The iPhone 5s has been out for two weeks now, but out of all the new features in the seventh-generation iPhone, owners are particularly digging the phone's new-and-improved iSight camera.
One notable fan, Jim Richardson, also happens to be a photographer for National Geographic. In his recent hike across Scotland, Richardson ditched his trusty Nikon for the new iPhone 5s, traveling to Edinburgh, Oban, the islands of Kerrera and Staffa, and Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland.
"With intense use (I've made about 4,000 pictures in the last four days) I’ve discovered that the iPhone 5S is a very capable camera," Richardson said in a blog post. "The color and exposures are amazingly good, the HDR exposure feature does a stunningly good job in touch situations, the panorama feature is nothing short of amazing—seeing a panorama sweeping across the screen in real time is just intoxicating. Best of all it shoots square pictures natively, a real plus for me since I wanted to shoot for Instagram posting. Once I figured out what the camera could do well I began to forget all the things it couldn’t do at all."
Richardson remarked on how "delightfully light" the iPhone 5s was to carry around, especially as the Nat Geo photographer scrambled up the mountains and volcanic crags of Scotland.
"What surprised me most was that the pictures did not look like compromises. They didn’t look like I was having to settle for second best because it was a mobile phone. They just looked good. Nothing visually profound is being produced here, I would have to say. But it feels good, and I even noticed some of the folks on our tour putting big digital cameras aside once in a while and pulling out their cell phones when they just wanted to make a nice picture."
The iPhone 5s camera features the same 8 megapixels but a larger sensor and aperture for better lighting, which is particularly helpful in low-light scenarios. The technology within iOS 7 also allows the iPhone 5s camera to better calibrate white balance and exposure, which creates highly accurate photos.
Colors are vibrant and sharp, but the iPhone 5s camera truly excels at capturing human skin thanks to its new tonal mapping technique called "True Tone Flash," which utilizes two different-colored LED lights to intelligently maximize every photograph for color accuracy while also independently enhancing the contrast between various portions of a photo, so dark objects with bright backgrounds aren't washed out or difficult to see.
The iPhone 5s camera also comes with several different photographing modes, including Burst Mode, which allows users to capture individual moments by simply holding the "capture" button to snap 10 frames per second -- up to 999 photos. The iPhone 5s suggests which photos you might like based on motion and whether or not subjects' eyes are open, but users can also easily scroll through all images captured by Burst Mode in a flipbook-style to choose the right one. Other photo modes in the iPhone 5s allow users to chance the hue of their photos before they're even taken, shoot square photos and panoramas, and zoom up to 3x.
Photos look excellent on the iPhone 5s, but so do videos. The iPhone 5s features visually striking high-definition video, but the true show-stopper is the slow-motion feature, which shoots video at a whopping 120 frames per second and, when played back at normal speed, looks like the film was shot in slow-motion. It's a lot of fun and creates great dramatic effects.
For more on the iPhone 5s, check out our review and hands-on with the seventh-generation iPhone, and learn more about why it's worth the price to upgrade.