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Lisa Bettany


How does the iPhone 4S measure-up against all other iPhone models in low light shooting?

A follow up to my original post comparing all 5 existing iPhone cameras. This time I'm challenging all 5 iPhone cameras in 3 common low-light conditions:
  1. An indoor market shot with low ambient light
  2. A food shot in a dimly lit restaurant
  3. A street shot at night

It was very difficult to get a clear image without movement with earlier iPhone models including the original iPhone and the 3G. These images look blurry and washed out with little contrast. The 3GS showed some improvement in saturation of color and sharpness. The iPhone 4 shows a marked improvement from earlier models in over-all noise levels, contrast, and dynamic range. The iPhone 4 still struggles with auto-white balance noticeable in the greenish tint on the chocolate cake photo. There is a huge jump in the sharpness, level of detail, and noise levels between the iPhone 4 and 4S. The ability to set separate focus and exposure in Camera+ on the iPhone 4 & 4S helped create a more balanced exposure. It's clear that the iPhone 4S's f/2.4 wider aperture lens coupled with it's newly-optimized sensor allows it to out perform all previous models in low-light.
Original iPhone
iPhone 3G
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 4S
Original iPhone
iPhone 3G
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 4S
Original iPhone
iPhone 3G
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 4S

Neat. The cupcake image still shows the limitations with Macro photography, but it's come a long way from the original iPhone.


I'm always shocked at the jump from the 3G to the 4. Can't imagine what it must be like to move from the 3GS to the 4S.


I moved from the 3GS to the 4S. The camera was great but is now amazing!


Very impressive the jumps from each generation!


@schlaeps i moved from the 3GS to the 4S and it's definitely a significant improvement. having the flash is nice too.

Mark Bao

Love the Flatiron shot.

Pedro Barbosa

As primeiras fotos das abóboras com o 2G e o 3G são exatamente as mesmas, e não foram tiradas com aparelhos diferentes... Dá pra notar pelo fundo e as pessoas na foto...


I moved from the original iphone to the 4s... it's an amazing difference...


street samples from iphone 3g and 3gs are the same

I've been holding out on upgrading from the 4 to 4S but my will is beginning to weaken. Thanks Lisa!

Rod hysted

The 4S camera is wonderful, but can struggle to focus.


My comment is: who the heck owns five (5) separate working iphones?!


The last night scene is displaying the exact same image for the 3G and 3GS photos.


I had an SonyEricsson before my i Phone4, it was so much better, so i really hope iPhone4S is better or next generaton after

Awesome comparison. Thanks!!


Thanks for comparing these iPhones. I get my 4S coming thursday and can't wait to take pictures myself.


Pretty cool stuff... for macro issues you can put this on your phone and it seems to work pretty well. I used it for one of my thesis projects.


Were the old iPhone so heave that you could not keep them still? Apples and pears...


You mean iPhone 4 is still great?


Interesting comparison, thanks for putting this together.


The jump from the 4 to 4S is much bigger than i expected, thanks for sharing.


I can see , Iphone4 has picture quality is better


I jumped from the 3G to the 4S last week ... it was not huge it was massive ;)

The differences are clearly shown..! WoW iPhone4S is really impressive! Thanks Lisa :D


impressive & Very clear explanation... Thanks Alot