The iPhone 14 Pro has been out for more than a month now. While first reviewers got impressed by the new camera system of this iPhone – and even traveler photographers praised this smartphone –, Halide creator Sebastiaan de With just shared his long-term review of the cameras found on the iPhone 14 Pro. In this comprehensive and extensive analysis, BGR highlights this camera review made by a photographer expert.
For Halide’s creator, the iPhone 14 Pro front-facing camera offers “far sharper shots with vastly superior dynamic range and detail.” With autofocus, this camera also delivers a higher resolution, even in mixed light or backlit subjects.
While the sensor is larger and there is now variable focus (…) you shouldn’t expect beautiful bokeh; the autofocus simply allows for much greater sharpness across the frame, with a slight background blur when your subject (no doubt a face) is close enough. Most of the time it’s subtle, and very nice. Notable is that the front facing camera is able to focus quite close — which can result in some pleasing shallow depth of field between your close-up subject and the background
Ultra-Wide also got better on iPhone 14 Pro
While Apple significantly upgraded with the iPhone 13 Pro Ultra-Wide lens, the company also offers a much larger sensor, a new lens design, and higher ISO sensitivity. Although the aperture took a step back, the larger sensor covers this downstep.
De With calls the shots on the iPhone 14 Pro “far more detailed and exhibited less visible processing” than its predecessor.
I believe that both Apple’s new Photonic Engine and the larger sensor are contributing to a lot more detail in the frame, which makes a cropped image shot possible. The ‘my point of view’ perspective that the ultra-wide provides puts you in the action, and a lack of detail makes every shot less immersive.
Is it all perfect? Well, comparably, with the main camera getting ever-better, it is still fairly soft and lacking detail. Its 12 megapixel resolution is suddenly feeling almost restrictive. Corners are still highly distorted and soft at times, despite excellent automatic processing from the system to prevent it from looking too fish-eye like.
He also discusses low-light photos and Macrophotography improvements.
The main camera changes the game with a 48MP resolution
Although regular users can’t shoot in 48MP, professionals can take advantage of Apple’s ProRAW to take advantage of the larger 48MP sensor in the main camera. Here’s how Halide’s creator describes shots with this new iPhone 14 Pro camera:
I did not find a tremendous boost in noise or image quality when shooting in 12 MP. I barely ever bothered to drop down to 12 MP, instead coping with the several-second delay when capturing ProRAW 48 MP images. But above all, I found a soul in the images from this new, 48-megapixel RAW mode that just made me elated. This is huge — and that’s not just the file size I am talking about. This camera can make beautiful photos, period, full stop. Photos that aren’t good for an iPhone. Photos that are great.
And yes: 48 megapixel capture is slow. We’re talking up to 4 seconds of capture time slow. While slow, the 48 MP image rendering and quality is worth the speed tradeoff to me. For now, it is also worth noting that iPhone 14 Pro will capture 10-bit ProRAW files only — even third party apps cannot unlock the previous 12-bit ProRAW capture mode, nor is ‘regular’ native RAW available at that resolution.
Telephoto lens is a work in progress with iPhone 14 Pro
Hardware-wise, the telephoto lens on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro are the same. The new Photonic Engine processing feature greatly improves the experience with this iPhone.
While these two cameras ostensibly pack the same size sensor and exact same lens, the processing and image quality on the iPhone 14 Pro is simply leagues ahead. Detail and color are far superior. On paper, Apple has the exact same camera in these two phones — which means a lot of praise here has to go to their new Photonic Engine processing that seems to do a much nicer job at processing the images out of the telephoto camera and retaining detail.
There’s also the bad with this new camera system
Sebastian de With spends most of the time praising the new camera system on the iPhone 14 Pro, but it doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
“For those hoping that iPhone 14 Pro would do away with heavily processed shots, we have some rather bad news: it seems iPhone 14 Pro is, if anything, even more hands-on when it comes to taking creative decisions around selective edits based on subject matter, noise reduction and more,” he writes.
In addition, Pro users still can’t take full advantage of the camera system, as Apple blocks access to a few features, as explained by the reviewer:
(…) Our app couldn’t focus nearly as close as Apple’s camera app could. The telephoto lens would flat-out refuse to focus on anything close. We never fixed this — despite it being even worse on newer iPhones. We have a good reason for that.
The reason for this is a little cheat Apple pulls. The telephoto lens actually can’t focus that close. You’d never know, because the built-in app quickly switches out the regular main camera’s view instead, cropped in to the same zoom as the telephoto lens.
(…)This starts being a bit less magical and more frustrating as a more demanding user. Apple seems to have some level of awareness about this: the camera automatically switching to the macro-capable lens led to some frustration and confusion when announced, forcing them to add a setting that toggles this auto-switching behavior to the camera app.
You can read Halide’s creator’s full review here, and check all the fantastic photos he took to write the analysis.
More iPhone coverage: LG joins Samsung and will provide OLED panels for iPhone 14 Pro models.