14 Sep 2012

Why Apple has its iSight on the compact camera sector

The iPhone 5 launch was quite an exciting affair (iCloud problems aside), so-so for the iPhone itself which got the larger screen and spec bump along with a lighter and slightly redesigned body (all expected upgrades). What made it for me was the new iPod Touch, specifically the inclusion of a decent camera and resulting potential this opens up for the device as a real option for photography. The impact this could have on the compact camera sector is something I don't think many (apart from Apple themselves) have fully realised.

The camera itself comes from the last iPhone revision and is a more than capable 5mp with a backlit sensor (BSI) offering 1080 HD video. This is a major upgrade from the virtually pointless lens in the 4th gen Touch. BSI sensors were developed by Sony to provide enhanced image quality in low light situations, they are constructed to allow more of the incoming light to hit the sensor directly as oppose to being filtered through extra layers of electronics, as is the case with front illuminated sensors.

Front Illuminated Sensor (FSI) vs Back Illuminated Sensor (BSI).

Not only does the new Touch benefit from refined lens and sensor technology it also comes backed with the full gamut of slick photography apps available through the Apple App Store. You've got seamless sync to iPhoto on your Mac at home along with direct upload to FaceBook, Instagram and w.h.y when out and about via Wi-Fi. Remember, this isn't just a camera, it's a full blown mini-Mac, you can use it to check your email, create and manage documents or even browse the Cirronix website, in fact more or less anything you can do on your iPad, albeit on a somewhat reduced scale (and yes, if you can find a hotspot).

Website browsing.

Apple excel at simple genius and once again it appears here with another fantastic design feature, the iPod Touch Loop. As a photographer myself I never feel safe taking photographs without having the camera strap around my wrist, it also helps to steady your shot and by adding a strap (loop) the Touch now offers handling on par with any compact camera, yes, that's what the loop is for, as I said - simple genius.

iPod Touch Loop.

So, you want a new compact camera, what are your choices? A 'regular' camera, with all that memory card nonsense and 'off-unit' image manipulation, or, for the same price, a sexy new iPod Touch with proven lens and image quality, a retina display for viewing your images with funky apps to process them and iTunes sync for music and gaming, plus Wi-Fi connectivity for web, email & social networking. 

It's a compelling list of plus points and I can't think of any good reason not to consider them. The iPhone completely changed consumer photography and I think this latest Touch upgrade is only going to enhance it further. The only surprise for me is that it's taken Apple so long to do it, certain friends will be more than aware of how long I've been hanging out for a decent Touch camera, now I just have to find £249 and I can have one.

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