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iPhone 6s + 6s Plus cameras come closer to high-end DSLRs, shine with stable 4K video


Though the vast majority of advance iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus reviews spoke only superficially about the performance of Apple’s latest cameras, several reviewers have spotlighted major performance improvements over the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus that weren’t obvious from Apple’s marketing materials.

Much of the pre-release attention has been focused on Live Photos, higher megapixel counts, and the ease of 3D Touch access to the cameras, all noted by Apple during its September 9 media event. But there are other points to consider…

  • iPhone still images are coming closer to DSLR quality, suggests Time, noting that the iPhone 6s’s color balance and detail “mimic the tonality of RAW files, a plus for professional photographers.” Time says that Apple doesn’t over-sharpen or over-saturate colors in its images, a contrast with makers of competing smartphones.
  • Shutter speed is “ultra-responsive,” claims Digital Spy. While the site discounts the value of Live Photos as “fun by frivolous,” it calls the rapidity of photo snapping “the most tangible benefit out of the box” — even moreso than the bump to 12-megapixel stills.
  • 4K video recording is entirely usable on the iPhone 6s, but visibly superior thanks to optical image stabilizing (OIS) on the iPhone 6s Plus, notes The Straits Times. While last year’s iPhone 6 Plus shipped with a similar OIS feature, it turned out to be useful only for still photos. On the iPhone 6s Plus, OIS “also makes videos appear less jerky,” says the Times, which provides direct comparison videos showing less shaking when walking. While 4K video on the iPhone 6s is entirely watchable, it’s unmistakably steadier on the iPhone 6s Plus.
  • Selfies are dramatically better thanks both to the new 5MP front camera and Retina Flash. What could have been a gimmicky faux flash turned out to be legitimately useful, MobileSyrup demonstrates with comparison photos taken with and without Retina Flash — the former notably clean, devoid of red eye, and lacking the hugely overexposed areas that can come with flash bulbs.

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus arrive in stores this Friday, September 25.

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  1. I really wish the iPhone 6s had optical image stabilization. I don’t like the unusable size (for me) of the 6 Plus.

  2. myke2241 - 8 years ago

    mimic the tonality of RAW files… so limited color space and dynamic range. doesn’t sound like its close to “RAW” to me.

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 8 years ago

      No, accuracy over artificial saturation, enabling the photographer to choose to punch up images in post-processing. There’s a reasonable debate to be had over whether an iPhone should have a “vivid” mode (like Canon did with point-and-shoots), but not over whether Apple’s doing something closer to RAW with its current approach.

      • colby (@Colbywankanobi) - 8 years ago

        I went with the 6 last time but broke it. So I will be getting the 6S Plus for the OIS. I am happy to see that they also improved that. This camera really does have me excited.

      • colby (@Colbywankanobi) - 8 years ago

        Also, is it just me or are the posting times a bit, off…

      • myke2241 - 8 years ago

        yes Jeremy but if its a .Jpeg then your going to have limited dynamic range and color depth. The sensor will still be accurate but there will be a level of quantization. so it is in a way “RAW” like but we shouldn’t really use that term. we should say its very accurate.

    • SKR Imaging - 8 years ago

      shooting Raw files on my 4S right now and I can’t imagine going back to JPEG.. my DSLR is set to RAW only… Apple should really allow the stock camera app to shoot RAW via an option in settings (just like they do for 4K recording on 6S).. they openud up manual control in iOS 8 so maybe iOS X will allow RAW.

      • modeyabsolom - 8 years ago

        Couldn’t agree with you more!

      • Jurgis Ŝalna - 8 years ago

        Can you explain how? I have trouble believing iOS has an low level API that enables this.

      • myke2241 - 8 years ago

        I would like to know how you are shooting raw on a 4s. i am guessing your device is jail broken?

  3. Tom@L (@_ArcTic_FiRe) - 8 years ago

    can i zoom in optically like DSLRs? oh yeah iphone is coming close to SLR quality then.

  4. anekin007 - 8 years ago

    Sorry but it doesn’t even come close to entry level dslr.

  5. Radek Miszczu Górny - 8 years ago

    With this pace, iPhone2932849s will offer DSLR quality! I wish I could preorder now.

  6. “… comes closer to high end DSLR’s”. Not just DSLR’s, but HIGH END DSLR’s.

    The cheapest DSLR with a bog standard kit lens will offer a superior shooting experience & provide more creative options than any phone.

    As for the statement – “mimic the tonality of RAW files, a plus for professional photographers.” No professional photographer – and by professional I mean someone who makes a living exclusively from taking photographs, not someone who does it on a weekend for pocket money – will or will ever give up their “proper” camera to rock up to a paid gig with an iPhone in their hand. They would be laughed out of the venue. It won’t happen and will never happen.

    Apple are missing a trick by not releasing a high end camera and I’d wager that a proper camera range will be their next “one more thing”.

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 8 years ago

      Some of what you’re sayIng is obvious, and it goes without saying that the iPhones aren’t DSLRs and aren’t going to be the first choice of a pro photographer. But every version closes the gap between iPhone and expensive DSLRs; moreover, Apple continues to expand the list of things an iPhone can do but many/most DSLRs can’t. Here is just a short list of things the iPhone 6S can do that my Canon 5D Mark III cannot:

      4K Video (stabilized, no less)
      Slo-mo video
      Instant HDR Stills, assisted HDR video
      Live Photos
      Second lens for preview screen-assisted self-portraits
      On-device editing
      Apps to expand base functionality
      Fully touch interface for focusing
      Persistent wireless via cellular, Wi-Fi and BT for various types of data transmission, including sharing photos anywhere
      Fit inside waterproof cases for underwater photography
      Fit in pocket to be taken and used anywhere

      I don’t think pro photographers are getting laughed out of any situation with the iPhone at this point. It’s really coming down to “good camera, great photographer” as the 6s is beginning to mature into a strong (and for some, indispensable) imaging tool that really has its own use cases. The days of iPhone as “backup camera” are ending for many people. Now it’s more of a “second camera with its own strengths.” Even if your first camera is a high-end DSLR.

      • Tom@L (@_ArcTic_FiRe) - 8 years ago

        sorry buddy my 16MP Nikon D7000 still blows away my iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6 by miles ahead and it will surely beat iPhone 6S quite handily also. I always use my iPhones for casual photography but for something serious, my DSLR is always there ahead of my iPhone.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 8 years ago

        Sorry buddy, you didn’t read or understand the article.

  7. mladenp71 - 8 years ago

    i bet none of writers ever used full frame camera. Iphone closer to high end DSLR?! Please.

  8. Steven Mason - 8 years ago

    as much as people are saying they won’t replace DSLR’s me included as a photographer, it not really going to replace my D3 BUT the best camera is the one you have with you. If the camera is decent enough to capture some good images you can’t fault it. Not exactly going to be using it for my photography work but for capturing moments where I wouldn’t have all my kit I would consider it acceptable.

    making the caparison between profession working gear and a mobile phone is pretty silly.

  9. I’m sorry, but this article title is a bit ridiculous and stupid. They are simply not even in the same ballpark as “high-end DSLR quality images”. They might be inching closer to very low-end DSLR quality RAW images (maybe), but they are not even in the same universe as a high-end DSLR RAW image.