Answers to your iPhone 4 questions: Cameras, video, and photos

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Readers have questions about the improved camera on the back of the iPhone 4.

We’ve taken a closer look at the iPhone 4’s camera and reviewed iMovie for iPhone. But some readers still have some questions about the image-capture capabilities of the latest iPhone.

Jake is curious about the iPhone 4’s new front-facing camera:

Is that camera just limited to the face to face video technology or can you also shoot HD video with the front facing camera as well?

Yes, you can shoot video with the front-facing camera just as you would with the rear-facing camera. However, the resolution of the front camera is much lower than that of the other camera—640 by 480 pixels versus 1280 by 720—so you won’t get HD quality.

Philip’s question touches on HD, too:

It seems when you e-mail a video it compresses it, and the receiver does not get a HD video. Am I missing something?

Nope, that’s exactly what happens. The 720p video files the iPhone shoots are huge (as in 80MB per minute) so the only practical way to e-mail them is to compress and scale them down first.

That answer tackles a question from a reader named Dave had about HD video:

Can you tell me how much space per minute is used to record HD video? Also, can you record in lower resolution?

The iPhone records its 720p HD video at around 10 megabits (Mbps) per second. That translates to about 80MB per minute, as we noted above, or a staggering 4.8GB per hour. (Hope you sprung for the 32GB model!)

As for recording in lower resolution, as we noted with Jake's question, if you use the front-facing camera, you can record at the same 640x480 resolution as the previous iPhone.

Yuriko has this question about the iPhone’s camera and its iPod app:

When I’m listening to music on my iPhone and open up the camera to take pictures and the camera is set to video, the music stops playing. Is there a way to keep that from happening? Or, is there a way to set the default setting in Camera to photo?

The iPod app will always pause playback when the Camera app launches in video mode, or if you switch to video mode; we don’t know of a way to get around that. (The reason for this behavior is because you presumably want to record the audio of whatever it is you’re filming.) As for the default setting, the Camera app always remembers which mode—camera or video—it was in the last time you used it, so the workaround is to be sure to switch to camera mode before closing the app.

Finally, the new Places feature introduced to the Photos app with iOS 4 has a reader named Zachary flummoxed:

I’ve noticed only some of the pics I take show up under the places under pictures. Why? I’ve looked for options/settings but can’t find any. How do I do it for all pics?

Any photos that are geotagged—include geographical location data in the image’s metadata—may appear in the Places view. Where does the location data come from? If your digital camera includes geotagging features, a location is automatically recorded whenever you take a photo. Similarly, if you’ve given the iPhone’s Camera app permission to use your location, the app adds location data whenever you take a photo or record a video. You can also add location data manually in iPhoto or a number of other image-management programs on your computer.

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