Manual Camera Controls in iOS 8

by Joshua Ho on 6/18/2014 11:54 AM EST
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  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    This is great. Sure HTC and Nokia may have had better camera controls before Apple, but it's about time EVERY phone had these controls. Now that Apple is doing this, other phone manufacturers will likely follow suit. It's so irritating not being able to manually set the shutter on so many phones - no matter what you try indoors your photos get blurred and are useless! Reply
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Yeah it sure is nice to see Apple catching up to Nokia after all this time. 😋 Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I recently upgraded to the 1020 (which, once unlocked, does well on Tmo, btw), and I can say that the camera is pure awesomeness. I tested it on a family trip recently, and it took very good shots without having to be right up at the subject. I'm not a pro photographer, but I do have a bridge camera, and the 1020 didn't leave me missing it. Sure, a DSLR is greatest, but it's near impossible to wrangle a big camera AND your kids, which is where phones like the 1020 make so much sense. Reply
  • haikuginger - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Just to be clear, do you mean that an AT&T-branded 1020, when unlocked, works on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network on AWS bands? Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I bought an unlocked ATT branded 1020 from eBay, and it works great. I've been to 2 bigger cities in the Midwest, and I connected at LTE speeds of about 20 down, 8 up on less than full bars. Honestly, the speed doesn't matter that much to me, but it matched my Tmo Lumia 925.

    There are some threads online about it, so you can see what other folks have experienced in other markets. I noticed no difference.
    Reply
  • dabotsonline - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Joshua, is there any indication whether iOS 8 will allow users to shoot in RAW? If so, the only advantages of the Nokia Lumia 1020 (and its successor) will be the larger sensor, xenon flash and four HAAC microphones (in the case of the Lumia 1520). Reply
  • jlabelle - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    The only advantage ??? What does it mean ?
    It is like saying that the only advantage of a Ferrari against a Camry is the power of the engine...

    This is a ridiculous choice of words. The Lumia 1020 had a sensor 4 times (I repeat FOUR times) bigger than the iPhone. This is just huge.
    Why is a DSLR miles ahead any phone in term of image quality ? Just because of the senator size. This is key.
    With sensor efficiency reaching close to 90% in some cases, the gain possible is marginal because it could only be 10% gain in ideal world so a gain of 400% in comparison is huge.
    The second advantage is stabilization that give you an extra 2-3 stops. So in low light situation, this 8 times more light coming into the sensor. Nothing can beat that.
    Reply
  • Aetles - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    "Why is a DSLR miles ahead any phone in term of image quality ? Just because of the senator size."

    That is not true, sensor* size is very important but it is not just because of that, there are other factors at play as well.

    (* = Assuming you mean sensor and not "senator" as you wrote... ;))
    Reply
  • andy o - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Technically it's due to the large aperture, but those kinds of apertures are only feasible (physically and economically) in lenses when you have such big sensors. Reply
  • tookitogo - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    No, that's not it. The individual pixels in a DSLR image sensor are much larger, which allows them to collect more light, making them more sensitive. This means a DSLR sensor has less noise at a given ISO. In terms of image *quality*, this is the relevant point.

    A camera sensor with DSLR-size pixels would also have fantastic image quality -- but at very low resolution, which is why we don't do it.

    The size of the aperture has two effects, one is depth of field, the other is the amount of light that hits the sensor. In terms of creative freedom, this is why people choose DSLRs.
    Reply
  • bradleyg5 - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Medium Format cameras have larger sensors than dSLRs and in a lot of ways are vastly inferior to smaller 35mm sensors.

    There is vastly more investment in the sensor size the iPhone uses than the Nokia 1020 does, if you look at dxomarks scoring on mobile sensors the 1020 is already close to being surpassed.

    The iPhone 6s sensor probably will surpass the Nokia 1020s sensor regardless of its size. The shallower depth of field on the Nokia can't be matched due to size. But low light sensitivity, clarity and colour rendition definitely can be.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    I'm looking at the Dxomark website and what you're saying doesn't jive with what the site actually says. You also seem to ignore that there's more to a camera than just its sensor. The iPhone's strengths likely have little to do with its sensor.

    Also, by the time the iPhone 6S comes out, I'm pretty sure Nokia/Microsoft will have a successor to the 1020 out. I don't see how its meaningful that the iPhone 6S might "surpass" a phone that will be a few years old by that point, even if we assume that's true.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    To add to my previous comment, after looking around the Dxomark site a little more, I'm inclined to conclude that their ratings are complete garbage. Specifically, the fact that all the categories are given equal weight and then simply tallied up to make up the final score is highly misleading.

    And plus, the Galaxy S5 is at the top of the charts. I mean, really? Better than the 1020 and the Xperia Z2? Really?
    Reply
  • mightybrawler - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    The xenon flash is brighter than the true-tone flash found in the iPhone 5S, but pathetically less accurate (temperature, colour, etc.); as an example, you can check out the differences that recombu found in its comparison. That would bring the proposed advantages down to the size of the sensor and (possibly, since I haven't found or done any comparisons yet) the ambient noise / sound quality due to the four mics in the 1020 / 1520, vs the three-mic setup in the 5 / 5S. Reply
  • Thermogenic - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    Don't forget Optical Image Stabilization, which is something I really hope Apple includes in the iPhone 6. That being said, by the time the iPhone 6 is released, you would be comparing it to a two year old Lumia 1020 for the camera. The Lumia is also gimped a bit by having 41 MP. If it had the same sensor size and, say, 20 MP, then we'd be talking a spectacular camera. Reply
  • Narg - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    You can take 20 MP pictures with the 1020 and get the same result as if you used a lower pixel count image sensor to the 41 MP, because Nokia combines the pixels in lower resolutions to get more light, it doesn't do what they did in the past of using less pixels. You're concerns are based on old technology formats. Reply
  • BPM - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    5s doesn't use the 3 mic setup for video recording. Which has always baffled me. Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    I would like to see your source for xenon flashes being "pathetically less accurate" while the iPhone 5S's dual-LED flash is apparently the bee's knees, since this is contrary to pretty much everything I've ever seen on the subject. Reply
  • Krysto - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    I agree color isn't xenon flash's best friend, however in a dynamic night environment, Xenon is FAR superior any kind of flash. Any photo you'll take of anyone moving around in a dark environment will come out blurry. Xenon takes very sharp pictures in such environment, and considering you're taking it in the dark, slightly off color isn't such a big issue.

    But I'd prefer a phone with both strong flash and Xenon, simply because everyone wants a flashlight.
    Reply
  • jlabelle - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    fortunately, white balance is a setting applied when convert to JPEG. Shooting RAW with a Lumia let you all the freedom to choose the perfect white balance you want + you can choose among white balance preset in the Nokia Camera app. Reply
  • JoshHo - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    For now it seems that the API doesn't expose RAW functionality, although I believe developers can now directly access encode/decode blocks on the SoC for video. Reply
  • Dino Ferrucci - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Hey Joshua, if you want to be shooting RAW you're going to have memory and storage challenges with an iPhone - RAW files are big and take up more space compared with JPEGs and other common formats. Although if the above iOS8 spec is true, then the increased flexibility of smartphone cameras is making them more like DSLRs. That's a good thing for budding photographers but it would be great if Apple do something that allows easily expandable memory. I've found a Sandisk device called Wireless Media Drive that's pretty cool in that it allows you to free up memory on your iphone wirelessly by uploading content from your gallery and then you can delete it to free up space :) Reply
  • itpromike - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    It does shoot RAW according to developer information in iOS 8 developer docs. Reply
  • JoshHo - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Interesting, do you have a link for this? I don't remember hearing anything about that. Reply
  • RandomUsername3245 - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    I find it frustrating that digital camera companies lock us into this ancient film camera terminology when changing settings for a digital camera. Under the hood, most common focal planes have three settings: integration time, gain, and offset. The integration time is the same as shutter speed. Gain is basically an amplification factor in the readout electronics. The offset parameter sets what light level on the detector corresponds to a pixel value of 0.

    It would be interesting to know how ISO and EV are converted into these three parameters.
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    This is a great post. Couldn't agree more Reply
  • Narg - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    Ditto! Reply
  • Tigran - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    ***This means that ISO, shutter speed, focus, white balance, and exposure bias can be manually set within a custom camera application***

    Couldn't we set exposure bias manually before with the touch of selected area?

    ***This means that a third party camera application wouldn't be denied access to features that can be found in the stock camera application***

    Is it about ISO only (and may be smooth focusing in video recording)? As far as I know there are third party camera applications that allow to change manually shutter speed, depth of field, white balance (Slow Shutter Cam, Professional Camera etc).
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Thursday, June 19, 2014 - link

    The new part is that you can set the exposure bias directly, the old method of trying to expose for a bright surface is no longer necessary.

    The line is in reference to special modes such as the iPhone 5's 2x2 binning mode, such features will be accessible in the AVCaptureDevice API.
    Reply
  • jlabelle - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    IPhone sensor is not better than Lumia 1020 in absolute. It is better per surface only. As efficiency of sensor of those size are well greater than 70%, you understand that no matter what technology improvement could be brought on the table, it will never reach the 400% improvement that bring a 4 times bigger sensor. This is just physics.

    Aperture (in the sense of the f number) is a ratio. This is a ratio between physical aperture of the lens on the focal length. A bigger sensor has a bigger focal length to maintain the same angle of view. This is a why a f/2 lens with a tiny sensor with a 10mm focal length has nothing to do with a f/2 lens of a full frame DSLR with a 100mm lends giving the same angle of view (and the size is also very different).
    Therefore, the f/2 lens of the Lumia 1020 is greatly superior to the f/2 lens of the iPhone 5S or Galaxy S5 because it means that it let the same amount of light entering the same surface of the sensor. As the sensor is 4 times bigger, it lets enter 4 times more light.
    Yes, iPhone sensor had arguably a little bit better efficiency (like DXO is showing) but it will NEVER offset a 4 times bigger area.

    Last but not least, whatever the sensor efficiency and the image quality, a longer focal length associated with a bigger sensor (to keep the same angle of view) give you the possibility to have smaller depth of field so better subject isolation. You can always decide to close down a lens aperture to mimic a smaller sensor but the contrary is not possible !
    So bigger sensor has inherently advantages that a smaller sensor will NEVER be able to reach.
    I emphasize the NEVER used above because somehow people believe that the technology will enable to have full frame performance in a mobile phone sensor size one day. But it is just physically not possible and will NEVER be. Bigger sensor will always be better, always. This is why they try to rely on different way to get what physics prevent like the dual camera on the HTC M8 or what Nokia could bring on the table with the Pelican technology and combination of several pictures.
    But make no mistake, if no one come with a sensor remotely close to Lumia 1020 sensor size in the future, the image quality will not be equaled.
    And this is why the best camera if ask time on a phone remain the Nokia 808, despite its age just because of the sheer size of the sensor.
    Reply
  • Tigran - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    ***So bigger sensor has inherently advantages that a smaller sensor will NEVER be able to reach***

    "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong" Arthur C. Clarke

    I think kids or dilettantes better predict future technologies as they are not limited with the knowledge and experiance of today's science. Many engineers predicted nothing heavier than air could fly, many physicists denied fusion power. But today even specialist agree it's possible that mini-cameras will replace DSLRs in future:
    http://blog.vodafone.co.uk/2014/04/18/htc-talks-ca...

    And guess what - miniaturized wide-angle lens one-tenth of the size of a regular lens, captures pictures better than Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR with a 12mm focal length:
    http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_release...
    Reply
  • jlabelle - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    Tigran, did you write anything contradictory to what I wrote ?
    Because otherwise, if your argument is to say that someday, the efficiency of a sensor will go beyond 100%, then, it is better stopping smoking.
    As you say, maybe someday someone will find another way to capture picture that will represent a shift compared to the current technology but CMOS and CCD sensors exist since more than 20 years and if you wait for a new technology to-be-invented, let's say that the future camera in your next phones will likely be still the same for the next years to come.

    So, in the meantime, as you will wait a new techology to be invented and go through commercial phone's camera, the best way TODAY and for the next years to come to enjoy the advantages I cited is to go toward bigger sensor.

    Also, read better what I wrote and the article that you mention. What do you mean by better ?
    Because resolution is only one aspect of the picture quality. The fact is that a short focal length prevent you of having control on the depth of field. So even with a 800Mpx sensor and the lens able to resolve that, if this sensor is tiny, you will still have no control on the DOF, simply as that.
    Finally, stabilisation gives you 2 or 3 stops of light. So, on the SAME sensor, you gain 200 or 300% of light gathering ability compared to a non stabilized sensor/lens.

    Bottom line : I repeat what I said, this is normal that the real images of a Lumia 1020 are miles ahead a non stabilized small 1/3" sensor iPhone 5S camera. And appart from stabilizing and increasing sensor size, there is no chance for the iPhone 6 or 7 to overcome this difference with current technology and minor improvment that we are seeing year after year.

    For the record, the 2 year old Nokia 808 is still be best camera in any smartphone to date. Maybe the iPhone 15 will reach the level of quality but only if they increase the sensor size to any remotely close size, otherwise, no chance.
    Reply
  • Tigran - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    Jlabelle, if you mean "bigger sensor has inherently advantages that a smaller sensor will NEVER be able to reach" TODAY, at current technology level - I agree. Except NEVER is not the right word for TODAY. What I mean: we will have small sensors in future, that will be as good or even better than today's DSLR's sensors. Bigger pixels, more sensitive materials, curved form to collect light at right angle etc. And even today we have small lens with 12 mm focal length that takes more detailed pictures than Canon 8-15 mm lens, so progress embraces not only sensors. And I guess additional zoom lens will replace extra pixels in sensor at it will put many detailed fragments together, and we'll get optical details instead of digital (when we have chips fast enough in cameras). It's all about future and comparison of future smartphones with small lens and sensors with today's DSLRs. Reply
  • jlabelle - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    O, fine Tigran. But the future is the future. I am interested only today on what my phone camera can produce. So, while you will wait years to have better quality, I prefer enjoying today better picture quality.
    And i you want to enjoy TODAY or with the next iPhone 6 a better image quality, Apple has better to put a big sensor in it. Otherwise, make no mistake, the Lumia 1020 and Nokia 808 (a 2 years old phone) will still be vastly superior to the brand new iPhone 6.
    For the iPhone 15... well, maybe that a new technology will be here but for the time being...
    Reply
  • Krysto - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    Apple needs to put a 13MP camera in the next iPhone. 8MP is just too low of a resolution for optimal details these days. 13MP is going to be the optimal resolution between high detail and high enough performance and also low-light performance. Reply
  • Krysto - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    I also agree with others that bigger sensor sizes are needed. In 2014, everyone should be using 1/2.3" sensors like the one Sony used in Xperia Z1 last year (and Z2 this year). They managed to put that sensor in a relatively thin body, without any bumps on the back.

    The only thing is I'd prefer 13MP resolution over the 20MP one Sony used (which comes down to 8MP in Superior auto-mode, I believe, anyway). 1/2.3" with 13MP resolution is a very good combination, that should give both great quality and detail, and also good performance in low-light, and good performance in HDR and any other kind of computational photography.
    Reply
  • jlabelle - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    Let's be realistic here : the 5Mp downsampled image from a Lumia 1020 have more details than the 8Mp image of an iPhone 5S which shows that the lens is not able to resolve such resolution.
    8Mp is already borderline for a 1/3" sensor.
    Sony xPeria, Lumia 1520/930, Samsung S5 have all bigger resolution because they have sensor between 40% and 70% more surface. And even then, they use also downsampling because full resolution image is often not really pretty.
    Take a look at a full frame DSLR 8Mp image and I can assure you that you rarely need more. The problem today is really not the resolution of the sensor...
    Reply
  • corkymiller - Friday, June 20, 2014 - link

    No aperture control is NOT manual control. Reply
  • jlabelle - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    It is one of of them. Unfortunately, the aperture (the physical aperture of the lens, not the f ratio) is so small on current phone's camera that the lens is almost already diffraction limited at the maximum aperture. So closing down offer very limited benefit.
    We are more looking for larger physical aperture to have more Depth of field control (that we can close if we want) rather than smaller aperture on those tiny tiny lens.

    Appart from the 3 exposure control parameter (ISO -indeed the gain on the sensor-, aperture, shutter speed), there are other basic parameters which are key : white balance, exposure compensation.
    With those parameters, you control already most of the situation. But again, nothing replace a large sensor/lens for depth of field control. And just for this reason alone, it explains why I would always prefer a larger sensor to a smaller one, even if it would give the same picture quality (which is not possible because for the same technology, the bigger sensor will always have the advantage).
    Reply
  • AliciaMay - Sunday, June 22, 2014 - link

    Do you want to install iOS 8 on your iDevice right now? Check out this website: http://activatemybeta.com

    I've got my UDID Registration in under a minute and I'm now enjoying iOS 8 on my iPhone! <3
    Reply
  • jlabelle - Monday, June 23, 2014 - link

    Also, people are speaking of the advance in technology.

    I invite people to check the following test : http://connect.dpreview.com/post/5533410947/smartp...
    Here, we can see that the best phone's camera sold today (the Lumia 1020) compare to a 3 to 6 year old DSLR in daylight (like 40D-50D) but in low light only to a 8 years old DSLR (the 30D).
    For the iPhone 5S, it is worse as low light performance is even not at the level of the first DSLR (the Canon 10D) of 11 years ago !!!

    So how much we praise new technology, since more than 10 years, sensor size still rule as one of the most important parameter.
    Reply
  • Geralindo - Saturday, September 27, 2014 - link

    It's a statistical fact that 97.89% of photos taken with phone cameras are selfies. Of these, 98.45% are uploaded to Facebook, where on average each one is looked at for 0.32 of a second.

    Counter-intuitively, the remaining 2.11% of photos are never actually taken, because the potential photographers spend their time writing 'My dick's bigger than your dick' comments on articles such as this, rather than actually doing something that's interesting enough to warrant photographing.
    Reply

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