Pictures taken in the dark where the subject is farther than 4-5 feet away are very hard to take, even with a $1,000 DSLR. The flash on most cameras is just not strong enough. That's why pro photogs spend big bucks on separate powerful flashes.
Even those huge external flashes require assistance as does the pro camera to focus in "total" darkness. This is accomplished doing 1 or 2 things.
Preflash, which allows the camera to visually focus on the target. The problem here is that generally the lower end cameras will not focus fast enough to account for photographer sway or subject sway. This is not a great method. Works if the camera and subject are perfectly still.
IR Assisted focusing, which emits IR light the camera uses to focus on. Still, though, movement of the camera and/or subject can still throw this off. Most times, even the off camera flash units (I have a few Canon Speedlite 580 IIs) have IR assist and help the camera focus by adding even more IR light.
The biggest thing here is the whole "OMG TOTAL DARKNESS!" Consumer cameras are not meant to perform well in total darkness, much less smartphone cameras. Expectations, expectations, expectations.
Thanks for the explanation Deckyon. Personally I have no need for the 4s to take pics in complete darkness. I was just trying it out, since quite a few ppl have noticed it and I was curious.
And like I said previously my old sony phone had no problem with this scenario for some odd reason.
It is possible that, under certain light conditions, the focus was fixed. Also, a lot of the early cameraphones used what is called "Hyperfocal Distance". This, in short, allowed the camera to focus on things from a certain distance to infinity without having to move the lens elements. In most cases, this was a distance of about 3 feet out to infinity. Kept the cameras cheap and simple requiring no moving parts. This can account for your older phone being able to "focus in the dark."
Now that makes a lot of sense. Thank you, learned something new today. Btw just tried taking a few shots in absolute darkness and remembering where the object roughly was and manually focusing at it and this is what i got.
Do you have a case on your phone. I bought a really nice case the day i got my iphone and have always complained about the flash cauzing the pictures to have this glare. Recently i took the case off and the pictures came out perfect! Crazy. I even took a file the the back of the case to make the hole larger around the camera and flash but it didnt help. If you have a cover on the back, try to take a picture with it off. Worked for me.
I'm Janelle and I signed up a while ago for this forum but haven't had a lot of time to interact or read what's here. I currently use the iphone 4 with the new iOs 5. I was dispappointed way back when I first got my new iphone. I experience yellowing to my photos that are taken in less than direct light. I used to have the 3G and didn't experience that yellowing. Whether I use the flash or not, I get it on my photos. I returned my first iPhone 4 thinking that just that phone had a bad camera, but this one also has it. I 'gave up' after getting the second phone and just make due. Any suggestions for improving the picture quality in low light? The main reason I got the phone was because I love to always have the camera near by and able to share photos.