iPhone 5s and 5c: What Photographers Need to Know

iPhone 5s

Yesterday, Apple announced a pair of new iPhones – the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c.

The iPhone 5s is the new flagship handset, while the iPhone 5c packs in a lot of power and comes several colors for a good price.


The highlights, as I see them, are that the iPhone 5s has a faster 64-bit A7 processor, new camera with f/2.2 aperture (vs. f/2.4 in the 5c) and 120fps video capture for slow motion. The big advantage for the iPhone 5c is that you get a 32GB phone for $199 on contract (the 16GB version is only $99).

iPhone 5c

Now, let’s take a look at more specifics about the iPhone 5s.

iPhone 5s colors

The iPhone 5s eschews the traditional white and black options, and is available in gold, silver and space gray. The 5s introduces a new unlock feature called Touch ID, which allows you to unlock your iPhone using your fingerprint. You can also use your fingerprint to approve App Store and iTunes purchases.

The new 64-bit A7 chip is up to two times faster than the A6 chip. The A7 also supports OpenGL ES 3.0 hardware acceleration, which Apple claims will allow the 5s to deliver graphic quality on par with desktop computers. Apple’s built-in apps are optimized for the A7 chip. The Camera app takes advantage of the new image signal processor for up to 2x faster AF, photo capture and video frame rates (e.g., the new 120fps capture).

iPhone 5s camera 1

The camera itself features an 8MP sensor that is 15% larger than the previous generation with the aforementioned f/2.2 aperture. Burst mode in the iOS 7 Camera app now lets you capture 10 frames per second.

While Apple is sticking with an LED flash, instead of a Xenon flash bulb like in the Nokia Lumia 928, the new 5s flash features a white LED and an amber LED for what Apple calls True Tone flash. The new flash uses the different color LEDs to adjust the flash color and intensity in order to match the subject and scene lighting.

iPhone 5s camera 2

Panorama mode gets a nice addition with dynamic auto exposure. Something that really plagued the iPhone 5 was the inconsistent exposure in panorama mode. In the iPhone 5s, the starting point of the panorama exposure no longer dictates the remainder of the image. As you pan, the 5s will automatically adjust exposure for highlights and shadows – and it does so at 30fps.

The 5s captures 120fps video in 720p with the ability to play back any portion of the recording at 1/4 speed for impressive slow motion accents. Additionally, you can now zoom in up to 3x while recording video by just pinching the display.

iPhone 5s camera 3

Square photos are not available as a default capture mode (thanks Instagram) and you a can apply photo filters inside the Camera app before or after capturing a photo. Apple says that you can remove filters later if you want to see the original image, which suggests the built-in photo filters are part of a sidecar file that makes the changes non-destructive.

The iPhone 5s will be available September 20 for $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB) and $399 (64GB).



  1. says

    So in summary the 5S has;
    a larger Aperture f/2.2
    15% Larger sensor
    120fps video
    True tone flash (flash sees skin tone and WB of room and adjust color of flash)
    10fps (will auto select sharpest)

    The thing was when they presented this they had some other stuff they talked about.
    The concept I thought were good for photographers:
    Larger pixel=Better Picture. More pixels isn’t always better. This is nice since camera phones are out not that exceed the Nikon D600.
    True tone flash. The important of color balanced for capture, flash and editing

    The unfortunate concepts:
    He’s standing in front of a slide showing all the fancy gear, DSLR, tripod, color checker, hot-shoe flash, SD cards, reflectors, light meter, lens cleaner, and three books. (film, light and photography) and says,
    “It used to be to take better pictures you became a better photographer.For most of us, we just want to take a picture.”
    and comments that the new features are “SLR-level stuff”.

    This is because the craft of photography as a service for family portraits, special events, etc… is getting watered down.

    This new camera is amazing. The ability to change flash color is a breakthrough. Getting the flash off the camera is still essential for flattering pictures. Here are some other things to keep in mind.

    The large bulky DLSR means the sensor is much larger which means you can get pictures in much lower light. Also you can optically zoom in.
    The technology is still not there to allow auto exposure to compete with a photographer knowing what in the picture should be at certain exposures. Any camera stuck in auto exposure will still be thrown off by areas that are brighter or darker then your subject.
    No matter how advanced cameras having a pro take your photos means they know when to take pictures and what to take pictures of. That’s part of what the books, and studying and experience do.

  2. says

    There are three things needed to be a great photographer. In this order. You and your keen eye, a great lens and a camera to make the shot. Paul Hames Photographer.