Camera Features

Compared to some of its Android rivals the iPhone 6 Plus comes with a concise imaging feature set. However, all the essentials, such as HDR mode, panorama shooting and a burst mode are on board and generally work very well. In addition the 6 PLus offers slow-motion videos at 120 and 240 frames per second and a new time-lapse mode. Unfortunately the latter offers virtually no control over parameters but the Apple App Store offers third-party apps for any conceivable purpose including a range of time lapse apps, such as Instagram's excellent Hyperlapse.

Panorama mode

In panorama mode your panning is guided by an arrow and preview image. 

The panorama mode in the iOS 8 camera app on the iPhone 6 Plus looks pretty much identical to the version that came on the iPhone 5s but the already very large image output size has increased further. Panning the camera in portrait orientation captures panoramic images that measure approximately 13,600 pixels wide and 3,000 pixels tall. The exact size will depend on your capturing angle and how steadily you move the camera while panning. 

Panoramas created with the iPhone 6 Plus are not only large but also have of very good overall quality. If you look very closely you can occasionally spot stitching errors but they tend to be hardly noticeable. We could not find any ghosting or other artifacts on moving subjects and the app is even capable of dynamically adjusting exposure across the scene. In high-contrast scenes this can lead to more natural looking results than with most other panorama apps that lock exposure with the first frame. That said, there are limits to the contrast the function can compensate for. 

Overall the panorama mode on the iPhone 6 Plus is still one of the, if not the, best in the business and captures very large well-stitched images with good exposure. 

Panorama, 13632 x 3128 pixels
The iPhone 6 Plus panoramas show good detail and no artifacts on moving subjects.
Panorama, 13632 x 2936 pixels
Exposure is dynamically adjusted across the scene. Unsteady panning can lead to black areas at the top and/or bottom of the image.

HDR mode

In the camera app you can opt to turn HDR mode off, leave it on permanently or put it into auto mode and let the camera decide which scenes are most suitable for HDR capture. In the settings you can set the camera to save both a standard and HDR exposure of an image which leaves you the option to decide later on which one you like best.

HDR off
The evening sun leads to clipped highlights on the subject's skin.
HDR on
HDR mode recovers some highlight detail, capturing a more pleasant image.
100% crop
100% crop

During our testing we found the HDR mode to work very well. Looking at the samples the mode has hardly any impact on the shadow areas of an image but manages to recover a noticeable amount of highlight detail in high contrast scenes. It also does so without giving images an unnatural look, unlike many HDR functions we have seen on other smartphones and cameras.

HDR mode doesn't have any noticeable impact on performance and we have not found any ghosting or other artifacts on moving subjects, so there is not really any penalty to leaving HDR set to auto permanently.

HDR off
Highlights have clipped in the sky and on the building outside.
HDR on
HDR mode does an excellent job at recovering detail on the facade of the building.
100% crop
100% crop

Front camera

The iPhone 6 Plus's front camera, which in Apple speak is called the Face Time camera, comes with a faster F2.2 aperture and is capable of capturing well-exposed images with natural colors. However, its HD resolution looks a little outdated next to the competition. Most current high-end Windows Phone or Android devices offer at least a 2MP front camera, some even go as high as 5MP.

Front camera image, 1280 x 960 pixels

That said, the Face Time camera uses face-detection and HDR and despite the low resolution is capable of capturing a decent selfie. As one would expect it also does a good job when using Skpye, Apple's Face Time or other video chat apps. It offers 1080p video recording, a 10 frames per second burst mode and a self-timer.