IPhone 13 cameras stand out with macro photography, cinematic mode, and ProRes video


IPhone 13 Pro models can take ultra-close-up photos with a new macro mode.


This story is part of Apple event, our comprehensive coverage of the latest Apple news.

With its new iPhone 13 models, Apple has added some notable new camera features to take the lead in the smartphone photography market. Cinematic Mode, on all iPhone 13 models, uses AI and computer photography to shift focus from subject to subject, a technique you’ll often see in movies. And macro photography on the iPhone 13 Pro lets you take close-up photos of subjects as short as 2 centimeters.

At first glance, the cameras on the new iPhones look similar to those offered on last year’s iPhone 12 models, with two cameras on the low-end models and three on the more expensive Pro phones. But the improved camera features and core functionality make this year’s models a substantial step up from the 2020 iPhones, not just the multi-year-old models that customers are more likely to upgrade from. this year, and camera improvements may be more noticeable than faster processors and better displays.

Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini improved 12-megapixel cameras, the main 26mm wide-angle equivalent and 13mm ultra-wide equivalent, the company said during its IPhone 13 launch event Tuesday. The wide camera captures 47% more light and inherits sensor shift image stabilization to better counter hand shake when shooting in low light. The ultra-wide camera also performs better in dim light thanks to a new sensor, Apple said.

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have three new rear cameras that cover a 0.5x to 3x zoom range. For the first time, anyone can take pictures in night mode, a computer photography technique for dealing with low-light situations. The ultra-wide camera has the largest image sensor yet in an iPhone, and its f1.8 aperture is wider than last year’s f2.4 for 92% better performance in low light conditions. brightness, Apple said. The ultrawide’s macro capabilities allow it to focus on subjects as close as 2cm.

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The iPhone 13 Pro’s main wide-angle camera has an f1.5 aperture, a larger notch than last year’s f1.6 and one of the reasons it’s 2.2 times better in low light shooting conditions. The 77mm equivalent telephoto lens is a 3x zoom factor compared to the main camera, compared to 2x on the iPhone 12 Pro and 2.5x on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. You no longer need to carry the bigger phone if you want the longest zoom.

Cameras are crucial for smartphones, which is why newer phone models have multiple cameras and often a bump to accommodate better optics and image sensors. Photos and videos are how we catalog and share our lives, and features like better low-light performance and new goal perspectives can really help.

“Camera performance has become the main battleground for high-end smartphones,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. With cinematic mode, 3x telephoto zoom, and macro photography, “Apple has done more than enough to maintain the perception that the iPhone offers one of the best camera experiences available. “

Cinematic mode and ProRes video

Cinematic Mode uses computer photography capabilities to sense when a new face enters the frame and automatically focus on it when it becomes dominant. To better guide the viewer’s attention, if the focused subject looks away, Cinematic mode will shift the focus to another person. It also works with moving subjects. You can manually select a topic by tapping the screen or double-tapping to lock iPhone’s attention to a person, Apple said.

Cinematic mode can also change the video after the fact. When editing video, you can reduce the depth of field to focus on a particular subject or deepen it to keep everything in focus. And you also redirect the focus subjects in the edit. Anything is possible because AI blurs, not real world goals like in traditional video.

Apple has also added support for its premium ProRes video format in the iPhone 13 Pro models. ProRes video is important for several reasons: it retains more original video information than more aggressive compression technologies, and shooting in ProRes means the video is already in the format that many video editors already like to work with, such as my Details of fellow film enthusiast Patrick Holland.

All new iPhones are powered by Apple Bionic chip A15, which brings new image signal processing features for tasks such as noise reduction and automatic tone adjustments. The chip also has dedicated circuits to speed up ProRes video management.

The processor also has artificial intelligence and graphics for computer photography capabilities. Computer photography is a collection of processing software for enhancing imaging, such as combining multiple images into a single HDR shot to cover a better range of bright and dark elements in a scene. Computer photography in smartphones can also be used to detect and brighten faces, digitally zoom in on subjects farther away, and selectively blur backgrounds behind the face of a portrait subject.

Another computer photography trick in the new iPhones is HDR 4, which independently adjusts lighting and tones for each face in the frame, Apple said.

The A15 is also the key to a new feature called Photographic Styles for Still Images. It allows photographers to select different combinations of settings like contrast and color temperature when composing a photo. The technology spots faces in photos and applies the look selectively. Photographers can choose from presets and then adjust settings to their liking.

Apple’s conservative approach to iPhone photography

Apple took a step ahead in smartphone photography with its first iPhones, but lost its edge as competitors like Samsung, Google and Huawei invested heavily in their own technology. Apple has remained competitive through constant improvements in camera hardware and, most importantly, the accompanying software that processes multiple images of raw data into a finished JPEG or HEIC photo file.

While Apple has added wide-angle and telephoto cameras to expand creative options, its generally conservative approach means iPhones haven’t used grouping of pixels, which allows people to take photos at a much higher resolution when the light is good, and “periscope” cameras which greatly increase the telephoto zoom factors. Google’s Pixel 6 Pro, coming later this year, offers a camera option with 4x telephoto zoom. The new iPhones also lack 8K video, a very high resolution that gobbles up storage space and can only be viewed on expensive new TVs at the moment.

Instead, Apple worked on software features like portrait mode for flattering photos of people, better performance in dim light, and its ProRaw photo format for more advanced photography. IPhone Pro models will also get Apple’s most advanced ProRes video format Later this year.

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