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iPhone 6 Camera Could Take ‘Super-Resolution’ Photos

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 14 comments

Apple appears to be putting great thought into the iPhone's camera. A new patent published today (May 8) by the US Patent & Trademark Office shows the electronics giant is developing "super-resolution based on optical image stabilization."

Optical Image Stabilization (or OIS) typically steadies an image projected on a camera's sensor by changing the optical path to the sensor in response to detected movement of the device before the image is converted into digital information. This means that if your hands are shaking as you press the shutter, the processor will compensate for your movement by detecting the direction in which you moved and correcting for that.

MORE: iPhone 6 Rumors: Inside Apple's Next Big Thing

According to notes in the patent filing, the camera could repeat the OIS process and make use of the multiple optical paths to capture several images from a variety of reference paths and combine them to form one super-resolution image.

In one of the drawings submitted with the application, a Super Resolution Mode option is shown in a markup of the iOS camera app, above HDR and Panorama mode options. This evidence of integration adds weight to the possibility that this feature could come to the iPhone camera app soon.

Nokia and HTC already offer OIS in their Lumia and One smartphones, but Apple's new patent appears to use the technology to create sharper pictures than just steadying them.

The Cupertino-based company also appears to have more up its sleeve for the next iPhone's camera. We've already seen plenty of rumors suggesting the iPhone 6 may sport a split camera system that captures light and color data separately for higher-quality images while retaining a slim profile. It's also possible that the next-gen iPhone could support swappable lenses.

Follow Cherlynn Low at @CherlynnLow and on Google+. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Discuss
Add your comment Display all 15 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    RCguitarist , May 8, 2014 2:31 PM
    Great, so it will still take pictures that my $40 digital camera puts to shame. Woohoo! Awesome jobs Apple!
  • 3 Hide
    soldier44 , May 8, 2014 2:48 PM
    And on a rumored little 4.7 inch screen it still won't matter except to the Apple fanboys who will think its the best camera in the world... :I
  • -1 Hide
    vinhn , May 8, 2014 3:07 PM
    Quote:
    And on a rumored little 4.7 inch screen it still won't matter except to the Apple fanboys who will think its the best camera in the world... :I


    Yes, it doesn't matter on a 4.7" screen but it does matter when you want to print it out.
  • 2 Hide
    dro2 , May 8, 2014 3:45 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    And on a rumored little 4.7 inch screen it still won't matter except to the Apple fanboys who will think its the best camera in the world... :I


    Yes, it doesn't matter on a 4.7" screen but it does matter when you want to print it out.


    Don't try an make sense to him... he doesn't comprehend logical thinking.
  • 7 Hide
    back_by_demand , May 8, 2014 3:52 PM
    So, still not as good as the camera on a Lumia 1020 or 1520, still playing catchup...
  • 0 Hide
    abbadon_34 , May 8, 2014 5:16 PM
    Apple making news with 10 year old tech <yawn>
  • -1 Hide
    hitman40 , May 8, 2014 6:59 PM
    Quote:
    So, still not as good as the camera on a Lumia 1020 or 1520, still playing catchup...

    "Nokia and HTC already offer OIS in their Lumia and One smartphones, but Apple's new patent appears to use the technology to create sharper pictures than just steadying them. "
    Interesting, if you read the article, you would have caught this sentence.

    It's okay, keep hating on Apple/Apple Articles based on the titles.
  • 4 Hide
    5tormy , May 8, 2014 10:52 PM
    Actually the iPhone 5s puts many many many dedicated/mobile cameras to shame. May not be the best but for such a tiny little thing it does its job very well.
    Look up 5s camera vs...(insert phone name here) and compare.
  • 0 Hide
    Justin Houser , May 9, 2014 4:28 AM
    OIS is a key factor in multi-sensor image knitting sans distortion. Most large format cam tech companies use this approach in their pro cameras so it isn't surprising that phone makers are doing to too. Squeezing into a smartphone without optical artifacts of significance will be a huge trick however. Virtually all on the market have undesirable distortions.
  • 2 Hide
    Steveymoo , May 9, 2014 7:57 AM
    Did you hear that? It was the sound of Apple taking a crap in your mouth with their stupid marketing phrases.
  • 1 Hide
    ethanolson , May 9, 2014 10:39 AM
    Hasselblad has been doing the same thing for 10 years but to make 80-200MP photos. Anyway, I'm a camera buff and my Lumia puts most cameras I've had to shame. I love its RAW shots but there are some things my interchangeable lens camera does much better. Resolution isn't one of them, though.
  • 0 Hide
    Stacy Young , May 9, 2014 2:49 PM
    Come on Apple haters! Your stand alone camera are doing stuff like this, but this is a tiny, thin little microcomputer based smart phone. Stop hating just for the sake of it.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , May 9, 2014 6:11 PM
    @Stacy Young

    if i want to take a picture i will take it with a real camera,
    if i want to call someone, i use a real phone
    if i want to use the internent i use a real computer

    i see no purpose in smartphones outside of convenience, but even than, 90% of the time they arent a phone and the one time i could have used a phone the battery was dead.

    give me a dedicated phone i only use to make a call and recieve,
    give me a dedicated camera which i only take pictures and video
    and give me a dedicated computer which i use.

    unless they sold these things closer to cost (about 250$) i cant see any reason to get one
    and no, getting a 3000$ cellphone plan but paying 0-200 for the phone is not getting it cheaper.
  • 0 Hide
    teh_chem , May 10, 2014 7:13 AM
    I could have sworn I read another news post recently of another phone out that's already doing this.
  • 0 Hide
    EddieLomax , May 12, 2014 3:09 AM
    Quote:

    "Nokia and HTC already offer OIS in their Lumia and One smartphones, but Apple's new patent appears to use the technology to create sharper pictures than just steadying them. "
    Interesting, if you read the article, you would have caught this sentence.


    Well I think both Nokia and HTC are already using their technology to create sharper pictures (the Lumia 1020 takes a 41MP high resolution all at one time and then samples this to give a better quality 8MP image), the problem with Apples new approach is that they seem to be trying to use the OIS to position the camera sensor multiple times to stitch together a image which is going to inherently have problems with motion and in times of low light where Nokia and HTC are effectively taking multiple shots (keeping the shutter open longer) with their OIS.

    There are fundemental problems with capturing light here that this approach does not seem to improve for low light or capturing most scenes with motion. There are fantastic improvements that can be done with digital processing to see things in the image that the sensor was struggling to capture, but this does not appear to be one of them, instead it just appears to be something to automatically stitch together lots of stationary pictures with a 8MP sensor and oversample, we already have a better version of that in the Lumia 1020.
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