Lesson 71: 4S-5S Face-off at Sunrise

The iPhone 5S promises better photos.  It has a bigger opening in the lens for light to come through to allow for better low-light images.  It has a bigger sensor with larger pixels promising more light will reach each pixel and there will be less noise in your pictures.  What does all that mean?  We can see more details in the light and dark areas of photos, we can take better pictures in low-light conditions, and we can expect fewer annoying speckles in our photos.

Now for the test.  While out walking my dog this morning, I happened to be in time to see the sun rising over the Tennessee River just under a low-lying covering of clouds that were in the process of being swept away by the wind.  For once, I was packing both guns with my 4S in my left back pocket and my 5S in my right.

I literally took a point-and-shoot shot with each phone.  I used the default camera app with HDR off for this comparison–I didn’t even tap the screen to set focus or exposure.  I just help up each phone and shot.  Neither photo has had any post-processing done to it.  Drum roll please . . .

This is a a test of extremes.  The sun presents an extremely bright area while the water and bridges provide some very dark areas.  This is the kind of scene that challenges even the most sophisticated cameras.  Can you tell the difference between the way the 4S and the 5S each handle the subject?  Look closely at the sun.  Notice how the 4S version is a bigger blob with less detail in the clouds immediately around the sun.  Additionally, the big bridge support that’s nearly centered is slightly better exposed and shows more detail as well (this may be hard to see without magnifying the full-resolution photo).

Overall, the iPhone 5S also renders the golden light in the photo better–particularly where it is reflected on the water.

So, in short, I’m happy to see there is a visible difference between the two iPhones, but maybe that’s because I just bought the 5S and I’d really like to feel justified in making that decision.  If the difference is so minuscule to you that you can’t see a difference, well, hold the phone . . . we’ll take a look at more comparisons in other lighting conditions to see how the 5S fares.

Your Assignment:  No homework today!