Even the Pros Pick the iPhone 4 Camera

November 16, 2011, By George Lang

In a recent interview with legendary professional photographer Annie Leibovitz, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams asked what kind of camera she recommended for the average user. Surprisingly, the answer was the Apple iPhone!

Of course, Leibovitz was discussing far more than photography with that answer. In the same breath she mentioned the convenience of the device as a note pad and pen, a much improved wallet photo collection, etc. No one can argue the value of carrying a smartphone over all the things you would need to carry in its place. But Leibowitz is a master photographer, and her endorsement of the iPhone’s camera cannot simply be written off. What is it about the iPhone’s camera that sets it apart from all the others?

MacWorld did a research study that showed the iPhone 4 to be far superior to any of the other smartphones tested; including the Droid X, the Samsung Galaxy, the EVO 4G, and the iPhone 3GS. That result, despite the fact that some of the devices had higher mega-pixel ratings than the iPhone 4’s 5 mega-pixel rear-facing camera.

“The reason for the discrepancy? The iPhone packs its 5 million pixels onto a 1/3.2-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. Sensors with backside illumination technology move the wiring from the front side of the sensor to the back, so that it’s behind the light sensors. This allows more light to reach the sensors without being diffused by the circuitry, which means the camera can capture better low-light images.

“Another factor contributing to the camera’s good low-light performance is the size of its pixels. Bigger pixels capture more light, which makes for better images.” (MacWorld) Mega-pixel count is not the only factor in determining the image quality; and Annie Leibovitz is well aware of that fact.

Interestingly enough, the iPhone 4’s camera is lacking in one department that has us at Dev-Mag shaking our heads over Leibovitz’ preference for the latest iPhone. Professional photographers are quite fanatical about having every possible photographic adjustment available to them (e.g., aperture, exposure time, ISO, etc.). A few of the tested devices, such as the EVO 4G are far superior to the iPhone 4 in that regard. Hence, it is our  assumption that Liebowitz is thinking the average user does not need all that technology and will be happier with a device that is easy to use and gives the best results for that given user-friendliness.

The iPhone 4 ranked very well in technology authority CNET’s Review as well. They refer to it as a “spectacular camera” (CNET).

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