iPhone 11 Pro – It’s All About The Camera

iPhone 11 Pro – It’s All About The Camera

Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 7.54.02 AM.jpg

Yes, Apple has sucked me back into the vortex. I mean right smack dab in the middle of it. And yes, I am getting an iPhone 11 Pro. And no, I do not need it. I merely want it.

There’s not much improved over my current Xs but there is ONE thing that is improved:

That camera!

As a photographer, I am always interested in cameras, no matter what form they take. But since smart phone cameras have completely dis-intermediated the compact/point-and-shoot market, I do pay attention to the why.

It all boils down to computational photography. I’ve been saying (for quite some time) that those who are caught up in the megapixel wars, or the full-frame v. crop sensor arguments, are missing the point. The future is in the SOFTWARE not the hardware.

And one the best illustrations of that is the new iPhone 11 Pro.

The new phone has THREE cameras on the back; Ultra Wide, Wide and Telephoto. The software that attaches to these three cameras is nothing short of magical.

While I do not own the 11 Pro yet, my friend let me play with his for a day to test it. The pictures you can make with this phone are sharper, color accurate and they just pop.

Prior to this phone’s release, I used to think the Google Pixel 3 had the best camera. Not anymore. The iPhone 11 Pro (and I am specifically referencing the Pro not the standard iPhone 11) has the best camera of any cell phone on the market. At least as of today.

Will it replace my lovely Olympus OM-D E-M1 X? Not on your life. I have REAL cameras with me most of the time. There are some photos that simply cannot be made with a smart phone camera. But for those moments when I do not have a real camera or where I am too lazy to BRING the real camera, the new iPhone 11 Pro will step up quite nicely. But not for bird photography 🙂

Let’s briefly look at the specs. Hat tip to Halide which provided this readout of the phone camera’s technical specifications. The chart reads from left to right, Ultra Wide Specs – Wide Specs – Telephoto Specs.

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Many of you are of the religion of low light. While I cannot understand that particular affliction I can say, with absolute certainty, that this is the phone for you. Apple’s new “Night Mode” allows you to take a picture in the dark and somehow, it looks good. Not great. But definitely good. It won’t print 40″ by 60″ but you could make a nice 4×5″ print from those images.

It’s all because of the new A13 Bionic processor. It allows the phone to perform computational photography tricks that are off the chain.

From a performance perspective, I found the sharpest shots come from the wide camera setting. As expected, the Ultra Wide and Telephoto cameras soften things up a bit but the images from them are still good. One thing I wondered about was how would skin tones render. On past iPhones I didn’t think the skin tones came out right. Now they render very well and also, the camera doesn’t overly mush up details in favor of noise reduction.

I’ve only scratched the surface with this phone/camera. I won’t have mine for a few weeks. I’ll publish a second impression post once I have more time with it.

But one thing is certain. We haven’t seen anything yet. This camera will be as good as the software developed for it. Once the developers get some time with the 11 Pro and once they poll their customers for wanted features, I predict that using apps, you will be able to accomplish almost anything with the camera in the 11 Pro.

At the launch event, Apple showed off the new iPhone 11 Pro with a new version of Filmic Pro. It was a mind-blowing demo, with the app recording from multiple cameras simultaneously, like recording the front and back camera together, or filming using the new ultra-wide and standard wide cameras for additional coverage. You could actually film a scene using all three cameras simultaneously and then pick the version you want in edit or combine them. It simply is indescribable how cool this is and believe me, Filmic Pro is going on my phone. But what else? That’s my point. Filmic Pro clearly had early access to the phone so they could do the demo at the launch event. What happens when all the other developers get to really dig into this new 3-camera system? The sky is the limit.

To see this in action check out this movie which was shown at the launch event. Fimic Pro on the iPhone 11 Pro.

As you probably guessed, all this coolness comes at a very steep price. Prices for iPhone 11 Pro range from $1099 for a phone with 64BG of memory to $1449 for a phone with 512GB of memory. Add between $199 and $299 for Apple Care (or Apple Care w/ theft and loss protection) and potentially, you could spend $1748 before sales tax.

Let me be clear – THAT IS AN INSANE AMOUNT OF MONEY! You can buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II with kit lens for less and have a real camera. Or you could buy a very powerful laptop, etc. Is it worth that much money? Probably not for most people. But that won’t stop the thing from selling well and Apple knows this.

Nobody NEEDS a phone that is this expensive. But many people (me included) will WANT one, whether or not it makes sense to buy.

I’ll have more info later.

Picture Methods has partnered with Hunt’s Photo & Video to bring you the best gear at a competitive price and backed by personal service. Call Alan Samiljan at 781-462-2383 if you need photo/video gear. If you prefer, you can also email Alan at: alansamhunts@gmail.com or just visit the Hunt’s Photo & Video Website deals page.

5 Responses

  1. Scott, did you buy the Pro or Pro Max? I’m debating between the 2. My current phone is the 7 plus so I’m definitely due for an upgrade. Can’t decide between the sizes though.

  2. Scott, I think you have a point… software and sensor technology is getting to be so good I believe soon the full framers will see (and many already do see) that Olympus had and has an awesome idea with Micro 4/3. It makes total sense that the technology improvements over time will keep eliminating the need for bulky camera gear!

  3. Thanks for this summary, My 11pro is on the way! I love my portable Olympus….but I always have phone with me….

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