Apple Unveils New iPhone Camera with a Larger Sensor and Slow-Motion Video


Today is a big day for tech sites and Apple fanboys alike because it’s the day that the Cupertino-based company announces their newest iPhone — you know, the one that makes you wish your contract was up now and not in 12 months.

This time around Apple announced two new phones — the more affordable iPhone 5C and the more capable iPhone 5S — and as you might expect given the smartphone camera culture, the more expensive of the two came with some significant camera improvements.


Spec-wise, the new camera might not seem like much of an improvement at first glance. But although it sports the same 8 megapixels of resolution as the iPhone 5 (and 5C), the sensor boasts a 15% larger active sensor area, and peers out at the world through an all-new Apple-designed five-element f/2.2 lens — that translates into a reported 33% increase in light sensitivity.

The other significant hardware improvement is in the flash. Although the old flash can still be found on the cheaper iPhone 5C, the 5S has a special “True Tone” flash that uses a white and an amber LED to yield the perfect intensity and color temperature.

This is done automatically thanks to some complicated software algorithms that adjust intensity and temp on the fly, using over 1000 unique combinations to find the ideal lighting for that situation.


The remainder of the improvements to the camera fall in the software category. The new camera can shoot 10fps in burst mode just as long as you choose to keep the shutter pressed down, with real-time analysis suggesting which of the shots you just took is the best.

You’ll also find automatic exposure adjustment in panorama mode, autofocus that is twice as fast as before (allegedly “DSLR speed”) and digital image stabilization.

Finally, the camera’s video capabilities have also been improved. You can now shoot slow-motion 720p video at 120fps, and go back in-phone to select where you want your video slow-mo and where you’d prefer regular speed.


If you’d like more info and detailed specs, head over to Apple’s website. The iPhone 5S will make landfall on September 20th (doesn’t look like they’re taking pre-orders on this one) for $199, $299 or $399 with a two-year contract for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, respectively.

  • russianbox

    another thing to note is when you take a photo, the camera snaps a few and picks the best/sharpest from the group. seems a bit over the top,

    but yes MP don’t = quality. I’m glad to see them keeping 8 and making them 8 much more worth it!

  • bmassao

    I want to see how it will face the Xperia Z1. It packs a camera with a faster aperture (f/2 against f/2.2 from the iPhone 5S), a larger sensor (although no one mentioned the actual size of iPhone 5S’ sensor, if it is only 15% larger than the current sensor, Sony’s sensor is bigger with 1/2.3″) and Manual Mode and, so far, the sample images that I’ve seen from Z1 are pretty over the top for a smartphone’s camera – even better than Lumia 1020’s camera.

  • jrconner

    Fifteen percent larger — than what? What, in millimeters, are the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the old and news camera?

  • Swade

    Than the old sensor… and 15% is the same no matter what unit of measurement you use.

  • TSY87

    didnt know this but i dont like it auto selecting. I would rather it take a burst, then let me chose… theres a mode on my S4 that does this but i dont use it, i am fully capable of taking my own shots haha

  • Graham King

    I thought I read that we’ll have the option of selecting ourselves as well.

  • Jeremy Madore

    But 15% of a small number is still a small number… 15% larger doesn’t mean squat if the new size is still smaller than it ought to be (or could be).

    To answer the question, the sensor size of the iPhone 5 (original) is 4.54 x 3.42.

    This puts the new sensor at 5.221 x 3.933 mm.
    For comparison, the Lumia 1020 has a 6.17 x 4.55 mm sensor.

  • alreadyupsidedown

    Let’s just bear in mind that the phone it’s self is only 7mm thick.

  • David Nguyen

    Another gushing distortion…over priced 3 year old midrange phone. Did petapixel post that the Note 3 can do 4k video? Did petapixel post that Galaxy phone can already do slow motion? Probably not with the apple fanboy ‘design’ site. Meh.

  • Patrick Ahles

    And where are you going to watch that 4k video? On an TV with the price of a small car?

  • BrokenHelix79

    You realize the iPhone is a very popular camera in and of itself, right? Go to the photography section in your local bookstore and you’ll find entire books dedicated to iPhone photography. There are more peripherals and attachments made for the iPhone camera than any other, and it remains one of the best smartphone cameras available on the market, despite sharing some of the same features with other brands.

    Also, Apple products in general are very popular with designers/photographers. So go cry and whine somewhere else about PetaPixel reporting about the new iPhone, which is important and interesting to millions of people around the world.

    No really, go somewhere else.


  • David Love

    It’s been out longer so more apps and apple junk to go with it but slowly but surely losing ground as everyone else at least tries to stay innovative. The Steve Jobs luster is washing away from apple products and you’re left with a Tim Cook repeating formula. So save your money and jump in line for your new fingerprint scanner.

  • Richard

    That’s true, you will. It was discussed in the keynote.

  • Richard

    The camera is definitely improved as is the picture taking app but to me, more important than that is the image organization app upgrade in iOS 7.

    Apple is paying attention to its users and attempting to make the experience of taking, sorting, storing, and sharing images with its phones easier.

    Personally, I still prefer taking pictures with a camera, even a point and shoot (Ricoh GR and Sony RX100 II) but there’s no doubt that the cameras in smartphones are hurting the low end of that business and this upgrade to the iPhone camera will continue to push “real” camera makers to make point and shoot cameras better. I’m glad on all fronts as both an iPhone user who plans to buy the 5S and as a photographer who uses cameras.

  • Gary

    This “launch” is interesting for what Apple left OUT. Still no user-replaceable battery, still no user-replaceable memory, still no file system, still no larger screen, still no interoperability with other devices except Apple’s own. All of these things are available in Android. In fact, the “design” of OS 7 is a direct rip-off of Android. Innovation has left the building folks. The 5s and 5c are incremental modifications, at a time when Apple needed to hit a home run. Apple is now following Google and Samsung….pathetic.

  • BrokenHelix79

    I won’t be jumping in line, as I’m quite happy with my iPhone 4S. I also use a Windows 7 PC and an Amazon Kindle.

    Oh, and you know what else? I love Nikon cameras but love Canon glass even more. And I bought a Shark instead of a Dyson and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    My point is, I’m not a fanboy, and I’m not loyal to just one brand. I use products that I enjoy and that are well-designed and reliable. Apple makes well-designed products, and they’ve always served me well. I don’t care if an Android phone has more bells and whistles. I don’t care if the new iPhone is only a marginal improvement.

    I’ll never understand why people who don’t like a particular brand go out of their way to point out the perceived shortcomings of that brand. It’s as if they can’t stand the fact that we humans have a choice in what we buy.

    I’ll buy products that work for me and my lifestyle, and you can do the same.

  • Kodachrome64

    You’re shocked that the iPhone FIVE S is an incremental update to the iPhone FIVE???? You must be one of the great thinkers of our time. Tell us more of your ideas.

  • Gary

    Did I say I was shocked? No, I said it was interesting. Only an Apple fanboy would not comprehend that while Apple has been sitting on its collective butt milking the same-old once-innovative-but-now-boring product, Google and Samsung have actually been innovating. Apple needed to answer the challenge….sadly, they did not. An “incremental update” simply won’t cut it anymore. IOS 7 is basically an Android rip-off, but still not as good. Once you leave the cocoon of Apple’s famous “reality-distortion field” you’ll see that. Until then, enjoy your $650 “incremental update.”

  • Kodachrome64

    All it needed was an incremental update. That’s it. My iPhone 5 is fine for me. The 5S has a few more new features for new customers. It’s not “better than this” or whatever blah blah blah. I listen to people like you every day, always adding your two negative cents. I bet you’re really fun at parties. In design there are things called trends. Right now, its trendy to be flat, sleek, and simple. Look around. That’s how culture is. Design follows patters until we can’t take it anymore and then it moves on to something else.

  • Gary

    The simple fact is, Android is a MORE USEFUL OS that IOS 7. It has nothing at all to do with style, or trends, which I could care less about. Just ONE example….because Android has an actual FILE SYSTEM, you can easily transfer files from a computer to an Android phone and vice-versa via wireless drag/drop. On an iPhone, Apple forces you to do all of this through iTunes, which is ridiculously complex as compared to the elegant simplicity of Android. I would suggest you do a side-by-side comparison of the 2. I’m confident even you would be forced to agree that Android is a more useful OS. The fact that you have been indulging in not-so-subtle personal attacks from the start says more about your inability to discuss this on the merits than it does about me, despite your assumption re: my personality. In fact, I’m a BLAST at parties. :)

  • BrokenHelix79

    The biggest problem with people like you (and that includes Apple fanboys, too) is that even if he did a side-by-side comparison and still ended up choosing the iPhone, it would drive you crazy that he chose something he liked according to the merits that fit his own personal agenda, instead of choosing the device or company that YOU think is “better”.

    Grow up and worry about things more worthy of your intelligence.

  • Gary

    Wow, this is getting absurd. “Drive me crazy??” Are you kidding? I could care less which phone/OS Kodachrome64 chooses, before or after a comparison. I was merely voicing my opinion re: the Apple non-event of yesterday, and had my intelligence called into question. I decided, wrongly in retrospect, to attempt a rational discussion on the merits. But your point is well taken. I do know better than to think an intelligent discussion would ensue. I am done with this thread. Best regards to all participants. :)

  • Tyler Magee

    120fps is pretty nice. Ill stick to DSLR 60fps tho

  • Swade

    Why in the hell do we need a bigger screen? I have a 5 and if it had a bigger screen than it already does, I wouldn’t buy it. Who wants a tablet in their pocket? I think that is one of Samsungs hugest flaws is their tablet sized phone. If you want a big screen get an iPhone Magnum… I mean iPad Mini. Why would they implement features that most people really don’t care about (file system, user-replaceable memory, etc.)? As for the replaceable battery, that would be nice, but by the time one’s battery is so terrible, they are most likely ready to upgrade their phone. Are we really going to get into the design ripoffs between iOS and Android? Which came first and which had almost the same design as its competition? As for me, I’ve had android phones and I’d never use one again. I’d go back to a flip phone before using one.

  • Swade

    More useful to whom? Programmers? What mass market am I missing that wants and uses the Android file system? The majority of people use iTunes and that is unavoidable. It is simple for people to into the system that they constantly use and sync it to their phone. If you have an iPhone and iTunes, you technically don’t need to drag and drop, your phone can sync to your iTunes through wifi automatically.

  • birdmechanical

    I think you’re exaggerating quite a lot. I personally, don’t think there’s much space left to go with smart phones at this point, except tinkering.

    They can just keep making them faster, increasing battery size, adding better cameras. Maybe throw in a random technology here and there. But how many of those are just gimmicks? The video stops when I look away? Oh, great. How revolutionary. What else is Google doing except making apps? Which mostly end up with an IOS version anyway.

    If IOS7 is a rip off of Android, Android was a rip off of IOS. They’re still entrenched in the same set up that Apple created. They’re just both tinkering with their OS’s now. Taking things from each other. Windows is probably the most innovative mobile OS right now, but no one is even clear if they like it.

  • birdmechanical

    I was talking to a friend, who I think had the 4s or 5, and was just saying that it fulfilled all of his needs at this point. The screens are great, you can play simple games, watch videos, send emails, play music, take photos at a quality where digital cameras used to be…in your pocket.

    What reason is there for people to even upgrade continuously anymore?

  • BrokenHelix79

    The fact that you bailed on this thread, which still has plenty of room for rational, good-natured debate, tells me all I need to know about your true viewpoint.

    Because if you really wanted to talk about modern technology solely based on merit, you would concede that all the heavy hitters in the tech world offer groundbreaking advancements, beautiful design, functionality, and entertainment value that should, by any reasonable measure, make us all feel spoiled to the core. I can do nearly anything on my phone. On my phone! My little tiny device that packs more wallop than a room full of computers twenty years ago.

    Just be happy you’re a part of the civilized world that affords you such luxuries. I wasn’t calling your intelligence into question. I was, in fact, saying your intelligence was being wasted by these nonsensical arguments.

  • hendrick

    apple = thieves like that skinny thief steve jobs!

  • Eport

    It should be noted that the Nokia Lumia 1020 has the largest sensor at 1/1.5-inch, regardless of how over the top the Z1’s promo photos are.

  • bmassao

    I wasn’t talking about “promo shots”, I was talking about real shots – which are emerging as we speak. There was even a “shootout” between the Lumia and the Z1 and guess what? Sony, although with a smaller sensor and dynamic range, did a better job.

    For me, as a personal choice, I don’t even consider buying the Lumia 1020 because of Windows, but I’m sure it takes awesome pictures. ;)

  • SayNoToFingerprints

    Nobody is talking about thinkness tho…

  • MurphyInAction

    You got to look at this thing from a more global and market orientated view. With you buying technically mediocre products for a higher price you distort the market. If more people like you show up and make uneconomic decisions companies start to realize that they don’t need technology anymore but only need hype. This leads to a slower advance in technology in this specific market and will cause r&d departments to get cuts, favoring the design departments.

    The point I’m trying to make is that if everybody just bought what looked best and what they are used to, from the company they have always bought it from, new and innovative firms and products won’t get an audience and from a technological point of view the market would stagnate.

  • Fuji>Kodak

    “I bet you’re really fun at parties”

    Woah no need to get personal here. Stay gentlemen.

    Yet, I think Gary really has a point. He is critcising how apple releases and “update” of something and charges you the full price again. Barely any innovation went into this device and now one should pay 700$ again. I though stuff that gets older gets cheaper but Apple sees that the other way round I guess…

  • BrokenHelix79

    Well then, the problem really lies with people who insist on buying every iteration of a product. Of course, that’s Apple’s goal, but if we really want to see big changes, the Apple fanbase has to resist the urge to upgrade at every turn.

    So, that leaves people who are buying these products for the first time, in which case they’re getting really superb hardware, no matter the brand. My first smartphone was (and still is) an iPhone 4S, and I’m very happy with it.

  • Gary

    I’ll need to disable getting email alerts from Disqus, so I don’t have to read posts that compel me to respond. BrokenHelix79, you clearly have no idea what I was talking about. I was NOT attempting a rational discussion about “modern technology solely based on merit.” I was talking about Apple’s iPhlop vs Android and Samsung…..period. You must not have read my original post, so I’ll sum it up. Apple’s newest iPhone launch was a joke. They act as though they don’t need to compete with Google’s Android OS and Samsung’s Galaxy 4S, but they do.

    As far as me bailing on this thread, here’s why:

    1-I merely opined that Apple’s launch was disappointing. That elicited irrational responses from Apple fanboys attacking me personally….which is to be expected from said fanboys.
    2-Then you chime in by telling me to “grow up”, and further demonstrate you lack of understanding as to WTF I was saying in the 1st place.
    3-I gave one concrete example of how Android is a more useful OS (to me, granted) than iOS 7. No one has been able to cite one thing that Apple introduced yesterday that merits bragging about, because there isn’t anything worth bragging about.
    4-I have been doing a side-by-side comparison between Android and iOS, which has convinced me that Android is better, more elegant, and most of all more useful. No one as far as I can tell has been able to give me any concrete examples as to how I might be mistaken. Instead, I got personal insults hurled at me.

    Therefor, this thread is a complete waste of my time and I’ll go elsewhere to find a reasoned discussion on the state of Apple and it’s failure to excite anyone but a die-hard fanboy.

    But I will throw you Apple fanboys a bone. No one with half a brain can deny that Apple single-handedly created a huge market with the intro of the iPhone. It was a ground-breaking product packed with innovation and brilliance. Then, amazingly, on the heals of that, Apple unveils the iPad! Time after time under Steve Jobs Apple has managed to blow the doors of the tech world with its innovative products, and all of you Apple haters are insane if you cannot acknowledge Apple’s contribution in making products that we all love, and every company has since copied.

    However, Steve Jobs has left the building and what remains is a giant company that cannot get out of its own way. Sorry, but Apple’s glory days are over, and they don’t seem to care that Google and Samsung are surpassing them in innovation, as clearly demonstrated by yesterday’s embarrassing non-event.

    Good day to you all. :)

  • John Lehmkuhl

    This is complete horseradish. Sorry but there are entire categories that Android can’t do very well (Music Applications being a biggie for me). Whatever works for you is great, Gary. But to say it’s more useful, how? Will it take text messages better than the iPhone? Will it send email faster? What, because it’s larger and you can replace the batter, that makes it better? I come from Android and know the pitfalls and complications of it’s OS. I get far more done and have a much more enjoyable experience with the iPhone than with any Android device I’ve worked with… Oh and with the 5S going 64-bit with new password technology and a completely separate processor dedicated to doing the real-time analysis of how the phone is being used without sucking the battery dry, I think I’ll be in good hands with a 5S. Not to mention the camera upgrades which are nice considering I am currently using the 4S which I love to death. Again whatever works for you – great. But don’t say it’s more useful cause that is complete horseradish.

  • John Lehmkuhl

    You can always get a 60.00 case that has a battery built into it for your iPhone. That’s what I have done and at trade shows and other situations where you need it non-stop for the full day, it works perfectly.

  • alreadyupsidedown

    Exactly, and that’s why they’re missing the point. There’s only so much room inside the phone. Apple has to balance the increased comfort and pocket-ability of a thin phone, against space for a larger camera unit. They have chosen a point that they feel is best.

  • faloc

    slowmo videos wow……. S4 already had that for a long time now.. .OLD NEWS

  • Wagnerian

    want really want is a full frame DSLR that has a phone in it. then we can be assured of getting the best pictures. why can’t anyone think of that?? i’m waiting for technology to catch up to DSLRs!

  • Jeffrey A St★rke

    I have 6 PS cameras (4 sony’s [2 with GPS], 1 cannon & 1 3d fuji) and a Pentax DSLR. I too prefer taking photos with a camera. But something I read once said something like no matter how expensive your camera is it won’t take good photos if you don’t have it with you! I’d rather have a memory with a camera phone than no memory at all! My wife’s 4s takes great photos and we’ll be getting the 5s next month! I use Android phones and the two happy exists together. But you have to love Apple’s “photostream”!

  • Richard

    I agree, and I certainly have my iPhone 5S with me more than my Ricoh GR. And, it’s great to know I can take pictures with it. But, when I have the GR with me it’s what I use.

  • iAwani

    some of my fellow street photographers choose to use iPhone 5S as their main device.