This past weekend, along with my friend Naveen and his family, we drove up to the Point Reyes region. We wanted to enjoy the nice fall weather and have lunch at Saltwater in Inverness, one of my favorite restaurants. I love this part of Northern California. One of my favorite photographs I ever took was about a mile away from Saltwater.
Whenever I visit that area, I visit this beached boat introduced to me by Cole Rise, one of my photographer friends. I have been taking a photo of this boat called Point Reyes since. It is one of the most photographed marine wrecks on Instagram. It is no surprise that I took another photo this past weekend — this time with iPhone 13 Pro. I used the ProRaw format and later edited it on Lightroom CC and Photoshop. I am pretty pleased by the quality of the camera on this new phone.
This boat, built-in 1944, has been sitting on the sandbar in Tomales Bay for nearly 25 years now. It has been vandalized and, as a result, lost some of its visual appeal. It was in danger of being removed, but the fuss created by local photographers saved it from being moved from its final resting place.
This shipwreck is a reminder that in time nature consumes everything that came from it. All that is left are memories. I am glad there will be millions of images of this boat saved for posterity.
There is nothing quite as good as starting your day next to the bay, listening to the slow and rhythmic break of waves on the shore. And it is even better when the fog hugs the distant hills and lingers over the bridge that has been Instagrammed maybe a billion times. The beauty of the morning inspired me to make some photos — and test out the technical mettle of the new iPhone 13 Pro’s various cameras.
….powered by the new image signal processor (ISP) in A15 Bionic for improved noise reduction and tone mapping, the iPhone 13 Pro lineup features the best camera system ever on iPhone. The all-new Wide camera has a larger sensor with 1.9 µm pixels, the largest ever on iPhone, for less noise and faster shutter speeds needed across lighting conditions, producing even more detailed photos. Coupled with the larger ƒ/1.5 aperture, the Wide camera on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max offers a massive improvement in low-light situations, up to 2.2x when compared to iPhone 12 Pro, and nearly 1.5x when compared to iPhone 12 Pro Max. Sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) — unique to iPhone — is available on both models
The new Ultra Wide camera features a much wider ƒ/1.8 aperture and a new autofocus system, bringing a 92 percent improvement for low-light environments, producing images that are brighter and sharper. iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also boast a new 77 mm Telephoto camera, offering 3x optical zoom for a total 6x optical zoom range on the camera system.
Apple’s claims check out. Most landscape photographers judge the camera by its ability to capture details and colors, for a good camera is the one that can produce files that transition from shadows to highlights with a minimum of fuss. And the iPhone 13 Pro cameras pass with top grades.
Later, upon returning home and looking at these images on an XDR display, I could easily see the impact of the bigger pixels giving the images smoother transitions between shadows and highlights. I also like that the colors are naturally deeper. I appreciated the lower noise in the new sensor — giving me the courage to make the fog a bit whiter during the editing process.
As I usually do with my mobile photography, I used the Halide Camera to capture images in RAW and used the Darkroom App to edit them on the phone. The edited set is a mixture of color and monochromatic images. I hope they convey the sense of calm and peace I felt this wonderful morning.
September 26, 2021. San Francisco
Last week when Apple’s iPhone 13 models went on sale, I asked Twitter followers which model they planned to order. An overwhelming majority voted for the iPhone 13 Pro, followed by the iPhone 13 Pro Max, followed by the Mini and the Basic. Interestingly, those are my personal preferences, especially now that I have perused all four iPhone 13 models that Apple sent out for review.
In addition to these phones, Apple sent out another device, so not surprisingly, I have spent most of the past few days mucking about with that device instead of digging into the iPhones. I intend to write my full length iPhone 13 review in time, but I highly recommend John Gruber and Joanna Stern if you want to get some good intelligent reviews.
Like all reviewers, they emphasize two things that have improved across the entire line-up of new iPhones — cameras and batteries. And candidly, it is all that matters to an average person: great cameras to capture daily moments and selfies. Given how much we all are addicted to our phones, battery capacity and performance are pretty high in feature lists for most people.
Last year, I preferred the iPhone 12 ProMax because it had a better camera –, but this year both Pro and Pro Max have the same camera configuration. The 13 ProMax has longer battery life — Apple says it is an additional 2.5 hours compared to the 12 ProMax model — but it comes at a price: it is heavier, and you can feel it.
The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, is the “Goldilocks” model — perfect in size, weight, comfort when using in a single-hand mode, battery life (about 90 minutes more than last year’s model,) quality of the screen, and camera quality. It is easier to use for selfies, and it is also less conspicuous in one’s pocket.
The other significant improvement — at least for me — is the screen performance. In the two Pro models, Apple has added a “Super Retina XDR ProMotion” display, which allows the device to use “ProMotion.” That allows a screen refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It makes the whole user experience so smooth and flawless.
Within a couple of minutes, your brain is so used to this latency-less experience that you start to notice that your year-old iPhone 12 Mini feels like a slowpoke. Apple has made some OS-level improvements to ensure that the system can dynamically switch between 10Hz to 120Hz refresh rate (based on content), so it doesn’t drain the beefier batteries. This new refresh technology puts iPhone on par with Samsung’s latest Galaxy S21 Ultra. I just have not been able to get over this smooth screen experience — this is the icing on the cake.
The cake, though, is an all-new camera system inside the Pro models. (I will eventually get to the Mini and Basic models, but I am focusing on the 13 Pro for now. Apple has put a new sensor inside the phones. It is bigger than previous models (though Apple didn’t share how much bigger.) However, you can see that they are bigger because the rear camera module is visibly larger and has visibly larger camera lenses and camera bumps compared to last year’s model.
They have increased the sensor size. For the standard camera, it is 1.9µm pitch pixels, which at 12MP translates to a 1/1.67” sensor. The aperture on this camera is now f/1.5 and is IBIS stabilized. That is what allows a much-improved Portrait mode performance and gives the phone ability to create a “cinematic effect” in the video. The ultrawide lens now has an f/1.8 aperture. The Telephone lens has gone up from (an equivalent of) 67mm in the 12ProMax model to (an equivalent of) 77mm equivalent focal length, or 3x magnification over the normal-camera module. The telephoto lens has an aperture of f/2.8.
I am also digging the ability to get close to my subjects and automatically switch into macro mode. Macro photography is so hard to do even with the most expensive cameras and best lenses, and the iPhone 13 Pro is throwing out one good photo after another as if it was child’s play. The biggest takeaway from the new camera rig is that it works amazingly well in low-light situations, which means fewer blurry and less noisy photos during romantic dinners.
Many Android phones have superior camera rigs and are improving their quality by leaps and bounds. However, as an iPhone owner, this set-up is enough for me to take good photos. I have not had a chance to go out and take photos with the new device extensively, but whatever work I have done so far has given me some astonishing results. I can’t wait to get out tomorrow and the days after to put these cameras to use, capture some great moments and share them with you.
For now, if you are looking to upgrade, even with my limited experience, I can safely say: you can’t go wrong with the iPhone 13 Pro.
Through most of the pandemic lockdown, I was religious about my morning walks. It was the only time of the day I felt comfortable going out for a walk without a mask. Lately, that habit of going out before the sunrise had fallen off the wayside. I started to walk (and bike) during the day … Continue reading Shapes of San Francisco
Just over five years ago, I made the argument that the iPhone (and its smartphone cousins) were killing the camera business. I occasionally update the data that shows the widening gap. With 2020 in the rearview mirror and Apple having just reported its quarterly earnings (over $111 billion in iPhone sales alone), I thought it … Continue reading iPhone vs Camera: No Contest