It's another year, and there's another iPhone, but this year's flagship model, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, brings a few new tricks to the table for photographers. The Verge takes a deep-dive into the tech behind the upgrades and what impact it has on the photo quality of the phone.
The Verge's Becca Farsace put the iPhone 15 Pro Max through its paces, opting to take a look at the camera system specifically on the biggest and baddest of iPhones.
This year's headline features include many more "lenses" than before and improvements to video, such as the ability to shoot log footage and record to a hard drive. There's a full rundown of the specs on Apple's website, but for the lenses, Apple boasts a new 120mm zoom (5x, an upgrade from the 77mm or 3x zoom in the previous generation) as well as the 13mm (.5x), 24mm (1x) from before, but in what's some trickery, there's also 28, 35 and 48mm options available as crops of the main lens and sensor. Farsace points out that this won't get you the same perspective differences as using actual lenses would, and it's a disappointment to see Apple refer to these as lenses. Still, Farsace points out that having the controls handy right on the bottom of the screen, it is easier to switch up focal lengths than before.
This is a criticism that is leveled at the video camera as well, though. While in typical Apple fashion, video quality is quite good, Farsace makes an argument that Apple makes it a point to include pro features, such as log footage and the ability to connect a hard drive through USB-C, but no way to access pro controls that one would need to operate such things. In what's an egregious oversight by Apple, Farsace used the wrong cable to record video onto a hard drive at 4K 60p, and so the footage became really choppy as a result, with no warning by the phone to indicate that anything was amiss.
Some other notable features that are new for iPhone users: The phone can now automatically detect a face and record depth information to add portrait mode after the fact — no need to switch to the dedicated mode. Low-light photography with faces through this new technology has also been vastly improved (though Versace said they were a bit overprocessed). There's also the possibility to shoot astrophotography with the iPhone, a crazy concept just a few years ago.
All in all, there are quite a few quality-of-life upgrades in the latest updates, but as usual, some compromises.
Do you have an iPhone 15 Pro Max? What do you think of it's camera? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.