iPhone Camera Has No Exposure Compensation; why?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Zaqfalcon, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Zaqfalcon macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2010
    As a first time iPhone purchaser, with the iPhone 5, I am very disappointed to find that there is no exposure compensation; this most elementary and fundamental photographic control. I understand that it's not even possible for any apps to do this due to the limitation of the SDK. Why?

    Full manual control of aperture, shutter speed and ISO is of course far too much to expect us moronic and incapable Apple customers to understand but we could at least be permitted to determine for ourselves if we are photographing a white rabbit in the snow or a black cat in a coal shed and overide the averaged metering to control exposure.

    And yet it is possible to retrospectively apply a panoply of ugly filters; urgh.
  2. AFDoc macrumors 68030

    Jun 29, 2012
    Colorado Springs USA for now
    The answer seems pretty obvious. Apple didn't incorporate that feature into it's camer app. Any other questions I can answer?

    Plus, if you bought the phone and didn't research to see if it did the things you wanted it to do, that's on you. You're the saleperson's favorite customer.... an uneducated one.
  3. ToddH macrumors 65816


    Jul 5, 2010
    Central Tx
    Get the KitCam app, that will give you what you need.
  4. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Wow dude, u have low expectations and easy to please.
  5. Givmeabrek macrumors 68040


    Apr 20, 2009
    Actually that app looks very good. Although Apple would never allow direct control of the camera functions (they see is as too risky) this app seems to do a great job of post processing to simulate these effects. I'll have to try it.
  6. Zaqfalcon, Dec 16, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2012

    Zaqfalcon thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2010
    Considering every phone I've had since I believe the Orange SPV has had exposure compensation in the camera controls, what with it being an "elementary and fundamental photographic control", I didn't research the presence of this feature; neither did I consider checking if the SMS application provided me with keyboard with which to type.
  7. Damolee macrumors 6502

    Nov 20, 2012
    I thought the same thing till it occurred to me that maybe Apple want you to experiment with alternative cam apps and theirs is just a basic point and click function.

    Camera+ has separate controls for exposure and focus. It works very well.

    I think Camera Awesome does too, another freebie.
  8. NATO macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2005
    Northern Ireland
    I have to concur with others who have suggested Camera+. If you tap with two fingers you get separate areas for focus and exposure, letting you set up the shot whatever way you want. Very simple to use and very effective.
  9. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    +1 It's the OP's responsibility to determine whether or not any given solution meets the OP's needs/wants. Don't just assume that what you consider "elementary and fundamental" are included. Do your own due diligence before buying.
  10. jf1450 macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2012
    If I were that big into photography I'd be toting a Nikon or Canon. After all, it's a freaking *phone*.
  11. Fuchal macrumors 68020

    Sep 30, 2003
    Tapping on the screen will apply spot exposure. Some software such as NightCap or Kitcam will allow you to modify the exposure and shutter speed in greater detail.
  12. John T macrumors 68020

    John T

    Mar 18, 2006
    I'm at a loss to understand why the OP wants to have Exposure Compensation on a 'phone camera. Such a camera is basically a "snap shot" camera to take pictures in reasonable lighting conditions.

    If the OP is anticipating taking photos that may require exposure compensation, he should consider the purchase of a "proper" camera (as suggested by jf1350).
  13. eelw macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2012
    Yeah, just like the purple fringe issue. So many so called "professional photographers" were complaining about it when it surfaced. If they were true photographers, they would know how to frame a shot. It's the average user than just uses their camera phone as a replacement point and shot that I'd expect some of these complaints from.
  14. Jordan921 macrumors 601


    Jul 7, 2010
    Bay Area
    Did you not make sure before purchasing the 5 that it had exposure compensation?
  15. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Exposure Compensation really is more for point-and-shoot cameras than anything else.

    I mean, you've got people suggestion Camera+ so he can do manual exposure...well EC is even easier than that, so why shouldn't it be on a consumer-focused phone camera? They've got people out there doing it manually with Camera+ and your answer is basically: we don't need an easier way, it's just snap shot camera. Huh? Wouldn't a snapshot camera be exactly where you WOULD want an easier, more automated feature?

    I don't expect Apple to ever add this to their camera app (nor should they) but it's something that should be available in the SDK. I'm certain Camera+ would add it in an instant if they could.
  16. Zaqfalcon thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2010
    There was a good reason I embedded links to Wikipedia articles in my opening post, however, it is clear that some people chose not to inform themselves prior to posting. So for those who are interested why this is "elementary and fundamental" I quote some of the pertinent parts from Wikipedia (emboldening added):

    "The purpose of an exposure meter is to estimate the subject's mid-tone luminance and indicate the camera exposure settings required to record this as a mid-tone. In order to do this it has to make a number of assumptions which, under certain circumstances, will be wrong. If the exposure setting indicated by an exposure meter is taken as the "reference" exposure, the photographer may wish to deliberately overexpose or underexpose in order to compensate for known or anticipated metering inaccuracies."

    "Exposure meter calibration was chosen to result in the “best” exposures for typical outdoor scenes; when measuring a single scene element (such as the side of a building in open shade), the indicated exposure is in the approximate middle of the film or electronic sensor's exposure range. When measuring a scene with atypical distribution of light and dark elements, or a single element that is lighter or darker than a middle tone, the indicated exposure may not be optimal. For example, a scene with predominantly light tones (e.g., a white horse) often will be underexposed, while a scene with predominantly dark tones (e.g., a black horse) often will be overexposed. That both scenes require the same exposure, regardless of the meter indication, becomes obvious from a scene that includes both a white horse and a black horse. A photographer usually can recognize the difference between a white horse and a black horse; a meter usually cannot. When metering a white horse, a photographer can apply exposure compensation so that the white horse is rendered as white."

    "'Correct' exposure may be defined as an exposure that achieves the effect the photographer intended."

    There are no such things as "reasonable lighting conditions", there's only what you see and how you want it to look like in a photo.

    Exposure compensation is not the same as choosing an exposure spot as available in some apps mentioned above, but this is still a useful tool (thanks NATO and Fuchal).

    Neither is it a 'basic' feature just for point-and-shoot cameras or an 'advanced' feature for DSLR cameras (yes I do use one, see here: www.zackerythomas.com). Every camera I've ever used has had exposure compensation, so for (just) a 'phone' that touts its photographic credentials, even if only for snapshots, to not have it seems bizarre to me, especially as it would probably be easy to implement. Hence the question, 'why?' in my opener.

    There is another good article from the excellent Steve's Digicams
    here and I'll just quote the summation "there is no universal setting that will work in every situation. By not settling with too-dark or too-bright photographs, you will dramatically increase the amount of usable pictures you get, and won't have to wonder what that great shot would have been like if it was only exposed properly."
  17. thekb macrumors 6502a

    May 8, 2010
    Geez, I like Apple too, but you people that defend every single thing Apple does are a little off.

    Why didn't Apple put EC in the camera app? Who knows? They decided you didn't need it. They are wrong. It would be a simple software change that could be added at virtually no cost, but they don't think you need it. So it probably won't ever get it. There is absolutely no logical or defensible reason for Apple leaving it out. Same thing with not allowing you to save pictures at different resolutions. No logical reason to deny this basic setting that even $40 digital cameras have.

    And as for people that say you should've done research before buying ... you do know there is no one all-perfect phone / camera on the market right? Maybe the iphone was the best available option. That doesn't mean the OP never has the right to complain about a missing feature again. Accepting the best available doesn't mean you can't continue to ask for improvements.
  18. Cuechick, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012

    Cuechick macrumors 6502


    May 30, 2010
    So Cal
    I agree that exposure is an important control component for photographers but most people who use the iPhone as a camera are not photographers and would not know how to use a function like that. Just like few people with point & shoots ever bother to use anything but the most basic automatic settings.

    As to why, I doubt that the tiny lens in the iphone has a shutter that could actually be opened or closed to change an exposure in the traditional way. This actually would be a big deal to include and most owners would probably never use it.

    As others have said, it is a phone, the camera is just a feature and a pretty basic one at that. The camera's features depends on the app you use to operate it, the included camera app is ok but very limited, I rarely use it. I like Camermatic, which does allow you to adjust the exposure after the fact. I am not sure if there is any app that allows you to make more than minor adjustments while shooting. Again, you are talking about a lens with a fixed aperture of 2.4 (I just looked it up).

    I am a professional photographer and this is just one of many tools available for my post work. I often send high res files to my phone taken with my pro gear and play with them in different apps. Here is a sample. What is amazing, is the ability to get a high res final result that can be printed, not just displayed online. IMO this is the biggest advantage of this new phone as a photographic tool.
  19. Jimmy James macrumors 68040

    Jimmy James

    Oct 26, 2008
    So you're suggesting that 12 or 13 MP will solve his exposure compensation request?

    Will 30 MP fly me to the moon?
  20. John T macrumors 68020

    John T

    Mar 18, 2006
    At last! A post from someone with wide experience and who obviously knows what they are talking about! :)

    As an afterthought, I wonder how many use AE/AF on their iPhone cameras?
  21. Jman13 macrumors 68000

    Aug 7, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    As a photographer, I've been bummed at the lack of EC on the camera as well, and as mentioned above, the "Kit Cam" app has it. As a result, it has become my default camera app (has some other nice features too, but having quick and easy EC is the biggie). Adjustable from -2 to +2...also has adjustable white balance as well.
  22. Mercenary macrumors 65816


    Sep 17, 2012
    Its a mobile phone dude. It take mobile phone quality pics.

    If you want full manual get a decent real camera. I use my iPhone for taking pics because its quick and for the moment type pics. If I want a pro image I pull out the DSLR.
  23. Cuechick macrumors 6502


    May 30, 2010
    So Cal
    Just downloaded Kit Cam, wow, great solution and app! Love it, thanks!
  24. Fremen93 macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2008
    I am at a loss as to understand your way of thinking. It defies logic.
    Is there some law that I don't know about that says all phone cameras must take worthless pictures? I mean, honestly, you make it sound like because its a phone camera it should by default take lousy pictures.
    this has nothing to do with reasonable lighting conditions. There are many instances when automatic exposure gets it wrong because of a bright or dark object in the picture that fools it. It is trivial to use exposure compensation to allow you to get what you want to show up properly in the picture.

    I should add that all the latest Android phone cameras have this feature. So basically all Android phone cameras from this year are professional cameras using your rather strange logic.
  25. The-Real-Deal82 macrumors 603


    Jan 17, 2013
    Wales, United Kingdom
    I think the simple answer to the question is, its a camera on a mobile phone and isn't likely to contain all the features on purpose built camera's. I'm sure there are many camera apps out there that offer the tweaks people are after.

    It wasn't long ago we were happy a mobile phone came with a camera, now we get picky if it doesn't come packed with features. Expectation have risen far too high IMHO. It does the job and very well in my experience.

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