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WallySpoons

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 29, 2017
10
3
Hi.

I’ve been thinking of upgrading my iPhone 11 - camera is main reason - and have been carefully reviewing the camera specs of the 15, 15 pro and 15 pro max.

As far as I can tell (watched the Special Event several times to be sure) the 3x optical zoom on the 15 and 15 pro is just a crop of the central portion of the sensor. This isn’t optical zoom in my understanding, but digital.

I know Apple talk about 48 megapixel density and 24 megapixel images with light wells grouped in 2x2 arrays, but that still doesn’t mean the zoom is optical. Smaller sensors mean more image noise whereas optical zoom should not suffer this limitation.

Am I missing something or is this marketing BS?

Still probs going to get one though!!

Cheers

C
 
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hwojtek

macrumors 68020
Jan 26, 2008
2,274
1,276
Poznan, Poland
I see a 120mm equivalent lens in Pro Max, which is optical 5x compared to the main camera 24 mm equivalent.


Same, but 3x, goes for the 77 mm in the Pro.
 

ctjack

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2020
1,387
1,421
Thanks enjoyed the video. But one thing left we wondering is why all the bloggers that posted today, think the below is great quality cinematic mode? More i hear this comments, the more i think that they get paid for saying these words.
Screen Shot 2023-09-19 at 2.43.37 PM.jpg

This is a good watch on the cameras

 
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WallySpoons

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 29, 2017
10
3
Thanks. That video makes it clear: it's digital zoom! Unsurprising when the phone is basically 3 prime lenses. That's fine and Apple can talk about its computational photography offer making it equivalent to multiple zooms, or concentrating on overall image quality rather than the specifics of how this is achieved as much as it likes. But to call this 'optical zoom' is (again unless I am missing something) a bit disingenous. And this from an Apple fan.
 

hwojtek

macrumors 68020
Jan 26, 2008
2,274
1,276
Poznan, Poland
I think you equate "zoom" to "variable focal length" which is technically correct, however it's not how iPhone cameras work since day one.
 

WallySpoons

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 29, 2017
10
3
Yes - that's fair (zoom and variable focal length).
But I'm not sure that that's how the lenses have been described before: my 11 pro max camera has 3 focal length settings 0.5, 1 and 2 (see picture) which seems a more honest description of the optics.
But yes, I am splitting hairs. Fundamentally they are still great cameras, so much so that I ditched my SLR which I never ended up carrying about.

IMG_0693.jpg
 
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Treebark

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2010
306
167
Thanks. That video makes it clear: it's digital zoom!

Not sure how you got that from the video above....he mentions a few times how the 7 focal lengths are not digital zooms. Unless like the other poster suggested you are thinking of the zooming at the thousands of different focal lengths in-between the lenses.

All three hardware lenses can do digital zoom....so say on the Pro Max you select the telephoto lens (5x) camera and digital zoom out to 10x, or if you chose the main lens (1x) and zoom out to 3x with it....those would be digital zooms.

But the three cameras have three focal lengths in mm of course, and the main is doing something more akin to cropping to give:

Main Lens: 24, 28, 35
Tele lens: 120 for the pro max...76-ish or something similar on the standard sized pro
ultrawide lens: 13mm

The smartphone market gets confusing with all the 1x, 2x, etc. but using the focal lengths helps in comparison to digital zoom vs optical vs cropping. To get the different focal lengths on the main lens they are not doing simple digital zoom like all the other ranges would be between the above focal lengths. It'd be similar to cropping of a larger sensor to match the desired focal length at the sensor level, somewhat akin to how some "real" 4:3 cameras crop to get 35mm and he refers to this in the video.

Additionally, at the focal lenghts above for the main camera, Apple is also doing a lot more than a simple crop. They bracket a bunch of shots above/below exposure and combine like they and others have in the past for their computational part but this year, at those main lens focal lengths, they are also capturing a 48 megapixel and computationally adding the detail in.

The end result for anyone with these cameras I'd suggest shooting photos at one of the default focal lengths to get the best image quality/details. So the 0.5x, 1x, etc. as at those stops the lens is either using the focal lenght of the lens itself or having the sensor crop happening with the additional bracketing and overlaying of the full 48megapixel sensor to retain detail.

If one goes off those x stops then yes, digital zoom would be happening. But isn't that so on nearly all smartphone cameras? There can't be that many out there that have a lens move in and out to adjust the focal length like an SRL lens would. Phones with multiple cameras can optically "zoom" by switching between their lenses, and digitally zoom at focal lengths in-between those lenses.
 

Treebark

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2010
306
167
This is the first review I've found with a comparison of native 3x Pro vs digital 3x of Pro Max: Pro vs Max

The Pro is much better for 3x.

Wouldn't that be expected? A 77mm lens behaving better than a 24/28/35mm lens digitally zooming out to 77mm?

The 15 Pro Max doesn't even have a 3x in the native camera app for this reason...it has a 5x to match the 120mm lens.

A "5x" comparison between the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max better show the latter being a lot better for the same reason (being at the lens native focal length vs the 15 Pro digitally getting there). And likewise, I don't think the 15 Pro has a 5x in the default camera app.
 
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geauxmac

macrumors member
Jul 2, 2011
72
103
IMG_1379.jpeg
IMG_1378.jpeg
I just took these two photos from my roof top. I think they speak for themselves🤯. First is .5 wide zoom, the other is 25x digital zoom on the sign from the first pic.
 
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Treebark

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2010
306
167
First is .5 wide zoom, the other is 25x digital zoom on the sign from the first pic.
Did you use a tripod on that 25x digital zoom? I'm guessing not but that seems really sharp for that much zoom if handheld, even with it being well lit.
 

geauxmac

macrumors member
Jul 2, 2011
72
103
wow that's impressive... almost worth putting up with a phablet to have that range.
I’ve used the big sizes for years now. The 14pro max felt like a brick, the 15 pro max is significantly lighter and easier to hold from a practical standpoint even though the metrics aren’t much on paper.
 
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