3.4.09

iPhone 3G camera specifications

iPhone backside, dissected, camera module visible
image by pmquan, who also likes to know how things work


There has been much speculation about technical data of the iPhone camera module. Enthusiasts link to a post on Mac Insider from January '07. Problem with this link is, the information about the lens was based on pre-release pictures of an iPhone behind glass.

My results, as for April 2009:
iPhone 3G Camera Module

Focal length: 3,85mm (equivalent to 37,0mm)
Aperture: f/2,8 (fixed)
Focus: infinity (manually adjustable to 2cm)
Sensitivity: Auto ISO
Shutter speed: 1/5s fixed (light sensitivity is only regulated by per-pixel-ISO)
Depth of field: 1,47m to infinity
Sensor size: 1/4"
Resolution: 1600x1200px
Dynamic range: 6,3 f-stops
Color space: sRGB, automatic white balance
Dimensions: 8mm x 8mm x 5mm

Read further for a full detailed explanation:
  • We can exclude lenses for a 1/3" sensor, as the camera module is only 0.32" wide. That means, 1/4" CMOS or smaller was used.
  • The CMOS manufacturer provides two models for 2MP, both 1/4" in size. The mt9d012d00stc differs from the mt9d014d00stc only in the frame speed. Because the iPhone "isn't made for video", I suppose the chip doesn't have an analog output - which leaves the variable-fps d012. The data sheet is under NDA, but the Flyer provides enough information.
  • CMOS data: Resolution: 2MP (1600x1200)
  • Pixel size: 2,2µm²
  • Imaging area: 3,56mm x 2,68mm -> equals a crop factor of 9,62
  • and a circle of confusion of 0,036mm after the lowpass-filter
  • Color filter: Bayer pattern
  • Dynamic range: 59,5dB -> equals a lighting control range of 10 f-stops -> important, because there is no mechanical aperture control
  • Signal-to-Noise-Ratio: 37,7dB -> equals the dynamic range from photography world:
  • 6,3 f-stops dynamic range -> that really is below average (a good DSLR can do 11)
  • Flash support: Xenon / LED -> post-production flash mod, anyone?
  • Rolling shutter -> 0.2 sec fixed shutter speed (see: the longest exposure time)
  • If you compare the original camera module in the iphone with the manufacturer's site, you'll see that the NB970 fits all the specifications, but has a far too big lens.
  • This impression is reverted after a short glimpse into the details section, where the front seems to be strikingly similar to all other camera modules.
  • Here, EFL (3,85) stands for effective focal length and TTL (5,0) for total length (of the physical module).
  • FNO means f-number, the (maximum/standard) aperture of 2,8.
  • Additionally, the f/2,8 is confirmed by the camera EXIF data. I cannot confirm the characteristic cross shape at the front on the lens based on the photo at iFixit. But, presuming that all these data are describing the correct items, these are now the most accurate informations about the iPhone camera on the 'web.
- All manufacturer data are based on a post from texyt.com.

Kommentare:

Anonym hat gesagt…

Hi,

the camera chip is most likely a MT9D131 Aptina (micron) sensor with built-in JPEG encoder, or MT9T111 on the 3G models.

However, I am not 100% sure, because I don't have the hardware to reverse engineer.

The replacement camera modules sold from various electronic parts distributors don't provide pinouts.

Once the power supply pins and i2c I/O is known, the sensor identity could be easily verified.

So I'm still looking for someone who would be eager to scope a few signals on the camera module connector and post a bit of information about the pins.

strubi hat gesagt…

I can confirm that it's a MT9D112 Aptina chip, possibly with customized package. The die is bonded onto a ceramic carrier which is sitting on a flex cable. For more details, see

http://tech.section5.ch/news/?p=20

Morten Skogly hat gesagt…

Does anyone have opinions whether it would be possible to remove the camera module, and use it for other things? USB external cam for instance. Or if it is theoretically possible to remove the camera and extend the wires, and build the camera into, lets say, a button or glasses?

Anonym hat gesagt…

Since Aptina decided to disclose most of datasheests it should be quite possible to use that camera module in hobby projects especially because its price is about 1-2$ if buying in bulk or used.

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