iPhone 14 Pro 48MP photo test changes my opinion a bit

I said before It is unlikely that I use a file iPhone 14 48MP professional resolution in person, and indeed Stick to 12MP during his last trip. But of course I was still curious how much difference the number of megapixels makes in real photos.

My tests led me to change my mind somewhat – so now I’d say I expect to use the 48MP capability on very rare occasions, rather than not…

Let’s talk about pixels

The biggest differences on paper between the old and new phones are, of course, a larger sensor and 48MP resolution in the main camera.

The larger sensor is straightforward. The larger the sensor, the better the images. The sensor is 65% larger than its predecessor, which is significant in percentage terms, but it is still a very small sensor compared to dedicated cameras.

But the story does not end there. When taking 12MP photos, which remains the default, the iPhone uses a technique known as pixel binning to convert each block of four physical pixels into one default pixel. These default pixels are larger than those used in the iPhone 13 Pro.

Turn on the 48MP capability, now the pixels are smaller. This is because the 65% larger volume is now divided by four. The end result is that the pixels are about 60% smaller than those of the iPhone 13 Pro.

Could you Read more about this here.

Why is 12 megapixels the default?

I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s approach to using fewer pixels, because that’s what works best in low light. Smaller pixels mean more noise and less detail. So I was pleased to see that 12MP is still the default resolution for photos. Open the camera app and take a picture, and you will get a 12MP file.

In fact, Enable 48 Megapixels It is almost hidden. There is no 12MP/48MB switch in the camera app. Instead, you have to select the ProRAW format, which is done by clicking on the crossed out RAW button.

This is, to me, a very reasonable decision on Apple’s part – for two reasons.

First, and the sharpest, are the 48MP photos Many greater than 12 mega pixels. Not just four times the size, as the average iPhone user might expect, but overall 20 times bigger! Here are examples of three of my photos:

  • 2.5 MB vs 49.7 MB
  • 3.6 MB vs. 69.9 MB
  • 3.6 MB vs. 61.9 MB

If Apple used 48MP as the default, it would eat up both onboard storage and iCloud at an alarming rate.

Second, since 48MP photos are taken in RAW format, users need to know how to process and edit these files. It’s not a useful format for a mass-market iPhone user, so it makes perfect sense that the button is in RAW format instead of 48MP.

Important note about RAW files

Before we compare 12MP and 48MP photos, we need to stress one major difference between JPG/HEIC and ProRAW shooting.

Previously, the iPhone’s image processing software decided how to process the file. Sure, you can edit it then, but you’re editing an image that’s already been edited by the phone, to give the result that Apple thinks most users will want to see.

You can use shooting patterns To change the default editing the camera does, but always shows a preprocessed image.

Different RAW images. Here, Apple delivers the actual data from the sensor, inviting you to process it as you wish. (When viewing a RAW file on an iPhone, it effectively shows you a preview of how the image will look with standard processing, but an actual ProRAW file doesn’t have any of these edits.)

As mentioned above, this makes it useless for non-photographers, as you must be able to manipulate the image to your own taste.

The “important note” about this is that when we compare 12MP and 48MP photos from the iPhone 14 Pro, we’re comparing standard Apple processing to my own personal processing options. I tried to make sure I didn’t stray too far from Apple’s JPG processing, but you can’t (for example) say sunsets are more visible in one or the other.

12MP and 48MP photos were taken in a second or two, but they’re handheld, so the frame isn’t specially Same – however, I’m confident that in these circumstances even a tiny difference in framing wouldn’t make a noticeable difference.

iPhone 14 Pro 48MP vs 12MP

Ok, enough preamble, let’s take a look at the comparisons.

I chose low-light shots, as this is usually the biggest weakness in compressing more pixels into a small sensor. When things get too dark, Apple makes the 48MP option unavailable, but the phone was very happy with these shots taken shortly after sunset.

picture 1

First, let’s take a look at the typical size for viewing on screen or on the web: 1500 pixels on the longest side. First, in 12MP JPG:

Then at 48MP ProRAW:

The main difference noted in this size is that it is in the processing. I chose to pull in more shadow detail, and also reduced the highlights to bring back the somewhat murky yellow sky area on the right for a more realistic look.

But zoom in on the details, and we see a huge difference. (The usual remark applies to such extreme crops: We do what’s colloquially known as “pixel-peeping,” where we artificially take a close look so that every flaw can be seen.)

First 12MP photo:

Then 48 MP:

We can clearly see a huge difference in clarity, and also in the noise level, especially when you look at the decorative handrail on the left arm of the elevated road.

I assure once again that we will never see a photo up close in real life. If you want to use one of your photos as a giant wall print, you’ll stand back well to watch it. But there’s an undeniable quality difference between the two, and if I’m taking a really great view, or a photo of emotional significance to me, I might then choose a 48MP shot.

You may also have noticed that there’s a flaw in the 48MP version not found on the 12MP camera: a red fringe in the gap between the road and the bottom of the guardrail. This is the kind of gadget that can happen when the pixels are too small. So it’s not a simple case where 48MP photos are better than 12MP photos; There are often trade-offs.

picture 2

In this shot there is a little less light (taken 14 minutes later, and through the glass), and the results are interesting …

12 Megapixels:

48 MP:

So much so that I had to triple-check that I labeled the photos correctly (using the aisle of the plane as my guide). The 12MP photo looks noisier than the 48MP photo, which is the opposite of what I expected. This can be seen very clearly in the crops, shown here side by side, with the 12MP image on the left:

Maybe the pixel-binning algorithm needs some work?

picture 3

Finally, we have a picture that I take a lot, with different skies. Again, at normal web view sizes, I’d say the most obvious difference is that I’ve pulled out the shadows and lowered the highlights a little more than the iPhone did.

12 Megapixels:

48 MP:

When we zoom in, we see more detail in a 48MP shot. Again, side by side, with the 12MP photo on the left:

However, I think this illustrates my point: while the 48MP photo has more detail, it’s clearly still taken from a small sensor with a cheap lens. The difference between the two, to me, does not justify the massive increase in file size, nor the extra work in post-processing.

I will then continue to take 12MP photos almost all the time – but I will sometimes very Flip this RAW switch. What about you? Please share your own impressions of the iPhone 14 Pro 48MP photos.

If you want to download the originals in full resolution for a closer look, you can do so below. Note that you will need an image editing program that can work with DNG RAW files.

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