Now that the iPhone 7 is behind the corner, I thought to write my thoughts of the older plus sized model. Please click on the images to reveal unprocessed originals. Without further a due, here is my iPhone 6s Plus Camera review.

Introduction to iPhone 6S Plus Camera

Yamashita Park in Yokohama - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Near Yamashita Park in Yokohama (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

I have been enjoying using my iPhone 6s Plus Camera. The optical image stabilisation is a big improvement over the old 6 (not plus) phone I had, but for the larger pixel density, I am not quite sure. Optical image stabilisation  also makes hand held video appear super smooth and fluent, almost to the point where it looks like it’s shot using a gimbal type stabiliser.

The exact still image resolution is now 4032×3024 which is plenty for images, and I certainly wouldn’t need more from a mobile phone camera. The faster A10 chip will help the increased image processing need.

The specs of the camera are following:

  • 12MP sensor with phase detection
  • F2.2 aperture
  • Real (optical) image stabilisation
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • 5MP front camera
Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru in Minato-mirai Yokohama. (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

The shots here are unprocessed except that the previews are resized using Lightroom. The default effect filters are nice and especially black and white images can offer some stunning contrast and sharpness. I have however not included them in this review because I hope to focus in the natural straight out from the camera images made with the default Camera app.

Unfortunately I couldn’t do video camera review since I don’t presently own 4K monitor and 4K video ability of the camera is what most people would be interested I feel. Maybe later. I can tell however that the 1080p video shot in either 30fps or 60fps is of great quality.

Buildings in Yokohama - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Buildings in Yokohama iPhone 6s Plus camera original. (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

Image Quality

The photos are generally good quality, even in low light. The white balance and colour rendition is quite natural, and there’s tons of contrast and sharpness. Quite a long way we have came since first mobile phone cameras indeed.

The noise reduction algorithm is a bit aggressive. It won’t matter as long as you don’t do pixel beeping, but once you do, the truth is revealed. Photos taken with standalone app won’t compete with those taken with proper cameras such as Fujifilm X100 or so. 100% crops look almost like painting.

100% crop iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
100% crop shows image noise reduction algorithm.

I am not sure how the “raw” images would look from the sensor but if I could choose I might choose graininess/noise than this fuzzy paintbrush noise reduction stuff.  There isn’t much you can do to these images after they are processed by the camera.  That said I am not sure how much average user would mind this.

The photos definitely don’t need extra sharpening.

Pictures taken hand held in low light are very nice as the one below (the model is very nice too!)

Beautiful Genchan - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Always beautiful Genchan (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

The front facing camera seems improved as it’s 5 megapixel now. The LCD screen flashy thing is nice because it tries to adjust to the colour temperature. It however shoots only 720p video which is a little disappointment. Here is a test I did with lovely Genchan, the flash was engaged.

iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
iPhone 6s Plus front facing camera in low light. (with lovely Genchan!)

Live Photos, Panorama, HDR Etc.

Live photos feels a bit of a gimmick. I can’t quite understand what’s the deal with this, except that these are kind of like GIFs with photos I suppose. Sorry but I can’t find myself using this at all, and neither the panorama mode as I am not very much into such thing, except when I wanna show my studio or setup in Facebook, as Facebook will automatically convert pano into interactive rotate thingy which is nice.

Automatic HDR is nice to have as it can automatically lift the shadows while preserving the highlights. Here is one example:

Couple enjoying a view from Marine Tower in Yokohama - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Couple enjoying a view from Marine Tower in Yokohama (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

You can see complete sky in full detail as well as the clothes details of the people and the carpet. HDR can help in situations like these. It’s nice that it is not overdone and the photos don’t look like otherworldly alien landscapes; it is simply to aid in difficult lighting situations. Right choice from Apple I feel.

Handling

Now, to take pictures with tablet is.. one thing. But also to take pictures with Plus sized iPhone feels a bit weird because of the size. I almost dropped my iPhone Plus to ocean, and once almost from a skyscraper! It is super easy to lose grip to this thing especially without a substantial case. The volume button will act as a shutter release but ah my god it’s easy to accidentally press the button on the other edge and put the whole thing to asleep! I would have preferred that the sleep button would convert to shutter release during photography session, I mean who would want to shut down the phone while taking pictures?

Man and Cruiser in Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Man and Cruiser in Osanbashi Pier in Yokohama (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

But there’s a trick, you can use also the iPhone Earbuds control as a wired shutter release! Yeah, it’s kinda cool. (Well at least in pre iPhone 7 era.. while we still had the .. wired.. iPhone Earbuds.. There went this little cute trick to the memory lane)

The default camera app is not bad by all means, the tap to focus is snappy and it just works. The exposure compensation however is super clunky and so is the AE/AF lock. You tap and hold for it but it disengages easily, so I find myself not using it. I use the exposure compensation however, constantly.

Roses in Yamashita Park in Yokohama - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
Roses in Yamashita Park in Yokohama (Click to download iPhone 6s plus camera original)

Alternatives to the default Camera App

The default app is in many cases restrictive even though it allows access to basic features. Luckily there are alternative apps such as Camera+, Manual or ProCamera for those who want more manual control.

Conclusion

View from Marine Tower - iPhone 6S Plus Camera Review
View from Marine Tower (Click the image for unaltered file directly from the iPhone)

The camera in iPhone 6s Plus is not a groundbreaking / spacetime continuum changing improvement for most users I feel. The image stabiliser is definitely the biggest improvement over the older iPhone. I have not had iPhone 6 Plus so unfortunately I can’t compare this to that, but since I upgraded from iPhone 6 to 6s Plus this stuff is new and welcome to me. To expect completely stunning improvement will likely make you feel wanting more. iPhone 6s Plus is a nice camera and very nice video camera.