Is the telephoto lens on the iPhone 13 Pro Max shrinking?

iPhone 13 Pro Max, what is the biggest upgrade?

▲ The left is the iPhone 12 Pro Max navy blue, the right is the iPhone 13 Pro Max far peak blue, the camera module upgrade is huge.

According to the principle of whoever is the focus, the huge camera module behind it is a huge upgrade. A larger sensor, a larger aperture, and a series of software and hardware upgrades such as ProRes and movie effect modes make Android phones We are beyond the reach.
Among these three huge lenses, the telephoto is undoubtedly a special one-it is the exclusive use of the Pro series, and it is a weapon that most photographers can't do without.

The focal length is longer, but the aperture is smaller

When you turn on the triple lens of the iPhone 13 Pro Max for the first time, the first feeling is "close".

The closeness is reflected in the fact that you usually eat and drink tea, take a coffee cup, and take a photo of delicious food, and you will find that the subject in the viewfinder is too "close-up", that is, it is too big.

And this 3x telephoto, the corresponding focal length is actually 77mm (equivalent to 35mm full frame, if not described below, the equivalent focal length), compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 2.5x 65mm, and the iPhone 12 Pro’s 2x 52mm. It's a lot longer.

▲ Picture from: Canon's official website in Europe

If each lens of the iPhone is counted as a fixed-focus lens, the ultra-wide-angle 13mm is similar to the classic 14mm, while the main 26mm is similar to 28mm.

The original iPhone’s 2x lens (52mm) is a standard 50mm focal length. Each of these focal lengths is familiar to photographers and easy to use.

For photographers or ordinary users, 77mm is more like a weird or unfamiliar focal length. The first time you get started, you will definitely feel uncomfortable.

When shooting people with the triple lens of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, it is difficult to take into account the environment within the distance of normal communication with the photographer, and the resulting photos are hard to be humanistic. Taking a half-length photo takes a few steps back than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the distance between people has been extended (by mistake).

If you use this 77mm to shoot scenery, you will feel that it is not enough (near). 77mm is not only a number that is rare in photography systems, but this focal length is not common in daily shooting.

However, the different perspectives and different uses brought about by different focal lengths are more a matter of habit, not a factor that determines whether there is or not.

▲ Comparison of the three telephoto cameras of iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro (including equivalent focal length and aperture). Picture from: dpreview

The 77mm 3x lens is just a matter of habit, but only the aperture of F2.8 is a real step backward. The iPhone 12 Pro is F2.0 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max is F2.2.

A smaller aperture means that in low light, to get a similar picture, a larger ISO is required, which may affect the purity of the picture; a longer shutter time may reduce the filming rate.

Even with OIS optical image stabilization, and support for night scene mode and other measures, this 77mm 3x telephoto still performs poorly in low light.

Perhaps it is understood that such specifications will affect the telephoto shooting effect. The iPhone 13 Pro Max will frequently use the 12-megapixel main camera to do digital 3x cropping, through this loss of pixels (detail). In exchange for purity and filming rate.

At first glance, this telephoto is indeed a bit regressive.

Why is it used 3 times (77mm)?

77mm is not easy to use, the F2.8 aperture affects the dim light to form a film, so the telephoto direction on the iPhone 13 Pro Max is wrong, which only increases the power consumption?

In fact, the iPhone’s telephoto is trying to achieve a longer focal length, from 2x for iPhone 12 Pro, 2.5x for iPhone 12 Pro Max to 3x for iPhone 13 Pro Max (including Pro).

Compared to static photos, this is more like serving video. In video creation, the demand for "close-ups" is more and more recent.

Starting from the iPhone 12 series, the iPhone has supported Dolby Vision 4K HDR video recording. In the iPhone 13 series, ProRes support was added. A larger zoom range is undoubtedly good for video shooting.

▲ Left: iPhone 13 Pro Max camera module, right: iPhone 12 Pro Max camera module. Picture from: iFixit

In terms of hardware, according to the disassembly diagram of iFixit, the larger camera module of the 13 series creates a larger space and allows the telephoto focal length to exist.

The room for hardware upgrades is actually giving Apple two choices, one is a long focal length, and the other is a large aperture.

As a result, Apple chose the telephoto without hesitation. From the aperture f = focal length/aperture aperture, in a limited space, the focal length becomes longer and the aperture ratio becomes larger, that is, the aperture becomes smaller, from 2.2 to 2.8.

In addition, at this stage, Android phones are crazy to increase the image track, with hundreds of millions of pixels, and the emergence of periscope telephoto, undoubtedly making image performance a major trend.

▲ Huawei P40 Pro hybrid zoom demonstration, the effect is very obvious.

Such a big environment does not rule out the appearance of hardware choices and new features of the iPhone imaging system, such as larger camera modules, longer telephotos, etc., which are the result of being swept up by the overall market trend.

Video is the future of Apple's betting?

The image system upgraded in the iPhone 13 series has a "movie effect mode" for the general public, and ProRes for professional creators.

And all lenses support Dolby Vision 4K HDR video shooting. If the guess is correct, the choice of 3x focal length is also more inclined to video than still photos. If you only look at video performance, the iPhone is the undisputed strongest. Whether it is the most basic frame stabilization or professional ProRes, these are its moats.

I remember that in the interview about the iPhone 13 series of images, Apple developers stated that most of Apple's image functions were established three years ago, and many projects were carried out together.

Perhaps in these image projects, there are also more conducive to the capture of still photos, but in the face of the video trend, Apple has made the choice without hesitation. Looking at it smaller, it replaced it with a 77mm 3x telephoto lens, and then bigger. Look, it's the iPhone's imaging system that is gradually leaning toward video creation.

For individual creators, whether it is a video or a still photo, the focal length of 77mm may be tangled, but it should not be a reason for the creator to have a bottleneck.

▲ iPhone 13 Pro 3x telephoto. Picture from: @乔纳森何

This is like the ghost problem. There are not a few people who are entangled online, and they don't know how many people have been dissuaded because of this. But ghosting is a flaw that appears at a specific angle in a specific situation, and does not affect your creation of good photos.

▲ iPhone 13 Pro 3x telephoto. Picture from: @乔纳森何

50mm may be your most commonly used focal length, but this habit has actually become a limitation. The 3x telephoto of the iPhone 13 Pro Max may not be able to shoot night scenes, but this 77mm may also be able to open up some new themes.

Many excellent photographers, even with the equipment a few years ago, can squeeze the limits of the equipment to take pictures beyond ordinary people. Because smart people know how to use their strengths and avoid weaknesses, and fault-finding people will only be restricted and persuaded to lose opportunities.

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