NOTE: I wrote this post the day before Steve Jobs died. I wasn’t going to run it but decided that a story about the success of the iPhone is the perfect way to celebrate his life. This post is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

If you look at this strictly from the number of photos taken, the iPhone wins the distinction of being the most popular camera in the world. You can see it on Flickr for instance, or at any number of other photo sharing sites. The iPhone is downright ubiquitous! More people upload pictures from iPhones than any other camera.

There are more than 7000 photo apps written for the iPhone. There are hundreds of books dedicated to the iPhone. There are thousands of websites, podcasts and blogs dedicated to the iPhone. Since June, more iPhone photos were posted on Flickr than were posted from the Nikon D90 – the perennial Flickr favorite.

Why am I writing this? Well it’s simple. As of this week, Apple announced a new iPhone – the iPhone 4S. And here at Photofocus that means camera talk.

I have no intention of addressing anything about the new iPhone that doesn’t impact the camera. But, since this new version of the iPhone will also no doubt become one of the most popular cameras in the world, it’s worth writing about.

The changes in the new iPhone that impact photography are:

1. Faster processor (A5) which can support up to 1 GB of RAM. This is a big upgrade for the iPhone since it means the apps that support the camera can run faster and do more.

2. The camera is now eight megapixels rather than five. What will that do for image quality? Hard to say. Eight megapixels on a 3264×2448 sensor would normally be a bit noisy – depending on back-end signal processing. When the new phone ships we will see. While Apple is touting this as 60% more pixels, we all know it’s the SIZE of the pixels that matters most. The camera also offers face detection, better backside illumination, faster capture time, better white balance, face detection, an f/2.4 aperture and better optics via a five-element lens. It’s an impressive feature set for a camera phone.

3. Apple has also improved the iPhone’s video capability. They offer 1080p HD video recording, image stabilization and new noise reduction.

4. iOS5 is part of this new iPhone. The new operating system is more robust and will make things like image editing on an iPhone more tolerable.

5. The new iPhone 4S is available with 64 gigabytes of storage. That’s the most storage ever offered on an iPhone, and good news for people who shoot video and pics and need more room.

I have a relatively new iPhone 4. At this point, I am not sure whether or not I will upgrade. (One of my assistants is hoping that I will since it means she gets the old one – which would be a giant step up from her Blackberry.) I tend to be careful about upgrading Apple products these days – hoping the first few months allows everyone else to work out the bugs. There’s also the issue of the iPhone 5. This device may come out in as few as six months, offering 4G capability. I might wait and see.

What I do know is that the camera is and always has been a big part of the iPhone. I used to carry an inexpensive point-and-shoot everywhere I went. Now I just carry my phone. Since I need the phone for the telephone thing anyway, why not take advantage of the camera capability too?

I’ve proven (as have many others) that you can make real photographs with an existing iPhone. I expect the new version – and the new versions to come, will only make that more true.

While the new iPhone with new camera is interesting, I am most excited to see what develops in the way of new iPhone apps for shutterbugs. While there are thousands of photo apps out there, we’re just scratching the surface of what this camera/phone can do. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Thanks to Steve Jobs for dreaming up such a device. Thanks to him for all the impact his business ideas have had on mine. Thanks to Steve Jobs in particular for making sure that Apple always took care of the image-makers. I have additional thoughts on Steve Jobs if you are interested at


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  1. […] is a creative visionary whose influence really cannot be measured. For all the cool, whiz-bang features defining Apple _ […]

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