On the 10 September 2019 Apple introduced its newest top-end smartphone: the iPhone 11 Pro. Yep, the Cupertino-based company has jumped on the ‘Pro’ naming
convention that is so widespread this season , labelling its
as even more special, largely thanks to those three lenses on the back.
Personal opinion interjection here: we belief the design of these three cameras appears all sorts of wrong, but as the layout has been teased through leaks
for months before it’s almost softened the blow of seeing it for real.
Whether you like the appearance or not, nevertheless, it is about exactly what these cameras can do that should excite. So why three and what does each do?
iPhone 11 Pro: Main camera
- 26mm equivalent focal length
- 100% autofocus pixels
- f/1.8 aperture
- Optical image stabilization
- 12-megapixel resolution
The main camera provides that typical semi-wide-angle view onto the world. Apple has stuck to its guns with a 12-megapixel resolution, too, which might
seem somewhat low compared to the 48MP options available elsewhere – but then it will offer Deep Fusion, which we explain further down, to mitigate that
point of difference.
Interestingly every pixel through out the sensor can be utilized for autofocus, which will something even many dedicated cameras don’t provide , which will
Provide the main camera the ideal focus system out of the three.
Additionally, it will come with the widest aperture, at f/1.8, which means the most light can enter- which is useful for shooting in low-light conditions. However, Night
Mode also now features which, again, we’ll explain further down the page.
iPhone 11 Pro: Wide-angle camera
- 0.5x, 120-degree field-of-view
- f/2.4 aperture
- 13mm equivalent focal length
- 12-megapixel resolution
The gratest new feature is the inclusion of a wide-angle lens. It sees double that of the main camera, hence its 0.5x zoom designation, meaning an equivalent
focal length of 13mm. That’s really wide – 120-degrees wide, which is roughly equal to human eye sight flattened into an image – and will aid in cramming a
lot more into the frame.
again, apple has has adhered to the 12-megapixel mark , which is commonplace for such wide-angle cameras. Whether the edge quality will stand up to scrutiny
– something competitors struggle with, we’ve found – is something we’ll have to test to find out.
The aperture is f/2.4, which means a little less light is let in, but this is necessary for a wide-angle optic to guarantee a balance of sharpness across the
iPhone 11 Pro: Zoom camera
- 2x optical zoom
- f/2.0 aperture
- 12-megapixel resolution
- Optical image stabilisation (OIS)
56mm equivalent focal length
We did wonder if Apple would push beyond its 2x zoom lens, because this is what we have seen prior to now in the series. And with a few competitors now offering 5x
optical zoom – there’s the
Huawei P30 Pro
– it seems some what conservative. But so long as it retains the quality, we’re on board with the decision.
This 2x optic means half the view of the main camera, thus a 56mm equivalent focal length. To call it ‘telephoto’ is a reach, as that’s really about
as close to a standard lens because it is possible to get in traditional form, which will ensure it is good for portraits – it’ll avoid making faces look bulbous, as this
focal length keeps things flat and neutral, and as if subjects are closer to the phone.
This lens is often considered as Apple’s “Portrait Camera”, as it goes hand-in-hand with that shooting style , which uses software to blur the background
for a more pro-looking outcome (presumably together with some bourder imperfections, as is typical, we might add) – or you can apply various lighting effects,
again using application.
iPhone 11 Pro: What is Deep Fusion?
- Combines elements from up to 9 images
- ‘Neural image processing’
Not available at launch, software upgrade will followi.
As we mentioned in the primary camera segment, Apple hasn’t gone high-resolution like some of its competitors. Both Samsung and Sony create 48-megapixel sensors,
which use utilise four-in-one oversampling to generate 12-megapixel images that are sharper and much more colour precise than an otherwise huge 48MP shot would
Apple is taking this route, instead pulling on the guts of the iPhone 11’s A13 Bionic processor and neural engine to process through machine learning in
what it’s calling Deep Fusion. Nontheless, this is not available yet and won’t be at launch, by the sounds of things. It’ll take some ironing out to become perfect,
So what is Deep Fusion?
The camera takes nine shots – two groups of four prior to pressing the shutter, then one longer exposure at point of press – at
Different camera configuration. It may then look through those shots, pick the best combinations for interest of sharpness, making sure there’s no blur,
and combine the best components together.
Additionally, this is a clever way to help negate image noise, that multi-coloured dotting that can appear in images. As noise won’t look identically in every
frame, the system will be able to select the least noise-ridden components into the image for a cleaner, sharper result.
In a sense, then, Apple is looking to use processing rather than cramming pixels onto a sensor to produce its best results. How it’ll turn out, we’ll have
to test and see. But this is most likely the iPhone 11 Pro camera’s most intriguing feature.
iPhone 11 Pro: Night Mode, 4K video
- 4K video at 60fps
- New: Night Mode
- Multiple shooting modes
Along with the usual modes people have come to expect – time-lapse, slo-mo, video, potrait (with lighting modes), square, pano – the iPhone 11 Pro
also introduces Night Mode.
Let’s face it, Apple had to play this card. With the competition gunning hard to win in the low-light shooting stakes, we’ve already seen
Google wow with its Night Sight mode,
and Huawei impress with its new
SuperSensing sensor composition in the P30 Pro.
How exactly this works, nevertheless, Apple didn’t go into great detail about on stage. There was a glimpse of a ‘5S’ marker during a demo, suggesting its a
mixture of long-exposure, kept steady thanks to optical image stabilisation, layered up with numerousother exposures and some intelligent processing to
lift those shadow details, maintain the highlights in check and, well, make nighttime appear more day-like.
We can foresee an obvious ‘which flagship phone camera takes the best night shots?’ feature in the future, pitching the upcoming
Google Pixel 4 (ok, so that is still rumoured, but it is a given)
Huawei Mate 30 Pro (again, not yet in the wild, but expected this month)
against the iPhone 11 Pro.
Oh, and let’s keep in mind that the iPhone 11 Pro also offers 4K60p video on both back and front cameras. You can shoot in this mode using any of the three cameras,
but you can’t zoom during recording, it’s fixed to per camera choice – we checked at the Apple launch event just to make sure.
iPhone 11 Pro cameras: in summary
With that third lens, the Pro model adds a wide-angle that the standard iPhone 11 does not offer. It is also possible to shoot with all three cameras simultaneously
, to grab an ultra-wide, wide and zoom shot all at once, which is a nifty feature.
Just how ‘pro’ the results are we’re yet to see, but we’ll be –diving deeper when we get a handset in. Really it is the high quality and processing that have to
Market the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera above any competition – because the likes of Google already has the low-light processing down, while Huawei has the most
capable and versatile system on the market with greater zoom possible.
Sure, neither of those examples are anything to do with Apple’s ecosystem, therefore the bigger question is whether upgraders can see themselves donning
the odd-looking tri-camera phone day in, day out.
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