The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

The long-awaited phone is here. And we love it. A little too much.

The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review
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9.5

Raising the bar for camera phones everywhere; the iPhone 12’s are fiery units full of 5G support, a new striking design, and improved specs. Beginning a new chapter of smartphone capabilities, this series of 12 models are significantly better than any X-generations of devices. With plenty of room for play, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on this stunning piece of tech that has been long-awaited for all of 2020.

The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review
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To Know:

Each of Apple’s 12-series models received hardware, software, and processing updates. While other phones are rumored to have standout camera features (like the Galaxy S20 Ultra's 100x Space Zoom) that many of the iPhones lack, these new series can still capture fantastic images and video for anyone of all skill levels. Every year, we’re always impressed with just how much better the camera becomes and this year is no different. The A14 bionic rockets past previous generations as the fastest, most iconic chip in existence. It takes low-light photography to the next level, making an even bigger leap with computational photography for portraits and landscapes. Let’s see what else this thing can do.

What We Love:

Less Bezel, More Screen

We dig the bigger screen for photography and filmmaking; makes the picture brighter and more vivid for ultimate control.

Night Mode

Capture stunning images and video during extreme low light under a low aperture and computational mechanics.

HDR — In Video!

HDR within video is very different from images. Apple’s way of making HDR for recording available out-of-the-box is a big deal, and we love the way it looks.

The Details:

Brand: Apple

Price: $999.00

Product Type: Smartphone Camera

Best For: Apple lovers looking to use an everyday camera for stunning memories and short family films.

The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

More shine, more smarts, and less grain.

While the 5G may not seem directly correlated to the stunning camera, think again. It's accelerated wireless speeds and better performance on congested networks work hand-in-hand with the apps you’ll use to edit photos and piece together short films. Not to mention the huge downloadable files you’ll use on the go, or for steaming your favorite Youtube video with high-quality HDR. Kick out the lag, invite in the swift. iPhone 12 Pro also has the most 5G bands of any smartphone on the market, so you can receive more 5G in harder to reach places.

The A14 Bionic chip, the first of its kind, boasts a 5-nanometer chip with advanced features that are literally only atoms wide. Forty percent of more transistors drive the speeds up dramatically, while increasing efficiency for a better battery life. The chip encourages Smart HDR3, as well, which optimizes the dynamic range of photos to identify skies and proper skin tones. A new ISP powers the Dolby Vision recording, something we’re personally pretty stoked on, which is something no other pro movie camera on any other phone can do.

Night mode is better than ever. It comes on both the Wide and Ultra Wide rear cameras, making low light shots and landscapes incredibly bright with crisp detail retention. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, will help AR applications accurately detect objects, spaces, and range of depth. The camera(s) will also use LiDAR for improving its autofocus with photos and video under such low-light conditions. This will even allow Portrait Mode within Night Mode, letting in 27 percent more light for great detail and sharper focus. However, if you’re not constantly taking portraits in the dark, or are particularly fond of low-light capture scenes, then the LiDAR sensor might not reign superior upon preference.

Deep Fusion, which will optimate the noise level reduction on pictures, will now be on every camera — including the telephoto ones on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. All of the 12 models will be able to record in Dolby Vision HDR, automatically color grading your videos in the Dolby Vision standard. After testing this feature out under multiple scenarios, we found that it was a fantastic addition to Apple’s updates, as we were afraid it would be a gimmicky feature. The Pro models support Dolby Vision HDR at all settings up to 4K 6-fps, all happening within the Photos app, which is pretty darn amazing.

Though, don’t get me wrong. I’m not surprised that Apple implemented an HDR feature into video, as most home TV’s and streaming services offer HDR vision for our viewing pleasure. One important note to make, as well, is that the Dolby Vision HDR video feature being more or less automatic (and NOT buried in your video settings) is a big deal. It’s the way of the future and we’re stoked to get a glimpse on what that looks like from here forward. It can only get better and better every year, we’re already dreaming of what it’ll look like down the line.

These phones will also be able to record a special raw photo file Apple coins, “ProRaw”; honing in on the idea of an image with raw flexibility, but with the smarts of computational imagery.

We genuinely believed the iPhone 11 cameras were a gorgeous testament to what could be made on the fly, and the 12 Pro is a solid step forward. Although some critics of the tech universe say these changes are minor, pixel peepers might beg to differ. The cameras are faster, which give them the reputation of being better under low light, computational photographer for even “smarter” (is that a real word?, photos look less grainy with tremendous amounts of detail, and there’s better contrast. Apple, every year, seems to gravitate towards their desire for contrast, which allows the highlights to be highlights and shadows to be shadows (a look most people on the team are personally fond of).

With this being said, the main Wide camera is by far the best camera on the phone. While the Ultra-Wide distorts a little less of the edges when compared to the iPhone 11 generation, I’d still personally stick to the main Wide (or throw on a Moment Lens to make that bad boy a juicer!).

Listen, this camera is by far the most versatile and intuitive camera you can get on the market today. Yes, we said it. Okay? Pixel and Samsung, we love you, but our preference has been chosen. Until, that is, the next phone season!

The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review
The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

For Video…

Across the iPhone 12’s and iPhone 12 Pro’s, Apple heavily focused on the video quality improvements from the previous models. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini offer a standard focal length (26mm) and an ultra wide focal length (13mm). The iPhone 12 Pro offer's a standard focal length (26mm), an ultra wide focal length (13mm) and a telephoto focal length (58mm). While the iPhone 12 pro Max offers the same wide and ultra wide camera's, the telephoto lens is slightly longer at 65mm. Faster apertures in all of the cameras at a welcome change and improved Optical image stabilization. In the iPhone 12 pro max, Apple has introduced sensor shift stabilization in the wide lens. The difference is noticeable when capturing video.

But the biggest news is the introduction of HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps in the iPhone 12’s and HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps in the iPhone 12 pro’s. This allows 4k 10bit recording at 4:2:0 which captures an incredible range of color and depth. The best way to view this new HDR video is on an HDR display - which all of the iPhone 12’s and iPhone 12 pro's are capable of doing. Outside of HDR, Standard dynamic range has improved with better colors and details. Overall the improvements for video are huge if you are upgrading from an iPhone X or later.

I Phone 12 Pro
The iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

In Detail:

The TrueDepth camera is nothing shy of extraordinary. With HDR video recording for up to 30fps and 4K video recording 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps — there’s no reason why you’re not able to effectively film a short movie and submit to our annual Moment Invitational Film Festival (haha, already pitching for next year). With slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120fps, you can adequately capture your dog running through a pile of mud like a champ. Timelapse comes with stabilization, even in Night Mode, and an evermore extended dynamic range for up to 30fps. Equipped with wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, lens correction, retina flash, auto image stabilization, and burst mode — I feel like I’m just writing an exhaustive laundry list of sick features. It could go on forever!

What It Has:

  • Ceramic shield front
  • Textured matte glass back
  • Stainless steel design
  • Up to 128GB
  • 5G
  • HDR display
  • Night mode Time-lapse
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps
  • Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
  • QuickTake video
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos

What It Does:

  • Records Dolby Vision HDR
  • Pro 12MP camera system: Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras
  • Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
  • Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture
  • Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 60 fps
  • Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
  • Continuous autofocus video
  • Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
  • Playback zoom
  • Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264
  • Stereo recording

Specs:

  • Height: 5.78 inches
  • Width: 2.82 inches
  • Depth: 0.29 inch
  • Super Retina XDR display
  • 6.1‑inch (diagonal) all‑screen OLED display
  • 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 4x optical zoom rangeDigital zoom up to 10x
  • Night mode portraits enabled by LiDAR Scanner
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps
  • 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • 720p HD video recording at 30 fps

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