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  • Fitri Aiyub

iPhone 13 Pro Camera Review: ProRes is finally here!

We have the iPhone 13 Pro with us today, but this won't just be your ordinary review. We're going to be primarily focused on the cameras today, having the ability to capture ProRAW photos and ProRes video!

Starting off with the specs, you get a triple 12MP camera setup, consisting of a primary wide, telephoto and ultrawide lens.

Consistency is key here, from switching to different focal lengths to image output itself producing the right levels of exposure, sharpness, detail and colours which are true-toned even in different outdoor, indoor and even low-lit scenarios. The cameras give you that natural depth of field or "bokeh" with an f/1.5 aperture using the primary lens, and it seems to emulate that big sensor look that was only available on the iPhone 12 Pro Max last year. Simply just tapping to focus on a subject leaves you with a smooth fall off on the background, while retaining balanced highlights and shadows.

The ultrawide lens is top of its class with anti-distortion lens correction wizardry, keeping straight lines from edge-to-edge of the frame without any weird banding. You could also use it for macro photography in this mode, with some minor faults of chromatic aberration around the edges of some objects. It does, however, switch between the primary lens to the ultrawide lens automatically when you move closer to an object of about 2cm distance, and it does kinda get annoying when you can't switch it back manually because it doesn't let you know when it does the switch. Thankfully, Apple is introducing a manual toggle in a future software update which should resolve this annoyance.

Lastly, the telephoto lens is now upgraded from 2.5x in the iPhone 12 Pro to 3x in this model. Image quality is still very consistent, but I must say at 15x zoom is where the iPhone 13 Pro falls short compared to some Android phones that could easily crush its performance when it comes to clarity and sharpness. At this range, photos end up just looking like a painting more so than a picture. But as long as you stick to the 3x zoom, it'll do great for most indoor and outdoor scenarios.

Now as a photographer myself, I always opt for taking RAW photos given that most mirrorless cameras or DSLRs come with the option of capturing in both RAW and JPEG files at the same time, which is essentially what Apple ProRAW was designed for: to be the best of both worlds by retaining sufficient data of an image taken by the sensor while keeping the file sizes low enough to give you full control when editing an image.

I did, however, make the mistake of not realising the RAW toggle was switched off by default when launching the camera app, which is an easy fix by going into the camera format settings and making sure Photo Capture for Apple ProRAW is enabled.

Nonetheless, editing RAW photos taken with a phone was something I never thought was possible until now.

Coming to its video performance is mostly where I found the iPhone 13 Pro is what I personally feel to have some of the best video image quality when it comes to phone cameras at 4K 60 FPS.

While there are some Android phones pushing over 100MP photos and 8K recording or AI video features may sound impressive, on a more film philosophy take is "how does the image look?". Specifically how an image renders people or skin tones and how it compliments the surroundings of your subject.

Not forgetting to mention how it performs in low-light conditions, which I found to be consistent yet again when managing exposure. Usually, in scenarios with strobing lights, some cameras would be easily confused when prioritising focus points, highlights, noise and sometimes even white balance, all of which is happening at once at 25 FPS and even 120 FPS at 1080p.

The only gripe I have is that I should've shot in 4K 30 FPS instead of 25 FPS given that motion blur seems to be a bit too prominent when using the phone in handheld or in low-light.

Cinematic mode has definitely been in headlines ever since this newly implemented feature was brought to the new iPhones and I do commend it for when you intend to rack focus throughout a shoot. This would open new advances for filmmakers on a budget given how expensive the more professional-grade cameras are now in the market, in comparison to this iPhone 13 Pro. But I personally didn't find it to be useful enough for casual moments and I'm not too big of a fan of fake portrait modes in the first place.

Last but not least is ProRes video, which I have to mention is only available for the Pro models and it's advisable to get a model with a higher storage capacity, given that a minute of 4K footage will set you back by around 6GB. So if you plan to shoot ProRes all the way, you can kinda see how it'll just eat up memory space in no time. Now you could expand this up to 1TB worth of storage like the one we have here, but I personally feel that 1TB in a phone is just overkill. Then again, if you're the type of person who doesn't like backing up your phone or if you shoot video content daily with your phone, then yes max it out if you can afford the 1TB priced at RM7,199. Or you could just opt for the 256GB model priced at RM5,399 or S$1,819.

Because once you shoot in ProRes, you wouldn't want to go back to anything else. High dynamic range 10-bit is just ridiculously good which tops at 4K 30 FPS, and 60 FPS at 1080p.

I know at this point it sounds like I'm favouring Apple for what they've done here but the reality is never too far away from the truth when I was coming into this review with unbiased opinions, being a frequent Android user myself, I can't but help to feel excited having cameras of this quality that can easily fit into my pocket.

Above all the specs and features a camera is capable of, a good camera should give you the autonomy of confidence when capturing all of your shots and the iPhone 13 Pro certainly has given me the confidence to just get out there, no matter the condition and shoot.

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