iPhone 15 Pro Max telephoto lens
The iPhone 15 lineup brings several new camera features, but you’ll need third-party apps for maximum creative control. Two Apple executives explain the decision-making process behind updates.
Apple’s philosophy behind the iPhone camera and the app that controls it is simple: don’t interfere with them. The company has designed its app and camera functionality to remain clean and simple while still providing enough control for enthusiasts.
Two Apple executives detailed the iPhone 15’s camera features and camera app in an interview with PetaPixel. John McCormack, VP of Camera Software Engineering, and Maxime Veron, Senior Director of iPhone Product Marketing, share their thoughts.
“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 McCormack. “Behind the big red button, you’re worried about the frame and the moment because, frankly, that’s the most inspiring part of any photo or any video.”
Most iPhone users just want great photos and videos at the touch of a button, without the hassle of customizing settings. Additional features are available in the application and settings, but do not take up valuable space in the viewfinder.
Differences between photos and videos
The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max have multiple focal lengths that users can select by pressing the 1x button in the camera app. This selection is not just a trim, but something designed using neural networks that control many aspects of the capture to optimize those settings.
Camera app for iPhone. Cinematic video controls.
Focal length selection is limited to photo modes and does not appear in video. This is due to the peculiarities of processing photographs and videos.
“When you shoot [photos]we collect a ton of data so you can keep filming and then continue processing in the background, so we have more time, which is something we can’t do with video,” McCormack explains.
The director also details how exposure is selected when shooting with ProRes Log.
“We’re taking a middle ground,” McCormack says. “When you go into magazine, there’s no tone mapping, so you can control your exposure much more precisely.”
ProRes and external SSD
Speaking of ProRes video, videographers can use USB 3.0 speeds to shoot ProRes directly to an external SSD. However, there are some limitations here.
Apple only allows direct recording to an external SSD when using ProRes. Other formats will be written directly to iPhone storage and will require subsequent disconnection or time-consuming synchronization with iCloud.
ProRes 4K 60Hz video setting is only available when connecting an external drive.
24 MP is the new 12 MP.
Apple set 24MP HEIF as the new default camera output for several reasons. This is not only an efficient file size, but also provides greater control when processing images.
High resolution and contrast thanks to the 48 MP sensor.
“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.”
When shooting a 48MP image, the iPhone must instead rely on the High Dynamic Range algorithm, providing less exposure data. Therefore, the dynamic range should be wider in 24MP images.
Third party apps for enthusiasts
Apple’s approach to creating the Camera app keeps the user interface simple and distraction-free. Users can open the app, press the shutter button, and rest assured that they are getting the best photo they can without any hassle in the moment.
“Our approach to computational photography and videography is truly unique,” adds Veron. “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 in one go. click.”
Anyone wanting more control, such as a focus slider or video cue, can turn to third-party apps. Apple expects anyone looking for more control or customization to find a solution in the App Store.