Apple has announced the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max smartphones that feature a three-camera lens array (wide angle, ultra-wide angle, and telephoto) and improved Night Mode. The Pro Max gets even greater capture support with a 47% larger sensor, IBIS, and can edit and capture in Dolby Vision.
The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max share a lot in common, including improvements to Smart HDR, Deep Fusion, and Night Mode. The main differentiator between the Pro and Pro Max is the sensor size, which as mentioned is 47% larger on the Pro Max. That larger sensor should provide better dynamic range, better performance in low light, and overall higher image quality than any other iPhone. In fact, Apple says the low light performance of the Pro Max sees an 87% improvement over former devices.
The camera sensor captures multiple images in the Image Signal Processor, computes them, and then runs them through a neural engine powered by the A14 bionic chip. Deep fusion is on all cameras, including the front-facing camera. It’s a pro camera system that features three cameras: an ultrawide, wide camera, and a 52mm telephoto camera for portraiture on the Pro.
The larger size of the Pro Max allowed them to do more with the camera system, increasing the zoom on the telephoto camera to 65mm. This means that the Pro Max features a very large zoom range, from 13mm ultra-wide through 65mm zoomed. Additionally, the Pro Max uses on-sensor stabilization via sensor-shift technology, which is common on full-size mirrorless cameras. The sensor can make 5000 micro adjustments per second, and that stabilization means you can expose for up to 2 seconds handheld in low light. It delivers steady video as well, as expected.
The iPhone Pro phones will also feature LiDAR, which is a method for measuring distances by illuminating a target with a laser and measuring the reflection via the sensor. It enables object and room scanning and precise placement of AR objects. LiDAR is used for autofocus in low light scenes and therefore improves accuracy. It can identify a subject, focus, and capture even faster and works in both photo and video. You should see six times faster autofocus performance in low light, and it can also allow for better portraiture effects in low light.
Apple has also allowed HDR video recording on iPhone for the first time with both the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. You can record in 10-bit HDR, with 700 million colors (60 times more colors than before). You will have access to a live preview of HDR content while shooting and the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the first camera to record in Dolby Vision HDR. Dolby Vision, which is Dolby’s proprietary HDR, is a format in which more studios are capturing and mastering and is being supported by more televisions each year. The iPhone 12 Pro Max can grade all frames in Dolby Vision, live, while recording. Apple says it is the first device to allow for both capture and edit of Dolby Vision inside the photos app.
Apple will be releasing an update later this year that allows for what they are calling Apple Pro Raw. The format combines multi-frame image processing via computational photography with the flexibility of a RAW format. It gathers several layers of data and holds them independently, rather than baking them into an image, and does so at the moment of capture without any delay.
You will be able to edit Apple Pro Raw in the Photos app, and there will be an API for all editors on both smartphones and desktop computers to work with the new file type.
The iPhone Pro and Pro Max can be pre-ordered on October 16 and begin shipping the following week.
This story is developing.