iPhone Photography Update, May 2024

by May 10, 2024Photography Blog

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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iPhone Photography Update

A little over a year ago, I became interested in iPhone photography. This wasn’t an attempt to dump my camera but to supplement it using my iPhone. I was also interested in experimenting with the photos taken on my iPhone to understand its capabilities and limitations.

At the time, I was using a basic iPhone SE 2nd generation with a 12-megapixel camera and a 29mm lens (I think).

During a trip to Dubai in November, I shot a lot of low-light photography on this iPhone. I then processed the images using Topaz Photo AI and was surprised by how good the results were.  Seeing how useful my iPhone SE could be for photography, I decided to upgrade it as it was now four years old and quickly running out of charge. I did consider having the battery replaced but decided a new iPhone was a better option, given the photography features of the latest models.

So, instead of buying a new camera lens, I put the money towards a new iPhone and bought an iPhone 15 Pro.

My iPhone Photography Journey

In this article, I want to share the latest steps in my iPhone photography journey, starting with a few sample images from the early days of using my new iPhone.

I captured this first photograph in our village square one evening, on the way to the Band Club.

Example of iPhone Photography from iPhone 15 Pro RAW capture

I was using the iPhone standard Photo app that comes free with the camera. I’ve previously covered this camera app, as I think it’s one of the best available, especially if you are new to iPhone photography.

The iPhone 15 Pro has three lenses for photography: a wide-angle, a standard, and a telephoto (3x). The larger iPhone 15 Pro Max has the same lenses, except the telephoto has 5x magnification. I opted for the Pro phone as I thought the 3x telephoto would be more useful.

The image you see above was captured using the standard lens, which seems perfect for many types of photography. According to the camera data in Photoshop, this photo is 24mm in 35mm terms.

One benefit of using the standard lens is that it can capture 48-megapixel RAW images like this one. This image is 8,064 x 6,048 pixels, and the detail, when magnified to 100%, is extremely impressive, as you can see below.

Section of iPhone 15 photo magnified to 100 per cent

As for how I captured this using the iPhone’s Camera app, it really was point-and-shoot other than selecting the standard lens and Pro RAW photo mode. The iPhone took care of the rest with an exposure time of 1/1250 of a second at f/1.8 at ISO100.

But as impressive as this is, the iPhone didn’t do a perfect job. Here’s the RAW file as it appears when opened in my Apple Photos.

iPhone RAW file viewed in the Apple Photos app showing a blue tint

As you can see, it’s rather blue, and this happened a lot to my old iPhone SE photography as well. The auto white balance doesn’t appear to work well in some lighting conditions. It does an excellent job of capturing the blue light scattered at sunset; it’s accurate, but it isn’t a good look.

iPhone Photography at Night

Later the same evening, on the way home, I took a couple of night photos using the iPhone 15 to see how it performed. Here’s the first.

Night photo captured using the iPhone 15 Pro

This was again captured using the iPhone Camera app. It switched automatically into the night mode to capture what I can only describe as an excellent representation of what I was seeing. I like the colour rending of this image a lot. My daughter, who was with me at the time, also took the same photo on a Galaxy S24, which produced a much cooler rendering.

This image is 4032 x 3024 pixels. It’s a 1/18 second exposure at f/1.8 and ISO800. Here’s another example, also captured in the village square.

Night iphone photo example 2

This was captured in RAW format using the standard lens at 1/9 second at f/1.8 and ISO1600. The image dimensions are 4032 x 3024 pixels, significantly smaller than the first RAW example in this article above. My best guess is that the processing required to produce a steady shot reduces the size.

HDR iPhone Photography

Something else that has impressed me, but that you may not be able to see, is that this is an HDR image. Not in the sense of the old tone mapping process we photographers are used to. Instead, these are genuine HDR images that capture and show an extended dynamic range when viewed on an HDR screen. It’s truly impressive.

When I view the above image on my HDR screen, I can see detail captured inside the bright lamp in the foreground. The camera has also captured detail inside the brightly lit rooms, rather than recording it as a white mass.  Best of all, this all appears completely natural.

Now, I say that you may not be able to see this because you might. I exported the image as an HDR-enabled JPEG rather than Standard Dynamic Range (SDR), and it does display correctly on my screen. The only problem is that my website may convert it to an SDR JPEG, so you won’t see the HDR effect.

My iPhone Photography Update Summary

So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to do too much photography using the iPhone 15 Pro. But looking at the photos I have captured, I’m genuinely impressed by what it can achieve. It’s also extremely easy to take excellent photos using the iPhone Camera app.

In the future, I hope to share further updates when I’ve had the opportunity to use the iPhone with some of the other camera apps I’ve bought.

Don’t forget to read my iPhone Camera app article if you haven’t already seen it.

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