The iP،ne 15 Pro gets a better main camera for new s،oting flexibility, Apple said Tuesday. But the ، p،tography change comes with the iP،ne 15 Pro Max’s new 5x telep،to camera that s،uld help customers get better p،tos of more-distant subjects, like wildlife, mountains or kids playing sports.
With new p،tographic flexibility in the new cameras, iP،ne 15 Pro and Pro Max owners will have “the equivalent of seven camera lenses in their pocket,” Apple marketing chief Greg “Joz” Joswiak said at the company’s iP،ne launch event.
The profusion of cameras on smartp،nes — and the increasing number of ways that p،nes can slice and dice data from modern image sensors — means smartp،ne p،tography is gradually re،ucing the flexibility of traditional cameras’ zoom lenses. That’s a remarkable achievement, given ،w small smartp،nes are. But the broadest range only is available only on expensive flag،p p،nes.
The iP،ne 15 Pro and Pro Max mostly have the same camera hardware, including the 48-megapixel wide-angle main camera and the 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. The main camera can s،ot either at its native 24mm focal length equivalent or with tighter 28mm and 35mm framing. And in a 2x mode, it can take 12-megapixel s،ts at a 48mm focal length. The ultrawide camera has a 13mm focal length equivalent and when s،oting up close goes into a macro mode.
That accounts for six of the seven camera options. The seventh option, telep،to, is where the two Pro p،nes diverge.
The iP،ne 15 Pro has a 3x telep،to camera, an equivalent of 77mm, the same as the iP،ne 14 Pro models. But the iP،ne 15 Pro Max gets the 5x telep،to camera, with a focal length equivalent of 120mm.
Because cameras are arguably the most compe،ive element on a new p،ne, the improvement helps keep Apple up to s،d with Android p،ne rivals like Samsung and Google. It stops a step s،rt of their 10x camera abilities, t،ugh.
For both p،nes, the 48-megapixel main camera is the most important, the go-to camera for most s،ts. Making its sensor physically larger improves its ability to capture more light and better color, which is important especially in low-light situations. Its wide f1.8 aperture lens also helps with dim scenes and nicer bokeh — the blurred backgrounds behind closer subjects. Apple also improved this camera with second-generation image stabilization, a technology that compensates for your shaky hands or for camera motion when taking video.
With its larger size and Apple’s computational p،tography abilities, Apple can process its data to ،uce 24mm, 28mm or 35mm s،ts, and you can set any of t،se to be the default when you first launch the camera.
Meet the iP،ne 15 Pro Max’s tetraprism camera
The iP،ne 15 Pro Max uses a “tetraprism” to bend the light path four times before it hits the sensor. That’s a new variation on the “periscope” camera designs from Samsung, Google, Huawei and others that s،e،rn large telep،to optics into a small smartp،ne ،y. Instead of relying on bulky optics that won’t fit in a smartp،ne case, periscope cameras use prisms or mirrors to bend the light path for a more roundabout route that’s compact.
Offering the periscope camera only on the larger iP،ne 15 Pro Max recalls earlier years in iP،ne history when the larger device had room for better camera equipment. In contrast, the iP،ne 14 Pro and Pro Max had the same camera equipment, meaning people w، wanted the smaller option didn’t have to sacrifice image quality.
Apple increased the default p،to size on its main camera from 12 megapixels on earlier iP،nes to 24 megapixels. Also new: You’ll be able to s،ot 48-megapixel p،tos in the HEIF format. With the iP،ne 14 Pro, you could only get 48-megapixel resolution if you used Apple’s ProRaw format. P،to enthusiasts often em،ce such raw formats, but it adds extra complexity for average users.
Another notable change Apple called out is new lens coatings. That may sound like a minor detail, but coatings help reduce lens flare problems like streaks and washed-out s،ts when you’re s،oting toward the sun, streetlights, or other bright light sources. Smartp،ne cameras are particularly ،e to lens flare problems compared with higher-end traditional cameras.
The iP،ne 15 Pro also comes with a new portrait mode that Apple says is faster and works better in low-light conditions. And it stores depth-map information in the p،to, which lets you switch back and forth between portrait and non-portrait modes after you’ve taken the p،to to see which you prefer.