iCloud Photo Stream and Image Quality
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I’m a bit confused about Apple’s Photo Stream feature. I’ve been told that it actually doesn’t store my full-resolution pictures, so I’m kind of wondering what the point is. I can sort of understand that if it’s only about sharing pictures between by devices, but why would I want to use it on my computer if it’s downscaling and modifying my images. Also, what about things like GPS and time information stored in my photos? Is that preserved or stripped out? I know that I used to lose this information when e-mailing or uploading photos to MobileMe. Does Photo Stream do the same? Thanks for any help you can give me.
A: The standard iCloud Photo Stream feature uploads your original photos as-is, in their original resolution with all metadata intact. This means that your photos as transferred to your Mac or Windows PC will be the original photos from your device.
However, where this gets confusing is that iOS stores a downscaled version of your photo in the Photo Stream section on your devices. This is true even on the device where the photo originated. The specific resolution of the Photo Stream stored photos varies slightly between devices as it is optimized for the screen resolution, but the maximum is between 3.1 and 3.5 megapixels, depending on the photo’s aspect ratio—2048 x 1536 for standard 4:3 images, a slightly higher 2304 x 1536 for “pro” camera 3:2 images.
This basically means that even on the iPhone 4 the images stored in your Camera Roll will be significantly higher in resolution than those stored in the Photo Stream. If you’re planning to work with original, full-resolution images in another app on your iOS device you should keep the photos in your Camera Roll even after they’ve been uploaded to your Photo Stream so that you can use these instead of pulling them from the Photo Stream. However, the resolution of photos stored within the Photo Stream should be more than adequate for viewing on the device or uploading to most social networks—many of which will resize the photos to even lower resolutions anyway.
Despite this downscaling, however, EXIF metadata is preserved in the Photo Stream even on your other devices. This means that GPS location information, lens and exposure settings and a proper date and time stamp will be available for those photos.
Keep in mind that this only applies to the main Photo Stream feature, not to the new Shared Photo Streams in iOS 6. Photos uploaded to Shared Photo Streams are always resized to the maximum 3.1-3.5 MP resolutions noted above, and will therefore be in those lower resolutions even in Aperture, iPhoto or the Windows iCloud Control Panel. As the name implies the Shared Photo Streams feature is designed for sharing photos, and not intended as a means to transfer full-resolution photos back to your computer.
That said, it’s worth noting that Shared Photo Streams do work fully over either a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, while the standard Photo Stream remains limited to Wi-Fi only, probably at least partially due to the higher bandwidth required to upload full-resolution photos.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Iovine fuels speculation about Apple’s interest in scripted TV shows
- Report: ‘iPhone 8’ to include upgraded water resistance
- U.S. appeals court resurrects App Store antitrust lawsuit against Apple
- Apple increases maximum tvOS app size to 4GB
- Apple releases fourth iOS 10.2.1 beta
- Apple looking to produce original TV content for Apple Music subscribers
- FBI releases heavily redacted information about cracking iPhone
- Apple partners with Tresorit to offer encryption option to CareKit developers
- ESPN’s iOS apps add support for Single Sign-On
- Spigen AirPods Stand coming in mid-February
- Revogi Smart Lightbulb, Smart Lightstrip, Smart Candle + Smart Meter Plug
- Audeze iSine10 In-Ear Headphones
- MOCACARE MOCACuff Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
- Apple AirPods
- Elgato Eve Motion
- Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Brydge 12.9 iPad Pro Keyboard
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10