Camera Improvements, Slow-Motion Video Samples

Apple carried over the same 8-megapixel rating from last year's model at a time when some Android phones are now packing 13-megapixel shooters. Of course, megapixel count isn't the only thing you need to be concerned about when dealing with digital cameras. To that end, Apple made a number of improvements to the 5s' camera with better low-light performance in mind.

HDR-enabled photo above, original below.

Part of that equation deals with taking in more light which is accomplished by a larger aperture (f/2.2 versus f/2.4). There are also larger pixels in play (1.5µm vs. 1.4µm) which combine for a 33 percent increase in light sensitivity, Apple claims. There's also a new auto image stabilization feature, burst shooting mode that can capture 10 images per second and improved panorama functionality. The latter feature is said to work faster but more importantly, it can adjust exposure on the fly as you pan around for the best possible image.

As mentioned earlier, Apple has added a second warm light flash. In testing, I didn't find the second flash to help much on photos of objects but with people there was a marked difference as skin tones looked more natural and less overexposed.

I also found the iPhone 5s to handle low-light non-flash images a little better than its predecessor. Images were a bit less noisy although they also seemed a little more washed out. It was extremely difficult to tell much of a difference when images where taken in well-lit scenes. That said, it's a slight upgrade over last year's model but it likely isn't on the same playing field as devices like the Nokia Lumia 1020.

On the video side, Apple has added a slow motion effect that records 720p video at 120 fps. Once you capture a clip in this mode, you can edit it to adjust when the slow motion effect kicks in and when it jumps back into full speed. In practice, it's similar to the slow motion effect popularized in the Matrix films where even the audio is slowed down to a crawl to match the video.

It may not be practical for all occasions but it's certainly fun to play around with. I captured a number of sample clips using the effect - everything from my cat drinking water from the faucet to a spray bottle squirting, a ceiling fan spinning and a zoo tram passing by. If you are the creative type or enjoy making videos, this will likely appeal to you.