DxOMark Mobile Report: Apple iPhone 6s
From a design point of view the iPhone 6s is pretty much identical to its predecessor the iPhone 6 but there have been a number of improvements under the hood, including in the camera department. Sensor resolution has been upped to 12MP and with the total number of pixels the number of phase detection sensors on the chip (the so-called 'focus-pixels) has been increased by 50%. 'Deep trench' isolation technology has been used to reduce cross-talk between the light-gathering photosites and image noise.
The camera is now also capable of recording 4K video and the FaceTime camera at the front comes with an increased resolution of 5MP. As we've seen on the LG G4 and some new Motorola devices the iPhone 6S also uses the display as a light source in low light conditions. For this purpose the screen can light up three times brighter than normal and the color of the emitted light is matched to ambient light sources for natural skin tones and colors. Panorama mode has been improved as well. It can now capture even larger images up to 63MP and as before uses dynamic exposure for avoiding extreme jumps in brightness across the frame.
With a DxOMark Mobile score of 82 the Apple iPhone 6s delivers a solid performance but cannot place itself among the very best of current smartphone cameras. It takes the number ten spot in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, placing itself between its own predecessor, the iPhone 6, which achieved the same score last year, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. The DxOMark team reports that the iPhone's autofocus is "fast and generally accurate in all conditions", and that images show "stable and pleasant white balance in most conditions" and "good detail preservation in bright light".
On the downside, "some luminance noise is visible, especially in low light" and "color shading is visible indoors". Images also show a "slightly yellow cast in outdoor conditions" and "occasional ghosting and other artifacts".
In video mode the DxO team liked the "fast, accurate and smooth autofocus, good overall exposure and white balance and effective stabilization in good lighting conditions". As negatives they noted "noticeable noise in low light conditions, especially in corners" and "slight color shading in low light conditions".
Color, Exposure and Contrast
The DxOMark team found that when shooting with the Apple iPhone 6s images showed "very good overall exposure" and "stable and pleasant white balance in most conditions". On the downside, the testers noted "some exposure irregularities due to HDR activation", "a slightly yellow cast in outdoor conditions" and "some color shading indoors".
Overall DxOMark awarded the Apple iPhone 6s scores of:
- 4.6 out of 5 for Exposure
- 4.6 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
- 3.9 out of 5 for Color shading in low light*
- 4.2 out of 5 for Color shading in bright light*
- 3.0 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light
- 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light
*Color Shading is the nasty habit cellphone cameras have of rendering different areas of the frame with different color shifts, resulting in pictures with, for example, pinkish centers and greenish corners.
Noise and Details
DxOMark's engineers reported that the Apple iPhone 6s images show "good detail preservation in bright light and low chroma noise". However, "in low light conditions fine detail is lost and some luminance noise is visible, especially in low light".
Texture acutance is a way of measuring the ability of a camera to capture images that preserve fine details, particularly the kind of low contrast detail (such as fine foliage, hair or fur) that can be blurred away by noise reduction or obliterated by excessive sharpening.
Sharpness is an important part of the quality of an image, but while it's easy to look at an image and decide visually whether it's sharp or not, the objective measurement of sharpness is less straightforward.
An image can be defined as "sharp" if edges are sharp and if fine details are visible. In-camera processing means that it's possible to have one of these (sharp edges) but not the other (fine details). Conventional MTF measurements tell us how sharp an edge is, but have drawbacks when it comes to measuring fine detail preservation. Image processing algorithms can detect edges and enhance their sharpness, but they can also find homogeneous areas and smooth them out to reduce noise.
Texture acutance, on the other hand, can qualify sharpness in terms of preservation of fine details, without being fooled by edge enhancement algorithms.
At first sight, the images from these two cameras may appear equally sharp. A sharpness measurement on edges will indeed confirm this impression, and will even show that the second camera is sharper. But a closer examination of low contrasted textures shows that the first camera has better preservation of fine details than the second. The purpose of the texture acutance measurement is to qualify this difference.
Visual noise is a value designed to assess the noise in an image as perceived by the human visual system, depending on the viewing condition (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). The measurements have no units and can be simply viewed as the weighted average of noise standard deviation for each channel in the CIE L*a*b* color space. The lower the measurement, the less noise in the image.
Noise and Detail Perceptual scoring
- Texture (bright light): 4.6 out of 5
- Texture (low light): 3.6 out of 5
- Noise (bright light): 4.0 out of 5
- Noise (low light) 2.9 out of 5
Phone cameras, like entry-level compact cameras, tend to suffer from artifacts such as sharpening halos, color fringing, vignetting (shading) and distortion, which can have an impact on the visual appeal of the end result. DxOMark engineers measure and analyze a range of artifacts. Their findings after testing the iPhone 6s are shown below:
- Occasional ghosting with HDR mode activated
- Blue sky saturation visible in some outdoor scenes
- Slight Moiré in some pictures
- Slight ringing
- Sharpness 4.2 out of 5
- Color fringing 3.1 out of 5
- Ringing center 8.1%
- Ringing corner 6.1%
- Max geometric distortion -0.3%
- Luminance shading 9.2%
Distortion and Chromatic Aberrations
DxOMark also tests autofocus accuracy and reliability by measuring how much the acutance - or sharpness - varies with each shot over a series of 30 exposures (defocusing then using the autofocus for each one). As with other tests these results are dependent on the viewing conditions (a little bit out of focus matters a lot less with a small web image than a full 8MP shot viewed at 100%). Using the 8MP equivalent setting, the Apple iPhone 6s performs well at all light levels. The overall score is 92/100 in bright light and 92/100 in low light.
- Fast and generally accurate autofocus in all conditions
- Stable focus in preview
- Some irregularities in low light when touch-to-focus is used
The Apple iPhone 6s comes with a dual-LED flash and DxOMark scored the camera 84/100 overall for its flash performance.
- Good exposure with and without additional light sources
- Stable exposure and white balance in all conditions
- Visible noise, especially near the corners
- Visible attenuation in the corners without additional light sources
Overall DxOMark Mobile Score for Photo: 83 / 100
DxOMark engineers put phone cameras through a similarly grueling set of video tests, and you can read their full findings on the DxOMark website here. Overall, DxOMark found the Apple iPhone 6s's video footage to be well exposed, with good white balance. AF is quick and precise in all situations but noise and color shading can be an issue in low light.
- Fast, accurate and smooth autofocus in all conditions
- Good overall exposure and white balance
- Effective stabilization in good light
- Noise noticeable in low light, especially in the corners
- Slight color shading visible in low light
Overall DxOMark Mobile Score for Video: 80 / 100
DXOMark Image Quality Assessment
With a DxOMark Mobile score of 82 the Apple iPhone 6s cannot quite keep up with the best in class and takes the number ten spot in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, slotting in between its predecessor the iPhone 6, which achieved the same score last year, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. The DxOMark testers liked the good exposure and fast AF in all situations but were less impressed by noise and color shading in low light. Occasional ghosting was observed as well.
In video mode the camera shows good exposure and AF but as in stills mode, noise and color shading in dimmer conditions. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.
This week Chris and Jordan are joined by renowned macro photographer Don Komarechka, who demonstrates a few simple techniques that can improve your macro photos in a big way.
The group that provides Canon users with programs to expand the feature set of their cameras has begun cracking the new EOS R mirrorless firmware.
The Pixel 3 represents another step forward in computational photography for Google's smartphone. We're just getting started with our testing – for now take a look at some sample images, including 'computational Raw' files available for download.
Lens Rentals Founder, Roger Cicala, has given the Canon EOS R one of his signature camera teardowns.
Nikon says firmware version 1.03 "Fixes an issue that in rare circumstances would delay the shutter release or the start of the autofocus operation."
The Kickstarter campaign for Yashica’s digiFilm Y35 camera has produced a wave of complaints about delays in shipping product as well as cameras that don’t work.
Pixelmator today released Pixelmator Pro 1.2 Quicksilver, a major update to its image editing app for Mac.
Although Raw performance of the EOS R is very similar to the 5D Mark IV, Canon's done some tweaking on the JPEGs - take a look at our studio scene to see for yourself.
If you've backed one of the company's crowdfunding projects, the reward will not arrive and you won't get your money back either as Meyer Optik Görlitz's parent company, Net SE, is completely dead.
The importance of APS-C, a future a7S model in development and why customers want two card slots – read our full interview with Sony's Kenji Tanaka.
Google's Super Res Zoom technology uses pixel-shifting methods to achieve zoom results comparable to some optical solutions. Google has published an in-depth explanation on its AI blog.
CyberLink has release the latest version of its photo editing and design program PhotoDirector.
Toy manufacturer Tomy has launched a no-battery-required smartphone printer that is remarkably like the one Holga has been promoting via a Kickstarter campaign but which is already available for $40/£39.
A handful of Sony users have noticed a particular model of SanDisk SD cards is showing errors when used with Sony a7 III camera.
The Fujifilm X-T3's 4K video more than lives up to its impressive specification, making it one of the most capable video cameras we've ever tested.
VSCO has made it easier to find the right presets for your photos with a few interface changes to its smartphone app.
TinyMOS is back with NANO1, an all-new astrophotography camera that's one-third the size of the TINY1 it announced three years ago.
Huawei's latest flagship device comes with the widest range of focal lengths of all current smartphones.
After shaking up the Lightroom ecosystem with Lightroom CC last year, Adobe has released version 2.0 of the cloud-centric photo organizer and editor. We look at new features like People View, how far Lightroom CC has come in its first year, and where Lightroom is headed.
Today, at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe previewed Photoshop CC on iPad, a full-featured, desktop-class version of Photoshop for iOS.
The weather and has most definitely taken a turn toward fall here, and our shooting opportunities have followed suit. We brought the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 along to a harvest festival of sorts and a few of our usual haunts.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 1346 into effect, which imposes a fine upwards of $300 to drone operators who invade the privacy or harm the physical wellbeing of citizens.
Sigma is a company in flux, but CEO Kazuto Yamaki is undaunted by the upcoming prospect of developing lenses for eight lens mounts. The challenge will be keeping the company's identity along the way.
If you've been meaning to convert all of your old photos, video, and audio to digital formats, but simply lack the time or willpower to get through it all, a new service from Kodak will help you get the job done.
Almost all new cameras include impressive video features, but for the best results you'll often need an off-camera recorder. Chris and Jordan take a look at the brand new Ninja V from Atomos, and explain why it might just be one of the most useful tools you can add to your camera.
Collect allows you to transform 360-degree into a more easily digestible format by transforming it into directed traditional videos.
Sick of using your plain ol' keyboard to edit your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop? TourBox is hoping to expedite your post-production workflow using a clever combination of dials, buttons, and knobs.
Bag and accessory manufacturer Hex has launched two bags as part of its latest collection: the Clamshell Backpack and DSLR Sling.
Crank out instant photos with Holga Digital's new analog printer, currently being funded on Kickstarter.