This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Apart from the body and screen size, the obvious difference between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and other models in the same series would be the camera. We know that it is more powerful than the iPhone 12 Pro, but what exactly is special about it?
The camera part looks the same as that of the iPhone 12 Pro when you put it side by side, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera is actually larger. Although not mentioned in the specs, the iPhone 12 Pro Max's ultra wide-angle, wide-angle, and telephoto lenses, all of which are also different in size from those of the iPhone 12 Pro. The specs for the LiDAR sensor are the same.
Wide-angle cameras are different
The biggest difference between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 Pro's cameras is the wide-angle camera. It's the equal-sized (1x) camera that shows up when you launch the camera app, and it's the most heavily used standard camera.
In terms of what you can read from the specs, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 47% larger sensor size than the iPhone 12 Pro. Both cameras have the same 12MP pixel count, but the larger sensor size allows more area per pixel to receive more light, so the camera is stronger in darker areas and can produce a smoother gradient effect with less blackout and whiteout, even when there's a large difference between light and dark.
It's a minor detail, but only the wide-angle camera lens on the iPhone 12 Pro Max has been changed from the iPhone 12 Pro's six-element configuration to a seven-element configuration. It's a standard camera but with a slightly wider angle lens, so the additional lens improves the distortions that tend to occur when shooting. Such an increase in functionality requires a larger camera module and a more complex structure, which can lead to higher costs, but the fact that Apple has dared to use it shows the extraordinary commitment to a wide-angle camera.
Both models also differ in terms of image stabilization. While the optical image stabilization in the iPhone 12 Pro controls the image stabilization lens on the lens side, the sensor-shift image stabilization in the iPhone 12 Pro Max's wide-angle camera compensates for camera shake by moving the image sensor, as the name implies. The reason why this method was only used on the wide-angle camera is thought to be due to the aforementioned complex lens configuration.
Sensor-shift optical image stabilization is useful in interchangeable-lens digital cameras because the image sensor on the camera body is equipped with an image stabilization function, so image stabilization can be used regardless of the type of lens it's combined with. So, it may not have much of an advantage in the case of an iPhone camera with a fixed lens. If we take it a little further, there is a possibility of taking ultra-high resolution photos by intentionally shifting the image sensor to take repeated shots, like Olympus's high-resolution shots.
The telephoto camera with a stronger bokeh effect
The iPhone 12 Pro's telephoto camera is 52mm in 35mm format, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 65mm telephoto camera, which is 13mm longer. But it's not just about being able to take bigger pictures of distant subjects.
In portrait mode, for example, the longer focal length of the lens allows for a shallower depth of field and a narrower angle of view to accentuate the background bokeh, which brings the subject to the fore. This is a great way to take photos of people and animals.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max's telephoto camera has an aperture of f/2.2, which is a bit darker than the iPhone 12 Pro, but I didn't notice it much in actual shooting. The image stabilization works well enough to help keep the camera steady in dim light.
On the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the optical zoom is 5x due to the more telephoto camera. The digital zoom has been enhanced to 12x to go along with it, but if you don't hold the device firmly in place when using the zoom, you'll have a hard time holding it in your hand because the photo will easily blur.
The peace of mind of being able to shoot without worrying about the weather or time of day
With the iPhone 12 series, the A14 Bionic chip and the Neural Engine provide astoundingly improved exposure compensation and spatial color processing for every photo you take. The result is more consistent photos in all conditions.
The hardware aspect of the camera has been complemented on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, allowing you to capture more expressive shots. Some of the photos look over-produced, but they're never as solid as they are when viewed as a record. If you want a more natural image, the soon-to-be-released Apple ProRAW should be the best solution.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max will exceed your expectations with the enhanced wide-angle camera, as well as with the ultra-wide-angle and telephoto cameras, no matter what you choose.
With that expectation in mind, I took some real shots at dusk on Enoshima Island, on the roof of Shibuya's Scramble Square, and on a drizzly night in Ginza. I was surprised at how well they turned out, all of which exceeded my expectations. I just walked around and took some quick shots whenever I felt like it. I didn't edit any of the images after shooting.
Comparison of iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Pro
Comparing the two models in terms of the camera alone, there's really not much of a noticeable difference, but there's a definite difference in a few areas. How much value you feel for that part of the device will be the reason to choose the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Conversely, the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro also offer a more than adequate level of photography, and you could just as easily choose one based on screen size. Thanks to this, it will be even more difficult to choose.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.