One of the new features of the iPhone 4S is a 1080p HD video camera. This new camera sports an f/2.4 lens and improved sensor to capture more light. It also has video stabilization to steady those shaky shots. To see me put this new camera to the test, check out the video above.
The first thing I tested was how well the camera deals with harsh lighting - meaning environments that have both dark, shaded areas and brightly lit, sunny areas. The iPhone 4S did a fantastic job of adjusting the exposure to bring in more light in the shade and less light in the sun. However, I did notice that if I was filming my daughter in an area that had bright backlighting, the video was a little underexposed even if I tapped to expose on my daughter's face.
The next thing I tested was video stabilization. First I tried out a non-extreme situation that has a similar amount of movement that the average person may experience - walking backwards while my daughter runs towards me. There was definitely still some camera shake present in these shots, but it wasn't too bad. My stomach tends to be pretty sensitive when it comes to bouncy film, but these clips didn't affect me.
However, the next test I did was to run down the street, and this one was pretty bad. It was still very shaky and I couldn't image watching an entire video like that, but I also couldn't imagine filming an entire video like that. This was an extreme scenario that expect not too many people will find themselves in.
The video stabilization performed best when panning the camera around. I was particularly impressed by the clips of me panning around the camera to follow my daughter as she walked past me. These were nice and smooth.
Next up was low light. The quality of the video in the low light environments of my house were not the best, but they weren't particularly horrible, either. Camera shake was a little more obvious and the clips were grainier, but overall, I was satisfied with its performance as a cellphone camera. I was particularly impressed with how the camera was able to compensate for the pink lighting in my daughters room and choose a good white balance setting. This was a huge improvement over the iPhone 4.
The macro lens on the iPhone 4S camera is incredibly sharp - when it's able to actually lock focus. On larger items, like leaves, the iPhone 4S has no issue focusing, but with smaller, skinnier items like twigs and sticks, the camera really struggles with grabbing a focus and often times never does. I tried to focus on some berries hanging from a bush for several minutes with no luck. It doesn't seem to make a difference between direct sunlight, shade, or overcast light, the iPhone 4S seems to frequently have issues with focussing. This is a huge disappointment.
Overall, I am very impressed with the iPhone 4S video camera. It handles the changes in harsh lighting, poor lighting, and movement quite well and also has great audio quality. The biggest disappointment is that the macro lens frequently has issues focusing. However, when the lens does focus, it looks amazing.
It's time to retire my Flip Video camera for good.
Have you been recording some amazing video with your iPhone 4S? Head on over to our Photography and Video forum to show them off!