• Foodspotting on 4 Generations of iPhones

    This year, the Foodspotting Android app and Windows Phone app joined our iPhone app to serve even more foodspotters on the go. But while Android is closing in fast, the iPhone is still Foodspotting's biggest platform and most photos you see on our site and app are from iPhones.

    Luckily for us iPhone nerds, Apple continues to up the quality of their cameras with every major release, shrinking the gap between mobile photography and traditional digital photography. Nowadays, we see more balanced lighting, less noise, and more accurate color. Other perks of the new iPhone 4S camera features include the ability to take higher-resolution images, the most accurate color correction to date and, best of all, better low-light performance.

    Since the majority of dining happens during post-sunlight hours at restaurants which may not have great lighting, being able to shoot food in low light is important to us. In fact, low light performance is one reason why I've continued to spot dishes on a digital SLR as it's been the only reliable way to get great low light shots. So when Apple claimed their latest iPhone had great camera performance across every light level we knew we had to test it for the foodspotters of the world!

    For the technically inclined, here's how the iPhone has evolved over the years:

    • iPhone - 2.0 megapixel fixed focus, no zoom, flash, or autofocus, 1600x1200 resolution
    • iPhone 3GS - 3.2 megapixel, manual focusing, white balance adjustments, 2048x1536 resolution
    • iPhone 4 - 5.0 megapixel, backside illuminated sensor, LED flash, HDR, 2592 x 1944 resolution
    • iPhone 4S - 8.0 megapixel, gyroscope stabilization, 5 layer glass optics, f/2.4, 3264x2448 resolution

    We shot dishes in a range of lighting scenarios to see how iPhone camera technology has progressed. All shots are unedited in terms of brightness/contrast and color correction, and for the iPhone 4/4S examples, we used the non-HDR variants.

    In an outdoor, well-lit environment, the differences aren't huge, but they are there. With every generation of the iPhone, the clarity of the images gets crisper, more vibrant and color correction looks better and better. Also, looking at the top left of the images show that depth-of-field blurring is more pronounced with the iPhone 4/4S series, showcasing slight blurs for background content.

    Going indoors and shooting with a lower-light environment brings more dramatic changes. Shooting the bag of coffee and cookie is almost impossible with Apple's first-generation and 3GS model as the camera just can't take in enough light to make it viable. Here we also see a much larger gap between the iPhone 4 and 4S, as the 4S shows a much brighter image with warmer colors. The close-up on the 4S clearly shows the label as readable, whereas it's still a bit tough to read with the 4 model.

    Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S are great cameras for Foodspotting, and they are far lighter to carry around compared to full-fledged dSLR and far more discreet, as well. While the quality level isn't quite enough to make me toss my dSLR, it's getting surprisingly close. Plus, the technology shows no signs of slowing down. Excited to see what's next for all the devices that Foodspotting calls home.

    • about 6 years ago.
      I do not use the Iphone, as I have a Droid X. What I see in the fruits is the Iphone 4 is better than the 4s. The photo is a little more sharper and it has a deeper color with more contrast than the 4s. In regards to the snadwich bag, the 4s looks better, however since I am taking a lot of shots of foods.... I would prefer the Iphone 4 over the 4s.
    • about 6 years ago.
      Great comparison
    • about 6 years ago.
      I love this article, thanks! But do you have anymore tips for us foodspotters who LOVE taking photos of our food with our iphones? I try to use the camera+ app so that I can add effects and do stabilization on my photos. Any apps you prefer?
    • about 6 years ago.
      There seems to be one drawback, you can't edit, crop or color correct for a better photo. The 4s looks better in low light, but seems to wash out details in normal light. I tried the app once and my photo didn't go through, so it's back to my Sony.
    • about 6 years ago.
      Awesome case study of the awesomeness of the 4S.
    • about 6 years ago.
      Thanks for posting this Chris. I just got the 4s and there is a noticeable improvement over the iPhone 4. Still like to use the DSLR with a fast lens in darker restaurants or when there is no more daylight. MJ- the Camera+ app is the one I like most.
    • about 6 years ago.
      Now you made me get a iPhone4S.
    • over 5 years ago.
      I want to see iPhone 5 in this.
    • about 1 month ago.