Apple's iPhone 15 Pro: What's in it for photographers?

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The sun rising in the east, death, taxes and an Apple iPhone being launched every year are things that are inescapable.

We inherently know that with every new reiteration of the iPhone, the processor will be faster, the bezels slimmer and maybe the frame will be a slightly different shape.

Image: Apple/supplied
Image: Apple/supplied

But what has Apple got in store for us camera-wise this year? And is it worth trading in your iPhone 14 Pro (especially so as you can get up to $1,120 off if you have a 1TB model)?

On paper, the camera and lenses of the new iPhone 15 are virtually the same, except the newest iteration now gets a new lens ‘nanoscale coating’ which Apple says will reduce lens flare. Interestingly, this was mentioned at the launch event – but not on the Apple website. 

The only real considerable difference lens wise is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max gains a 5X zoom (instead of the 14 Pro’s 3x).

Image: Apple/supplied
Image: Apple/supplied

This enables your longest focal length to be 120mm – by using an innovative ‘tetraprism’ design which is a folded glass structure below the lens that reflects light rays four times over before hitting the sensor.

This allows light to travel for ‘longer’ in the same space, thus giving you a new focal length. This works in the same principle as a DSLR ‘mirror lens’ to keep the length of the lens within the phones slim body.

All the other ‘improvements’, such as having a 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lens and lower light capabilities have to do with computational photography and software changes. Whether or not these additions will be included in a software update for the iPhone 14 Pro will have to be seen at a later date.

As the Capture team suspected, the one actually ground-breaking update is the ability to take ‘spatial videos’ and view them via the Apple Vision Pro.

Image: Apple
Image: Apple

This utilises the Ultra Wide and Main Cameras to shoot 3-D video and avoids you looking like an odd-ball / creep while wandering around shooting public and social events with your Apple Vision Pro strapped to your head.

The other interesting and super helpful addition is the lowly USB-C port. We can thank the European Union forcing Apple to migrate to the universal USB-C port to cut down on industrial waste.

But there are also advantages to this change, as it allows up to 20x faster file transfers over the original lighting cable – which means you can now tether the phone to laptop or an external hard-drive so you can shoot RAW stills or Log encoded ProRes 4K60 video.

In case you were wondering, the lens breakdowns are as follows:

• 13mm f/2.2 0.5x (Ultra Wide / Macro Lens) 12MP

• 24mm f/1.78 48MP ‘Main’ Lens (24mm / 28mm / 35mm) with optical stabilisation & focus shift. Apple says 100% ‘focus pixels for super high resolution' 48MP, which could be another way of saying it’s a 24MP that can double to 48MP by what we know as IBIS sensor shifting.

• 48mm f1.78 12MP 2x ‘Telephoto’ Lens – which is just the 24mm lens (enabled by the quad‑pixel sensor to be 48mm)

• 77mm f/2.8 12MP 3x ‘Telephoto’ 

And if you have the iPhone15Pro Max – you have a 120mm f/2.8 5x Telephoto lens. 


So there you have it - another year, another iPhone. It is interesting that Apple gives such a huge discount for past models, which might make you cast a thought to that old worthless iPhone 4 sitting lonely in your 'bits & pieces' draw or box.

Is it better to 'lease' the phone for a year, trade it in and get the new one? Tough to decide as there are not really that many compelling reasons to upgrade.

For those wanting to purchase the Apple Vision Pro in early 2024 - you may be enticed to upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro so you can shoot 3D. And that's assuming that the iPhone 14 Pro (and below) can't shoot 3D due to slower processors or slightly different lenses / lens distance from each other. Maybe a software update will allow this – we'll have to wait and see.

You can read more about the iPhone 15 Pro on the Apple website.

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