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Camera test: The iPhone 6 still won't beat a DSLR -- but it's close

Serenity Caldwell | Sept. 23, 2014
While I don't have any formal photography training, to say that I enjoy taking pictures is an understatement. I've been obsessed with digital photography and filmmaking ever since I picked up my first Olympus 2-megapixel camera, and that love has carried me through years of point-and-shoots, DSLRs, and phones.

But the end results are just fantastic. I did a couple of early tests with my friend Emily and her ukelele, physically moving the iPhone around her while she played — and the camera had no trouble locking and keeping the primary focus. It's remarkably good at figuring out what might be important to the scene, too — even if that object isn't in direct center of the frame. I only had to manually tap for focus once during the several tests I didin both regular and low-light).

It's worth noting that Apple's Focus Pixels tech doesn't seem to work as well (if at all) while in Slo-Mo mode; I found myself repeatedly having to manually focus certain areas during my slow-motion video tests.

Digital zoom, Macro, and Panorama modes

These three features haven't gotten a whole lot of love from Apple this go-around, although you can now take up to 43-megapixel panoramas for even more detail in your landscape shots. But I did a few test shots anyway, just because.

Your digital zoom essentially is the equivalent of cropping a full-frame iPhone picture, so there's only so much you can do with it before it starts to look pixelated. But Apple's light improvements to its sensor give pictures a little more to work with, and this zoomed picture benefits from that.

The iPhone 5s also had an f/2.2 aperture, so you won't see much of a difference in macro shots between it and the iPhone 6. That said, automatic image stabilization seems to help improve the crispness of macro photos on the 6 — which can be useful if your hands are less than steady.

What you have to look forward to with the iPhone 6: Bigger, more-detailed panoramas. Even at low-light, this panorama is packed full of detail about our warehouse space.

We're not done yet

I'm going to be doing further tests with the iPhone 6 camera; if you want to follow along, check out @macworld and my Instagram account @settern.

 

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