Review: How does Apple's new iPhone 5s perform as a camera?
Camera Features cont.
The 5s introduces a set of seven filters that you can apply when you take a photo or afterwards.
There are three black-and-white filters and four fairly restrained color effects that mimic various film looks. The underlying file isn’t changed; apps on the phone will see the “filtered” image, but if you copy the jpeg directly off the phone, you’ll get the unaltered image. You can export the filtered view by sharing the shot using the Photo app’s social media buttons. You can also open it in iPhoto and export it to iTunes, but in any case the output seems restricted to about 1-megapixel resolution.
Gallery and Image Editor
The 5s showcases iOS 7’s new and substantially revamped Photos app. There are three main tabs: Photos, Shared and Albums. Under Photos, images are now automatically sorted into “Moments” (photos shot around the same time), “Collections” (wider ranges of photos, grouped by time and place), and “Years.” In the year view, you get a page chock-full of barely visible thumbnails, but running your finger over them pops up an enlarged view that makes it much easier to find a given needle in the haystack of photos than endless flick-scrolling.
If that all sounds like too much for you, you can still peruse the whole Camera Roll the old-fashioned way. There are default albums for videos, panoramas, and your Photo Stream (a feature that automatically syncs photos across devices via an Apple iCloud account), and you can create your own within the app.
The Shared tab displays Photo Streams you’ve set up to share, privately or publicly, as well as those you’ve subscribed to. Authorized people can now add their own photos to someone else’s stream, too.
The Photos app share sheet provides shortcuts for sending photos to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter or a Photo Stream, or sending them via email or the Apple Message app. You can also share photos and videos via AirDrop, a new feature that lets you send content directly to AirDrop-compatible iOS devices (iPhone 5 and up, latest iPad, iPad mini, and the latest iPod Touch).
The Photos app offers a very basic editing function. Its one-touch fix does a good job of tweaking contrast and color balance, and if it finds red eye from flash, it’ll effectively zap it. There’s a separate red-eye removal button that lets you manually select demon-eyes. The filters mentioned above are available here as well. You can rotate pictures by 90 degrees, and there’s a crop tool with free-hand and preset aspect ratio modes. Overall, it’s a bare-bones editor suitable for quick, basic enhancements before casual sharing.
During the initial iPhone set-up, you’re given the option of downloading a variety of Apple apps, including iPhoto. This capable image editor and organizer is now free for new iOS devices (it’s 5$ for everyone else) and is far more flexible than the Photos mini-editor. iPhoto isn’t as satisfying on the iPhone’s small screen as it is on an iPad (see our full iPad-based review of the app for more about what it can do) but it remains impressively functional even with the reduced working real estate.
The iOS app ecosystem remains the standard against which others are judged, though Android app support is now excellent as well. There’s a wide range of both image capture and processing apps in the Apple Store, and you can rest assured that any app-based service will put plenty of effort into their iOS offering.
The caveat of iOS from a photographic perspective is that Apple’s iron grip on how developers can interact with devices somewhat limits the flexibility of third-party camera apps. It’s because of this that iOS camera apps can’t offer something as basic as manual ISO control: Apple simply doesn’t allow it.
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