iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review

(Last Updated On: November 24, 2022)

When the iPhone first came out it came with several technological innovations. In the now-famous speech, Steve Jobs announced that Apple launched an iPod with a widescreen display and a phone and an internet-based communications device.

The three devices weren’t separate products, he declared that they were all part of the most innovative device ever created: the iPhone.

If the iPhone were launched shortly, there would be one thing missing from that lineup: a brand-new camera. It wasn’t one of the phones he mentioned and it was for a reason.

The iPhone came with a 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera. There was no pretension about it replacing your camera to take photos.

Now, fast forward to the present, and the main feature that smartphones are launching is of course their cameras.

Since the iPhone first came out, it’s been through tiny steps and huge leaps, from a single camera with fixed focus to a plethora of cameras.

With the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple has made a major shift to its entire camera system -it’s a huge leap – and however, it is apparent that the majority of reviewers and media outlets aren’t able to agree whether it’s a tiny move or a massive leap.

At Lux, we create an app for cameras. We’ve been taking thousands of iPhone photographs each month since we introduced our app in 2005, and we know something or two about smartphone cameras.

This is our in-depth look at the iPhone 14 Pro — not the phone, iPod, or web communicator, but, the camera.

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review

Changes

We have previously looked at the technical display for the iPhone 14 Pro, offering us the opportunity to see the changes in the camera’s hardware.

The main thing we learned was that there were major changes to the camera even if they are only on paper. The camera on the rear is nearly all new and the iPhone 14 Pro gains larger sensors for the ultra-wide and main (wide) cameras.

However, Apple also promises to improve image quality with enhanced software processing and specific silicon.

What attracted the most attention was the first part of Apple’s announcement of its iPhone 14 Pro: a stunning visual shift.

The iPhone’s distinctive cut-out screen, also known as a notch was almost gone by tucking the camera and sensor equipment into a compact but dynamic island.

The user interface adapts to it, expanding and shrinking as the cut-out screen is an amazing achievement of design. The thing that impressed us the most is the way it reduced the complicated and vast range of camerasmera sensors needed to make Face ID.

Quad Bayer

Your typical digital camera’s sensor is equipped with an unusual way to record the color. We’ve previously discussed this in our article about ProRAW which is available here. However, we’ll revisit it.

The camera’s sensor has tiny pixels that discern the amount of light coming through. In the case of dark areas an image can be able to detect dark areas accurately, and vice versa for lighter areas.

The trick lies in detecting color. To capture that color in a picture sensor come with colored blue, red, and green lenses that are on these tiny pixels.

But the benefits don’t stop at the quad: Bayer sensors can be used for employing different sensitivities to light and lighter values for the colors they’re sensing to provide better clarity when it comes to the shadows and highlights.

This is also referred to as the dynamic range. Imagine you’re making a photo of your friend sitting in an unlit tent with a bright sky in front of them. A camera that is capable of doing this would struggle to take pictures of both the shade of your friend’s shadow and that bright blue sky to the left which is a challenge that many phones struggle to solve.

Nowadays, phones attempt to resolve this problem by taking several photos that are darker and brighter and combing them in the process known as “HDR’ (High Dynamic Range).

The quad-Bayer sensor enables the camera to gain an advantage in this process by taking every pixel with different levels of brightness, allowing for immediate HDR capture.

This helps reduce the processing that is required to fix image merging artifacts such as moving subjects, which has always been a problem for modern smartphone photography which requires the fusion of multiple photos to enhance image quality.

We must conclude this brief overview of the amazing benefits of the quad-Bayer sensor by stating a tiny caution: the actual resolution of a sensor with a quad-Bayer isn’t as great as a standard 48-megapixel sensor that has the standard (or “Bayer”) mosaic layout when taken at 48 millimeters.

On paper, the greatest advantages are the result of combining its 48-megapixel four-up mosaic into 12-megapixel images.

Therefore, I was expecting to see some nice but not awe-inspiring images at 48 megapixels — which was also what I expected to see happen on iPhone 14 Pro, as Apple kept the camera’s resolution at 12 megapixels for the majority of the time, allowing 48-megapixel images when you go to Settings and enable the ProRAW camera.

Front-Facing

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review

While the massive cameras that protrude ever more outwards from the back of our iPhones draw our attention first– and are sure to get the most interest in this review too front-facing cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro were the subject of one of the most significant upgrades in recent memory cameras, including its lens, sensor and software processing getting major changes.

Although the size of the front-facing camera may not be large (nor do we think it’s necessary) however, improvements to the lens and sensor have led to substantial improvements in the sharpness, dynamic range, and quality.

The real difference between the earlier-generation front camera on the iPhone and the new camera is enough for the majority of users to be able to see immediately. We tested iPhone 14 Pro and was able to take far better pictures.

iPhone 14 Pro achieved far better quality images and a vastly and we mean vastly and we’re talking about vastly more dynamic range and quality.

The older cameras were not able to produce excellent videos or images with difficult mixed light or backlit situations. We’re seeing significant advances that are being made by better computer processing (something Apple calls the Photonic Engine) and hardware.

Although the sensor is bigger and it has an option of focusing with variable (yes you can utilize manual focus with the selfie camera using an app that’s similar to Halide!).

It’s not a good idea to expect stunning blur; autofocus simply provides a greater degree of sharpness across the entire frame and some blurring of the background of your subject (no doubt faces) is within a reasonable distance. The majority of the time, it’s soft and extremely pleasing.

Low-light photos are more usable, and there is less apparent smudging. Amazingly, the True Depth sensor is also able to retain extremely precise depth data sensing despite its smaller size within its Dynamic Island cutout.

This is among the instances where Apple ignores an important technological advancement that a highly skilled team surely worked on.

The competitors of Android flagship phones haven’t been able to follow Apple on the path of high-precision infrared-based Face ID, since it is a huge sensor that makes screen cutouts.

The notch had been reduced during the last generation of iPhones however this smaller array still boasts amazing capabilities in depth-sensing that no other device even comes close to.

And even though it’s an amazing software feature -the dynamic island is worthy of all the attention it receives also Apple has announced a significant camera update that everyone will notice in everyday use.

Ultra-Wide

The time has come to unleash the camera bump, which is large at the back side of the iPhone 14 Pro.

The ultra-wide camera that was launched with the iPhone 11 in 2019, has been in use for a long time, serving as an in-background role for its main camera because of the smaller size of its sensor and the lack of sharpness.

In the year 2000, Apple surprised us by providing the entire ultra-wide bundle a significant upgrade: a more sophisticated lens design that allowed autofocus and very close focus for macro shots and an increased sensor captured lighter and more enabled for more precise shots.

We viewed it as becoming its own thing: an actual camera. While ultra-wide images were stunningly engaging, however, iPhone 11 and 12 Pro’s iPhone 11 and 12 Pro’s ultra-wide photos weren’t sufficient to capture crucial memories and occasions.

In the case of the iPhone 13 Pro, it was upgraded so much that it was a major quality improvement. In the end, we weren’t expecting any major changes to the camera on iPhone 14 Pro.

Surprise us with our new iPhone 14 Pro’s wide-screen camera you get with a larger sensor, a brand-new lens design, and more ISO sensitivity. The aperture did take one small move back, the larger sensor easily reduces this.

Ultra-wide lenses are infamous for not being sharp enough because they must gather a huge amount of pictures at extreme angles. Because they are made of transparent material, lenses will reflect light at a certain angle, which causes the colors to split.

The bigger the field of vision that the lens has is, the more difficult it will be to produce an image that sharp because of this. The ultra-wide camera on the iPhone has the widest lens. “Ultra-wide” has always performed to the expectations of its name.

With a 13mm full-frame-like focal length, it is almost identical to the human binocular’s field of view. GoPro and other action cameras share similar fields of view, giving an extremely wide angle to capture video and pictures in tight areas.

The cameras have not always been well-known for their optical performance However, we’ve not seen Apple challenge the norm. What is the difference between this year’s camera and previous models?

Apple did not give plenty of details about the camera’s modifications to the hardware here, however, Tec insights were able to take the whole camera system and dismantled it.

This new camera, which measures 40mm2, is nearly 50% bigger than the iPhone 13 Pro’s 26.9 mm2 sensors. Although its aperture is slightly slower (that is, it’s smaller) the bigger sensor compensates.

Does it look flawless? In comparison, and as the camera gets even better, it’s somewhat soft and lacking in detail. The resolution of 12 megapixels is appearing to be a bit restricting.

The corners are still extremely distorting and soft sometimes, despite the excellent automated processing by the system that prevents the image from looking too fish-eye-like.

Low Light

One thing we wanted to examine was the claims for performance in low light. All over the board, Apple is using larger sensors on the iPhone 14 Pro, but it is also claiming that its brand-new Photonic Engine processing can offer more than 2x the performance even in dim light.

In comparison against that of the iPhone 13 Pro, we’re not seeing a 2 or 3-time increase.

It’s difficult in any case, to measure a change as simple as “2x” of the camera’s previous performance. For technology, it’s easy to say that a camera captures lighter than it does, but the software’s processing is more subjective. For you, it is twice as great. Others, perhaps not.

I’ll add, however, that it’s an extremely small sensor, with a tiny lens striving to do its best in dark. I don’t think you can expect spectacular low-light images.

Because the ultra-wide camera does not get a lens, or sensor that’s two times as speedy or larger and therefore, it’s not able to be regarded as a significant leap. It’s a significant improvement over daylight conditions, however.

Overall, I think this camera is a great upgrade. Just a couple of iPhone generations back, this would be a great camera for the main camera, even when it was cropped to the same area of view as the traditional wide-angle camera. It’s an excellent step up in terms of image quality.

A note on macro

iPhone 13 Pro had a surprise in its this year, featuring the ability to capture macro images with its ultra-wide. When you are focusing on something extremely close, it can stress the camera and sensor to their maximum and is a good test of how sharp the camera can be at capturing images.

iPhone 13 Pro’s macro photos we captured were generally amazing for a phone but very soft. The detail was not maintained effectively, especially with Halide’s Neural Macro feature that further amplified beyond the built-in macro zoom limit.

Photographers who are obsessed with macro will delight in having more clarity when they take macro pictures. This is the place where the larger sensor and improved processing take the biggest leaps. It is a major improvement for those who like tiny details.

Main

Since 2015 in 2015, the iPhone has featured 12 megapixels of main (or “wide”) camera. Before the Apple launch this month there were rumors that this long period -seven years, which is a real century in the world of technology — was set to end.

iPhone 14 Pro was released with a camera of 48 megapixels. When you look only at the specifications this is an amazing improvement: the camera is significantly bigger and in resolution, but not only.

The lens is a little slow (that is, the aperture isn’t quite as wide as the ones from previous versions) but once again the overall ability to gather the light of the main camera on the iPhone is improved by as much as 33 percent.

The results are clear the implications are clear: more pixels to provide better resolution, more light is gathered to improve low-light photos, and finally, a greater sensor that can be improved in all fields, including a deeper distance of focus.

There’s a reason that we fight the dragon of bigger sensors on cameras. They permit us to capture all of our favorite photography subjects: detail and low-light images, night shots, and beautiful blurred images.

48 Delicious Megapixels

I’m a photographer who shoots quite a few iPhone pictures. Over the past few years, I’ve shot around 120,000 pictures with an average of at least 10,000 RAW photos for each iPhone model.

I enjoy taking the time — maybe a few weeks at most -to evaluate a brand’s recent iPhone camera and extend beyond the initial impression.

I carried my iPhone 14 Pro on a tour through San Francisco and Northern California and up to the remote Himalayas and mountain ranges of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and Tokyo -to test all aspects of image-making and I have to admit that I was pretty amazed by the results of the camera’s main camera.

Although a uni-Bayer sensor can’t provide a 48-megapixel resolution, as it would, for instance, a comparable “proper DSLR camera. The outputs that came out of this iPhone 14 Pro gave me goosebumps.

I’ve never experienced images of this quality from a smartphone. It’s not just about resolution. The way that the 48-megapixel sensor renders the image is distinct and quite different from anything I’ve ever seen before.

However, even without that resolution of 48 megapixels, I thought that the butterflies in the middle frame might have been a speck of dust that had accumulated on my lens. And I would not have this stunning, totally different style.

This isn’t only about the pixels but the image inside those pixels — an entire image within your image. I think that the 12 MP shooting option is a smart choice by Apple, however, it also means that the huge improvement in image quality with the iPhone 14 Pro remains mostly unnoticed unless you opt to make use of a third-party app that allows you to shoot 48MP JPG images or HEIC ones.

Or shoot with ProRAW and edit your images later. It could be an initial iPhone that makes the word ‘Pro’ appear in the word ‘iPhone Pro’. If you’re a techie the difference, you’re aware of.

Natural Bokeh

A larger sensor means better bokeh. It’s a fact. The reason is that a bigger image field could provide stronger depth-of-field effects.

However, you’ll only notice this beautiful natural background blur in fewer circumstances. The minimum focal range of the camera’s main lens has increased to 20 centimeters, or just under 8 inches, which is about a couple of centimeters smaller than the iPhone 13 Pro.

iPhone 13 Pro and the prior iPhone. In real life, this means that the camera is switching to its ultra-wide macro-capable camera more often. Further details on that are to come.

24mm vs 26mm

If you’re a total geek like me, you’ll find that your primary camera is now capturing a bigger image.

It’s not a surprise: in designing this lens and sensor packages to accommodate this new camera Apple has decided to adopt a 24-millimeter (full frame equivalent) focal length instead of the 26mm lens that was previously used. It’s hard to assess objectively this.

Myself? I’d like a smaller crop. I was constantly cropping my images to capture what I wanted to capture. This could be a habit — I’ve certainly made enough 26mm equivalent shots with an iPhone however I’d like it if it were tighter rather than larger. Maybe close to an equivalent of 35mm.

Whatever your opinion to counter this bigger image Apple did include a new lens of 48mm. Did they?

On The Virtual 2x Lens

I’ll just add one small note on the in-between lens as we’ll be writing an article on this intriguing new lens option for iPhone 14 Pro.

Because the main camera has an extra megapixel and can be able to cut down the center of your photo which results in a 12-megapixel equivalent 48mm (or 2x) image.

Apple has included this crop-of-the-main-sensor ‘lens’ as a regular 2x lens, and I think it’s kind of brilliant. The Verge has written a whole praise for this lens that praised it as being better than they had anticipated.

I agree. It’s an excellent choice, and it was a necessity. For the majority of users 3x is a high zoom. The 48mm 2x range of vision is a great option for portraits and an excellent default option for the default camera’s portrait mode.

Overall, I have found that I could crop my 48MP RAW files by hand was more effective than taking 2x photos in practice. In everyday photos, however, it’s essential. It’s like creating the foundation for a much greater, longer, and more intense zoom for telephotos on the iPhone shortly.

Notes on LIDAR

Although Apple did not explicitly mention or announce it, however, the LIDAR sensor of the iPhone 14 Pro has been slightly modified. It is in line with the larger focus of 24mm of the original camera’s dot coverage. Depth sensing is similar in terms of quality and speed in comparison to the previous iPhones.

It is frustrating that this LIDAR sensor isn’t able to be able to change its behavior from the previous one. While I’m certain that it improves autofocus speed and depth recording but it’s a challenge to try an image from a window using the camera.

Because the LIDAR detects the glass pane as transparent — regardless of whether it’s a window, glass panel aircraft window, etc.

It will focus the camera focus on it, and not on the background. I usually use the manual mode of focus within Halide because there’s no option to turn off LIDAR-assisted focus. I’m hoping that a future A17 chip will have ML-assisted window detection.

Low Light

As I said in our ultra-wide review, I was a bit skeptical about the claims about the improvement in performance under low light. I prefer shooting very little in the evening and low-light conditions using phones since night mode is a great technique but can produce photos that are too processed to my liking.

The improvements in low light for the camera’s main lens are visible, however. It’s particularly effective in twilight conditions before Night modes begin to kick in. I was amazed at the quality of the images at times.

It’s gorgeous. I’m amazed that I could accomplish this with my smartphone — it sort of blows my mind. If you had shown me this photo a few years back, I’d believed the photo was an iPhone photograph.

One of the downsides is that we’ve been using Night Mode on iPhone for four years, and it is still terribly lacking advanced settings or, more importantly, an API.

As a purported ‘pro camera The interface to Night Mode has to walk the fine line between being usable by beginners and professional photographers. We’d love to include Night Mode to Halide, together with more precise controls.

We’d like to hear from Apple allows apps to utilize Night Mode to capture images and modify the parameters for its capture.

Telephoto

Last but not least is the Telephoto camera. As I’ve stated previously, for the majority of people the 3x zoom ratio (about 77mm for a full frame equivalent lens focal length of the camera) is quite extreme and is, by far, my top camera for the iPhone 14 pro.

If I venture out and shoot on my huge cameras, I have 35mm and 75mm lenses. 75mm is a stunning focal length that forces you to pay attention to tiny images of poetry in the world that surrounds you.

It’s enjoyable to locate a perfect frame because you get to decide the elements you want to include to capture in your photo.

My biggest disappointment at the introduction of the 3-x camera in 2013 was the way it was paired to an old, insufficiently powered small sensor.

The small sensors and long lenses don’t make a good pair: since longer lenses absorb much less light and the smaller sensor is likely to make it an unreliable camera due to its nature.

Cameras that are noisy on iPhones can produce smudgy images because they are receiving an abundance of noise reduction that creates an acceptable image.

So I was dissatisfied to see no announcement of the size of the sensor or an upgrade for the 14-pro version of the phone’s zoom camera. This aspect of the iPhone 14 pro that so desperately needed an increase in light collection capabilities was like it had been discarded over a different generation.

I am astonished by the color of it and discovering it has dramatically enhanced — perhaps even more than the ultra-wide for practical daily use.

Although both cameras appear to feature the same size sensor and the identical lens the processing and quality of images on iPhone 14 Pro are simply superior. iPhone 14 Pro is simply an entire league ahead.

The quality of the images and color are vastly superior. When printed, Apple is equipped with the identical camera as the two phones, which means the majority of the praise must go to their brand new Photonic Engine processing that seems to do a better job of processing the photos from the Telephoto camera and keeping the details.

A longer lens at hand is among the Pro-line’s selling features, and if you value photography, you ought to take advantage of it.

There will be instances when it fails however, all in all, this is an amazing upgrade completely out of an outside field. Apple could have promoted this better.

I would not consider this to be an unimportant move. It’s transformed from the status of a checkmark on a specs sheet to an incredibly amazing camera. Bravo, Apple.

The Camera System

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review

Although this review has focused on specific cameras, iPhones have a different approach to their camera collection. The Camera app combines the camera system in one camera, dissolving the lenses’ switching and specifics of each lens and sensor combo to work as a single, simple camera.

This tiny feat of engineering involves an enormous amount of work in the background; cameras are precisely matched by micron precision to each other during the point of manufacture, and lots of work is put into ensuring the white balance and consistency of rendering between each.

The most important factor that determines the quality of images taken by this unified camera for the majority of users isn’t the size of the sensor as well as the lens.

It is rather the magic Apple uses in the background to combine these components and produce better-quality images from the information they generate. Before, Apple had several terms to describe the kind of photography that they utilized: Smart HDR and Deep Fusion were two of the techniques they promoted.

These techniques, powered through powerful processors, take several pictures and rapidly combine the images to create a higher dynamic range (that means more clarity in darks and highlights) as well as more accurate color and capture more texture and details.

The process also makes use of artificial intelligence to distinguish different regions of the image for enhancements and the reduction of noise.

The consequence of this is that every image taken with an iPhone is already heavily edited in comparison to the RAW data the camera generates.

Processing

If a camera’s lens and the sensor are something to be considered when reviewing the camera, then so is the modern camera’s processing. Since their introduction, the iPhones began to combine multiple photos for improved clarity, dynamic range, and more -and – and the process is unique for each iPhone.

Since the release of the iPhone 13 Pro, The iPhone 13 Pro has begun to hear complaints from the mainstream concerning iPhone camera processing.

This means that there were no complaints about the camera’s pictures that were blurry in the dark due to lack of light or the absence of autofocus.

However, we’ve seen images with strange “creative” decisions made by cameras.

Since we first looked at iPhone 8, we noted a “watercolor effect” that appears in photos after noise reduction is applied. In some instances, this could be mitigated by shooting raw (not ProRAW).

However, as the camera process on iPhones has become more complex Pure RAW images have diminished.

iPhone 13 Pro could be ranked alongside iPhone XS. iPhone XS is in our iPhone camera collection in that they are the iPhones with the largest, most obvious “processed” look in their photos. This could be because these cameras capture more pictures at more noise levels to get their HDR and details enhancement, or other reasons

48MP Processing

It is worth noting that the images of 48 megapixels that come out of the iPhone 14 Pro exhibit considerably less heavy-handed processing than 12-megapixel images.

There are a variety of reasons why for this to be happening the most obvious one being that due to having four times as much amount of data processing capacity, the iPhone 14 Pro can’t possibly do the same level of processing as a shot with a lower resolution.

Another reason to see less processing is that it’s a lot more difficult to discern sharper edges and tiny details that are smudged on images with higher resolution. As part of the iPhone 12 Pro Max review, I pointed out that we’re experiencing the limitations of processing resolution.

A higher-resolution image is likely to have a more natural appearance. However, one specific process that is not being followed through with is clearer. It is apparent that captures with 48MP skip one of my least-favorite adjustments the iPhone camera has now applied automatically to pictures that have people in them.

Beginning with iPhone 13 Pro, I noticed a few times that backlit or darkened objects being-exposed by what I can be described as a rather basic automated lightness adjustment.

This is an incredibly clever process in iPhone processing of photography because it can super-fastly split the photo into parts as human subjects do and make adjustments selectively.

The most important thing is the amount of adjustment and the quality of the adjustment. I was dismayed to discover that this adjustment appears to be just as heavy-handed similar to the prior iPhone I’ve not seen it produce the best image. It’s just unsettling.

A third, and a very rare feature I’ve observed within the 48-megapixel ProRAW files (and to a lesser extent the images with a resolution of 48 megapixels JPG and HEIC file taken using Halide) is the appearance of processing going wild.

Sometimes, it could just remove whole parts of the detail of the image, leaving only the outline and certain details unaltered.

Lens Switching

When we launched Halide on our version of iPhone X, some users submitted a bug report. There was a problem that was obvious our app was unable to focus as close as the camera app from Apple could.

Telephoto lenses would simply not concentrate on anything nearby. We haven’t fixed this issue even though it was more severe on the latest iPhones. We have a valid reason to believe that.

The reason is a small trick Apple pulls. The telephoto lens cannot focus as close. You wouldn’t know it, as the built-in app swiftly changes the normal camera’s view and crop it to the same size as the lens that is telephoto.

Apple also does the same thing in other circumstances too for instance, when there’s inadequate light for the sensor of the Telephoto lens.

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I think that for the majority of users, this type of instant, automatic lens switch offers a seamless and excellent experience.

Apple has plan for cameras that is to create a single device that integrates all lenses and hardware in the rear into a single camera that the user can interact with.

The experience becomes less exciting and more annoying as an increasingly demanding user. Apple appears to know about this.

The fact that Cameras automatically switch lenses to a macro-capable lens, caused some displeasure and confusion upon its announcement and forced them to include an option that switches this auto-switching feature in the camera application.

While this solves the macro auto switch for more demanding users, however, it’s still not enough. iPhone 14 Pro still has the bad habit of not changing the lens for telephoto in a time-stable manner unless you are using an app for a camera that is a third party.

This doesn’t work well with the lens that now has an increase of 3x rather than the earlier 2x which means that the image cropped is a blurry low-detail mess.

Even when ProRAW capture is enabled, the camera app can produce photos that look like they were cropped in a way you thought were telephoto camera shots.

Conclusion

I usually review the latest iPhones by taking a look at their overall capabilities as cameras. It’s usually untrue to compare an iPhone’s current camera with that of an iPhone 14 pro which came out a year prior and the tiny changes taken can be significant or not but we tend to forget that the majority of people do not update their phones each year. The most important thing is how well the camera performs in the context of its use.

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