The Amazing iPhone Pro Camera

The Pro-level iPhone’s cameras maintain the smartphone’s reputation for photographic excellence, but how do they improve on their predecessors’ cameras?

The iPhone Pro boasts three separate lenses and a LiDAR scanner for mapping out your environment with beams of light. Combining the power of the Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras with features built in to the fastest-ever mobile phone CPU, the A14 Bionic chip, the pro-level iPhone continues to achieve pro-level photography. But what’s so special about it, and why?

Three Great Lenses

The iPhone 12 Pro features a new Wide camera with a seven-element lens. It has an ƒ/1.6 aperture, the fastest ever on an iPhone, for 27 percent improved low-light performance in photo and video. This means more light reaches the sensor, leading to better photos and videos, with less noise and speckling.

The Ultra Wide camera has a 120-degree field of view, perfect for capturing more scenery in tight spots or for epic landscapes. Whereas an expansive scene might not fit into the shot using a regular camera, the Ultra Wide option gives you far more scope for your photography.

The Telephoto lens has a 52 mm focal length. If an object’s too far away to look interesting in the picture, you can bring it up to four times closer using optical zoom, while maintaining the crystal clarity you associate with your iPhone’s photography.

Computational Photography

The new triple-lens camera system is augmented by some great software enhancement tools built into the iPhone 12 Pro’s A14 Bionic chip. Together with the new image signal processor (ISP), the A14 Bionic drives increased image quality and enables powerful computational photography capabilities not possible with traditional cameras.

Improvements to Night mode, now expanded to the TrueDepth and Ultra Wide cameras, allow for an even brighter picture. And Night mode Time-Lapse delivers longer exposure times for sharper videos, better light trails and smoother exposure in low-light scenarios when used with a tripod. Deep Fusion, now better and faster, comes to all cameras, and with the new Smart HDR 3, users can expect more true-to-life images, even in complex scenes.

iPhone 12 Pro models also feature the new Apple ProRAW, coming later this year, which combines Apple’s multiframe image processing and computational photography with the versatility of a RAW format. Users can experience full creative control over colour, detail, and dynamic range natively on iPhone or with other professional photo editing apps. It’s truly an amazing pro-level feature.

Video Recording

According to Apple, the iPhone 12 Pro models offer the highest quality video in a smartphone. They’re the first cameras and only devices in the world to enable an end-to-end experience for HDR video with Dolby Vision, up to 60 fps, and even better video stabilisation for cinema-grade productions. Dolby Vision grading is processed live and sustained during editing, whether in the Photos app or iMovie, and coming to Final Cut Pro X later this year. Dolby Vision takes advantage of the Super Retina XDR display for amazing contrast during capture and video playback, and users can share their videos with support for AirPlay up to 4K Dolby Vision to external devices.

The iPhone Pro’s LiDAR Scanner

Positioned near the cameras is a small black opening. This is the iPhone 12 Pro’s LiDAR – that is, Light Detection and Ranging – scanner, which uses reflected light to measure the distance from the iPhone to outside objects. This makes possible a wide range of augmented reality applications, where graphics are superimposed on the real world. It’s also used to set the camera’s auto focus when light is low. It identifies the subject, sets the focus and captures straight away, and is used in both still photographs and videos. With the LiDAR scanner, auto focus in low light conditions is up to six times faster than without it.

Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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