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iPhone 14 Pro introduces 48 MP sensor – camera changes explained

Apple announced four new iPhones today (iPhone 14 | iPhone 14 Plus | iPhone 14 Pro | iPhone 14 Pro Max) but as always it’s the cameras that grab the attention of Image Matrix Tech – so this story is all about the pro line. The iPhone 14 Pro breaks free from the 12MP tradition in the main camera for the first time. Apple has long held firm on tweaking its 12MP sensors – with great results mind you – but this is a big move that will see more changes in coming devices .. hopefully a periscope zoom.

MAIN CAMERA

The 48MP main camera is 65% larger than last year’s iPhone 13 Pro and features second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilisation. It’s a 24mm (full frame equivalent) which is wider still than the iPhone 13 Pro at 26mm. The new lens is slighter slower at ƒ/1.78 (iPhone 13 Pro is f/1.5) but the net gain should be greater when all camera systems are taken into account. And that’s what Apple does best – combine software and hardware to produce the goods.

For most users you’ll still get a 12MP photo as the ‘quad-pixel’ sensor combines every four pixels into one large quad pixel equivalent to 2.44 µm. This is great for improving low-light capture as well. We now have a 2x zoom in the shooting menu which uses a crop on the main camera to give us, what should be, a sharp 12MP/48mm result.

48MP PRORAW

So we’re still getting 12MP photos unless you use ProRAW. From a stills perspective, I’m looking forward to trying out ProRAW 48MP. I think this new, larger sensor will unlock more of the ProRAW potential with greater editing freedom. A big reason for increased excitement is the iPhone’s computational photography muscle. ‘Photonic Engine’ will give mid- to low-light performance a boost through deep integration of hardware and software. Photonic Engine does this by applying Deep Fusion earlier in the imaging process to deliver better detail, preserving subtle textures, better colour and retaining more image data.

TELEPHOTO 3X

I was hoping for a big update to the 12MP 3X telephoto because it’s my favourite lens. It’s still great so no real issues there. It’s the one I use most for portraits as it’s a 77mm full frame equivalent. Although the 3X is essentially the same as the 13 Pro, the under-the-bonnet 14 Pro improvements will lead to better results. Seriously, the next time you take a portrait of a friend or family member, try out the 3X optical zoom. You’ll need to stand back further but I guarantee, in good light, you’ll get a professional looking shot.

ULTRA-WIDE 0.5

The ultra-wide 0.5X has a new, larger sensor with 1.4 µm pixels but it’s still 12MP and 13mm. Again, the aperture is wider on the 13 Pro at f/1.8 but the ƒ/2.2 will still offer a net improvement especially as the 14 Pro ultra-wide lens is sharper. Apple showed off some macro shots and they look impressive.

FLASH

Although long-exposure, low-light photography is very good on the iPhone and many competing flagships, a flash can improve many shots that aren’t suited to night mode. If you want sharper, punchier, more colourful shots, then flash is the only way to go. The Adaptive True Tone flash has been completely redesigned with an array of nine LEDs that change pattern based on the chosen focal length.

So it’s a beefed up back for iPhone 14 Pro and to be fair that’s no different to previous models each year. But what about the front facing-camera?

FRONT CAMERA

The front-facing camera is the one most people use to take selfies but it’s never been close to the quality of the rear camera module. The iPhone 14 Pro is a big improvement when it comes to selfies. A new front TrueDepth camera with an ƒ/1.9 aperture enables better low-light performance for photos and video.

Using autofocus for the first time, it can focus even faster in low light and capture group shots from farther away. It’s also hiding in Apple’s funky new ‘Dynamic Island’ where the notch used to be. This is a very cool way to make use of the camera cutout.

VIDEO

This iPhone remains king of video with this latest update. Samsung is knocking at the door and I would say has an advantage in stabilised zoom video. But overall iPhone still rules with broadcast friendly settings and quality. I mean .. it shoots in ProRes and Dolby Vision HDR!

All the improvements above also enhance the video capture on iPhone 14 Pro. There’s a new action mode to overcome the need for a gimbal. It crops in to offer a smoother video recording at 2.8K 60p. iPhone filmmakers can rejoice because Cinematic mode is now available in 4K 24fps and 4K 30fps.

A16 CHIP

All of this photographic improvement in the Pro line is made possible by the A16 Bionic chip. It has two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Apple says the new 6-core CPU is up to 40 per cent faster than the competition and an accelerated 5-core GPU with 50 per cent more memory bandwidth is ideal for graphics-intensive games and apps. The new 16-core Neural Engine is capable of nearly 17 trillion operations per second. The CPU, GPU, Neural Engine and image signal processor seamlessly work together to support the new camera hardware and perform up to 4 trillion operations per photo.

DISPLAY

And what’s the good of a great camera if you can’t see the image properly? Apple has the answer with its iPhone 14 Pro 6.1 inch and 14 Pro Max 6.7 inch displays. Both models include a new Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion that features the Always-On display for the first time ever on iPhones.

This is possible thanks to a new 1Hz refresh rate and power-efficient tech. Not new to many Android users but it’s great to see it on an iPhone. The really great news is the brightness capabilities of iPhone 14. It has the same peak HDR brightness level as Pro Display XDR and the highest outdoor peak brightness in a smartphone: up to 2000 nits, which is twice as bright as iPhone 13 Pro. Wow.

Of course the proof is in the pudding and Image Matrix Tech can’t wait to give this new iPhone 14 Pro Max a thorough camera test.

Prices and availability – Australia

iPhone 14 Pro will be available on Sept 16th in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB models, and starts from A$1749 inc GST. Colours include Space Black, Silver, Gold and Deep Purple.

iPhone 14 Pro Max will be available on Sept 16th in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB models, and starts from A$1899 inc GST. Colours include Space Black, Silver, Gold and Deep Purple.

More coverage to come on iPhone 14, Apple Watch and AirPods Pro.

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