iPod touch 5 camera review

Even though the iPod touch 5 doesn't have as great of a camera as the iPhone 5, its camera has been severely updated from what was included with its predecessor. The iPod touch 5 is equipped with a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with a f/2.4 five-element lens, hybrid IR filter, backside illuminations, and the ability to take both panorama and HDR photos. This camera may have the same megapixel count as the iPhone 4 camera, but the components and build-quality are closer to that of iPhone 5 camera with a five-element lens made from sapphire crystal .

We've already taken the iPod touch 5 camera head-to-head with the iPhone 5, so now it's time take a closer look at the iPod touch 5 camera on it's own. Spoiler-alert: it's probably better than you think!

Hardware design of iPod touch 5 iSight Camera

Since the body of the iPod touch 5 has been designed to be incredibly thin, the camera is too big to be able to sit flush against the casing of the device. Instead, the camera slightly protrudes out of the backside of the iPod touch. The silver ring that surrounds the lens is a tad bit thicker than the lens so at to prevent the lens from making direct content with any surfaces you may place your iPod touch on. It was very strange at first to see the lens sticking out like this, but I've gotten used to it and am wiling the sacrifice the slight awkwardness for an incredibly thin device in return.

Sample photos taken with the iPod touch 5

All of the photos featured in this article have been taken with an iPod touch 5 and have not been altered in any way.

General photography with iPod touch 5 camera

These first few examples are of general photography like landscapes, flowers, children, and more. There's a good mixture between shaded and sunny environments, and bright and dark subjects. As you can see, the iPod touch performed very well.

Macro photos taken with the iPod touch 5

Just as with the iPhone 5 camera, I was very impressed with how easily the iPod touch 5 locked focus on close-up subjects. Marco photography is one of my favorite types of photography on iOS devices, so this made me smile.

HDR photos taken with the iPod touch 5

The iPod touch 5 handles HDR photos very well. The improvements made to shadows and bright skies are very noticeable. As you can see in the photo above, turning on HDR made the blown-out white sky look like it did in real life -- blue!

Low light photos taken with the iPod touch 5

One of the biggest weaknesses of every iPhone and iPod touch camera has been the poor quality of photos taken in low light scenarios. Unfortunately, this continues to be a huge weakness with the iPod touch 5 as well. In medium-low light situations like sunset, the iPod touch does ok, but once your environment is very dark, not only are the photos very grainy, but the colors are also way off.

Notice the green, ugly tint on this extreme low-light photo.

Performance doesn't improve when you head indoors, either. This next photo was taken in poor indoor lighting, and it's grainy with terrible coloring.

When I turned on the flash, I got much better results.

Photos taken with the iPod touch 5's front-facing camera

The iPod touch 5 is equipped with a 1.2-megapixel front-facting FaceTime HD camera. This is the same FaceTime camera featured on the iPhone 5, and it does an equally decent job. The quality is clearly not as good as the rear-facing iSight camera, but it's not too bad either. Since it's easier to get a self-portrait with the front-facing camera than with the rear-facing, it will usually be worth giving up some quality to use the FaceTime camera for self-portraits.

Purple flare with the iPod touch 5

With all the attention given to purple flare on the iPhone 5, I had no choice but to investigate if the iPod touch could easily cast a purple flare on its photos. As expected, it wasn't difficult to create a photograph with purple flare with the iPod touch 5. Although easy to produce, purple flare is not a regular problem. As long as you're familiar with why a lens will cast a purple flare on your image, you can avoid these situations and very rarely be haunted by the presence of purple.

Panorama photos taken with the iPod touch 5

One of the exciting new features of iOS 6 is the ability to take panoramic photos directly from the built-in camera app by simply panning the scene -- and it produces beautiful results with the iPod touch 5!

The bottom line

Overall, I am very impressed with the iPod touch 5 camera and think it can easily replace a low-end point-and-shoot camera. And since the iPod touch is also an iPod, you get to do so much more with it than take photos! For many people, investing in an iPod touch will be more useful and satisfying than investing in a compact camera.

To get the most out of your iPod touch 5's camera, be sure head over to our photography page for some tutorials on take spectacular images!

Leanna Lofte

App and Photography Editor at iMore. Mother, wife, and math instructor. Follow her on Twitter @llofte and send her apps to consider for review at iosapps@imore.com

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There are 9 comments. Add yours.

bebef says:

Is it just me or are there photos missing?

Leanna Lofte says:

We had some technical difficulties -- they should all be there now! Sorry about that!

siddharthbandhu says:

Those are some great photos.

Makes me reconsider buying an iPad 3, now that's its out of production..

jukie says:

How about an iPod touch 5/iPad mini camera comparison? I'm debating which of these devices to purchase for my child. I was leaning toward iPad mini, but my other kids enjoy the camera features on their ipods so much, perhaps the iPod would be better?

Leanna Lofte says:

That's funny you ask, because the cameras are actually the same and I Just posted a review of the iPad mini camera! BUT you have keep in mind that the iPad mini does not have an LED flash and doesn't do HDR or panorama. Those features aside, though, the cameras are exactly the same.

jukie says:

I see your review! Thanks for reading my mind. The HDR feature wouldn't matter to my child much, but I wish the iPad mini had panorama and the LED flash--that would make my decision a lot easier

mbartel500 says:

Very nice review Leanna. But there is one fact that needs clarification. The five element lens system is not made of sapphire crystal as you mentioned in your post. Only the outer lens cover is made of sapphire.

Hannah MG says:

This review was SO helpful!! I've been thinking about buying the IPOD touch and wasn't even really thinking about the camera...but I have an OLD 6 mega-pixel point & shoot and it seems as though, from what I'm seeing on your review that the IPOD would actually take much better pics! So pleased to see this. Thank you for such a detailed review! Definitely important to have pics as part of a review of a camera too. ;)

Franny J says:

Hi Leanne,
Thanks for a really helpful review, demonstrating one of the widest ranges of photos taken on this device that I've been able to find online. This is the final step in convincing me to purchase an iPod touch 5; I can't believe how high the quality is on some of these snaps. Oh, and your daughter (please pardon my assumption!) is beautiful :)