Blurry iPhone 4S photos [Updated]

I’m a week into owning an iPhone 4S. It’s a great device, and I’ve been eager to play with the improved camera. I’ve only taken a handful of photos, but so far I’m a bit disappointed as I’m getting a lot of blurry pictures. The iPhone 4S camera seems very sensitive to motion, both on my part as the photographer and my subjects.

I’m not sure if the problem is me, the camera or bad practices, so here’s a look at what I’ve been shooting. Suggestions/comments welcome.

Updated with input from readers after the break.

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Using iOS 5 built-in image editing

Apple added simple image editing tasks to its Photos app in iOS 5, including rotate, enhance, red-eye and crop. Each works rather well, and I suspect will be enough for many users. Straightforward and effective, Apple’s editing features won’t replace apps like Camera+, but offer no-fuss solutions to common tasks.

It’s nice that the changes I make most often — crop, red-eye reduction and enhancement — are available without a third-party app. But how do they work? If your expectations are modest, you’ll be pleased. In fact, I’ll guess that most amateur “snap shotters” will find Apple’s solution to be enough. The rest of you will need something more.

To help you decide, here’s a look at the built-in image editing options in iOS 5.

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iPhone 4 photos

I took some pictures with the iPhone 4 today. In my limited testing, I noticed that the Camera app launches much faster than it did on my 3GS. The auto-focus also seems more responsive. Overall, the picture quality is impressive, especially for a camera on a phone.

One issue stood out today. While shooting the general store in the gallery below, I had trouble with exposure. The store is white and on a cloudless day it really washed out. Once I got some dark leaves from a nearby tree in the frame, it looked better.

I shot outdoors (a bright, largely cloudless day) and indoors under fluorescent and natural light. I also shot up close and far away. I’ve still got to test low light conditions, digital zoom and video, so another post is forthcoming.

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The Photos app has some nice new features under iOS 4. Places works much like it does in iPhoto ’09. The iPhone will geotag photos it shoots and place them on a Google map. A pin appears on a location with associated images. Tap the pin and a thumbnail appears representing those images; tap it to open a gallery of just those shots. Photos tagged with a different camera and synced to the iPhone will also appear on the map.


If you’ve synced photos with Faces data, the Faces icon will appear at the bottom of the main Photos screen. Tap any face to open an album of related images.

You can re-size images shared via email or SMS. For example, when emailing the photo below, I could select between four sizes, including the original. It’s quite nice when you’re on a slow network, have a limited data plan or want to send a shot to someone who can’t accept (or doesn’t require) large files.

The available sizes depend on the size of the original file as well how many images you’re trying to send.

Finally, you can set an image to serve as wallpaper for the home screen, lock screen or both. One disappointment is that  you can’t create new events, tag faces or move photos between albums with the iPhone. I was hoping this would be a part of iOS 4.

In short, the new camera is a nice update, though I’ve got to do more thorough testing. I like the updated Photos app too, even though I didn’t get some features I wanted. I’ll shoot and report more soon.