Apple’s iPhone 12 gets serious about photography

New flagship phones offer improved camera systems, improved night mode and much more…

It’s that time of year again when Apple pulls the covers off a new flagship smartphone and it’s fair to say that the iPhone 12 doesn’t disappoint. Although multiple models have been launched, it’s the higher-end iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max that will catch the eye of photographers.

Both models feature the new A14 Bionic chip to power advanced new features and offer an all-new Ceramic Shield design along with a 12-MP system, but it’s the more photo-centric features that will really excite image-makers, who can review the images and video on the huge displays, with the iPhone 12 Pro featuring a 6.1-inch display and the iPhone 12 Pro Max offering a huge 6.7-inch display – the largest display ever on an iPhone and boasting a resolution of nearly 3.5 million pixels. 

There are some differences between the two models, so let’s start with the  iPhone 12 Pro, which offers a new seven-element lens Wide camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture, which Apple explains is the fastest ever on an iPhone. The Ultra Wide camera, with a 120-degree field of view, is well suited for capturing vast landscape scenes and a 52mm focal length Telephoto camera is the one for portrait photographers to get excited about. Together the cameras offer a 4x optical zoom range.

Portrait captured using the iPhone 12 Pro. Image by Apple.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers the new ƒ/1.6 aperture Wide camera, which features a 47 percent larger sensor with 1.7μm pixels that Apple explains gives a whopping 87 percent improvement in low-light conditions. The Pro Max also includes the Ultra Wide camera and a 65mm focal length Telephoto camera for increased flexibility with closer shots and tighter crops. Together, the Pro Max’s cameras offer a 5x optical zoom range.

Portrait captured with iPhone 12 Pro. Image by Apple.

Along with an improved Night Mode, the iPhone 12 Pro models also feature the Apple’s new ProRAW, which will come later this year and combines Apple’s multiframe image processing and computational photography with a RAW format to give photographers more options when it comes to editing, especially when using mobile editing apps such as Adobe Lightroom. 

Image captured with iPhone 12 Pro using night mode. Image by Apple.

Along with new stills features, the flagship iPhone 12 cameras have plenty to offer when it comes to video, too. Apple says the iPhone 12 Pro models offer the highest quality video in a smartphone, and are 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.

The iPhone 12 Pro’s wide camera is well suited for landscape work. Image by Apple.

Other features include 5G connectivity and an IP68 rating to withstand water submersion up to 6 meters for up to 30 minutes, and protection against spills, including from coffee and soda. Available at the end of October (mid-November for the Pro Max), the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models in graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue starting at $999 and $1,099, respectively.

A Night Mode portrait, taken with the iPhone 12. Image by Apple.