iPhone 5 Thoughts from a Photographer

[Apple logo]As expected, earlier today Apple announced the iPhone 5, the newest version of the best phone in the world1. As I followed the announcement, I made a few notes; here’s my quick take on what the iPhone 5 will mean for forward-looking photographers.

In physical terms, the iPhone 5 is a slightly taller device, now featuring a 1136×640 4-inch screen. The screen retains the “retina” display that should continue to allow for amazing visual display of photos. The high-res screen is something that sounds like a marketing ploy until you look at one in person.

Apple announced “44% more color saturation” – I’m not sure what I think about that. How about we just go for accuracy rather than more saturation? They’re saying it now supports all of sRGB… which is good. It sounds like the iPhone will continue to be a great device to show off photos for friends, family, and clients.

The Camera

That whole mobile photography thing seems to have caught on.

The iPhone 5′s camera features an 8 megapixel sensor that sounds very similar to the iPhone 4s, except that it’s been engineered to be smaller so that it fits into the thinner form factor. They’re also claiming up to two stops of better low-light performance, which sounds great since low-light situations are often the most challenging environment for phone cameras. Improved software noise reduction should help.

The built-in software now supports creating panoramic photos up to 28 megapixels.

On the video front, it’s 1080p video with software stabilization. Nothing revolutionary there.

It has a sapphire lens, so in a pinch you can pop out your phone camera, glue it to a ring, and have a gift for a significant other!

Seriously, this appears to be an evolutional update to the camera hardware rather than a revolutional one. It’s good, but not great.

Shared Photo Streams

Your iCloud photo stream can now be made public, or you can share photos with individual people. Those folks will receive push notifications and can comment or “like” the photo, but this is not integrated with Facebook.

This seems like a half-hearted attempt at photo sharing for the masses, but I can’t see this taking off. It won’t be quite as much of a failure as Ping2, but I don’t see it taking off. Those who are more serious about their photography are already using Instagram, Flickr, or another photo sharing site with wide reach, and those who are much less serious are just going to share photos on Facebook or send them via email.


There are a bunch of great reasons to get the iPhone 5 (LTE, bigger screen, faster processor) and I expect that the iPhone will continue to present the premium platform for mobile photography. The incremental hardware updates and software changes should allow for better photos, but there’s nothing game-changing that was introduced today. I’ll be getting one as soon as I can (waiting for Verizon to confirm my upgrade eligibility date).

  1. Yeah, I have opinions. Deal.
  2. Which seems to finally be going away in the new version of iTunes that was announced today.
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Aaron Hockley is a photographer with tech background; he frequently mixes these things together and shares the results. He works as a photographer in Vancouver, Washington and frequently writes and speaks about current photography topics. Follow Aaron on Twitter: @ahockley or send him an email.
  • http://compositecode.com Adron

    Sounds good. Even though I’m not spectacularly wowed, but considering the Apple Ecosystem I’ll likely be picking one up myself, but will also likely be using it alongside my Android for now. I know, so inefficient, but mobile dev is hard sometimes. It’s extra juice! …and I do love the features and feel of the iPhone by comparison.