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Are smartphone cameras powerful?


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#1 Mr.Panos

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 03:09 AM

I have been using my cell phone's camera for years, but I always have the same question. Actually, it's not a real question. Let me explain you. I own an iPhone 5S which has 8 Megapixels, and I have another professional camera which has 12 Megapixels. The problem is that my iPhone takes much better photos than the camera. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because of the age of the camera. I bought it 3 years ago. Could someone of you advise me? What should I do to "fix" the camera? Is this camera really powerful or not?
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#2 Photographa

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 11:26 AM

Excellent question.

 

There's actually a lot more that goes into taking a good photo than megapixels. Megapixels only determine the resolution (size) of the photo, but there's no use to a large photo if it's blurry and noisy.

 

I'm assuming that your old camera is blurry and noisy. This is because it tries to cram 12 megapixels into a [probably] small sensor, so each individual pixel is tiny and can't get a lot of light. To compensate for that, the camera increases the ISO (the sensitivity to light), which increases brightness but it introduces noise.

 

The iPhone 5S introduced a larger sensor than the iPhone 5, but it kept the megapixels at 8. This means that each pixel can be larger, which means it'll collect more light. The sensitivity of the sensor doesn't have to be as high, so a lower ISO can be used, which reduces noise.

 

The iPhone 5S also uses an f/2.2 aperture. The aperture is the size of the opening between the lens and the sensor. A f/2.2 is very large, which means a lot of light can enter the camera and hit the sensor. This means that the shutter can open and close very fast and still collect all the light it needs. Older cameras will have smaller aperture openings, and they'll need to keep that shutter open for longer. The problem with holding the shutter open for a long time when you're hand-holding a camera is that even the slightest shake will introduce blur.

 

Getting a good photo is about a lot more than megapixels, and this is why you see photographers spending 3x more on their lenses than on their camera body. Megapixels relate to the size of an image, but almost nobody needs images the size of a billboard. We value photo clarity much more than size. Megapixels are just a good marketing term (which is why Samsung packed 12 of them into a tiny sensor on the Galaxy S4).


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#3 Mr.Panos

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 02:59 PM

Thanks for your huge response. Even though there are many professional meanings, I understood what you wanted you wanted to say. Thank you a lot.
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#4 fantanoice

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 08:28 PM

Excellent question.

 

There's actually a lot more that goes into taking a good photo than megapixels. Megapixels only determine the resolution (size) of the photo, but there's no use to a large photo if it's blurry and noisy.

 

I'm assuming that your old camera is blurry and noisy. This is because it tries to cram 12 megapixels into a [probably] small sensor, so each individual pixel is tiny and can't get a lot of light. To compensate for that, the camera increases the ISO (the sensitivity to light), which increases brightness but it introduces noise.

 

The iPhone 5S introduced a larger sensor than the iPhone 5, but it kept the megapixels at 8. This means that each pixel can be larger, which means it'll collect more light. The sensitivity of the sensor doesn't have to be as high, so a lower ISO can be used, which reduces noise.

 

The iPhone 5S also uses an f/2.2 aperture. The aperture is the size of the opening between the lens and the sensor. A f/2.2 is very large, which means a lot of light can enter the camera and hit the sensor. This means that the shutter can open and close very fast and still collect all the light it needs. Older cameras will have smaller aperture openings, and they'll need to keep that shutter open for longer. The problem with holding the shutter open for a long time when you're hand-holding a camera is that even the slightest shake will introduce blur.

 

Getting a good photo is about a lot more than megapixels, and this is why you see photographers spending 3x more on their lenses than on their camera body. Megapixels relate to the size of an image, but almost nobody needs images the size of a billboard. We value photo clarity much more than size. Megapixels are just a good marketing term (which is why Samsung packed 12 of them into a tiny sensor on the Galaxy S4).

 

Wow, this was an incredibly helpful post. People have told me before that megapixels aren't as important as technology marketers hype, but they never really articled why, so thank you. :)


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#5 Photographa

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 08:32 PM

Wow, this was an incredibly helpful post. People have told me before that megapixels aren't as important as technology marketers hype, but they never really articled why, so thank you. :)

 

Yeah, consumers tend to think that higher numbers are better, but it's now always the case. There are so many aspects that can make or break a smartphone photo but I don't think megapixels have been a problem ever since we got past the 5 megapixel mark. Simply wiping off the camera lens on a shirt before you take a photo with your smartphone have have visible effects on clarity much more significant than a jump from 8 to 12 megapixels.


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#6 Sam

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Posted 16 February 2014 - 03:24 AM

Whoops sorry photo did not show.


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