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Despite some googling, I can't find any information on the hardware limits of the camera in the iPhone 4S. What ISO and shutter speeds are possible from the still camera?

I know the exposure is programmed and you can't choose ISO or shutter speed, but I'm looking to at least know what the ranges the phone is capable. I have a lot of iPhone 4 images and can scrape the minimum / maximum values from EXIF data, but lack this resource for the iPhone 4S.

What ranges are possible with the iPhone 4S hardware? I'm most interested in the shutter speeds, but anything will help since at f/2.4 the two are linked to exposure in an understandable manner.

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Good question! I did some search to get info about the CMOS sensor. But I did not get more than the name: Sony'10 MM145. Source: Chipworks –  gentmatt Apr 24 '12 at 18:43
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can scrape that information off photos on flickr taken with an iPhone 4S:

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/apple/iphone_4s/

Here are a few examples of extremes. The dark end seems to show a max ISO of 800 and max shutter of 1/15, which several dark photos agreed with, and none of the ten I looked at went further, so here are two examples:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/funinthegym/6328079422/in/photostream/
0.067 sec (1/15)
800

http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewthecoolguy/6534661585/in/photostream/
0.067 sec (1/15)
800

Looking at very bright photographs, I saw a few claiming very high shutter speeds (1/9259 and 1/2600) but none of them matched the same exif format for the shutter speed field as the rest of the iPhone 4S photos I reviewed, suggesting that these fields were modified in post processing. The lowest shutter speed I saw that matched the format of the other 4S exif files was 1/1842, and the lowest ISO was 64:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67660035@N04/7110241863/in/photostream/
0.001 sec (1/1842)
64

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xiahou/6298147263/in/photostream/
0.001 sec (1/1842)
64

This should answer your question for highest and lowest ISO, and highest and lowest shutter speed. Keep in mind I only sampled a few dozen photos on flickr, it's possible I missed the ends of the ranges.

A random sampling from the "interesting" section, showing the mid range of shutter speed and ISO combinations:

Shutter speed ISO

0.008 sec (1/122) 64

0.05 sec (1/20) 200

0.008 sec (1/120) 100

0.002 sec (1/550) 64

0.025 sec (1/40) 64

0.002 sec (1/464) 64

0.004 sec (1/242) 64

0.042 sec (1/24) 64

0.059 sec (1/17) 800

0.067 sec (1/15) 640

0.006 sec (1/170) 64

0.067 sec (1/15) 640

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Oh man - I want to scrape this programmatically and do a scatter plot! I'll have a peek and perhaps summarize this. This is totally the best answer unless someone uncovers good info on source hardware somewhere. I'll ask a friend to take some sun pictures with HDR on and off to see if that is responsible for the 2600 / 9695 short shutter values. –  bmike Apr 24 '12 at 21:13
    
@bmike Yeah, it's begging to be graphically represented. Interesting thought on the HDR photography! –  Adam Davis Apr 24 '12 at 22:22
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I took a panoramic photo last night using the built-in panorama option in iOS 6 on my iPhone 4S. The ISO rating in the EXIF metadata shows ISO 1,600 when read in the Preview app or in iPhoto but shows 'ISO 2,000 equiv.' when read by the (free) ExifWizard app on iOS 6 on the phone itself. Interestingly, shutter speed shows as 1/120th second, which presumably is needed for sharpness in continuous-motion panorama applications and explains the decision to allow the phone app access to higher ISO settings when creating a panorama.

The photo is very noisy, by the way!

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Well, I just pointed a flashlight to the iPhone4S Camera module to see what's the maximum shutter speed and I Got a weird sensor effect and the following metadata: Exposure Time: 1/55556 (0,000018s) ISO: 50

Original Image download link: https://www.facebook.com/ajax/messaging/attachment.php?attach_id=530261b3e5bcf07a531a0ff278e0a9c8&mid=mid.1390244150821%3A543ef53b5cdd27ac59&hash=AQBvHiyJMhaho5dn

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Image link broken? –  grgarside Jan 20 at 19:20
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