iPhone 5 Photo Quiz (Part 1)

Mystery Photo


I’m still chugging along on my big iPhone 5 review. And because Apple takes photography as seriously as a camera company does, part of the testing involves taking lots and lots of comparison photos. I don’t publish all of them. But all of them help me to understand what Apple’s done to improve the iPhone as a picture-taker.

Witness this image right here, which I present straight from the camera without any adjustment. I just cropped it a bit and rescaled it to 1600×1200.

It might be an iPhone 5 photo.

It might be from one of the 4 other Gadgets Capable Of Shooting Photos that I carried with me on Saturday. I took many, many photos five at a time, to see where to put the iPhone 5 in the spectrum of Image Awesomeness.

I think I’ll have my review ready for posting tomorrow. It might be a bit later. “Better to get things right than to get things first,” I always say, because it’s good journalism and also cuts down on the 5 PM to 6 AM work sessions.

Until then, why don’t you look at a zoomed in section of all five images? Each device is available in stores today; as amusing as it might be to try to trick someone into saying that they thought an 8-year-old Sony Ericsson outperformed Apple’s latest and greatest…I didn’t dip into my hardware morgue. I will only say that one was shot with an iPhone, and each image was taken with either a phone or a conventional camera.


Washington Times 5 (no answers)


(Click to go to Flickr and embiggen the image. Come back here to discuss.)

As with the full photo, each of these croppings comes straight from the device with no adjustments to color, exposure, sharpness or anything else. Which is your favorite?

And which one was shot with the iPhone 5? Are they one and the same?

34 thoughts on “iPhone 5 Photo Quiz (Part 1)”

  1. Clockwise from upper left, my favorite is number 5. Sharper and more crisp than the others. I have no idea which was taken with the iPhone 5, but I’d like to find out.

  2. Photos 2, 3 and 4 are really not very good, especially 4, so I’m going to dismiss them.

    Photos 1 and 5 are good. The sky background in 1 looks mottled — I’m guessing digital artifacts.

    As for my favorite, I’ll go with photo 5. It has the best color and clarity of all the examples.

    As for which is the iPhone 5 picture — my first guess is to say photo 5, but it could be that one of your devices is a Nikon d5100 or some such thing. I’ve heard that the iPhone 5 corrects to remove the sort of digital artifacts that I see in the sky background of photo 1, so that makes me think that’s not the one. I’m having a hard time picking photo 5 as the iPhone 5 picture, but I think I’m going to bite the bullet and say that’s the one.

  3. i believe the best photo is the bottom center. it’s very sharp without looking over-sharpened at all, it has practically no diffraction around high contrast edges, the shadows retain detail instead of falling off into blackness, and the sky has the least noise of any of the five pictures.

    my guess is that the iphone 5 is the top left image. is has some diffraction, which i would associate with a lens that has to be built with so many compromises, and there is noise in the sky but it’s been processed to look fairly smooth and unoffensive. the photo has fairly good sharpness, but it looks to my eye like processed sharpness.

    bottom right is my least favorite. very soft, very noisy, no details in the shadows.

  4. #5 is clearly the best, IMO. I would be ecstatic if that’s the iPhone 5, but I’m thinking it’s more realistic to hope #1 is the iPhone.

  5. Everybody is right: the “#5” image in the center of the bottom row is hands-down the best. The left image in the upper row is also quite good. I’m going to say the the upper left photo is from the iPhone 5, and that the center, bottom-row image is from a dedicated camera, and a good one, at that.

  6. I’ll guess #1 is iPhone 5, #5 is the best but that should be the Nikon you carry. As great as iPhone cameras are, they do have softer details compared to the cameras you use.

  7. Just like everyone else here, #1 and #5 are clearly the best, with the nod going to #5 due to the oversharpening of #1. #1 even has some sharpening halos present due to the oversharpening.

    Gosh I hope the iPhone 5 isn’t oversharpening like that, though many cameras tend to oversharpen in Jpeg mode to make them seem like they’re resolving more detail.

    Actually, the more I look at it, the more I dislike #1. The oversharpening is actually a problem and not easily correctable. I would actually say #2 and 3 are as good as #1, just less sharpened, which is actually better in the long run because you can always sharpen later, but hard to “unsharpen” something that is oversharpened with satisfactory results.

    #4 is just bad. Way too noisy for a bright and sunny day outside. A GOOD camera smartphone should be able to produce images at its native ISO with less noisy results than this. My guess is this is from a smartphone that is of poorer quality, or maybe from one a year a two old.

    The best shot is obviously #5, so my guess it that this is from a DSLR of some sort. I’m guessing that #1 is from a good (Samsung SG3 perhaps?) smartphone that likes to oversharpen too much.

    If I had to guess which one was the iPhone 5, I’d say it’s #2 or #3, and if you held a gun to my head, I’d say #3. A very good image for a smartphone.

  8. I don’t mean this as an insult, or even a diss, but I just have to say, some of the explanations above remind me of the scene between Vizzini and the Man in Black from “The Princess Bride.”

    “…as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.”
    “Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.”
    “Wait till I get going!”

    Anyway, it’s late, and I can’t reason well at this hour, so I’ll give you my guess: I’m gonna say #5, the best picture IMHO, is the iPhone 5 picture. Because that’s what I would like the answer to be.

  9. Bottom right is out right away. If that was the pic from the iPhone you never would’ve thought of this comparison. I’m going to guess number five, or bottom left, was taken with an iPhone with HDR on. Top left is a conventional camera, everything else is various camera phones

  10. #2 and #4 are both from crappy phones due to all of the noise and low detail. #5 simply looks too good to be taken from an iPhone, probably taken from a dedicated camera. #3 has less detail than #1 so I’m calling #1 out as the iPhone, #5 as a Micro 4/3rds camera, #2 and #4 as budget smartphones, and #3 as GSIII.
    I throughly enjoyed this activity, I now feel like a detective.

  11. #5 looks the best to my eyes, but actually is lacking in detail as compared to the (slightly over-sharpened) #1.

    I’m going to guess that #1 is the iPhone 5 and #5 is a dSLR, with any lack of detail in the shadows attributable to user error. ;)

  12. I am going to assume that One of Andy’s Five devices is a *Really Good* dedicated camera, like a pro-sumer DSLR or better. I will further assert that generally, of the five, the iPhone will be the second best in quality. With ‘second’ best defined in terms of detail in low light, and ability to handle large range light without blowing out whites, and blacking out darks. Also, I note that iPhone 5 tends to ‘warmify’ the colors a touch, especially compared with Canon DSLR’s.

    OK, so let’s play:
    – Number 4 (middle of bottom row) is clearly the best in terms of detail in low light. See the horse’s nose from tip to forehead for example, The other four photos black-out much of this area.
    – Number 5 is the worst — bad focus, grainy, poor low-light details.
    – Of the other three, all in top row, the 1st one is best. Less grain, a tad better low light performance and sharper than the others.

    My guess is that Number 1 is the iPhone, while Number 4 is a high-ish quality DSLR. And if there is no DSLR, then Number 4 is the Phone.
    – russ

  13. Top left is my fav… I think bottom left is the iphone 5, 2nd best to my eye..

    Is the bottom right from a QuickTake 100?

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