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iPhone 5 camera: Suggestions for the next version

iPhone 5 camera: Suggestions for the next version

The iPhone 5 is due out Friday and I’m sure plenty of people will be waiting in line to buy one. I was one of those people in line at the Verizon store last year waiting for my chance to pick up the new iPhone 4S. My iPhone 3G was turning into an antique; I was ready to step up to the new 4S model with its 8-megapixel camera.

It really does do an amazing job considering you’re taking photographs with your phone. Just try to remember back a few years when the quality of a phone camera was so poor. It’s ridiculous how fast the technology has improved.

With predictions of 10 million iPhone 5 phones expected to be sold in the first week, you would think that industrial designer Jonathan Ive and his team would have come up with a little more technical magic and surprised us with some super-fancy camera advancements.

Certainly they have made a few minor adjustments to the front-facing 8-megapixel camera, but there’s nothing to make me pay the penalty for jumping out of my two-year contract early.  I can avoid the lines this year and hold off for the iPhone 5S or whatever it will be called.

Sure they made the phone faster to operate, thinner and a little longer, but the overall design looks the same. It’s tough to tell the difference at a quick glance.

The new iPhone 5 camera’s new features include:

Panorama — The panorama software looks cool, but so do plenty of other apps that stitch photographs together that have been available at the iTunes store for years. Not to mention, panorama pics are fun for a while, but where are you going to display them? I guess Apple hasn’t noticed the billion-dollar photo app called Instagram. It’s going to be real tough fitting a pano into a square format.

Face detection in video or still images — I already know who’s in my photographs. This is more software than hardware.

Sapphire crystal — This is a nice feature. Apple added a harder transparent material that is less likely to scratch.

Faster photo capture — I take more iPhone photographs than I will ever know what to do with. Not much of a deal-breaker for me.

Improved noise reduction and better low-light imaging – This is an important improvement. Any help in this area only means a better quality photograph.

Shoot video and still photos at the same time — Once a year I might do this, but it’s not likely I would even remember to use this feature.

Of course, I do have my list of suggestions for Apple on how to improve the camera for the next version, which I will call the iPhone 5S.

1. How about adding an optical zoom? – This means you’re using the camera lens glass to zoom in, not some electronic hocus pocus that just cuts into the quality of your image. I know this may be tough because size is a factor as the phone gets thinner. OK, how about the range of a 35mm equivalent of 24mm to 100mm. I could retire my Canon S95.

2. I need a better flash – This is where my point-and-shoot (the Canon S95) takes the iPhone down. I know everyone is about available light photography. But really, there are situations where a nice strobe light with a little punch really adds to the photo. How about just being able to throw in a little light on your back-lit subjects on a sunny day so they don’t have to squint? I also like the ability to dial the strobe up or down depending on my subject and the scene to give photo images a little spark.

3. Is there any chance you could include a built-in 1/4 inch tripod mount? — It would be nice not to have to buy an extra case or gadget to attach the iPhone to a camera. This would be an engineering achievement. The gadget inventors are safe here. Apple isn’t going to add a tripod mount any time soon as the phone keeps getting thinner.

4. Sunscreen — I need a handy fold-out sunscreen. Trying to take pics in bright sun is tough and checking your results is even worse. Even old-school 4 x 5 press cameras had them to view the subject on the ground glass.

5. Everyone wants more pixels — It’s all about ego, but it’s the common way people compare digital cameras. These days, the number of pixels doesn’t always add up to better images. It depends more on the quality and size of the sensor.

Photos (from top): The new iPhone 5 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook presents the new iPhone 5  in San Francisco. Credit: Glen Chapman / AFP/Getty Images

Customers line up outside the Apple store on 5th Avenue awaiting the arrival of the new iPhone 5. Credit: Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images

Robert Lachman

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19 Comments

  1. September 20, 2012, 5:38 am

    Oh my gosh, this is such a poorly written post, hard to believe the LATimes would post this, even if it's not on print. It's like something out of a bad English 101 essay.

    By: Jaime
  2. September 20, 2012, 7:43 am

    my nokia n82 cost me $400 4 years ago and it EASiLY takes better photos than the 4s/iphone5 because the tech is the same so your comments about how far things have come are pretty laughable. The flash as u mention is almost useless being LED, it has no auto focus lamp resulting in blurry pics to often, both of which the nokia has. I just dont get how a $1000 phone and 4 years in advancement of tech doesnt beat my dinosaur of a phone.

    I get apple has to make a buck and therefore wont release the absolute greatest immediately but this is beyond thathat. Ive been a huge apple fan for over a decade but ive never owned an iphone because of the camera/price point. So in my case at least their marketing hasnt worked out. They give us exact percetages of how much thinner and lighter it is but only mention the battery life is 'improved'. I couldnt give a stuff about its size as it was never big, but %30 more battery?

    Mr jobs is gone less than a year and things are already starting to go the wrong way with apple….. for more reasons than just the iphone :(

    By: ddont tforgetdont f
  3. September 20, 2012, 8:39 am

    Everything can't be all things to all people… is your review about the phone, or the camera? As a camera with a built in phone, it lags. As a phone with a built in camera, it rocks. Let it be what it is and move on… and don't forget your Canon S95.

    By: ItIsWhatItIs
  4. September 20, 2012, 9:21 am

    If you want a camera, use a camera

    By: guest@guest.net
  5. September 20, 2012, 10:12 am

    [[...his team would have come up with a little more technical magic and surprised us with some super-fancy camera advancements.]]

    …like a tripod mount and a sun screen?

    By: The dude
  6. September 20, 2012, 10:18 am

    these are some bad suggestions

    By: fart
  7. September 21, 2012, 5:59 am

    I understand you write about photography, but you can't lose sight of the fact that fundamentally, it's a phone.
    Unless there's some new optical technology that lets your lens zoom without increasing the thickness of the device, forget the optical zoom. Built in quarter inch tripod mount? No, you'd have to make the body thicker.
    Better flash? Yes, absolutely, would make a considerable difference. Sunscreen? Meh…I'd occasionally like it, build it into a protective case, don't clutter the slender, clean device up with it. And I agree, we really don't need more pixels, but if we can get them without reducing other aspects of image quality, why not?

    By: mikhailovitch
  8. September 21, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Sounds to me like what you really want is a real camera, not an iPhone(y)

    By: Eric
  9. September 21, 2012, 5:42 pm

    So the iPhone 4S is a piece of crap now, huh guys? Yesterday you were all hot and giggly over it, but today you can’t wait to throw it into the garbage?

    iMorons are pathetic. Its people like you who keep the divorce lawyers in business. If a piece of technology worked well yesterday, it works well today.

    By: JM
  10. September 24, 2012, 8:36 am

    I can't believe you got paid to write this article. It's fundamentally an iPHONE. People like you are the very reasons why I hate the Internet.

    By: Exasperated
  11. October 13, 2012, 11:45 am

    OMG Steve Jobs is God, and God is dead! Oh woe is Apple! Everything can only go wrong with Steve Jobs gone.

    Give me a break. It's as if the real engineers and think-tanks behind Apple's products (with IQ probably bigger than you and I combined) account for nothing, so that when a seeming "godhead" who is little more than a spokesperson and a mouthpiece (that, lest we forget, is the culprit behind Googleoids' "iOS can't run Flash" and the "3.5 inch is too small to play game" favorite insult) goes away, Apple is damned.

    I don't know about you, but I for one am looking forward to getting the 5th gen iPod Touch so I can play some Real Racing 3 and Infinity Blade 3. You can stay on your Nokia and reminisce all you like.

    By: hen
  12. November 19, 2012, 8:55 pm

    I really hope that the next iPhone will have a better zoom. The pics are so distorted if you zoom. I currently use the ipro lens for iphones. I have also heard that Apple has a patent to be able to change the lenses on an iphone in the future. http://lensesforiphone.com

    By: Marc
  13. December 8, 2012, 1:20 am

    Sounds to me like what you really want is a real camera, not an iPhone

  14. December 23, 2012, 5:46 am

    they are dominating the sector.. Apple rulles

  15. February 1, 2013, 2:33 am

    Everything can't be all things to all people… is your review about the phone, or the camera? As a camera with a built in phone

    By: itunesmp3
  16. July 23, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I dont like zooming of IPhone 5S… I wish them to check that..

    By: Sağlık
  17. September 6, 2013, 2:27 am

    Everything can't be all things to all people… is your review about the phone, or the camera? As a camera with a built in phone

  18. July 11, 2014, 9:38 am

    Sounds to me like what you really want is a real camera, not an iPhone

  19. July 20, 2014, 11:39 am

    I suggest to have two cameras on the next release

    By: Nelly Cr

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