After both my wife and I upgraded our iPhones, I found myself with a 3G, 3Gs and 4 at my disposal. Which has the best camera? Obviously the newest one – the 4 – but it’s no fun to simply take my word for it. So, for a few days I carried around all 3 phones and took roughly identical photos with each one.
None of these photos are processed, and in almost all cases the camera was in full automatic mode – I didn’t tap to focus or change exposure. In the comparison photos below, I shrank the 3Gs and 4 shots to match the 3G so that everything was the same relative size. You want full size? Go to this gallery to see them in all their glory. Most shots are from Santa Monica near the pier or on the UCLA campus.
I do. Of course this experiment has no practical purpose, but it’s interesting to see how dramatic the differences are. I expect that we will continue to see improvements in phone cameras and see dedicated compact cameras lose a big chunk of the market.
Personally, I’ve used the iPhone extensively in my One/Day Project because I always have it with me – beats carrying a DSLR around all the time. Even before I had one myself, I used my wife’s 3G to keep up with my daily photos on two long trips we took last year – Maine and West Coast. Assuming I’ll stick with iPhones in the future, I care deeply about the quality of the camera since I use it so often.
The following table is what I came up with myself by direct observation. Explanations below. Why didnt I compare the the original iPhone, too? Well, you see, I don’t have one. Sorry.
| Photo Dimensions
|Tap to Focus?
||16″ | 41 cm
||3″ | 7.5 cm
||3″ | 7.5 cm
|Shutter Speed (s)
||1/10 – 1/28000
||1/15 – 1/30000
||64 – 1016
||80 – 1000
Dimensions, aperture and EXIF model are all things I read from an image file’s EXIF metadata – the values I listed never change. Macro refers to the closest focusing distance, which I got by putting the lens near the beginning of a ruler and seeing where the numbers came into focus. There are ways of calculating the angle of view, but that’s beyond my pay grade. Continue reading »