Isn’t it remarkable how in just a few short years, you’ve become such an amazing photographer? That #gastropost of last night’s dinner? Bon Appetit-quality stuff, friend. But is it really that surprising? After all, practice makes perfect, right? And God knows you’ve had a snap-happy new millenium.
Sorry to be the ones to break this to you, but the truth is…it’s not you; it’s your iPhone. It’s a helluva better camera than it used to be.
And we have the photos to prove it.
Credit goes to Lisa Bettany, the co-founder of the popular photo apps Camera+ and MagiCam. Bettany has been an iPhone user since the first one came out back in 2007 and has dutifully held on to every model as she upgraded each year and Apple upgraded its camera. (For those who haven’t been recording Apple’s every move, there have been eight different iPhones – 10, if you include the 5C and 6 Plus.)
Bettany recently documented just how profound these improvements are on her company’s blog – to great dramatic effect – by shooting the same photo with each iteration of the iPhone in a variety of conditions. Here’s a taste:
It’s most striking when you look back and forth between the original iPhone and the iPhone 6 as above, though Bettany’s model-by-model breakdown is worth a gander to get a clearer picture of the improvements along the way.
Ready for another? Chew on this:
So, how has Apple achieved these improvements?
The image sensor
Think of this as the heart of the camera. The light that enters the lens is recorded by the image sensor to create a digital image. The higher the resolution of the sensor, the greater the amount of detail shows up on your photos and the larger you can blow them up before they get grainy. The first iPhone had a 2-megapixel camera; the most recent one is 8 megapixels. Some smartphones are up to 16.
But megapixels aren’t the whole shooting match. The size of the sensor itself will determine how big those pixels are. Bigger pixels equals more light capture equals better photos equals more likes on your Instagram feed.
Plus, low-light performance is another defining characteristic that you will already have noticed on photos where you chose not to use the flash.
Because you can’t swap lenses on a smartphone as you can on a dSLR camera, the lens had better be good. This is another area that smartphone makers have made investments. The first iPhone had a fixed-focus lens and therefore no autofocus. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, uses a five-element lens design, which is fast (a.k.a. lets in more light) and uses phase-detection autofocus (a.k.a. the same technology as dSLRs).
This is a combination of software and hardware. Whereas the original iPhone only possessed rudimentary enhancement software and no hardware, the latest iPhone comes with a hybrid IR filter, backside illumination sensor, sapphire crystal lens cover, auto image stabilization, auto HDR for photos and exposure control, just to name a few.
So, yes, it’s quite likely that, over the years, your photography chops have improved – not Annie Leibovitz improved, but improved nonetheless. But there’s no denying that you’ve had a little help along the way.
All photos courtesy of Lisa Bettany, used with permission.