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Seven wonders: The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max pack the equivalent of seven pro lenses

Ace photographer Apeksha Maker elaborated and explained everything about camera

Mathures Paul Published 24.09.23, 07:09 AM
The iPhone 15 Pro Max in all its glory. It’s the most ‘pro’ phone you can buy

The iPhone 15 Pro Max in all its glory. It’s the most ‘pro’ phone you can buy Picture: The Telegraph

Last week, Mumbai took on all the hues possible as Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated in full swing. Almost every alley was transformed into a party spot featuring swelling crowds. It’s one of the best times of the year to be in Mumbai, especially for leading photographers like Apeksha Maker, who is constantly moving from fashion weeks to photoshoots for celebrities to capturing something as simple (and complicated) as life around her.

This year, she has a special tool in her pack, the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Yes, the very phone that went on sale a few days ago and demand for it has gone through the roof. Her mission was simple: Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi and make every moment count on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The results are stunning because the young photographer believes that the best camera anybody can have is the one that’s always on the person.

Photographer Apeksha Maker

Photographer Apeksha Maker

“It’s lighter by around 20g on paper (compared to iPhone 14 Pro Max) but when you use the phone, you will feel the difference. It’s easier to hold and shoot,” says Apeksha. She has a point: The titanium design has brought down the weight substantially and it gives a very comfortable in-hand feel. And 221g feels paperweight when you hold such a big flagship phone (with a 6.7-inch display).

Apeksha, who has been using iPhones forever, knows the device inside out. She understands the importance of a key upgrade on the phone — Action button, which has replaced the Ring/Silent switch on the iPhone 15 Pro models. You can choose the function you want the Action button to perform when you press it. Because the button is highly accessible, it’s useful for actions you perform often. So, you can assign it to turn on the camera.

“When you are in a crowd during celebrations and you notice something interesting, you just want to pop the phone out and start shooting. Using the Action button to get things done is a sure-shot way of accessing the camera.”

Feel the depth

Musicians playing dhol captured through the main camera

Musicians playing dhol captured through the main camera Picture: Apeksha Maker

Let’s get into the big hitters on the phone — the cameras. Personally, if you had told me even a year ago that I would be able to use my iPhone to shoot 4K 60FPS video in ProRes log format to an external drive plugged in via USB-C, I would have said: “You’re out of your mind.”

There are three things to appreciate. First, the camera system on both iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max has been upgraded significantly. Second, the move to USB-C is really more than just a port/cable change. Third, the processing power on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max is done using A17 Pro, the industry’s first three-nanometer chip.

“I am pleasantly surprised by the jump in the camera department. While taking photographs with the new 15 Pro Max under low light, I also took out my 14 Pro Max to take the same shot on a couple of occasions. The improvement is by quite a margin,” says Apeksha.

She first talks about the ability to adjust portrait focus after a photo has been shot. “While shooting on the go, you don’t always know what you want. Later, when you see a photo, you realise that it should have been taken on Portrait Mode.”

When taking pictures of kids or pets, a lot of time is spent jumping between Portrait Mode and the standard camera mode, making you miss important shots. The iPhone 15 series — regular and Pro alike — has a clever solution. You can add the effect later. Anytime the camera detects a face, cat, or dog in the frame, it automatically saves the depth information in your image file. In the Photos app, you’ll see an option (it will appear as the letter ‘f’, meaning f-stop) to turn Portrait Mode on. You can adjust the depth effect like you normally do and adjust the focus.

A new way of looking at photography

The iPhone 15 Pro models have achieved something unique. Through a deep integration of hardware and software, the advanced camera systems on both pack the equivalent of seven pro lenses. We are not joking. It’s three cameras and the other lenses are field of view, making up seven lenses. You get macro, 13mm ultra-wide f/2.2, 24mm f/1.78 main camera, a 28mm and 35mm FOV shift from that main camera, the 2x 48mm equivalent FOV from the previous iPhone, and finally either 77mm f/2.8 on the iPhone 15 Pro or the new 120mm f/2.8 which comes only on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Apeksha added depth using the new 5x mode on the Pro Max. It helps cut through the clutter

Apeksha added depth using the new 5x mode on the Pro Max. It helps cut through the clutter Picture: Apeksha Maker

“A big new feature that I am enjoying is the telephoto. It’s a complete game-changer in terms of the kind of compression, depth and clarity that I am getting. Ganesh Chaturthi being such a busy festival, you can’t always cross a sea of people to get the perfect shot. The new 5x (on iPhone 15 Pro Max only) is helping me find tighter frames. It’s giving me the actual compression that I really enjoy. There is a new stabliser which I find on the 120 (mm) and under low light it is working really well,” says Apeksha.

There’s a lot to unpack here, especially about the 120mm option. With longer focal lengths, you need physically larger lenses. The problem with designing that for a phone is that you have to comply with the thickness of the phone.

A portrait shot using the main camera of the iPhone 15 Pro Max

A portrait shot using the main camera of the iPhone 15 Pro Max Picture: Apeksha Maker

The iPhone 15 Pro Max uses what’s called a tetraprism design. There’s a series of prisms that sit underneath the lens. Apple has taken the entire lens design and innovated so that it fits within the thickness of the phone. It allows Apple to save space and also allows us not only optical image stabilisation on that lens but also three-axis image stabilisation. Needless to say, you can record videos without motion blur.

Apeksha also touches on the ability to record log (or logarithmic) footage, which professional filmmakers want. It gives you the ability to use a LUT or you can use some kind of colour transformation in post-production. You can actually grade your footage.

Her final thoughts on the phone sum up the enthusiasm around it: “I truly believe that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are the most complete phones you can buy.”

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