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asking for a friend. He has an iPhone 5 with a number of crisp photos on it that he wants to move to his computer. However, on moving them to his PC via file explorer, they appear to lose a certain degree of quality. Is this an actual loss in quality or is it just the differences in screens (size, resolution, etc.), and if it is a loss in quality, is there a way to avoid this loss of quality?

  • Can you describe the nature of the apparent quality loss? (Resolution? Sharpness? Contrast? Saturation? Etc.) Also, what file format are the images on the phone, and what format do they end up as on the computer? (JPEG? HEIC?) – xiota Mar 25 at 19:55
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Moving the images via file explorer almost certainly moves the image as-is. If you're looking at the image on a bigger screen, of course it seems to have lower quality because you're seeing a much bigger image, with more magnification. You could verify this by seeing whether the file size in megabytes is the same on the computer and on the iPhone. You could also check the resolution of the image files after moving them to the computer.

iPhone 5 camera (and all mobile phone cameras) have a limited sensor size. This means that even though the megapixels rating may be good, noise, diffraction, long exposure and other factors limit the quality of the images. If the quality of the images is not good enough for your use cases, the only solution is to purchase a bigger digital system camera (DSLR or mirrorless) with bigger sensor, unfortunately. Carrying such a big camera isn't going to be as easy as carrying an iPhone.

iPhone 5 does not appear to have image stabilization. The following could perhaps improve the mobile phone images:

  • Take the picture with a flash
  • Mount the iPhone on a tripod
  • Move closer instead of zooming, because the zoom in iPhone is digital, not optical
  • Consider a mobile phone with image stabilization in the camera -- but don't expect miracles
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    "...only solution is to purchase a bigger DSLR camera..." It's not quite that dire - there are options other than DSLRs - mirrorless, bridge, even point-n-shoot. Most any of these will have a bigger sensor, and many will have some of the other favorable features you mention - flash, stabilization, optical zoom, better performance regarding noise, diffraction, etc.... I wouldn't recommend jumping directly from an iPhone 5 to a Canon EOS 1D-X II... – twalberg Mar 23 at 13:08
  • It is also possible that 1) the iPhone display has a stronger contrast than the PC one and 2) that the photo viewer app increases the contrast and saturation when displaying the image. – xenoid Mar 23 at 14:02
  • A lot of PC monitors are pretty bad and fee can show an iPhone image at full resolution. – Eric Shain Mar 23 at 14:05

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