On October 13, Apple released its iPhone 12 series, including the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Much of the news talked about the overall specifications, but we would like to focus on three improvements that Apple made for its iPhone 12 Pro/Pro Max cameras.
- LiDAR Added to Camera Layout
Similar to last year’s iPhone 11 Pros, the iPhone 12 Pro/Pro Max have a triple camera set-up on the rear which forms a triangle just as we had expected. This layout minimizes the distance of optical axes of the three lenses and thus can deliver a smooth transition when the focal point shifts from one camera to another camera, while vertical or horizontal arrangements can’t make this happen. Plus, all three cameras are 12MP, which can help maintain consistent image quality and fix chromatic aberration issues.
Exhibit 1: iPhone 12 Pros’ Camera Layout
In addition, a new LiDAR (also known as ToF) sensor is included in the iPhone 12 Pros to provide enhanced AR. The LiDAR sensor senses the environment by shooting out laser beams and then calculating the time they take to return. Therefore, it allows 3D depth information to be extracted from a scene in real time. LiDAR-enabled 3D vision allows new AR applications to be explored, and existing ones to work better. Moreover, it can also be used to enhance autofocus in low-light scenes.
- Deep Fusion on All Four Cameras
Deep Fusion is an advanced image processing system that can capture images with dramatically better texture, detail, and reduced noise in lower light. So far, this technology was only available on the wide and telephoto lenses of the iPhone 11 Pros. But now with the support of the powerful A14 Bionic chip, Deep Fusion has been extended to the ultra-wide and selfie cameras of the iPhone 12 Pros. Users now can expect more true-to-life images, especially in low-light scenes.
Exhibit 2: Deep Fusion Comes to Ultra-wide Camera
- Upgrade to 7P Lens From 6P Lens
The iPhone 12 Pros feature a new 7P lens for the wide camera, a significant improvement compared to the iPhone 11 Pros’ 6P lens. The 7P design allows for a larger aperture, making it possible for iPhone 12 Pros’ wide camera to offer a f/1.6 aperture, an improvement from the f/1.8 aperture of the iPhone 11 Pros. It increases the lens’ light-gathering ability by 27%, enabling faster shutter speeds or less grainy ISO settings in low light. Often, compromises are made in terms of sharpness and performance when designing lenses with larger apertures, but the new 7P structure maintains sharp detail in a photo from edge to edge.
These three improvements Apple made for its iPhone 12 Pro/Pro Max cameras would not have happened without the support of its powerful A14 chip and AI capabilities. Now, the iPhone 12 Pro models can bring us an even better and smoother shooting experience.