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Breakdown of Apple’s three new iPhone 12 camera systems

Apple just announced its iPhone 12 line of products. As part of today’s announcements, the company has rolled out a dizzying amount of camera technology spread across the new iPhones. If you’ve come from an iPhone that currently has a single camera or even a pair, you might find some serious upgrades here.

But first let’s set the baseline.

The camera of the iPhone SE.

One camera: iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR

The iPhone SE turned heads earlier this year at a price point of $ 399, and the iPhone XR is now $ 499. Both have a single 12-megapixel f / 1.8 camera that is 1.8 wide, though they’re not quite the same – the XR has a larger sensor, while the iPhone SE is smaller, much like the 2017 iPhone 8 appears to be or telephoto lenses, yet fancy Deep Fusion techniques; Her portrait mode shots are also limited to what Apple’s machine learning algorithms can guess about depth, as there is no need to check a second camera.

Still, each lens offers a six-element lens with optical image stabilization, 4K60 video recording, and a 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, that single main camera has changed. While it still offers 12 megapixels like previous phones, the lens now has 7 elements and a larger f / 1.6 aperture that allows 27 percent more light to hit this sensor than the previous generation – which was brighter, less noisy and / or blurry images should mean in low light and slightly shallower depth of field.

You also get:

  • A second 12-megapixel f / 2.4 ultrawide camera with a 120-degree field of view, a 5-element lens, and a focal length of 13mm is the same as the ultrawide camera we made for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro received
  • Apple’s Deep Fusion computer photography system, which can now be used on both cameras (instead of just the main camera) and which Apple says runs faster on the iPhone 12
  • Night mode, which you won’t find on the iPhone SE, can be used here for both the ultrawide and the front TrueDepth cameras. This means that regardless of which iPhone 12 camera you are using, you can take night mode shots. (The iPhone 11 did not support night mode with the ultrawide.)
  • A new time-lapse function in night mode
  • Apple’s Smart HDR 3 system, which the company says will automatically adjust white balance and contrast in photos to make them look more natural
  • The ability to record HDR video with Dolby Vision at 30 fps

Three cameras + LIDAR: iPhone 12 Pro

Like the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 12 Pro also adds a third telephoto camera to the package. As far as we can tell, it’s the same f / 2.0 52mm telephoto lens as it was last year, except you can now use it for Deep Fusion photos too. Most interestingly, though, the iPhone 12 Pro also has a LIDAR sensor, which could be a big advantage in low light. According to Apple, the LIDAR sensor can autofocus up to 6 times faster in low-light conditions and you can take portrait photos in night mode.

You also get:

  • Same main and ultrawide cameras as the iPhone 12 and same new modes
  • 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom thanks to this 52mm telephoto lens
  • HDR video with Dolby Vision, like the iPhone 12, but up to 60 fps instead of being limited to 30

iPhone 12 Pro max

The main camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max seems like a notable upgrade over the main camera on the other iPhone 12 models – and it was already an improvement over the SE and iPhone 11 series. The 12-megapixel camera with 12 megapixels and an aperture of 1.6 has a 47 percent larger sensor, which, according to Apple, leads to an 87 percent improvement in photos in poor lighting conditions. The main camera also has optical image stabilization with sensor shift. This means that the camera’s sensor moves within the camera to compensate for any movement. In theory, this should result in more stable photos and videos.

You will also receive:

  • A longer 2.5x optical zoom compared to the iPhone 12 Pro thanks to a longer lens with a focal length of 65mm, but with a slower aperture of 1: 2.2
  • The same ultrawide camera as the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro
  • The same LIDAR sensor as the iPhone 12 Pro
  • 12x digital zoom – higher than the iPhone 12 Pro
  • Same software features as the iPhone 12 Pro including Dolby Vision HDR at 60 fps

Both iPhone 12 Pro models will get an additional software feature later this year: support for Apple’s ProRAW format, which combines Apple’s computer photography with RAW. However, until that is available, it is difficult to know exactly how it can enhance your photos, or how much control it gives you while editing.

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