Sep 21

Super Quick iPhone 5 Low Light Test

The 8 megapixel shooter on the new iPhone 5

Like millions of other people, I got a new iPhone 5 today.  While there are a number of improvements to the phone itself, since this is a photography site, I thought I’d give a quick peek at the camera.  I will probably do a review of the iPhone 5 camera in the future, comparing it to the iPhone 4S.

Tonight, though, just a quick shot.  Both the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 share nearly identical hardware…they are both 8 megapixel sensors on a 1/3.2″ sensor with a 5 element f/2.4 lens.  However, the iPhone 5 has a few tweaks that are supposedly better in low light.

For this shot, I shot with both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S side by side and shot at the same time.  The iPhone 5 shot is a little earlier just because it takes shots essentially instantaneously, while the 4S lags a little bit.    Below are 50% crops from the image.  iPhone 4S on top, iPhone 5 on the bottom.

As you can see, low light shooting is indeed improved a little on the iPhone 5.  While it obviously won’t compare to a mirrorless CSC, DSLR or even a high end compact, it doesn’t fare too poorly.  There is a little more detail in the iPhone 5 shot, with better separation in her hair, as well as much better contrast.  Noise is a little better controlled as well.  Not too bad.

iPhone 4S vs iPhone 5 low light test. iPhone 4S on top, iPhone 5 on bottom. Click to enlarge.

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

1 comment

  1. Vane

    This is a little gem. It’s a tad preicy compared to APS-C lenses but at least the European price is the same as the US price so Europeans are not getting ripped off on this occasion. This is a surprisingly small and light lens smaller and lighter than a 45mm or 50mm lens would be on APS-C. Build quality appears to be quite nice with a metal lens mount it’s a mix of metal and plastic but feels good and solid in the hand and in use. Olympus skimped a bit on a few things it costs another a330 for the optional (and plastic !) lens hood, there is no lens case or pouch either. But what you do get is: a lens that focuses quickly and quietly on both Panasonic and Olympus bodies (currently testing it on my Pannie G3); a VERY sharp lens the centre is sharp at 1.8 plenty good enough for portraits, and the edges quickly sharpen up when stopped down a stop or two, allowing you to use the lens more widely for architecture, travel and other shots as well. It’s as a portrait lens that it really shines (in my view) providing a 90mm 35mm equivalent field of view, which is great for portraits. The bokeh (quality of out of focus areas) is very pleasing not the very best, but nevertheless very nice. It’s certainly a step up from the 14-42 or 14-45 kit lenses at the 45mm end (sharper, better bokeh, faster) and gives the much more expensive Pansonic-Leica 45mm a run for it’s money (though lab tests show the Panasonic lens has better MTF resolution figures under some circumstances). The fact that this lens keeps selling out quikcly speaks for itself reall- I don’t know of anyone who has bought it and been disappointed. The only thing you have to watch out for, just as a littleuser tip, is that when shooting portraits at 1.8, often the in focus zone/depth of field will be pretty shallow I have a few examples where one eye is is focus and not the other, or part of a face is in focus and not the other the key is ensuring that what you want is in focus is indeed in focus sometimes this means experimenting with different focus modes and not, for example, just relying on face detect autofocus. Overall, a great lens a brilliant addition to the micro 4/3 lens line up well done Olympus !

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