Cheap Camera, Interesting Shot

by Joey deVilla on January 13, 2009

Believe it or not, the photo below hasn’t been Photoshopped:


The guy who took the photo says:

The cheap CMOS sensor of an iPhone does not expose the whole thing at once, it scans from left to right. If you take a picture of something that moves very fast (like an airplane prop) you can get some crazy pictures out of it since each column represents a slightly different time.

This oddball-but-cool effect is reminiscent of some of the distortions you see with scanner photography (for some examples, see this page).

Maybe it’s time to pull out those camera phones and start snapping pics of oscillating or rotating objects!

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daniel Johnson, Jr. January 13, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I’ve seen this happen when I take pictures in the car with the windshield wipers going. Very nice effect.

2 kwatery Zakopane January 16, 2009 at 8:54 am

Cool effect!

3 Piskor January 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

so… iPhone is cool one more time! it adds cool effects and expands your creativity. It does amazing work. With one touch of screen you can stun your friends and lots of internet users in the moment! F A N T A S T I C! Another super-feature!

4 bukszpan January 16, 2009 at 3:23 pm

It`s not a bug, it`s a feature.

5 man January 16, 2009 at 5:07 pm

the process is called slit-scanning.

6 Mike January 16, 2009 at 6:27 pm

It’s a bug, not a feature.

7 4chan January 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm

It`s not a bug, it`s a feature.

it also makes you look retarded.

8 John January 17, 2009 at 2:00 am

I also noticed this effect while trying to take a picture of a fast moving train..

Not nearly as cool looking as the plane prop, but still a fun shot. Great work btw…

9 biker dude January 17, 2009 at 4:12 am

I wonder witch way the propeller is turning? Can anybody explain how the effect is generated? how the camera scans the image?

10 Nick January 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm

The propeller is turning clockwise as you see it in the picture. The little black strip near the hub of the prop is a deicing boot that is on the leading edge.

11 Ryan January 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm
12 hadez January 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm

it’s an effect caused by a rolling shutter.
if they had used a sensor with global shutter this would not have happened.
it’s a limitation of the sensor, if you like to see it as a feature, be my guest apple fanboi

13 Becky January 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I know this sounds stupid but how do some of the propellor things end up not attached to the center thing that spins them? I understand that it captures the image in bars but how would it be able to distort it so it became unattached? Wouldn’t it just end up with a bunch of little propellor pieces all unaligned but still in a circle? Somebody please help me understand this so I don’t feel so dumb.

14 Stephen Kelly January 19, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I am wondering why this person was standing so close to a rapidly spinning propeller :)

15 Vadim P. January 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Haha. Apple quality, they say…

16 Sheila Bocchine, Pinhole Photographer January 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm

wow! super awesome! i’ve noticed some weird effects with my iphone camera as well. Especially when someone else is using their flash at the same time you’re taking a photo.

17 Jomark Osabel January 21, 2009 at 2:10 am

I think its the new un disclosed feature of an Iphone.

18 zoom January 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

Hi, Stephen Kelly . My name is Zoom. Pleased to meet you.

19 anon January 22, 2009 at 5:08 am

SHOOPED! i can tell by the pixels

20 toñin January 22, 2009 at 8:04 am

mi hermao es gayyyyyyyyyyyyy :D coooollllll efect

21 markus January 22, 2009 at 10:15 am

Cheap cameras? They allow you to take 4 dimensions pictures!! Nice concept!!

22 Neim January 22, 2009 at 11:44 am

bad cameras are always the best ones! lo-mo

23 monoco January 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

I don’t believe you… If it really has been taken with an iPhone then post the original picture. It has no apple footprint if you look inside it. All pictures that are taken from an iphone have this string somewhere in it: “£Apple iPhone”.

Yours doesn’t….

Nice though…

Best Regards,

24 ellen January 24, 2009 at 2:49 am

i no. my bff has an iphone: she takes lotsa pics. theres always the apple sign on it. ( :

25 huemaurice1 January 24, 2009 at 11:55 am

J’ai le même chez moi, çà s’appelle un Coupe Frites !

26 Michael January 24, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Blah blah blah iPhone. Christ on a tortilla you fan boys are pathetic.

This bug occurs with every cmos based camera made. Well… cheaply made. Anyone who’s taken a picture with a camera phone, ANY FUCKING CAMERA PHONE, from a moving vehicle will tell you that.

Mac bigots are so much like religious zealots it’s kind of scary. Another feature my ass.

27 mars January 25, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Aw, is Michael kind of threatened by the Apple juggernaut as he watches Microsoft flounder and fail and crash in the marketplace? BOO HOO!

28 Carlo Mendoza January 26, 2009 at 2:17 am

I didn’t know that’s how the iPhone’s camera works.

29 John Sheehy January 26, 2009 at 6:09 am

Michael, I think you missed the rather obvious humour in some of these comments lol

Cue a spate of look at the fcuk’d photos I can make with my iPhone and perhaps a few Darwin award candidates :p

30 waz January 26, 2009 at 12:29 pm

imagine what ppl would be saying about that if it were a zune and not an iphone

31 Digital Market Australia January 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Looks great… who cares how it was created, or what created it.

32 CypherFc January 28, 2009 at 11:07 am

FAKE !!! Look at the spinner ! (the central part) It is not moving !!! ;-P

33 Fredrik January 31, 2009 at 10:55 am

This is a four dimensional object crossing through our 3-dimensional brane.

34 Matthew February 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm

The mac fanboy haters are far more passionate than the mac fan boys! It’s almost like they are the technogeek equivalent of homophobes, disguising their own self hatred for being secret fan boys of their own computer junk.

@Michael: “This bug occurs with every cmos based camera made. Well… cheaply made.” Tell that to the makers of the RED camera. Not exactly cheap, but still a CMOS sensor. This camera is in greater and greater use in film and TV all the time.

@ Monoco: The church didn’t believe Galileo either. Galileo was right. You are wrong.

@ Everyone arguing whether it is a bug vs. feature: It is neither or either, depending on your perspective. Is it a bug that paint brushes don’t photorealistically depict a subject in any painting on which they are used? The rolling shutter is a *limitation* of the CMOS chip, but since it is there by design, it can’t be considered a bug. Again, it is there by design.

@ Man: Thank you for being right and not being stupid.

@ Stephen Kelly: Good question! Also a much funnier topic of discussion.

35 Deepikapub February 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

looks great!!

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