I just switched to Verizon’s iPhone. I love it. One of the things that I was most interested in was camera performance. I don’t expect much out of a cell phone camera, but in the case of the Verizon iPhone 4 I was pleasantly surprised.
Let’s start with the basics: It’s a five megapixel, 5x digital zoom camera. That much you probably already know. What you may not know is the display is amazing. I really wish we could get a Retina display of this size and quality on a DSLR – now THAT would be something. The iPhone 4 has built-in HDR and LED for high-dynamic range and additional illumination. The built-in HDR works just okay – but third party apps give you real HDR on the phone that works better. The small LED light is perfect for just a little catchlight in the eyes, but it’s not like having a Nikon SB-900 mounted to your DSLR so keep your expectations in line with reality here.
As with other iPhones, you can tap the area on the screen where you want the camera to focus. This impacts focus, white balance and exposure. With a little creativity, you can gain some real control over the camera’s performance by experimenting and manipulating this feature. There is even a macro capability.
The iPhone isn’t the easiest device to hold and treat like a camera, but with the addition of any of the myriad of third-party devices available to stabilize it, the iPhone can make some serious photos. It’s light weight enough to be fairly steady in low-light, but the camera’s sensor is so small, low-light isn’t its strong suit.
To prove that even without additional stabilization, the Verizon iPhone 4 can make some great images, I shot the portrait above in my studio this week. The model was illuminated with a Chimera Triolet mounted in a Chimera OctaBank. I did not mount the iPhone to any device – it was hand held. I tapped to focus on the model’s face. I cropped slightly to square format. There was minimal retouching done in Aperture 3.
In my opinion, the image quality is amazing. You won’t get professional-quality wall portraits out of any cell phone camera, but if you’re making images that you want to print in the 5×7 to even 8×10 range (we used to think of those as “big” pictures,) then this camera is capable, especially in good light.
In low light, the images will be particularly noisy. In great light, the iPhone 4 will perform like some entry-level DSLRs. As with all things photographic, light is everything.
There is no doubt in my mind that many amateurs could use the Verizon iPhone 4 camera as their pocket camera, eliminating the need to carry a separate device. Considering everything else you get with the camera, i.e., all the other iPhone 4 features, it’s a no-brainer. The phone actually works! You won’t drop calls. The built-in WIFI hotspot is great as is the ability to make Facetime calls, etc.
Verizon charges $199 for the 16GB version and sells the 32GB version at $299, each with a two-year contract and mandatory voice and data plans.
Here are a few really great apps to get you started with your iPhone and three of my favorites:
2. Camera Bag