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Apple stack day two: iPhone photography
Posted on 12-Nov-2013 12:05 by Bill Bennett. | Tags Filed under: News.

Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin at Telecom NZ 4G launch
Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin at Telecom NZ 4G launch

Monday morning got the working week off to a good start with an informal press event at Telecom NZ. I left the MacBook Air and iPad Air at home before heading into town with the iPhone 5S.

While Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin was speaking I grabbed this shot with the iPhone 5S. While I’m never going to win prizes for my photography, it’s not bad for an amateur news pic.

This was the first time I used the iPhone to take real photos – as opposed to testing the phone’s camera purely for review purposes. It required almost no effort on my part, just point and click.

While it’s possible to do everything on the run, that’s not how I prefer to work. My usual practice is to take roughly six to ten shots a few seconds apart, pick the best image and send it to a computer. Once there I crop the image to get a decent picture on the page.

iPhone Camera app seems idiot proof

Overall this worked well. Although I’m not familiar with the iPhone Camera app, it seems idiot proof. There’s no time to fiddle with settings when taking pictures during a press conference, so it has to capture good images with a minimum of fuss. The lighting in the room wasn’t particularly good, but the phone automatically adjusted its settings.

How does this compare with my normal experience? For much of the past year I’ve used my Nokia Lumia 920 for day-to-day photography. Some of the other images on this site come from the Lumia 920 – see this recent one from the Microsoft Surface 2 launch.

There was better lighting at Telecom NZ, but the image is clearly crisper. You wouldn’t know unless I told you, but I cropped the iPhone image much tighter and it still didn’t lose as much sharpness.

Pixel size matters

On paper the iPhone 5S and Lumia 920 cameras have similar specifications. The iPhone 5S has 8 megapixels, each pixel is 1.5µ. The Lumia has 8.7 megapixels with each being 1.4µ. Those bigger pixels help with noise reduction, which means a better picture. Clearly 0.1µ makes a difference. Both have image stabilisation – frankly I’ll never buy another phone that doesn’t have this feature.

Getting the image from the iPhone to the Mac was harder than I anticipated. I put this down to inexperience. To my surprise Airdrop didn’t work. It turns out the technology doesn’t allow iOS7 devices to share with OS X devices. That’s something Apple needs to fix.

I also ran into problems using a straightforward Bluetooth link between the devices. This is how I send photos to the MacBook from my Lumia, so you’d think this would be trivial between Apple devices. I couldn’t figure out how it was done. Perhaps I need more training.

iCloud rains on the parade

iOS 7′s Photo app has an option to load images to iCloud. I did this, but couldn’t quickly find out how to access these images from iPhoto on the MacBook Air. In the end I simply emailed the pictures to myself and picked them up on the Mac. Later, after the job was done I discovered the iCloud option isn’t visible when you use iPhoto in full screen mode. A useful lesson.

In the past I used Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks to crop and otherwise fix up images for the website. Seeing as this is Apple stack week, it seemed a good time to do the job using iPhoto. Frankly it is so much easier to use and more efficient than Adobe’s heavy duty tools that I can’t see myself going back to the old work practice when this series of experiments is over. Chalk that up as a win for Apple.

Overall, I’m happy with how this worked out. Getting pictures from the iPhone to the Mac was a little harder than expected, but otherwise I’ve picked up some useful lessons.

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