s, you can now zoom videos up to 3x by using the pinch-to-zoom technique.
  • The front-facing FaceTime camera has been upgraded as well. It can now take 1.2MP still images and do 720p video as compared to the iPhone 4S’ VGA resolution. There’s a new backside illumination sensor as well, which should make the quality of your FaceTime videos much better.

Apple also says that there’s better image stabilisation, possibly powered by the new M7 coprocessor. The company has a nice tagline to go with the new camera system upgrade. It says “It just makes more sense to teach iPhone how to take a great picture rather than teach people how to be expert photographers.”

Finally, here are some images taken with the iPhone 5s camera:

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For more photos, head over to Apple’s website.

Tell us what you think about the upgraded camera internals in the comments below.