The new iPod touch is every bit as pocketable but now has a better camera than ever.

The new iPod touch 6 has an 8 megapixel iSight camera, much bigger and better than 5 megapixel shooter on the previous generation iPod touch 5. It's also backed by the Image Signal Processor (ISP) in the mighty Apple A8 system-on-a-chip. It remains ƒ/2.4, however, and very small and very thin. So, how well does this new iSight work? We took it out for a shoot and put it up against the last iPod touch, and the 8mp, Apple A8-powered iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6 to find out!

Apple, the camera company

Apple makes the most popular cameras in the world—most of them in the form of iPhones. That same emphasis increasingly permeates the company's other mobile devices as well, first the iPad Air 2, and now the new iPod touch 6.

What makes Apple devices so popular is that they don't just take good everyday photos, they're connected. They run iOS, which means they have access to all the photo sharing and editing apps on the App Store. The iPod touch especially is incredibly easy to fit in a pocket and hold in your hand while composing a shot, and every bit as easy to iMessage, to Instagram, to Waterlogue, to turn into a Photos book, or to do with what you will.

This year's iPod touch 6 should get better, cleaner results than the previous iPod touch 5. That's due to both the increased megapixel count and the huge leap from Apple A5 to Apple A8 processors. That includes the Image Signal Processor (ISP) that reads the data off the sensor, analyzes it, and does all sorts of calculations to make sure the resulting photo is as well balanced, exposed, and focused as possible.

The iPad 2 has an Apple A8X rather than an A8, but the difference there is in GPU so, all other things being equal, it should produce the same results. The iPhone 6 has the same megapixel count and Apple A8 processor, but a better ƒ/2.2 aperture and a bigger 1.5µ pixel size. That should make a difference in low light.

To test them out, I shot multiple sample photos with HDR on, flash off, with the built-in Camera app to see if reality meets expectations.

Still photography

Here's a still, overcast, in order: iPod touch 6 (top left), iPod touch 5 (top right), iPad Air 2 (bottom left), iPhone 6 (bottom right):

iPod touch 6 iPod touch 5 iPad Air 2 iPhone 6
Aperture ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.2
ISO 50 64 50 40
Focal length 3.3mm 3.3mm 3.3mm 4.15mm
Exposure time 1/30 1/24 1/30 1/30

Macro photography

Here are sample macros, overcast, in order: iPod touch 6 (top left), iPod touch 5 (top right), iPad Air 2 (bottom left), iPhone 6 (bottom right):

iPod touch 6 iPod touch 5 iPad Air 2 iPhone 6
Aperture ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.2
ISO 320 320 250 250
Focal length 3.3mm 3.3mm 3.3mm 4.15mm
Exposure time 1/15 1/15 1/15 1/17

Low light photography

Here are sample low-lights, indoors, in order: iPod touch 6 (top left), iPod touch 5 (top right), iPad Air 2 (bottom left), iPhone 6 (bottom right):

iPod touch 6 iPod touch 5 iPad Air 2 iPhone 6
Aperture ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.2
ISO 800 640 800 1600
Focal length 3.3mm 3.3mm 3.3mm 4.15mm
Exposure time 1/15 1/15 1/15 1/15

Panoramic photography

Here are sample panoramas, overcast, in order: iPod touch 6 (top left), iPod touch 5 (top right), iPad Air 2 (bottom left), iPhone 6 (bottom right):

iPod touch 6 iPod touch 5 iPad Air 2 iPhone 6
Aperture ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.4 ƒ/2.2
ISO 25 40 32 32
Focal length 3.3mm 3.3mm 3.3mm 4.15mm

The bottom line

Much like 2012 when Leanna Lofte shot our iPod touch 5 vs. iPhone 5 camera tests things played out as expected. The iPod touch 6 is clearly better than the iPod touch 5, about the same as the iPad Air 2, and just behind the iPhone 6.

With good light and the tools available in modern photo editing software, however, unless you intend to shoot a lot of lowlight, any of the 8mp, Apple A8-powered connected cameras will serve you well.