Apple iPhone 5 Camera Review
1 Introduction + Design & Operation
DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.
The Apple iPhone, in its various iterations, is one of the most important devices of the past few years. Smartphones existed before the iPhone, and would exist without it, but the iPhone's innovative touch-screen interface and 'tile' operating system forever changed the way in which we think about phones, and indeed mobile technology as a whole. The iPhone 4, however, was the first iPhone graced with a camera that didn't completely suck. A built-in flash and 5MP resolution, as well as touch-to-focus and one-shot HDR functionality made it far more useful as a photographic tool than previous generations.
A little over a year later, in 2011, Apple released the iPhone 4S with upgraded camera specs all around, and the new iPhone 5, Apple's latest model (actually the sixth iPhone, but anyway...) brings a larger screen, faster processor and redesigned camera compared to its predecessor. The pixel count is unchanged though, at 8MP. On paper, the iPhone 5's camera offers very similar specifications to that of the iPhone 4S, but according to Apple, the new model should give superior results.
Key Photographic/Video Specifications
- 8MP back-lit CMOS sensor
- Five-element ~33mm (equivalent) F2.4 lens
- ISO 50-1000 (up to 3200 by pixel-binning)
- 4 inch, 326ppi LCD display
- Panorama Mode (up to ~28MP)
- HDR Mode
- Touch-to-focus and touch-to-AF/AE-lock
- Face recognition for up to 10 faces
- Hardware and on-screen shutter controls
- 1080p video mode with option to record 2MP stills during recording
Design & Operation
At this point, five years after the launch of the original version, the iPhone's design is somewhat iconic. Much imitated in the past couple of years (hello Samsung Galaxy S..), Apple hasn't meddled too much with the basic recipe since 2007. From the front, in fact, the only thing that sets the iPhone 5 apart from its predecessors is the extra vertical screen resolution.
The Camera app in iOS 6, like previous versions of the operating system, is pretty basic, but has the advantage of being uncluttered, easy to use and generally very responsive.
By default, autofocus is acquired from the centre of the image, but tapping on the screen allows you to freely move the AF point around the scene you want to capture. As well as focus, this also acts as a metering lock so long as you hold the camera relatively still. If you want to maintain the focus and exposure while still being able to recompose your shot, AE/AF lock is initiated by holding your finger in one area on the screen.
One of the things that made the original iPhone so revolutionary was its relative lack of external controls compared to other Internet-capable phones at the time. A power/lock switch, a 'home' button' and a volume control were the only physical control points. The iPhone 5 has only one more button than the original iPhone, and that's only because Apple made the old volume rocker switch into separate + and - buttons in the iPhone 4 (and subsequent models).
The iPhone 5's flash serves as a red-eye reduction lamp when a face is detected in the scene but disappointingly, it cannot be set to function as an AF-assist lamp. When the flash is turned on, the LED shines for a moment automatically to reduce red-eye, but in our testing, it doesn't help much when it comes to acheiving accurate focus in poor light.
With iOS 5, and now iOS 6 as well, you can launch directly into the camera app from the lock screen by pressing the home button once, and then swiping upwards on a camera icon on the lock screen. This doesn't completely activate the phone though - just the camera app. To do anything other than take pictures and view the ones you just took (the rest of your camera roll is locked off) you'll need to go through the normal swipe to unlock and - if you have set one - the password verification process.
As well as flash, an HDR mode is also available for shooting tricky scenes, which combines two separate exposures automatically, in-camera. This can be turned on and off from the 'options' button in the camera app, from where you can also opt to display 3x3 grid lines on the screeen to aid composition, and switch the camera to Panorama mode.
Oct 2, 2015
Oct 8, 2015
Jul 16, 2013
Jun 27, 2013
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.