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Apple reinvents the iPhone iSight camera with the 5s model

Jackie Dove | Sept. 11, 2013
The iPhone's new camera sports larger sensor, brand new flash technology, and more, all designed to work seamlessly with iOS 7.

iPhone iSight

Apple wants what you want: better pictures. And with that, it has debuted some brand new technologies for the new iPhone 5s model's iSight camera.

Built on the iPhone 5's 8-megapixel camera, the iPhone 5s camera features a new, five-element Apple-designed lens that carries a larger f/2.2 aperture, accompanied by a new sensor with a 15 percent larger active area. And because it's all in the pixels—and because larger pixels capture more light for better images—the pixels on this sensor measure 1.5 microns, larger than iPhone 5's and larger than other smartphones', according to Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, who did the camera presentation.

These new camera features are designed to work with the new iOS 7, scheduled for release next week, and takes advantage of the new OS to promote the advanced image capabilities of the iPhone's 64-bit A7 system-on-a-chip processor.

But there's more. Before you shoot, the iPhone now tends to such hobbyist concerns as auto white balance and auto exposure, creating a dynamic local tone map around the image to achieve better highlights and shadows. Autofocus matrix metering results in increased sharpness. The phone offers built-in image stabilization by taking multiple photos in a shot, and analyzing them in real time for sharpness, to determine the final shot it serves up.

All of these image characteristics are of major concern to iPhoneographers who, like many smartphone users, carry the phone as their primary camera at all times.

A new True Tone Flash tops off the features. When you take a flash picture, the usual problem is that the ambient light varies in color temperature—fluorescent is cooler and bluer; incandescent is yellower. The new flash in iPhone 5S solves such problems with two LEDs, one a cooler white one and another a warmer one. Over 1000 unique variations of the two give you the appropriate color flash for wherever you're shooting, Schiller said.

With the new burst mode, the camera shoots 10 frames per second for as long as you hold down the shutter. In two seconds, for example, it will take 20 photos. The phone analyzes these shots in real time, presenting what it determines might be your favorite shot, but you can select any of the other shots you want.

Finally, for video aficionados, the camera lets you shoot scenes with slow motion and captures HD video at 720p at 120fps. It even lets you adjust exposure as you shoot your panorama.

The front side has a new FaceTime HD camera that's even better in low-light, with bigger pixels and better backside illumination, and is interoperable with FaceTime audio.

New iOS 7 Photos interface
With iOS 7 comes a new version of the iPhone camera roll. Its new icon underscores the many updates in the new app. You can swipe between different cameras such as square camera camera, and pano alongside live filters that you can apply before you take your shot.


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