There are 3 words I look for when making my decision to buy a new iPhone nearly every year: a better camera. If the new cameras in the iPhone have greatly improved, that is something that I am more than happy to justify an upgrade. The newly announced iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max check off some boxes that I had going into the keynote, and it solidified my decision to buy one of the iPhone 12 Pro phones. The question is do I go with the iPhone 12 Pro or the iPhone 12 Pro Max?
When I got my iPhone 11 Pro I fell in love with the different cameras available. Also, the computational photography features like Deep Fusion and Night mode were welcome additions to the camera’s abilities. This year Apple delivered some serious power behind their punch offering wonderful features for both photography and cinematography.
The new iPhone 12 Pros offers a better Night mode and captures more light than the previous generation. The Wide camera, for example, is allowing 27% more light with an ƒ/1.6 aperture.
Among the big differences between the iPhone 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max their are three that stick out to me the most.
The first being the Sensor-shift Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which is an all new stabilizer for the Wide camera only on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The Wide camera is the most-used camera for me and seeing this new and improved OIS has me excited for what it will offer for photos and videos. Apple said in the keynote that this is something that is DSLR quality in an iPhone, and I believe them. It makes sense to focus on shifting the sensor instead of the lens as the sensor is a much lighter thing to move. My question is why they only did this on the Wide camera instead of all 3 cameras on the Max. For me, I also see the new OIS to be something that will make filming videos much smoother and more cinema-like rather than home-video. I expect a lot of videos “Shot on iPhone” to be more noticeable with these new Pro phones. Time will only tell once people start making things with them, but I am optimistic that video on these phones will be greatly improved thanks to the OIS and the Dolby Vision support (more on that in a future newsletter).
The second difference is in the Telphoto lens. I primarily use the Telephoto for longer shots and the occasional Portrait. For me, I always felt the Telephoto lens on the 11 Pro wasn't long enough for me. It just felt like a slightly zoomed-in Wide camera, not a true Telephoto lens. I wanted something more substantial and with this new 65mm focal length on the iPhone 12 Pro Max that seems to be something I can get behind.
Finally, and probably the biggest news for the cameras, is that the sensor for the iPhone 12 Pro Max has increased by 47% allowing for 1.7μm pixels. According to Apple’s website the iPhone 12 Pro Max allows for 87% better low-light photos.
Digital camera quality has arguably always been determined by the sensor size. With the new iPhone 12 Pro Max, this sensor increase can make for larger quality images, and with the newly announced Apple ProRAW the larger sensor can be a huge factor in how big a difference that format can be.
As for what phone I intend to buy, the differences between the Pro and Pro Max are substantial enough to for me to make the leap to the Max. I am going with the iPhone 12 Pro Max at either 128gb or 256gb depending on the difference in cost for my iPhone Forever plan. Coming from the iPhone 11 Pro I worry the size will be too big for me, but as someone that wants to do more with photography and make more videos using my iPhone, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers the best camera options for me.
I am sure I will have more to say once I get my hands on it, but if you have any ideas for articles, videos, or tests you want me to make let me know and I am happy to make them!
Included in this post are images from the iPhone 12 Pro Press Kit by Apple.