The iPhone 13 Pro is somewhat similar to the iPhone 12 Pro in terms of overall appearance. Under the hood, several reviewers and critics have also noted the insubstantial CPU performance gains of the A15 Bionic system-on-a-chip when compared to the A14 Bionic. But this new device from Apple still has something new to offer: a feature-packed camera system.
Pros of the iPhone 13 Pro Camera System: New Features and Use Cases
It is apparent that Apple poured most of its effort into introducing a new camera system for the iPhone 13 Pro. The camera lenses are considerably large than those found on the iPhone 12 Pro. The device also uses new specific hardware specifications for its triple rear cameras and its single front-facing camera.
The improvements in the A15 Bionic SoC also support the new camera and video recording features of this device. These include a five-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine, as well as a dedicated machine learning controller, improved image sensor processor, new video encoders and decoders for better computational processing of images and videos.
Below are the specific details and new features of the iPhone 13 Pro Camera System:
1. Newer Main Wide, Ultra-Wide, and Telephoto Cameras
A general advantage of the iPhone 13 Pro camera system rests on the new technical specifications of its triple rear cameras. The main wide camera has a 26mm lens and f1.15 aperture, a 1.2-micrometer pixel pitch, a 44 mm-squared sensor area, an optical and sensor-shift stabilization, and dual-pixel autofocus.
To compare, the iPhone 12 Pro also has the same 26mm lens but with f1.6 aperture, as well as a pixel pitch of 1.4 micrometers, a smaller 23.9 mm-squared sensor area, and optical stabilization. The 12 Pro Max also has a 26mm lens and f1.6 aperture, as well as a slightly larger but still comparably smaller sensor area of 23.9 mm-squared.
With regard to the ultra-wide camera, the 13 Pro has a 13mm and f1.8 lens, a 1.0-micrometer pixel pitch, and sparse PDAF focus. The 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have the same 13mm lens and same 1.0-micrometer pixel pitch but with an f2.4 aperture.
Most of the technical specifications between the telephoto cameras of the 13 Pro and the 12 Pro, including the 12 Pro Max are generally the same. However, the iPhone 13 Pro has a 77mm lens and f2.8 aperture compared to the 65mm lens and f2.2 aperture of the 12 Pro, as well as the 52mm lens and f.20 aperture of the 12 Pro Max.
2. Specific Capabilities and Features of the Triple Rear Cameras
Based on the aforementioned technical specifications, the specific advantages of the iPhone 13 Pro camera, especially of its main wide and its ultra-wide cameras, are the larger sensors and wider aperture. These advantages translate to more specific camera benefits.
To be specific, the main wide and ultra-wide cameras of the 13 Pro capture more light than the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max for brighter and clearer images and videos. Apple noted that the main wide camera of its new iPhone can capture 2.2 times more light and the ultra-wide camera can capture 92 percent more light.
Note that the larger sensor of its telephoto lens is about 3 times than the main wide camera. This larger sensor allows more reach for optical zoom, clearer images with less noise or grain, as well as better image quality under low light, and more potential for subject separation for the infamous Portrait mode feature of the camera system.
The triple rear cameras of the iPhone 13 Pro have the following specific features:
• Night Mode on Every Camera: The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max have night mode on their main wide and ultra-wide cameras. However, for the 13 Pro, it now has a night mode for all three cameras, including the telephoto camera to allow better photography and video recording at low light. These cameras work with the LiDAR sensor to deliver brighter and clearer images under low lighting conditions.
• Macro Photos and Videos: The ultra-wide camera of the iPhone 13 Pro also works for macro photography. The improved technical specifications allow it to focus on an object as close as 2 centimeters to capture the finer details of closer or smaller still subjects. Furthermore, these improvements also allow the ultra-wide camera to shoot macro videos with added effects such as slow-motion and time-lapse.
• Other Features of the Rear Camera System: This device also has the Portrait mode, which provides a bokeh or depth-of-field and studio-quality effects effect using computation photography. There is also a 3 times optical zoom on the telephoto camera for closer close-up shots or taking photos and videos from far away, as well as 6 times optical zoom across the entire camera system for more framing options.
3. New Cinematic Feature of the iPhone 13 Pro Camera System
Apple also introduces a software-based feature aided with the A15 Bionic SoC called the Cinematic mode. Using computational photography, this camera mode shoots videos with a shallow depth of field and automatically adds elegant focus transitions between subjects.
It can also track and anticipate movements in the frame while shooting. For example, when a new subject enters the frame, the camera system brings it into focus. Note that the Cinematic mode is available in the wide, telephoto, and the front-facing TrueDepth camera. It also supports Dolby Vision HDR video format for high dynamic range videos.
Another notable feature of the Cinematic mode is that it lets users edit the depth effect after the video has been captured. Fundamentally, a user has the option to change the focus within a particular clip or adjust the level of depth or bokeh effect in post-production. The Neural Engine found in the A15 Bionic SoC makes all of these possible.
4. Photographic Styles, ProRes, Smart HDR 4, and Deep Fusion
The triple rear camera system and the front-facing TrueDepth camera of the iPhone 13 Pro also have the following feature: Photographic Styles, recording using the ProRes format, Smart HDR 4 optimization, and Deep Fusion multiple exposures.
Below are the specific details of each feature and functionality:
• Photographic Styles: A new camera feature that allows users to apply and even adjust their preferred tone and warmth settings to their photos even before they even snap them. It is somewhat similar to a filter. However, it does not affect the natural color of the skin and skies, among others.
• ProRes Format: The iPhone 13 Pro camera system can also shoot and store videos using the proprietary ProRes video format for broadcast-ready video files with high color fidelity and low compression.
• Smart HDR 4: The improved Neural Engine and image signal processor of the A15 Bionic chip enables Smart HDR 4 for optimizing and refining each part of a frame, to include multiple in a particular scene.
• Deep Fusion: Furthermore, the Neural Engine also powers the Deep Fusion feature that analyzes every pixel from multiple exposures for mid-light to low-light situations to bring out even the subtlest textures and provide better image details. It fuses the best parts of each exposure to create the best possible composite image.
Cons of the iPhone 13 Pro Camera System: Drawbacks and Limitations
Apple did bring forth a slew of new camera features and functionalities with the iPhone 13 Pro. There is a lot of things going on both under the hood and within its camera system. However, when compared to other camera systems, this device falls short in certain areas.
For example, the Cinematic mode still struggles to analyze and provide a clearer and more accurate foreground and background separation, especially when used under low light. The depth-of-field effect is not as precise when compared to optic-based implementations, such as in the case of mirrorless cameras and digital single-lens reflex or DSLR cameras.
Then there is the limitation of the telephoto lens. The iPhone 13 Pro only supports 3x optical zoom. Other flagship smartphones have better zoom. For example, the Samsung S21 Ultra has dual telephoto lenses. The first telephoto lens has a 3x zoom while the second lens has a zoom range of up to 10x, in addition to a hyper-detailed new 100x zoom.
Nevertheless, there is not much to say about the drawbacks, limitations, and disadvantages of the iPhone 13 Pro camera system. This device has one of the best camera systems in a smartphone. Of course, it is far from perfect because of the aforesaid issues.