How to switch between cameras on an iPhone 4

August 3, 2010

The iPhone 4 is the first Apple handset to have more than a single camera, one of which faces away from the user and one of which faces towards the user. It’s easy to switch from one camera to another. Here’s how.

First, some notes about the cameras themselves. The rear-facing camera is the better of the two, rendering a whopping 5.0 megapixel photos. Not as big as some of the competition, but quite good. The images are somehow richer than life, a trick probably achieved with the color balance settings. To be specific, it returns a 2592 by 1936-pixel digital photo, which is a 4:3 aspect ratio. The little tiny lens is said to be a f/2.8 unit, good for its breed. It makes better truth of the maxim, “The best camera is the one you have with you” than have earlier iPhone cameras. I have used it in a lot of different situations already and have been impressed, in the main. It’s a bit noisy in low light but, hey, it’s a telephone!

The front-facing camera is not quite as good, of course. It is for making what Apple is calling Facetime calls, for doing video conferencing from the road, and for use with the new and improved Skype, among other things. So it has less resolution and is lacking the new flash supplied for the new bigger rear-facing camera. Still, it does a marvelous job of those things, since it is not really intended for use over about arm’s length from the face of the phone.

The switch between the two cameras is effortless, but I know at least one new iPhone 4 owner to whom it was not immediately apparent. As shown in the photo that accompanies this column, up at the upper left of the page, there is a small icon in the upper right of the iphone camera screen, regardless of which of the two cameras is currently in use. By the way, if what you’re seeing in the camera view is you, the view is through the front camera. :) Just tap on the icon with the camera and the arrows, and the iPhone 4 will switch from the current camera to the other one.

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