The latest iPhone, the iPhone Xs, has been launched to an eager world. It’s smarter, faster and packs in loads of new stuff, including an all-new camera, and despite reservations, it really does look good.
The iPhone is already the World’s most popular camera, the adage the best camera is the one you have with you, really couldn’t be truer.
Over at Apples Steve Jobs theatre, Tim Cook ran through proceedings and after the launch of the Apple Watch 4 handed over to Philip Schiller to introduce the new iPhone. The big news was the power of the new processor, the A12 bionic, that enables a considerable speed and power boost to the phone.
Sure enough, the specifications are impressive with dual cameras on the front and back of the phone. There’s loads of other app and gaming stuff that it does as well.
Here at camerajabber.com we’re just interested in the camera or cameras and what they offer. First up the specifications:
iPhone Xs rear camera specifications
12mp telephoto camera
- Optical Image stabilisation
- 6-element lense
- 2x optical zoom
12mp wide-angled camera
- Optical image stabilisation
- All-new sensor
- 1.4um pixels
- Focus Pixels
- 6-element lens
True Tone flash
- Advanced flicker-detect system
iPhone Xs front camera specifications
True Depth Camera
- RGB Camera
- Faster Sensor
- Advanced image sensor
- With Global Shutter
- IR Lens
- Dot Projection
- Structured light transmitter
- Micro Projection Lens
- Diffractive Beam Splitter
After introducing the phone’s camera Philip then goes on to talk about the importance of the processor and software. This highlights what we have found with many cameras over the years, you may have a great camera, such as the Pentax K-1, but if you don’t have the software to back it up then forget it.
Here, being Apple we already know they’re software leaders, and the emphasis here that the chip and software are as important as the sensor and lens.
The A12 Bionic process’s speed and power enables unparelled auto correction as you shoot, and optimises many of the shooting parameters, including:
- Auto Exposure
- Auto White Balance
- Auto Focus
- Noise Reduction
- Local tone mapping
- Highlight details
- Image fusion
- Face detection
- Facial Landmarking
The iPhone Xs essentially connects the ISP (Image Signal Processor) and Neural Engine to produce powerful imagery.
This enables the camera to auto-detect subjects, environmental conditions and lighting; it can also recognise facial features so will automatically adjust issues such as red-eye in the camera.
Mapping seems to be the term for the technology and this literally maps out the content in the images. Features such as Facial Landmarking and Segmentation takes face recognition to the next level. The processor can run 1 trillion operations per photo, making out features, highlights and tone.
Smart HDR, is an example of this new level of processing and enables advanced shadow and highlight boost to extend dynamic range within images to a far greater degree than has been seen with the iPhone before.
In Smart HDR the zero shutter lag takes four frames instantaneously, it also captures four addition interval shots with a darker exposure to capture the highlight detail, then another four longer exposure to capture the shadow detail.
It then merges the best of each to create the HDR image. Sample images looked impressive capturing not only traditional static HDR pictures but also scenes with motion.
Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting modes have been enhanced with the significant new feature depth of field adjustment.
Heralded in the keynote by the term Bokeh, the new feature was revealed. The use of the term Bokeh wasn’t just referring to a large aperture but more to the fact that you could adjust the aperture and thus the depth of field after you’ve taken the shot.
How does this work? Well, after taking the image pop into the photos app and there you’ll see a new slider called depth. As you adjust the aperture from f/1.4 to f/16 the background changes the depth of field.
In the keynote it was stated that this hasn’t been possible before, sure that’s true of smartphone cameras, but we have of course seen this type of technology in the Lytro.
We reported on Lytro closing down in March and previously it had been rumoured that Google had bought the company. So could it be that we’ll see the Google Pixel 3 also feature this style of technology?
Apple is pushing a new era of photography that they and others are calling computational photography; this puts equal Importance on the processor as the sensor and lens.
A new era for video
Video also sees a huge power boost on the iPhone Xs. The sensor for video is now twice as fast, the four microphones dotted around the body enables full stereo audio recording for richer more vibrant sound.
The sample video showed the shooting potential. After the film had stopped some of the key features were highlighted including; Tone mapping, Autofocus and exposure, captured shadow and highlight detail, colour rendering and the stereo sound recording, there was just a little wind noise thrown in here and there to prove the authenticity of the piece.
The iPhone Xs looks like a fantastic camera; we’ll have to wait to see if it features are enough to stem the split from apple over to emerging manufacturers such as Huawei who have already dominated much of the photographic world with the incredible P20.