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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > Why are iPhone photo file sizes so large?

Why are iPhone photo file sizes so large?
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Oct 17, 2011, 11:50 PM
 
I was reading an article on the 4S and they mentioned that each photo was about 3.3 megs. That sounded really large to me, so I pulled up some pics saved from my 10 megapixel Canon G11 and that are between 700k and a gig each. These photos look great and don't have any excessive artifacting or compression. Then I pulled up a bunch of the crappy iPhone 3GS pics I've taken and they are all 1.3 megs. Huh?

Why isn't Apple doing a better job of compressing these??? Is it because it's hard to process them down on the fly and Canon has more specialized hardware? The fact that these tterrible grainy iPhone pics are taking up more space then my much larger beautiful crisp G11 shots is annoying to me.

Why are 8 megapixel iPhone 4S pics more then three times the size of 10 megapixel Canon G11 pics?

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Oct 18, 2011, 12:12 AM
 
There are too many variables to answer your question. Cameras usually have compression settings. Yours are probably set to create smaller files. 700K seems too small for a 10 megapixel sensor.

A quick Google search will yield calculators that can figure out file size for various resolutions.
( Last edited by chabig; Oct 18, 2011 at 12:30 AM. )
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 12:29 AM
 
700k for a 10megapixel picture is small. 3.3MB isn't bad.

Depends on the compression and image format. 60% compression jpeg?
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Oct 18, 2011, 09:40 AM
 
I checked my G11. It is indeed set on "normal" and not "fine". It is set to the full 10 megapixels.

It came rushing back to me. When I first got the camera I took a bunch of pics on both settings and couldn't tell the difference, so I left it on NORMAL.

That said, I do think Apple should be trying harder to get these file sizes down. I take hundreds of pictures. 3.3 meg iPhone pics would actually be annoying.

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Oct 18, 2011, 10:48 AM
 
The 64 GB model should take care of that…
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 11:20 AM
 
and then you need to buy more iCloud for storage...
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 11:56 AM
 
Were the pictures similar? I have a disk with photos I got from a photographer and the files sizes were much smaller than I expected, but the background in every shot was white which probably allowed for some easy compression on 40% of the image.
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Oct 18, 2011, 01:26 PM
 
Good compression takes a lot of CPU power and the iPhone doesn't have it.

Same reason the early iPhone video camera (possibly the current, I haven't kept up) was shooting at 30Mbps. On your desktop you could recompress the same video to 3Mbps and it would look just as good.
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 03:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by SSharon View Post
Were the pictures similar? I have a disk with photos I got from a photographer and the files sizes were much smaller than I expected, but the background in every shot was white which probably allowed for some easy compression on 40% of the image.
I choose shots with a lot going on. Some of my G11 picks with a lot of sky and whatnot are shockingly small. 400-500k or so.

I think Canon has some specialized compression chips in their devices and Apple is using almost no compression. That's my official conclusion.

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Oct 18, 2011, 05:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
I was reading an article on the 4S and they mentioned that each photo was about 3.3 megs. That sounded really large to me, so I pulled up some pics saved from my 10 megapixel Canon G11 and that are between 700k and a gig each. These photos look great and don't have any excessive artifacting or compression. Then I pulled up a bunch of the crappy iPhone 3GS pics I've taken and they are all 1.3 megs. Huh?

Why isn't Apple doing a better job of compressing these??? Is it because it's hard to process them down on the fly and Canon has more specialized hardware? The fact that these tterrible grainy iPhone pics are taking up more space then my much larger beautiful crisp G11 shots is annoying to me.
You suggest that more compression is somehow "better." In reality, more compression is by definition lower quality. Personally I want better quality, not lower quality image files just to save space.

Note that JPEG is a specification with quality rankings from 1-12. Higher rankings provide more quality, less compression and larger file sizes. JPEG-12 is very, very good quality for such a lossy format, often adequate for print; while JPEG-1 is truly awful, even just viewed on a computer display.

Digital capture of still images is not video; I would not presume that saving to JPEG-6 takes more hardware strength than saving to JPEG-12. In my experience (way more than 100k digital images) files with more compression actually use less overhead because of their smaller sizes.

Also in my experience, better shot pix take JPEG compression better. I tested this extensively ~8 years ago when I was submitting full page magazine ads and sometimes was forced into JPEG usage by hardware, deadlines and distance. I would expect image files from the $500 G11 (a top pocket camera in 2009) to start out far superior to the $30 camera with tiny junk lens in a v3 iPhone, and therefore to tolerate compression better.

Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
I think Canon has some specialized compression chips in their devices and Apple is using almost no compression. That's my official conclusion.
Sorry, wrong. All JPEG files have been compressed a lot. Open a (lossy) JPEG file and then save it as a (lossless) PSD or TIFF file and check the file size. When Apple chooses a lower (numerically higher) JEPG compression value it is to achieve higher image quality, not because your 2009 Canon uses better compression chips.

My expectation (and hope) is that the 4s pix are compressed to maximum resolution JPEG (minimum compression!), similar to JPEG Fine on a DSLR. The 3.3 MB size that you report would support that, because I save RAW + JPEG-Fine image files from my 12 MP Nikon D2x and the JPEG file sizes run about 4 MB each.

Bottom line is Apple is doing a good thing compressing to 3.3 MB size, and it is not because your 2009 Canon pocket camera uses superior compression technology. Probably the opposite is true, because tech evolves.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 18, 2011 at 06:04 PM. )
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 05:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Good compression takes a lot of CPU power and the iPhone doesn't have it.
I find this highly unlikely. No camera is going to have more computing power than an iPhone. Compression is probably done in the GPU, and iPhone 4S has a super powerful one of those.
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 06:19 PM
 
I just do not see the hardware for still-images JPEG compression as an issue. JPEG compression has been being done on the fly fast for a decade on camera chips, 7 fps on my D2x in 2005. And as I mentioned earlier more-compressed images tend to be completed the same or faster than higher-resolution less-compressed images.

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Oct 18, 2011, 06:53 PM
 
While the iPhone has way more raw computational power, the G11 is designed to do one thing and one thing only. Take pictures. Surely they have some specialized chips in there designed to process JPEG compression quickly... while Apple is more interested in speed then compression.

I'm looking over a broader range of G11 shots and see that I didn't do a good enough job of picking samples earlier. Any way... some of these shots are 5 megs, a bunch are in the 2 meg range... some are extra small at 600k - 500k or so but again... the vast majority fall into the 1 meg range. All of these are shot with the exact same file size settings.

Looking at the shots themselves, it's hard to see any bad artifacting. The bottom line is that the pics look great, despite whatever compression is going on. I'm pretty well versed in this stuff too. I know what JPEG artifacts look like. I deal with them almost daily... but I know there are a lot of people out there who know way better then I do... but I know more than 99% of people about this stuff. I'm trying to pick the brain of those who know more.

You could say that Apple is not compressing these to make them as nice as possible, but I think that the difference between a JPEG saved at 7 and a JPEG saved at 12 is completely irrelevant to 99.9% of the population... whereas precious storage space on something like a phone is not... so Apple is probably not compressing them for a reason other than quality.
( Last edited by ort888; Oct 18, 2011 at 07:01 PM. )

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Oct 18, 2011, 10:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
While the iPhone has way more raw computational power, the G11 is designed to do one thing and one thing only. Take pictures. Surely they have some specialized chips in there designed to process JPEG compression quickly... while Apple is more interested in speed then compression.
That makes no sense. JPEG is a long-standing standardized compression methodology. Including very fast JPEG compression to any level is bone stupid easy for Apple to include, and unlike cameras they only need compress to one quality level between 1-12.

You could say that Apple is not compressing these to make them as nice as possible, but I think that the difference between a JPEG saved at 7 and a JPEG saved at 12 is completely irrelevant to 99.9% of the population... whereas precious storage space on something like a phone is not... so Apple is probably not compressing them for a reason other than quality.
Sorry but I disagree. Any competent camera reviewer WILL perceive the difference between pix compressed to JPEG-12 versus JPEG-7, and Apple (IMO rightfully!) wants to be credited with producing the best cellphone camera on the market - - and they have been.

This is 2011 and 3.3 GB of mass storage for 1,000 quality images is no longer that precious. Note that 1,000 3.3 MB image files takes up 3.3 GB of the 64 GB on my new iPhone 4s. Even the lowest capacity 4s will have 12 GB space remaining with 1,000 images on board. Apple could have squeezed 2000 pix or more in that space instead by choosing lower quality. No thanks.

E.g. I just took a Nikon D2x 12 MP RAW file and
- saved as a lossless PSD the file size was 37 MB;
- saved at JPEG-12 the file size was 10 MB;
- saved as JPEG-7 the file size was 2 MB.

Then I Photoshopped that file into an 8 MP file and
- saved as a lossless PSD the file size was 22.9 MB;
- saved at JPEG-11 the file size was 4.6 MB;
- saved as JPEG-10 the file size was 3.0 MB.

Most pros try to stay in lossless formats, but when using JPEG consider 9-10 to be the range above which visual image quality improvements are not really noticeable. IMO at ~JPEG-10 Apple selected well.

• Smaller files (more compression) are easier/faster from a hardware standpoint.

• The reason for saving better quality (less compression) files is for better quality!


-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 18, 2011 at 10:29 PM. )
     
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Oct 18, 2011, 10:30 PM
 
1,000 3.3MB images is around 3.3GB.

That's why I have a 32GB iPhone 4S. I don't think I ever taken more than 100 pictures in on sitting without syncing to my Mac.
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Oct 19, 2011, 01:56 PM
 
...precious storage space on something like a phone...
Another way to look at it is, a prospective 32-GB 4s iPhone buyer can buy on-board space to store an additional 9,000+ 4s photos by purchasing the 64-GB model instead for +$100 if storage of the 3.3-MB size files is of concern.

Most likely hyteckit is right, however, and many users will use cloud transfer to move pix off the phone. I ordered the 64-GB size not so much for still photo storage as for video storage, and for the fact that I have outgrown the mass storage of every device since 1985. Video gobbles up mass storage capacity, and I have no idea how much videography having a competent small videocam pocketed all the time will set off.

To me the (relatively) very good quality of the iPhone 4s camera will be very interesting. I took very few pix with the 3G because the quality was so poor, even though I am a photog who is not inherently biased against small-camera photography per se; just biased against poor quality image capture whatever the camera size.

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Oct 19, 2011, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Sorry but I disagree. Any competent camera reviewer WILL perceive the difference between pix compressed to JPEG-12 versus JPEG-7...
A camera reviewer could notice, sure. But camera reviewers are typically looking for things that about .01% of the population cares about. In this new era of iCloud, with every 3.3 meg photo being uploaded, downloaded and stored on the cloud, 3.3 meg photos can add up quickly.

What percentage of iPhone photos get printed out or blown up to a size that anyone would notice? 1% or less I would wager.

I don't want people to think I'm on some massive bitch fest here, I'm really just curious. Because to me, it seems silly to not compress the photos. Or at the very least, to not have the option to choose to compress them or not.

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Oct 19, 2011, 05:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
...to me, it seems silly to not compress the photos. Or at the very least, to not have the option to choose to compress them or not.
4s image files are compressed, from ~23 MB to ~3.3 MB, IMO appropriate. Additional compression would further degrade image quality, IMO inappropriate.

However I never would have thought folks might actually want lower quality to save space. Your idea to include a space-saving low-quality option (as long as the default remains best quality) makes sense. Maybe Apple did not even consider providing multiple quality choices because on the 3G there was only one quality: lousy.

What percentage of iPhone photos get printed out or blown up to a size that anyone would notice? 1% or less I would wager.
You are probably correct. However the issue in photography is that what we prepare for is the <1% "hero" images that we do want to zoom in on or print large. Your daughter's soccer goal, or cool wedding snap, or the cops beating up Wall Street protestors to protect the US police state, or Rodney King, or whatever. When it goes on the cover of Life it is a bummer if the best tech possible was not used in the original image capture.

A decade ago in digital photography we often had to compromise quality (typically, accept more compression to improve speed) to "get the pic" but today we generally do not. The idea of lowering quality on purpose just to save space is certainly not for me.

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( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 19, 2011 at 05:59 PM. )
     
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Oct 20, 2011, 05:50 AM
 
As SierraDragan said, 3.3MB file is compressed. A 8 megapixel uncompressed RAW file is over 8MB.

I bet the number of people who blow up pictures to 8"x10" will probably be more than those who take over 1,000 picture in one sitting without connecting to a computer.

By the way, most of my pictures on the iPhone 4S is around 2.2MB, so 1,000 photos is like 2.2GB. No big deal.
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Oct 20, 2011, 06:14 AM
 
Imagine the media stink it would cause if Apple touted the quality of the 4S' built-in camera, and was then found compromising image quality for storage reasons (even if the difference only matters to <10% of customers).

That would be like offering only 256kbit music in the iTunes Store, rather than lossless stuff — WITHOUT the excuse of record-company execs not allowing more without charging significantly more.
     
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Oct 20, 2011, 06:58 PM
 
Wait, you can't choose a lower resolution for iPhone pictures to improve noise at high ISO? That's crazy, I thought every smartphone could do that.
     
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Oct 20, 2011, 07:11 PM
 
Personally I'd prefer the option for smaller JPG files (smaller resolution and/or greater compression) for the iPhone too. Why? Because the pix from the iPhone are low enough quality that higher compression settings wouldn't bother me much.

The iPhone isn't a dSLR after all. The 4S is supposed to have better photos than my 4, but that's not really saying much.
     
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Oct 20, 2011, 07:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
...the pix from the iPhone are low enough quality that higher compression settings wouldn't bother me much.
Not logical, because the less good the original the worse (non-linear) the effects of greater compression. Saying higher compression would not bother you is saying that you don't care if image quality is exponentially deteriorated for no good reason.

Originally Posted by Eug View Post
...the pix from the iPhone are low enough quality...
I feel that my 3G camera's image quality is so low that I care little about the pix. I do not have the 4s in hand yet, but the pix I have seen from it, and the reviews suggest that the 4s image quality can be pretty good.

The iPhone isn't a dSLR after all.
True, but digicam tech - including small-lens optics - is definitely at the place now where pix from well done small cameras can be of adequate quality to often be very useful. However key to achieving useful images from small cameras is to try to optimize every compromise to quality in the chain. Reducing quality by increasing compression would be a very, very dumb thing to do.

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( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 20, 2011 at 07:58 PM. )
     
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Oct 20, 2011, 08:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
Not logical, because the less good the original the worse (non-linear) the effects of greater compression. Saying higher compression would not bother you is saying that you don't care if image quality is exponentially deteriorated for no good reason.
Very logical. 99.9% of iPhone pix will be quick snapshots anyway just for the heluvit. For those pix, higher compression and smaller size are perfect. I betcha 98% of the population really wouldn't care, and I'd be in that group most of the time. For other 2% (which might include me once in a while), I could switch the setting.

Furthermore, if you start out with a super large size, but choose a smaller resolution, they often look better. If you're gonna resize those snapshots anyway, for many people it makes sense to set the pix at that size in the first place to skip an editing step.

However key to achieving useful images from small cameras is to try to optimize every compromise to quality in the chain. Reducing quality by increasing compression would be a very, very dumb thing to do.
Not really. If you really expecting your iPhone pix to replace your dSLR pix, you're probably asking too much. That's why I have a dSLR. Two in fact. Much more flexible, and the quality is far better where it counts, but not very convenient. However, if you must have iPhone pix at uber low compression and high resolutions, that's why I said I'd like the have the option of different sizes. Apple just chooses for you and you're supposed to like it.

I feel that my 3G camera's image quality is so low that I care little about the pix. I do not have the 4s in hand yet, but the pix I have seen from it, and the reviews suggest that the 4s image quality can be pretty good.
Yes, the pix from the 3G suck royally. The ones from the 4 are noticeably better. From what I've seen from the 4S, it's better than the 4, but it's still not great... which is to be expected. It's good for a cell phone though. It's about time, because Apple started out with cameras much worse than the competition, in the original iPhone and with the 3G.
     
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Oct 20, 2011, 10:11 PM
 
Eug-

Please lose the idea of "expecting your iPhone pix to replace your dSLR pix" because no one would even dream that. That argument is just a red herring.

The point is whether or not you want the camera to intentionally degrade what pix you do get out of a small camera by additional compression, such as going from JPEG-10 compression to JPEG-5 compression. I say stay at JPEG-10, you apparently disagree.

You seem to want the camera to initially save less image data; I disagree. There are plenty of apps that will let you size-down or otherwise degrade your images any way you like after capture, but to suggest that the camera should do it at step one for no good reason is crazy.

if you must have iPhone pix at uber low compression...
The compression of the 4s is about 10:1, not what I would call "uber low compression." You are suggesting it should be more than 20:1 and I think that would be a mistake. Me I wish it would save a 1:1 RAW option, but that may never happen.

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Oct 24, 2011, 09:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
The point is whether or not you want the camera to intentionally degrade what pix you do get out of a small camera by additional compression, such as going from JPEG-10 compression to JPEG-5 compression. I say stay at JPEG-10, you apparently disagree.

You seem to want the camera to initially save less image data; I disagree. There are plenty of apps that will let you size-down or otherwise degrade your images any way you like after capture, but to suggest that the camera should do it at step one for no good reason is crazy.

The compression of the 4s is about 10:1, not what I would call "uber low compression." You are suggesting it should be more than 20:1 and I think that would be a mistake. Me I wish it would save a 1:1 RAW option, but that may never happen.
The whole point of compression settings on cameras is to offer choice. I guess I should point out that the vast majority of professional dSLR sports photographers and even most photojournalists shoot JPEG over RAW, because RAW is simply a waste of space for their needs.

Going with RAW purely for the sake of RAW or even max quality JPEG on smartphone pix is nice in theory, but really isn't that important for most people.
     
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Oct 24, 2011, 11:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
I guess I should point out that the vast majority of professional dSLR sports photographers and even most photojournalists shoot JPEG over RAW, because RAW is simply a waste of space for their needs.
When those two very limited categories of photog shoot JPEG it is usually to maximize capture fps and for speed of image transfer back to the mother ship, not because RAW is simply a waste of space for their needs. And a lot shoot RAW+JPEG to still maintain maximum available image data.

Also those two limited categories of photog are capturing with $10k lenses on $5k cameras like my D2x or better, and then compressing to ~JPEG-10, the same compression that Apple uses and I suggest is appropriate on the 4s. The 4s with its far lesser optics loses far more from the compression than a $15k camera/lens combo does.

Folks proposing further lowering quality are IMO way off base, because at 2-4 MB image size and with 16-64 GB capacity, 1,000 pix do not take up that much space. And apps like Hipstamatic, Instagram, etc. will happily further reduce the size for low resolution usages.

Going with RAW purely for the sake of RAW or even max quality JPEG on smartphone pix is nice in theory, but really isn't that important for most people.
I agree, which is why I say I think Apple hit the right spot at ~JPEG-10 (if that is indeed where the 4s is at; my calculations were very approximate). RAW is of value mainly to folks like me who consciously post-process and/or print large, and that definitely is not most people.

Judging from the questions on photog forums most photogs (including many pros) do not really understand RAW capture and what it means. Now that the on-camera computer hardware is cheap enough, as the photog world slowly learns the realities of digital photography we may yet see RAW capture capability show up in a cell phone camera some day.

-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 25, 2011 at 12:02 AM. )
     
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Oct 24, 2011, 11:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
The whole point of compression settings on cameras is to offer choice.
Apple's iPhone is offering simplicity. Storage is cheap, and Apple knows it. For the few who care, you can reduce the file size after it's imported.
     
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Oct 25, 2011, 01:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
And a lot shoot RAW+JPEG to still maintain maximum available image data.
I don't think I've met a sports photographer that shoots RAW + JPEG, although I'm sure some must exist. (Not that I'm suggesting I know a lot of sports photographers, but the few that I've talked to shoot JPEG only.)

When those two very limited categories of photog shoot JPEG it is usually to maximize capture fps and for speed of image transfer back to the mother ship, not because RAW is simply a waste of space for their needs.
Actually it's both. RAW really eats into fps after the buffer is exhausted, and RAW+JPEG is even worse. However, RAW also can fill up a 16 GB CF card very quickly, so it's actually detrimental in many sports photog type situations. It's much better not to have to switch out your CF cards all the time.

Originally Posted by SierraDragon View Post
When those two very limited categories of photog shoot JPEG it is usually to maximize capture fps and for speed of image transfer back to the mother ship, not because RAW is simply a waste of space for their needs. And a lot shoot RAW+JPEG to still maintain maximum available image data.

Also those two limited categories of photog are capturing with $10k lenses on $5k cameras like my D2x or better, and then compressing to ~JPEG-10, the same compression that Apple uses and I suggest is appropriate on the 4s. The 4s with its far lesser optics loses far more from the compression than a $15k camera/lens combo does.
I disagree. There is far more to lose from compression or downrezzing with higher quality lenses on dSLRs. For my 18 MP dSLR images, I keep them at 18, and on max JPEG quality, or sometimes even RAW (albeit rarely). However, for my iPhone 4 pix, I simply don't care.

Folks proposing further lowering quality are IMO way off base, because at 2-4 MB image size and with 16-64 GB capacity, 1,000 pix do not take up that much space. And apps like Hipstamatic, Instagram, etc. will happily further reduce the size for low resolution usages.
I personally would prefer smaller resolutions. Even ignoring other arguments, 5+ MP resolutions for smartphones can sometimes simply be inconvenient. The extra apps mean extra steps. But like I suggest below it's not a big deal in the greater scheme of things. I just think if you're gonna ask for RAW, you should probably ask for lower resolutions first because they will be of more use to more people.


Originally Posted by chabig View Post
Apple's iPhone is offering simplicity.
Simplicity is to default to a certain size or compression. Choice is to offer other options in addition to the default.

I personally don't like the 5 MP size of my iPhone pictures, because I never have a use for them at that size.

In reality, in the end I don't think it's that big of a deal to have moderately big file sizes, because space indeed isn't all that expensive. However, I do find it amusing and somewhat hypocritical that some here think it's fine to want an option for RAW, but it's somehow wrong to want an option for something smaller.

I personally would have no use for RAW on an iPhone 4 or 4S, but would probably use an option for a smaller rez for example (ironically probably at the same JPEG compression though), if the option were available. I betcha more iPhone users would do what I'd want to do, more than they would choose RAW.
( Last edited by Eug; Oct 25, 2011 at 01:15 AM. )
     
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Oct 25, 2011, 03:02 PM
 
Beyond quality 6-7 you're looking at large increases in file size for little change in visual quality.

At constant viewing size (a print, or a tv, or an iphone display), as the resolution increases you get the same overall quality with lower quality per pixel (which is what the JPEG setting is closer to).

JPEG quality 10 is a waste for the lenses/sensors of cameraphones.
     
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Oct 25, 2011, 03:47 PM
 
Yeah, but a professional camera reviewer or a guy with a $6,000 camera will be able to zoom in and see the difference in a second.
( Last edited by ort888; Oct 25, 2011 at 03:56 PM. )

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Oct 25, 2011, 07:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Beyond quality 6-7 you're looking at large increases in file size for little change in visual quality.
I agree that the improvement in quality above JPEG 6-7 is small, and above JPEG 9-10 generally becomes visually not noticeable with perfectly shot images. The difference in our opinions here is that I consider the files size difference (~1-2 MB per image) to be small, not large, and well worth the additional mass storage space.

Originally Posted by mduell View Post
...JPEG quality 10 is a waste for the lenses/sensors of cameraphones.
My experience has been that JPEG artifacts present more radically under certain conditions like poor lighting, less-good lenses, certain image components, etc. so I do not consider lesser lens quality as a reason for additional, additive quality reduction via compression.

Obviously the 4s does not do what a pro DSLR/lens does, but a pro DSLR/lens does not fit in your pocket either. I have only shot a few test pix with the 4s, but so far I am very impressed. The 4s lens allows for quite good image quality and it seems the software "just works."

Over more than a decade of capturing and using digital images professionally I can think of many usages that could have been served adequately by the quality of a 4s image. The quality of the pix are good enough that the 4s is often more constrained by camera form factor capabilities than by image quality per se.

Today I test shot a simple auto-everything handheld pic of a cactus out on my deck. Close but not really a macro. Thinking that the "enhance" setting referred to basic sharpening I had the camera enhance the image. The setting produced a 1 MB file that was visually garish to my eye. Perhaps over-sharpening combined with the additional compression, I don't know - but I did not like it. At some point I may post the pix for review here if I get time.

I shot the same pic again without "enhancing" and the full size JPEG from the 4s was 3 MB and the artifacting was very minimal, visible only under high magnification (IMO as it should be). IMO impressive image quality for a small camera. I am glad that Apple lets it be all that it can be by not arbitrarily throwing away even more image data than the ~23 MB---> ~3 MB compression that it does now.
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 25, 2011 at 07:54 PM. )
     
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Oct 25, 2011, 07:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
Yeah, but a professional camera reviewer or a guy with a $6,000 camera will be able to zoom in and see the difference in a second.
We do get the sarcasm, and you are correct that it will primarily be image pros who notice the difference. A small proportion of potential 4s sales to be sure - - and the camera is only one component of the smartphone purchase decision anyway.

However, those folks are opinion leaders, and how they report on the camera of the 4s is heavily weighted in the marketplace. IMO getting reports from reviewers stating "best phone camera out there" has huge value.

The 98 percentile may not (initially) know the difference, but camera phone users do compare image files and the ability to perceive image quality differences is quickly learned. E.g. my friend and I compared camera phone pix shooting a basic table setting this weekend and her Droid pix were poor (due to noise) unless the ambient light was really bright. Once compared to the 4s images she now is more critical of her phone's pix.

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Oct 25, 2011, 08:04 PM
 
^ Yep. It's the same with audio: Anybody who claims not to hear a difference has never actually sat down for a decent comparison and either discovered or was shown where the differences lie.

The other issue, of course, is in the actually *caring*.

Honestly, if you're gonna take a thousand photos on a hiking weekend, why the **** would you complain about those photos taking up an extra gigabyte or two out of 16, 32, or 64 GB of storage?

If you're that serious about the matter, you're either

a) using a "real" camera, or you've

b) splurged on the 64GB version anyway, or you're

c) actually a person who'd notice the compression artifacts on those crucial shots if Apple used more aggressive compression, and you'd be all over the internets, bitching about them, or

d) any combination of the above.

If that doesn't make sense, then you're obviously the ONE guy out there that none of those apply to, and unfortunately for you, Apple is doing rather great marketing to the other six-billion odd people out there.

It's just a compromise not worth making.
     
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Oct 26, 2011, 12:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
Yeah, but a professional camera reviewer or a guy with a $6,000 camera will be able to zoom in and see the difference in a second.
If you're concerned about pixel peeping, you're not using a smartphone.
     
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Oct 26, 2011, 03:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
If you're concerned about pixel peeping, you're not using a smartphone.
I am and I do; just like I do on the D2x (not as much zoom, however ). Zoom to check for focus, camera blur, sharpening/compression artifacts, etc. How else does one improve as a photog, know what needs to be reshot?

No one should diss the 4s pic quality without first actually testing a 4s. The 4s camera is capable of some very competent image captures.

A handheld test pic shot just to see what detail the camera can capture:


Edited only by cropping to better demonstrate detail; original image 3.2 MB from 4s camera, no flash used. This was shot from ~8 inches away, not a macro.

-Allen Wicks
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 26, 2011 at 04:01 PM. )
     
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Oct 26, 2011, 04:13 PM
 
Similar pic shot a minute earlier but using the "enhanced" setting of the 4s that produced a 1.1 MB original file size - for those here who want smaller file sizes. Auto-enhance is available under the edit menu and seems to provide the additional-compression option requested by some. Also cropped before posting to better demonstrate detail.



-Allen
( Last edited by SierraDragon; Oct 26, 2011 at 04:30 PM. )
     
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Oct 26, 2011, 04:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
The whole point of compression settings on cameras is to offer choice. [...] really isn't that important for most people.
Hi, you must be new to Apple's product universe.
     
   
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