Apple working on new Optical Image Stabilization, improved Autofocus for iPhone camera

“Apple never cared much about megapixel count in iPhone cameras,” Stasys Bielinis reports for Unwired View. “They started with 2 megapixels in the original iPhone, when Nokia was already shipping smartphones with 5 megapixel modules. It took Apple 3 years to get to by then standard 5 megapixels in iPhone 4. And its latest iPhones are still stuck with 8 megapixel sensors, when every other flagship smartphone comes with 13 megapixels or more.”

“Despite that, every iPhone review comes to the conclusion that Apple’s handsets are among the best camera phones out there, handily beating any rival Android, with only viable competition coming from Nokia,” Bielinis reports. “Which proves that Apple was right to focus on better lenses, bigger pixels and sensors, advanced image processing algorithms, and not the pixel count. The only thing disappointing about 8 megapixel iPhone 5S camera was the lack of optical image stabilization, which allows for much better low light performance and better videos.”

“But the lack of OIS in iPhone 5S doesn’t mean that Apple is doesn’t care about it. In fact, we can now confirm that Apple is indeed working on optical image stabilization and improved autofocus system for iPhone cameras. Yesterday Apple’s patent application called ‘VCM OIS actuator module’ was published on USPTO. It describes how Apple plans to go about adding OIS and improved autofocus in future iPhones,” Bielinis reports. “”

Read more in the full article here.

“Apple’s patent application, filed in October 2012 and based on a provisional patent application filed in July of that year, credits a sole inventor, Richard Topliss,” Eric Slivka. “According to his LinkedIn profile, Topliss joined Apple as a senior camera technology specialist in January 2012 after spending over a decade as chief technical officer of Cambridge Mechatronics in the UK. That company currently focuses on OIS actuators for smartphones, and today’s patent application makes clear that Topliss immediately brought that expertise to bear at Apple.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. There is plenty more to come as far as photography and Apple are concerned! particularly in the field of fast frame photography at full fat pixel density. I qualify full fat by stating that they already have the ability to store continuos frame still photography at top maximum pixel as opposed to other smart phone camera’s that sacrifice pixel density for speed.

    1. Agreed. Unless you want to change the form factor of a phone significantly to accommodate a larger lens and sensor, 8MP is more than enough in a phone. The exception will be if content and display availability along with consumer demand drives 4k/UHD adoption. In that case, Apple will need a 12MP sensor. That’s probably a couple of years off, though.

      But, for still photography, I’ll take a really fast, sharp, optically-stabilized 8MP camera with good low-level performance over a 12- or 15MP camera with inferior performance any day.

      1. I totally agree, however, the majority of people out there will scoff at Apple if they stick with a 8 MP camera in iPhone 6. They have to find a way to cram a 12 or 13 MP camera in it.

        AND, I think they will!

  2. The ability of the iPhone 5S to take a “burst” of images and present the sharpest can reduce blurring of handheld shots.

    The larger pixels in the iPhone help, too, in contrast to crowding in lots of small pixels on the chip. I took a picture of a snow scene with icicles, which looked good. Then I tried out post processing using the Intensify Pro plugin to Aperture. The image size ballooned to 23 MB, but brought out surprisingly sharp and clear detail in the image. Little “noise” is good news.

  3. I’m very happy with my 5S camera. It’s even better than my 4S. Takes great photos! Just like the small block Chevy engine, more megapixels is not always the answer. Small block Chevy’s, they ate small block and large block Fords for lunch. Every time. Apple does some magical stuff with that camera. They know what they are doing. And it shows.

  4. This, along with the developer who Apple bought up recently who’s created JPEG algorithms that allow high-speed burst photography bodes well for the next generation of iPhone.
    A 12mp camera with OIS and 20fps burst mode will be perfect for gig photography.

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