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Breaking down the three new camera systems on Apple’s iPhone 12

Apple has just announced its iPhone 12 range, and as part of today’s announcement, the company has introduced a staggering amount of camera technology scattered among the new iPhones. If you come from an iPhone that currently has one camera or even a pair, you can find some major improvements here.

But first, let’s establish the baseline.

The camera of the iPhone SE.

One camera: iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR

The iPhone SE turned $ 399 earlier this year, and the iPhone XR is now $ 499. Both have a 12-megapixel f / 1.8 “wide” camera, though they’re not exactly the same – the XR has a more a large sensor while the iPhone SE looks smaller, similar to the 2017 iPhone 8. either telephoto lenses or sophisticated Deep Fusion techniques; your portrait photos are also limited to what Apple’s machine learning algorithms can know about depth, as there is no second camera to check.

Still, each offers a six-element lens with optical image stabilization, 4K60 video and basic portrait mode.

Two cameras: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini come with two cameras each, but perhaps more importantly, this main camera has changed. Although it still offers 12 megapixels like previous phones, the lens now has 7 elements and a larger f / 1.6 aperture, which allows 27% more light to hit this sensor than the previous generation – which should mean brighter, less noisy and / or blurred images in low light and slightly less depth of field.

You also get:

  • A second 12-megapixel f / 2.4 ultra-wide camera with 120-degree field of view, 5-element lens and 13-millimeter equivalent focal length, which sounds like the same ultra-wide as we have in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro
  • Apple’s Deep Fusion computing system, which can now be used on both cameras (instead of just the main one) and which Apple says runs faster on the iPhone 12
  • Night mode, which you won’t find on the iPhone SE, can be used on both the ultra-wide and front TrueDepth cameras here, which means you’ll be able to take photos in night mode, no matter which iPhone 12 camera you’re using. (The iPhone 11 does not support ultra-wide night mode.)
  • New night mode delay function
  • Apple’s Smart Smart HDR 3 system, which will automatically adjust things like white balance and contrast in photos to look more natural, according to the company
  • Ability to capture HDR video with Dolby Vision at 30 fps

Three cameras + LIDAR: iPhone 12 Pro

Like the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 12 Pro adds a third telephoto camera to the package, and as far as we can tell, it’s the same f / 2.0, 52mm telephoto from last year, except you can now use it for Deep Fusion photos. But perhaps most interestingly, the iPhone 12 Pro also has a LIDAR sensor, which can be very useful in low light situations – Apple says that the LIDAR sensor can make up to 6 times faster autofocus in low light and allow you to take portrait photos at night.

You also get:

  • The same basic and ultra-wide cameras found in the iPhone 12, and the same new modes
  • 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, thanks to the 52mm equivalent telephoto lens
  • HDR video with Dolby Vision, like the iPhone 12, but with up to 60fps instead of being limited to 30

iPhone 12 Pro Max

The main camera of the iPhone 12 Pro Max looks like it will be a remarkable upgrade over the main camera in other iPhone 12 models – and this camera was already an improvement over the SE and the iPhone 11. The 12-megapixel 12 / megapixel camera with aperture of the 12 Pro Max has a 47 percent larger sensor, which according to Apple becomes an 87 percent improvement in low light photos. The main camera also has a sensor shift of the optical image stabilization, which means that the camera sensor moves inside the camera to compensate for any movement. This should theoretically make photos and videos more stable.

Here’s what else you get:

  • 2.5x longer optical zoom than the iPhone 12 Pro, thanks to a longer 65mm equivalent focal length lens but with a slower aperture of f / 2.2
  • The same ultra-wide camera as the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro
  • The same LIDAR sensor found on the iPhone 12 Pro
  • 12x digital zoom – higher than the iPhone 12 Pro
  • All the same software features as the iPhone 12 Pro, including Dolby Vision HDR at 60fps

Both iPhone 12 Pro models will also receive added software features sometime later this year: support for Apple’s ProRAW format, which combines Apple’s computational photography with RAW. While this is not available, it is difficult to know exactly how it can enhance your photos or how much control it will give you as you edit them.

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