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This is the only iPhone 12 camera review you need to see right now

Published Oct 22nd, 2020 7:31AM EDT
iPhone 12 Camera Review
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • The first iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pros reviews are already out ahead of Friday’s in-store launch of the two handsets.
  • All reviewers have touched on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro camera performance to some degree, but there’s only one iPhone 12 camera review you need to see.
  • Professional photographer Austin Mann took the two iPhone 12 phones on a trip to Glacier National Park, highlighting all the hardware and software camera novelties Apple developed for this year’s iPhones with the help of gorgeous photo and video samples.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are the first iPhones from Apple’s lineup to ship to buyers, assuming you were lucky enough to place your preorder last Friday. The iPhone 12 Pro sold out within hours, despite the higher price tag. The two devices are virtually similar, but the iPhone 12 does get a few notable perks. The phone has a stainless steel chassis and double the base storage. But the most important upgrade over the iPhone 12 is the triple-lens camera and LiDAR sensor on the back. The first iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews are already out, and many of them addressed the two devices’ camera capabilities. We’re looking at notable upgrades for both handsets, iPhone 12 included. The iPhone 12 mini gets the same camera system as the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max will have an upgraded camera compared to the iPhone 12. But the only iPhone 12/Pro camera review you should read right now is from pro photographer Austin Mann.

Mann has reviewed all the new iPhone cameras, and he can easily spot the differences in quality from one generation to another. He can make informed suggestions about the ways the camera performance can be improved. Those suggestions are valid both for buyers looking to up their photography game and for Apple’s camera team that’s probably already developing the iPhone 13’s camera systems.

iPhone 12
The new wide lens of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Image source: Apple Inc.

What’s great about Mann’s reviews is that they come with plenty of examples to highlight the new functionalities of the phone and commentary about the good and the not so good. In his iPhone 12 review, Mann compares the iPhone 12 Pro against last year’s model, showing some of the massive improvements the 2020 iPhones got. Night mode photography is easily one of the highlights.

The photographer took the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro out in the wild to Glacier National Park. He experienced all sorts of weather and lighting scenarios that are great for this particular type of project. Best of all, the review does not come with a synthetic camera score that can’t be explained scientifically or in a way that makes sense.

Instead, Mann explains the hardware and software upgrades the iPhone 12 camera got, so it’s clear to any iPhone user, regardless of one’s understanding of the optics involved in cameras, or the advanced computational photography that goes into creating long exposure night shots.

iPhone 12
Photo sample from Austin Mann’s iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro camera review. Image source: Austin Mann

The notable iPhone 12 camera upgrades include a new wide lens that lets more light that will come in handy in low-light scenarios. The lens is made of seven elements, also an upgrade from last year, which will improve the photo’s sharpness at the edges — you get more detail out of shots than before.

Night mode is a software capability, which got its own improvement. All cameras now support Night mode, including the ultra-wide lens and the Portrait mode. This is where the Pro stands out thanks to its LiDAR camera that improves low light photography focus. Time-lapse mode now also works with Night mode. The image above shows the differences between the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro when it comes to ultra-wide Night mode.

Mann also highlights the Smart HDR 3 upgrade and the new Pro-level controls that you can enable in the Settings app of the iPhone 12 models, as well as Apple’s new ProRaw mode for professional photographers. The best part about the review is the various photo and video examples that Mann shot to explain the iPhone 12 camera features — check all of them out at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.