Gear

Apple iPhone 6s Camera Features – Hands-on

The iPhone has become the most popular camera in the world.

Whether you like it or not, that’s true.

Now, I know that Apple is not the first to invent many of the things they produce, and I know they have had only an 8-megapixel camera for years and going to 12 may not seem like much because there are loads of camera phones out there with more megapixels.

However, Apple has a way of combining hardware and software in a way that makes sense to people and so, even if something has been around for ages, when Apple does it, suddenly everyday people take notice and start using those features.

So, what new features are coming with the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus that people are going to get excited about?

12 megapixels, but not all megapixels are created equal

What does the new iPhone camera’s sensor give us? A new image signal processor, advanced pixel technology, Focus Pixels, improved local tone mapping, and optical image stabilisation. What that actually means for you—the potential end user—is that it gives you a very sharp image. It’s still not amazing in low light, but it’s much better than it used to be.

Live Photos

‘Live Photos’ button

Again, I know this type of thing has been round for a while, but again, the way that Apple has implemented it means that even my mother can work out how to use this feature.

The camera app captures 1.5 seconds of video either side of the image you are taking and you can play it back as you tap the photo or swipe over it. There is a button in the top middle of the camera app where you turn the feature on and, after that, every single photo you take will capture that information, so you can make any photo a Live Photo. Keep in mind that it’s now recording three seconds every time you take a photo, so you may get quite a few Live Photos of you putting your phone down. If you use this feature a lot, you’re also going to need to remember when shooting to hold your composition for the whole three seconds.

I can’t really upload a Live Photo as it will only show as a standard image on this site, so here is a link to a video version of a Live Photo, it really doesn’t do it justice.

Live Photo

It’s nice, but at the moment you can only view the Live Photos on an Apple device, so their use is still a bit limited. Also, time will tell if they are something that people connect with or just a gimick that people forget about.

4K video

Video options on new iPhones

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus can now shoot 4K video. As a video guy, this feature was of big interest to me. I was very keen to see how big the files were and how good the quality was.

With the brief play that I’ve had with it this morning, it seems pretty good. It’s not going to be replacing my GH4 or A7s any time soon, but I would have no hesitation in using it as a B or C camera. The files also aren’t that huge. Apple says that one minute of video will be about 375MB—I found it to be just a tad over at 387MB, but then again mine was one minute and one second.

Here is some 4K footage. Be sure to select 4K from the quality option in YouTube.

iPhone 6s 4K

Better selfies

The front camera on the new iPhones has also been upgraded and now has 5 megapixels. In addition, Apple has added a two-tone flash to the front camera by making the whole screen go super bright for a second to light up your selfie from the front camera.

I got the iPhone 6s and not the 6s Plus. I got the 6 Plus last year because it has the optical image stabilisation and my wife got the 6 because she wanted a smaller phone. I’ve spent the year seeing that her pictures were just as good as mine without the physical stabilisation and I really didn’t like having the huge phone, which is why I went with the smaller one this year. Will I miss having the image stabilisation? I’ll let you know in a few months’ time.

So, are the camera upgrades on the new iPhone’s worth upgrading? I think this year’s iPhone has had a huge amount of attention paid to the cameras and the upgrades are significant. Most years I would suggest that people don’t upgrade their iPhones every year because if you wait two years it’s a better way to go. This year, that’s not the case. Even if you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, if the camera of your iPhone is a big reason you use your iPhone, then I think upgrading to this year’s model will not disappoint you.

Here is a sample of the front camera with the fancy new flash system, I apologise for the less than perfect light in my office, but good test of the flash in low light. Interesting that the screen turned kind of yellowy/orange. So it was trying to match the lighting in my office.