How much better is the iPhone 5S camera?

Sections: iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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iPhone 5S camera

Photo: Austin Mann

Apple touts the iPhone 5S camera’s abilities at taking better pictures and video than any other smartphone, but just how good is it really? To find out, travel photographer Austin Mann went to Iceland to compare the iPhone 5s camera against that of the iPhone 5 and tested its new features in the cold wilderness.

One of the more striking improvements was in taking panoramas with both light and dark areas. The iPhone 5S changes exposure and capture settings dynamically as you’re taking the picture. That results in pictures with the light areas not washed out details not lost in the dark areas.

The iPhone 5S also has dramatically better dynamic range, or an ability to pull details out of shadows and highlights. When Austin Mann edited pictures to emphasize the mid-tones, the iPhone 5 would have a “lack of clarity and blotchiness,” whereas the iPhone 5S has “crisp edges, far more detail and trueness to color.”

Shutter lag for both HDR and non-HDR are virtually non-existent, and editing photos in Snapseed or Filterstorm is much faster, even for big panoramas. Burst mode is an awesome feature that lets you capture up to 10 frames a second, perfect for taking a picture of a family. At 120 fps, the iPhone 5S matches GoPro in its ability to take slow-motion videos.

Overall pictures taken by the iPhone 5S have better detail and exposure with more flexibility for editing at the cost of some contrast.

The quiet beauty behind the iPhone 5S is what I find most powerful. The upgrades they made here aren’t ones that sell phones…instead, they focused on making the pictures better, even if it’s silent innovations in features no one even knows about…it’s not max megapixels or other flashy specs. The results are amazing and at the end of the day, people are going to really like the pictures coming from their iPhone 5S…and that’s really all that matters!

For more pictures comparing the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5, head to Austin Mann’s website.

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  • DJ

    Checked out the iP5s last week and was impressed.

    My iP4s has been no slouch though, producing (in good light) images that can print up to A3+ from Photoshop to my Epson R3000.

    iP5s video performance good, with slo-mo built in and easy to use.

    Even better, iMovie (free) was a snap for quick edits.

    Summary – contract on the iP4s is up in the New Year, so my daughter will happily have that. iP5s definitely a useful upgrade for me.