Going slow-mo with the iPhone 5S

Going slow-mo with the iPhone 5S

I'm sure many of you have already seen the news of the iPhone 5S, with its improved 8-megapixel camera, fingerprint reader and 64-bit CPU.

Of course, with every iteration of the iPhone, the features get better and the smartphone gets faster but what caught my interest was the digital camera part of the iPhone 5S.

On paper, the iPhone 5S has the same megapixel count as its predecessor, but according to Apple, the sensor is bigger and therefore, has better low-light performance.

This is nothing new, since HTC claims the same with the 4-megapixel image sensor of the HTC One.

Yes, there are good arguments on both sides about whether more megapixels is better, but the fact is for most casual shooters, anything between five- and twelve-megapixels is really more than enough.

You get manageable file sizes and good enough quality if your smartphone camera megapixel count falls somewhere in there, in my opinion.

Anyway, the megapixel wars is something I've already covered in a previous article, so that's not I wanted to talk about.

What really caught my eye with the iPhone 5S' camera is that it comes with a number of features I have never seen before in any camera on the market.

For one thing, the iPhone 5S can shoot slow-motion 720p video at 120-frames-per-second (fps).

This is pretty interesting because there are very few cameras on the market that allow you to shoot slow-mo at such a high resolution - most cameras are usually reduced to 480p quality video when shooting slow-motion.

At 120fps, the iPhone 5S' camera isn't as slow-mo as I'd like (240fps would REALLY make things interesting) but Apple's trump card here is that the user can shoot the video and then choose the parts that he/she wants to apply the slow-motion effect.

This means that you have very granular control when editing a video to carefully choose the parts that you want to be slow-mo AFTER you've already shot the video.

When it comes to stills, another unique feature of the iPhone 5S is that the panorama feature now intelligently balances the exposure as you pan across the scene, creating a balanced (and yet seamlessly stitched together) image.

If you regularly shoot panoramas with a DSLR, you'll know how big a deal this is - usually when shooting a number of stills that I want stitched into a long panorama, I'd have to set the exposure to manual and shoot.

Without locking down the exposure, the differences in brightness for each image would be a real headache to balance when I try to stitch the photos together.

The iPhone 5S does all this automatically and creates a totally balanced panorama the moment you finish your pan!

There are more mundane but equally advanced features hidden in the iPhone 5S as well - you get a very fast burst mode if you hold down the shutter button and you also get face detection and "matrix" metering.

The burst mode not only takes a series of shots, but also selects the shots out of the many you shot that the iPhone 5S thinks is the best in terms of sharpness and composition.

Apple's philosophy seems to be to give the user very advanced features but make it as simple to use as possible and in this sense they've really managed to do some things that not many camera manufacturers have thought of.

It's not long before Android smartphones start getting these features as well but what I'm excited about is that features like these also get folded into future mirrorless cameras or DSLRs.

It would make my job a lot easier - after all, it'd be great if I had an assistant to go through the hundreds of photos that I take and pick out the best shots.

Now I'm going to leave you to mull over whether I was being sarcastic or not.

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