If there’s one reason to get an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max, it’s the camera. And yes, the iPhone 12 Pro camera does have an additional lens, but that’s not the only thing that sets this souped-up model ahead of the rest. This article does a deep dive into the iPhone 12 Pro camera specs, including what you expect from all three lenses. If you’re thinking about upgrading to an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max, this is one article you won’t want to skip.
How good is the camera on iPhone 12 Pro?
The short answer: It’s excellent. Every year, Apple goes above and beyond to top the camera on their previous model, and the iPhone 12 Pro is no exception. But it’s not just the camera specs that put this one so far ahead of older iPhones.
The camera on iPhone 12 Pro can leverage the other tech in this model. It uses features like the A14 Bionic Chip, next-gen neural engine, and an advanced LiDAR sensor to enhance the camera’s performance and experience.
Before you start testing the iPhone 12 Pro camera
Trying out a new camera is exciting, and you’re bound to take hundreds of photos on your first day. But most of those will be similar shots — those multiple takes where you try to capture a cool scene, or the same object from slightly different angles.
If you don’t want to run out of storage while taking photos, run a photo cleanup with Gemini Photos before your photoshoot. Here’s how it works:
- Download Gemini Photos and launch it.
- Tap Similar, and then one of the months.
- Look through similar photos and
What the three cameras do on iPhone 12 Pro
You might be wondering why you need all three of the cameras that iPhone 12 Pro has to offer. Well, allow us to explain what makes them unique.
The three lenses are telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide. This means you can take a picture at the regular length from your iPhone, one that’s zoomed-in or one that’s zoomed-out. And while all iPhone 12 models have a wide and ultra-wide lens, it’s the telephoto lens that’s unique to iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The telephoto lens is handy when you’re at a larger event like a sports game or a concert — times when you can’t physically move any closer to the subject of your photo.
The full iPhone 12 Pro camera specs
The cameras on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are relatively similar, but they do have some differences. While these variations might not look like substantial technical gaps, something like iPhone 12 Pro Max’s sensor-shift optical image stabilization can be a game-changer when using Night mode. So, you’ll want to use this table to discover what each model can do.
|iPhone 12 Pro||iPhone 12 Pro Max|
|Ultra Wide||ƒ/2.4 aperture||ƒ/2.4 aperture|
|Wide||ƒ/1.6 aperture||ƒ/1.6 aperture|
|Telephoto||ƒ/2.0 aperture||ƒ/2.2 aperture|
|Optical zoom in||2x||2.5x|
|Optical zoom out||2x||2x|
|Optical zoom range||4x||5x|
|Image stabilization||Dual optical||Sensor-shift optical|
iPhone 12 Pro camera features you should be using
There are a ton of great features on the iPhone 12 Pro camera. Some have been around for a while, but the iPhone 12 Pro’s new capabilities make them so much better. Here is a list of features you should be using on your iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max camera, and you can read about a few of them in more detail later in the article:
- Night Mode: Helps brighten your pictures in low-light conditions.
- Portrait Mode: Keeps your subject in focus and blurs the background.
- Night Portrait Mode: Brightens low-light pictures while keeping your subject in focus and blurring out the background.
- Smart HDR: Creates a dynamic picture that combines the highest level of contrast and the lowest.
- ProRAW: Apple’s newly adopted image format to save half the space of each file while retaining all of the quality.
- LiDAR Scanner: Improves software performance on your camera so it can focus faster or have better AR experiences.
- Dolby Vision: This is similar to Smart HDR, but it’s Hollywood’s industry standard for movies. And now, you can film videos on your iPhone with that same technology.
How to use the iPhone 12 Pro camera for better photos
You’ve just read about some of the features you should be using with the iPhone 12 Pro camera that will help take your iPhone photography up a few levels. But there are a couple of features exclusive to iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max that you should know a little more about.
Check out Night mode portraits
Apple has combined the two best features on iPhone 11: Night and Portrait mode. Now, even if you’re in low-light conditions, you can still get that great shot where your subject is in focus and everything behind them is soft or slightly blurry.
The downside is that Night mode is still something you can’t really control. It’s only available when the camera deems that there isn’t enough light available to take a normal picture. In order to take a Night mode portrait, you’ll have to switch to Portrait mode and look for the yellow Night mode icon at the top of the screen.
Here’s a quick example of the difference between a Night mode portrait and a regular portrait. The two photos below were taken simultaneously and in the exact same lighting conditions.
The smaller iPhone 12 models only have dual-lens cameras. The lens that is unique to iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max is the telephoto. This is what allows you to get a more zoomed-in image. Sure, the other phones offer a digital zoom with a comparable distance. But a digital zoom is just the camera taking the image and artificially scaling it up, resulting in a lower-resolution picture that often looks blurry and grainy.
If you look at the specs, you’ll see that iPhone 12 Pro has a telephoto that will get you 2x closer than a standard wide lens. And iPhone 12 Pro Max’s telephoto lens will get you 2.5x closer, although that comes at the cost of low-light pictures. Meanwhile, the telephoto lens on iPhone 12 Pro Max performs worse in low light and leans more heavily on the LiDAR scanner to make up for the light it cannot capture.
Shoot in ProRAW
Another important new feature on iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max is the latest photo format, ProRAW. RAW is a type of uncompressed picture format that captures as much detail in an image as possible so that photographers and other artists can go back in and edit those photos in the highest quality. However, the file sizes are massive.
To combat this issue, Apple adopted ProRAW formats that were significantly smaller but still offered a similar level of quality. Apple ProRAW is incredible. Once you start playing with your photos and touching them up, you won’t want to shoot pictures any other way. Take a look at the difference between the two photos below.
To turn ProRAW on, all you need to do is:
- On your iPhone, navigate to Settings > Camera > Formats.
- Toggle Apple ProRAW on.
The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max cameras are truly amazing. These are the phones that are going to help take your iPhone photography up several levels. You’ve now read about a handful of unique features to the larger iPhone 12 models, but there are just as many that we didn’t cover, such as the improved LiDAR scanner or the Sensor-shift stabilization. Now that you have a solid understanding of these phones, it’s time to start capturing some great pictures.