Apple introduced four new iPhones at the end of 2020: the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, and the 12 Pro Max.
When it comes to technical specs, little separates them. They more or less have the same internal functions and operate on the same latest software. What makes them different from each other, however, other than their size, are the cameras they’re equipped with and the batteries powering them.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the iPhone 12’s camera and how it’s improved over previous models. Are the newest iPhones truly the best smartphone cameras? An iPhone 12 camera review is the only way to find out.
Reviewing the iPhone 12 Camera
iPhone 11 vs. iPhone 12 (& iPhone 12 Mini)
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Except for three major differences—display size, battery life, and cost—the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini are virtually carbon copies of one another. They have the same processor, the same 5G connectivity, and the same camera specs.
So what exactly changed since 2019’s iPhone 11? Well, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini’s main wide-angle camera are now equipped with a wider f1.6 aperture and a new seven-element lens. Both these features are said to significantly increase the photo and video quality, especially when shooting in medium and low-light scenarios.
Compared to the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini’s Night Mode function works on the ultrawide and selfie cameras. Furthermore, Apple has improved the 12 and the 12 mini’s HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature, producing a greater range of luminosity than the iPhone 11.
When placed side-by-side, nothing major particularly stands out between this year’s iPhone 12 models and last year’s iPhone 11. Daytime photography and video, for instance, perform almost identically. Both have the capacity to capture true-to-life colors with great contrast, balanced exposure, and detail.
Despite that, the iPhone 12 and the12 mini shine with their indoor and low light outdoor functions. The iPhone 12 performs better at noise reduction and white balance correction, therefore resulting in better color contrast overall.
The same is said with iPhone 12’s Night Mode improvements, as it tends to control extremely bright areas much better than the iPhone 11. The difference is subtle—unnoticeable by the untrained eye—but it’s there.
iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro
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The biggest differences found in the iPhone 12 Pro compared to the 11 Pro come in the form of its ultra-wide camera and zoom.
If you take two photos side-by-side, one from the iPhone 11 Pro and the other from the 12 Pro, you’ll find that the 12 Pro captures warmer images compared to the 11 Pro. Everything else, however, is almost identical.
They both capture great detail and an excellent dynamic range, plus they both have superb color contrast. After all, both models have a 12MP telephoto camera with a 1/3.4″ sensor and similar f/2.0 52mm lens. Despite that, photos captured by the 12 Pro are still noticeably more detailed and sharper around the edges.
The iPhone Pro and the Pro Max introduce a brand new smartphone sensor technology called LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) found in the back of the phone’s camera. This feature allows users to access the depth and improve low-light and portrait mode effects using lasers.
The 12 Pro and Pro Max also have an image implementation called ProRAW, which grants users the capability to capture as much information on the screen as possible during image rendering. Apple’s version of RAW files has been a long time coming and is something that is a drawback of iPhone photography.
Low-light photography, similar to what’s observed in the iPhone 12, is again much better than the iPhone 11 Pro: brighter and more detailed. Compared to the 11 Pro, the 12 Pro has a Night Mode on its ultrawide camera, allowing users to capture bigger photos with less noise and more detail.
iPhone 11 Pro Max vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max
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Compared to the previous iPhone models (11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max), the 12 Pro and Pro Max come with an A14 Bionic chip, a ceramic shield screen, and a beautiful new design. But what really stands out is the iPhone Pro Max’s camera.
The iPhone Pro and the Pro Max introduce a brand new sensor technology called LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) found in the back of the phone’s camera. This feature allows users to access the depth and improve low-light and portrait mode effects using lasers.
The 12 Pro and Pro Max also have an image implementation called ProRAW, which grants users the capability to capture as much information on the screen as possible during image rendering.
On top of that, the Pro Max’s low-light capabilities have increased to 27%, at least, according to Apple.
Compared to the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are equipped with three total rear cameras, including Standard, Ultra-wide, and Telephoto. The standard camera also adds something called a sensor-shift image stabilization feature, which helps with long-light camera exposure and image crispness in general.
Final Thoughts on the iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11
If money is no object, the iPhone 12 Pro Max should be your top choice when it comes to the camera. That being said, the iPhone 11 series are a top class for both mobile photography and filmmaking. For reference, I shoot all of our Youtube videos on the iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4a with 5G.
The difference between the two iPhone series isn’t starkly different, and both capture professional photos. However, if you’re keen on upgrading your phone’s overall battery life, design, and camera specs, it might be worth investing a few hundred extra dollars for the iPhone 12 Pro models.