iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4 Low Light Camera Test

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Jman13, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Jman13 macrumors 68000

    Aug 7, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I decided to do a little lower light comparison shot between the 4 and 4S to give an idea of the improvements in low light the 4S camera has made. For those who were saying that there wasn't much improvement, you'll probably change your mind after this.

    This is indoors at night under a chandelier. It's not dark, but not bright, and is somewhat typical of indoor shooting. The auto ISO of the iPhones tries to get about 1/15 sec, so you need to be steady. I took three shots, braced, with each phone, and took the sharpest from each (though frankly, all shots were pretty sharp). Note, for those who are not familiar with how these comparisons work at 100%, the 4S shots are larger because the file is larger (8MP vs 5MP)...the crops show the images at 100%, or 1 pixel of image for 1 pixel of monitor.

    First, the full frame, web reduced:

    iPhone 4:

    iPhone 4S:

    And 100% crops from four different areas:

    My observations:

    1) The auto white balance of both cameras is somewhat off, and is quite different between them. I like the 4S shot better here in white balance, though it's a tad too magenta, while the 4 is too green.

    2) The dynamic range is DRAMATICALLY better on the 4S. I didn't even realize just how big a difference there was. The iPhone 4 shot has blown part of the white in the tablecloth, and has absolutely no detail in the statue's face, while the 4S has significant detail in both areas. Note that HDR was turned off for both shots.

    3) Obviously, there is a significant resolution advantage, and I think it exceeds the megapixel increase. The 4S file has more detail per pixel as well.

    4) And part of that is because the 4S shot has much lower noise, especially in the shadows. Now, neither shot is low-noise, especially when you consider the 4S is at ISO 200 and the 4 at ISO 250. Both are very noisy at the per pixel level, but the 4S shot is actually usable and could make a decent small print. The 4 shot, not so much.
  2. offcamber macrumors 6502


    Jun 30, 2007
  3. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Great post. Thanks for this.

    It seems like most of the improvements here are coming from that improved lens they were talking about.
  4. Givmeabrek macrumors 68040


    Apr 20, 2009
    Excellent job, and very interesting. It is quite an improvement. Loving the 4S. :)
  5. RipsMctits macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
  6. jgalan14 macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2011
    Nice pic :) man sometimes I find better shots and videos on macforums then tech sites lol
  7. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Nice to see a comparison.

    Both are good, but the 4S beats out the 4.
  8. macse30 macrumors regular


    Jul 30, 2009
  9. Jman13 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 7, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks everyone. I was really surprised at how much better the 4S camera was in indoor situations. It really does a good job with resolution and much better color.

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