Apple execs explain the iPhone 15 Pro camera and why you need to take 24MP photos

Ahead of the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro arriving to the first customers on September 22, Apple executives have shared some behind-the-scenes details about the new camera systems. This includes the company’s design approach, how the new 24MP default camera works, its benefits, and more.

John McCormack, vice president of camera software development, and Maxime Veron, senior director of iPhone product marketing, met with PetaPixel.

As for who Apple is designing iPhone camera systems for, McCormack shared that it ranges from parents of young children to professionals:

“In my opinion, it’s all about allowing people to follow their vision, and that’s coming from a frazzled parent of a toddler, where their vision is, ‘Can I frame my baby as he takes his first step?’ all the way down to the professional or creative who has a very specific artistic vision and wants to achieve it as quickly as possible,” says John McCormack, vice president of camera software engineering at Apple.

Continuing on the importance of conveying a vision, McCormack emphasizes that what’s happening in the moment is “the most inspiring part of any photograph or any video.”

Talking about the new ability to choose between three focal lengths of the main camera on the iPhone 15 Pro, McCormack shared that this was made possible thanks to a combination of “sensor resolution and Apple software.”

Notably, the 24mm, 28mm, and 32mm focal lengths are only available for photos and not for videos on the main iPhone 15 Pro. That’s why:

But video shooters may find that these specific focal lengths are out of reach for them, and for good reason. McCormack explains that when you take photos, the iPhone is constantly active, capturing and combining that information into the final photo.

“When you shoot [photos]we collect a bunch of data so you can keep filming and then keep processing in the background, so we have more time, which is something we can’t do with video,” he explains.

In video mode, the iPhone must process every frame at that frame rate, limiting what it can do in computational photography, so it only offers a zoom ring rather than dedicated main focal lengths. Luckily, the addition of ProRes log encoding and easier file management thanks to external SSD support via USB-C means that video shooters won’t be left without something to worry about.

Moving on to shooting video with the new magazine option, McCormack notes that it’s set to “medium exposure.” Because there is no tone mapping, users have “much more precise control” over exposure.

In addition to logging, Apple plans to release LUT profiles as early as September 22.

McCormack also explained how the new 24-megapixel photos work by default with the new iPhones and what benefits users should see:

“In 24-megapixel photos, there’s a little more dynamic range,” McCormack explains. “Because when we shoot at 24 megapixels, we’re shooting 12 highs and 12 lows—we’re actually shooting several of them—and selecting them and then combining them. Essentially, there’s a big boundary between a maximum of 12 and a minimum of 12. Next, 48 is “high dynamic range” as opposed to “high dynamic range”, which essentially just limits the amount of processing. Because with just a little available processing time [in the 24 megapixel] we can get a little more dynamic range in Deep Fusion. So what you get with the 24 is a bit of a Goldilocks moment where you get all the extra dynamic range that the 12 gives and the detail delivery that the 48 gives.”

Moving on to computational photography and videography, Maxime Veron shared Apple’s approach:

For the vast majority of our clients, we simply aim to process everything in the background so that the process is invisible and out of the way so people can take great photos and videos and capture beautiful, lifelike moments with just one click. .

Veron says that at the same time, Apple wants to meet the ever-increasing demands of its enthusiast customers by allowing them to use the same equipment to capture images that could grace a magazine cover.

The full interview with PetaPixel can be found here.