iPhone 4S Camera Specs

Apple's new iPhone 4S camera specs are impressive:

  • 8 Megapixel Sensor
  • f2.4 equivalent aperture
  • 5 lens elements
  • 1080p video
  • Video Image Stabilization
  • Temporal Noise Reduction


Here's what those new specs mean for you...

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iPhone 4S Camera Improvements

8 Megapixel (8MP) sensor

iPhone 4S Camera Sensor
The iPhone 4S has an 8MP sensor, which is a 60% size increase over the 5MP sensor in the iPhone 4. More megapixels means that you can make larger prints and crop the photo more before it starts looking 'grainy' or pixelated. Realistically, anything over 3 Megapizels will give you an acceptable 8x10 print, but cell phone cameras need higher resolutions because they tend to look more grainy and pixelated. The iPhone 4S camera will produce photos that are 3264x2448 pixels. At the bottom of this article, I've provided a few unretouched samples from Apple that show off the new iPhone 4S camera's sensor.

Here are some samples from the iPhone 4S new camera that Apple provided click on each to open the full-resolution original - 

iPhone 4S Camera Example - Squirrel

iPhone 4S Camera Sample - Balloons

iPhone 4S Photography Sample - Still Life


Improved Lens and f2.4 Aperture

iPhone 4S camera lens elements
A lower f-stop or aperture means that you can take better pictures in lower light, with less digital noise. Noise is the graininess that you see in your low-light pictures and video. And since most people use their cell phone cameras at parties or events indoors at night like clubs and birthday parties and concerts, all of these scenarios will benefit from having a camera with better low-light performance.

The iPhone 4S has an f2.4 aperture, which is slightly better than the f2.8 aperture of the iPhone 4. The lens is a 6mm lens, which is the equivalent of a 35mm focal length lens on a 35mm camera. Kind of a good all-around focal length - not too wide, not too short.


iPhone 4S Video Improvements

1080p video

The iPhone 4S video recording resolution has increased from 720p to 1080p. This means that your videos will be sharper and crisper, and will be larger, which is a good thing because the video standards are moving toward sharper and clearer pictures. Think about those old VHS recordings of you as a kid. Compare those to the video you'll be showing your kids in 20 years. Sure, it'll pale in comparison to the huge video dimensions they'll have 20 years in the future, but the higher-resolution you can record those memories today, the better they'll look down the road.

Higher resolution video is also better if you want to make edits, since every edit you make to a video degrades its resolution a small amount.


Video Image Stabilization

The iPhone 4S now features video image stabilization to make your videos appear smoother. We've all seen shaky, hand-held cell phone videos, and the image stabilization feature aims to help correct the shakiness that is natural when you're using a camera that is very lightweight. Even the most steady hands can't hold a small camera like that perfectly still.

Digital Image stabilization like that found in the iPhone 4S usually comes at a price, though. The way it usually works is that the camera crops a smaller portion of the video frame and stabilizes just that portion. As a result, the stabilized footage sometimes doesn't look as crisp and sharp as non-digitally-stabilized footage.


Temporal Noise Reduction

iPhone 4S camera's noise reduction is, in my opinion, one of the best new features included in the iPhone 4S camera specifications. Digital 'Noise' is the 'graininess' plagues so many low-light cell phone camera pictures. Digital Noise is a huge reason for the difference in quality between a DSLR and a point-and-shoot camera. It is among the many reasons that you don't see wedding photographers shooting weddings with cell phones or point-and-shoot cameras. 

With better noise reduction, you'll see vastly better results in your low-light photography, which for most people, is about 90% of what they shoot, especially on a cell phone camera.

These specifications bring the iPhone 4S camera's specifications up to date with other modern competing cell phone cameras.

Pictures from Engadget's live blog of the Apple's announcement of the iPhone 4S at the 'lets talk iPhone' event on October 4, 2011.

Jerry Ferguson is a Phoenix-based wedding photographer.



P.S. For those of you wondering what the 'S' in iPhone 4S stands for, a picture is worth a thousand words -

What the 'S' in iPhone 4S really stands for

iPhone 4S camera specifications
iPhone 4S camera specs
iPhone 4S Camera Flickr Stats
iPhone 4S Camera Sensor
iPhone 4S camera sensor improvements
iPhone 4S camera lens elements
iPhone 4S camera face detection
iPhone 4S camera white balance
iPhone 4S camera speed
iPhone 4S 1080p video
iPhone 4S image stabilization
iPhone 4S Camera Sample - Balloons
iPhone 4S Image Sample - Flower Landscape
iPhone 4S Photo Sample - Flower Macro
iPhone 4S Picture Sample - Landscape
iPhone 4S Photography Sample - Still Life
iPhone 4S Portrait Sample
iPhone 4S Camera Sample - Ocean
iPhone 4S Camera Example - Squirrel